Werewolves and Sun-Worship

Giovanni Boccaccio, Genealogia Deorum Gentilium 1.5:

“The younger authors, being fond of novelty, called Pan ‘Lyceus.’ Others scrapped the name of Pan altogether, and simply called him ‘Lyceus’. There are a few even who call Jupiter ‘Lyceus’, thinking that it is due either to the intercession of Nature or of Jupiter that wolves were removed from the flocks which rarely saw them. It seemed that he merited the name from the flight of the wolves, since the word lycos in Greek means ‘wolf’. Augustine writes, in his City of God, that it Jupiter was called ‘Lyceus’ for another reason, namely the frequent mutation of humans into wolves, which happened in Arcadia. They used to think that this was impossible without some divine power bringing it about.

It seems that Macrobius took up his idea that Pan was not Jupiter but the Sun by reasoning along these lines: since the Sun is the father of mortal life, and because at sunrise wolves usually abandon their attacks against the flocks and return to the wolves, the ancients called the Sun ‘Lyceus’ in commemoration of his service.”

Image result for ancient werewolves

Alternate Names, Assumed Identities, and Secret Codes: Olysseus, Oliseus, Odysseus

Yesterday I posted about etymologies and variants for Odysseus’ names. Eustathius records: ὁ ᾿Οδυσσεύς δέ που ᾿Ολυσσεύς καὶ ἡ ᾿Οδύσσεια ᾿Ολύσσεια. In a Boiotian inscription his name is Ὀλυσ(σ)εύς (Olusseus) and a few Corinthian inscriptions have Ὀλισ(σ)εύς (Olisseus). Rudolf Wachter (Non-Attic Greek Vase Inscriptions 2001, 267) argues that the Attic Olutteus and the Corinthian form just cited likely display a form that predates the epic spelling (and that it was the epic tradition itself that influenced the regularization).

While it seems these names may be non-Greek, this does not mean that Greek audiences did not hear echoes of the roots they knew for “woolly” (oulos), “scar” (oulê) or “destructive, ruinous” (oulos) in his name. At the same time, it does not matter whether or not one form predated the other–what matters is that Panhellenic audiences may have been familiar with multiple forms.

When Odysseus meets Penelope in disguise, he first describes what ‘Odysseus’ was wearing when he went to war, and then when she weeps, he comforts her by telling her that he has heard that Odysseus is nearby. Throughout his speech there are echoes of both his epic name Odysseus and what Wachter calls his “epichoric” (i.e. ‘local’) name.

Odyssey  19.254–271

“Revered wife of Odysseus, son of Laertes
Don’t harm your fair skin or wear out your heart
At all any longer, mourning your husband. I would not find fault at all.
For someone mourns [ODUretai] when she has lost [OLESasa] a different man,
A husband, one she has slept with and borne children to,
Different from Odysseus, a man they claim is like the gods.
But cease from mourning, take my speech to heart:
For I will speak truly and I will hide nothing.
Since I have already heard about the homecoming of Odysseus
Nearby, in the rich land of the Thesprotian men,
Alive. He took many fine possession there,
Seeking help throughout the country. But his faithful companions,
He lost [Olese] them along with his gray ship on the wine-faced sea
As he traveled from the island of Thrinakia. They were hateful [odusanto] to him,
Zeus and Helios. For his companions Helios’ cattle.
They all perished on the much-sounding sea.
But the waves through him on the keep of the ship to land,
The land of the Phaeacians, who are a race close to the gods.”

ὦ γύναι αἰδοίη Λαερτιάδεω ᾿Οδυσῆος,
μηκέτι νῦν χρόα καλὸν ἐναίρεο μηδέ τι θυμὸν  (255)
τῆκε πόσιν γοόωσα. νεμεσσῶμαί γε μὲν οὐδέν·
καὶ γάρ τίς τ’ ἀλλοῖον ὀδύρεται ἄνδρ’ ὀλέσασα
κουρίδιον, τῷ τέκνα τέκῃ φιλότητι μιγεῖσα,
ἢ ᾿Οδυσῆ’, ὅν φασι θεοῖσ’ ἐναλίγκιον εἶναι.
ἀλλὰ γόου μὲν παῦσαι, ἐμεῖο δὲ σύνθεο μῦθον· (260)
νημερτέως γάρ τοι μυθήσομαι οὐδ’ ἐπικεύσω,
ὡς ἤδη ᾿Οδυσῆος ἐγὼ περὶ νόστου ἄκουσα
ἀγχοῦ, Θεσπρωτῶν ἀνδρῶν ἐν πίονι δήμῳ,
ζωοῦ· αὐτὰρ ἄγει κειμήλια πολλὰ καὶ ἐσθλά,
αἰτίζων ἀνὰ δῆμον. ἀτὰρ ἐρίηρας ἑταίρους (265)
ὤλεσε καὶ νῆα γλαφυρὴν ἐνὶ οἴνοπι πόντῳ,
Θρινακίης ἄπο νήσου ἰών· ὀδύσαντο γὰρ αὐτῷ
Ζεύς τε καὶ ᾿Ηέλιος· τοῦ γὰρ βόας ἔκταν ἑταῖροι.
οἱ μὲν πάντες ὄλοντο πολυκλύστῳ ἐνὶ πόντῳ·
τὸν δ’ ἄρ’ ἐπὶ τρόπιος νηὸς βάλε κῦμ’ ἐπὶ χέρσου, (270)
Φαιήκων ἐς γαῖαν, οἳ ἀγχίθεοι γεγάασιν·

I am likely pressing this a bit, but the wordplay from a traditional level may be toying with different notions of Odysseus as a destroyer or as one hateful to the gods while on the level of this narrative, Odysseus may be invoking aspects of his name and character in a code for a patient Penelope. Given the ornate prohibition against weeping and the strange comparison to “another man” coupled with these sound games, I am entertaining for an evening at least that Odysseus has passed a secret message (perhaps ἐμεῖο δὲ σύνθεο μῦθον is a clue too). It may be interest to note that Penelope has just said (19.257-260):

“…I will not welcome him again
after he has come home to his paternal country.
Odysseus left with a wicked fate in his empty ship
going out to see Ev(il)-Ilion, which should not be named.”

…. τὸν δ’ οὐχ ὑποδέξομαι αὖτις
οἴκαδε νοστήσαντα φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν.
τῶ ῥα κακῇ αἴσῃ κοίλης ἐπὶ νηὸς ᾿Οδυσσεὺς
ᾤχετ’ ἐποψόμενος Κακοΐλιον οὐκ ὀνομαστήν

Image result for Odysseus and Penelope

Twitter gave me help with this:

Special thanks also to @Giovanni_Lido.

Rhadamanthus: Absurd Etymologies And Some Stories

Etymologicum Magnum

“Radamanthus: [the origin of this name] is either that he went crazy [emanê] over roses [roda] trampled by a bull or that he was educated [epaideuthê*] among the Trojans in Rhodes.”

 ῾Ραδάμανθυς: ῍Η ὅτι περὶ τὰ ῥόδα ἐμάνη τὰ ὑπὸ τοῦ ταύρου προϊέμενα, ἢ ὅτι ἐν ῾Ρόδῳ παρὰ ταῖς ᾿Ιλιάδεσιν ἐπαιδεύθη.

*The author is thinking of some form of manthanô here to get –manthus.

I have yet to find explanations for either of these accounts. So, to make up for it, here are some other stories about Rhadamanthus.

Dio. Sic. 5.78-9

“They claim that Radamanthus provided the most just judgments of all and also imposed the most inflexible punishment for raidings, and sacrilege, and other wicked deeds. He also is said to have established [these laws] in not a few islands and much of the land of Asia near the sea, since they were willing to put themselves in his hands thanks to his sense of justice. They also claim that Rhadamanthus handed the kingship over to one of his own children, Eruthros, from whom the Eruthrians were named.

People also say that Khios entrusted itself to Oinopiôn, the son of Ariadne, Minos’ daughter whom some claim was Dionysus’ son and learned from his father everything about wine-making. They also claim that Rhadamanthus granted a city or island to each of the leaders around him: he gave Lemnos to Thoas, Kurnos to Enuos, Peparêthos to Staphulos, Marôneia to Euanthos, Paros to Alkaios, Dêlos to Aniônos, and Andros, which was named for him, to Andros. Thanks to the exaggeration of his sense of justice, people have told the myth that he was made a judge in Hades and he distinguished the righteous men from the wicked. This same honor has been given to Minos, since he ruled most lawfully and was especially solicitous of justice. The third brother was Sarpedon.”

          ῾Ραδάμανθυν δὲ λέγουσι τάς τε κρίσεις πάντων δικαιοτάτας πεποιῆσθαι καὶ τοῖς λῃσταῖς καὶ ἀσεβέσι καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις κακούργοις ἀπαραίτητον ἐπενηνοχέναι τιμωρίαν. κατακτήσασθαι δὲ καὶ νήσους οὐκ ὀλίγας καὶ τῆς ᾿Ασίας πολλὴν τῆς παραθαλαττίου χώρας, ἁπάντων ἑκουσίως παραδιδόντων ἑαυτοὺς διὰ τὴν δικαιοσύνην. τὸν δὲ ῾Ραδάμανθυν ᾿Ερύθρῳ μὲν ἑνὶ τῶν αὑτοῦ παίδων παραδοῦναι τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν δι’ ἐκεῖνον ᾿Ερυθρῶν ὀνομασθεισῶν, Οἰνοπίωνι δὲ τῷ ᾿Αριάδνης τῆς Μίνω Χίον ἐγχειρίσαι φασίν, ὃν ἔνιοι μυθολογοῦσι Διονύσου γενόμενον μαθεῖν παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς τὰ περὶ τὴν οἰνοποιίαν. τῶν δ’ ἄλλων τῶν περὶ αὐτὸν ἡγεμόνων ἑκάστῳ νῆσον ἢ πόλιν δωρήσασθαι λέγουσι τὸν ῾Ραδάμανθυν, Θόαντι μὲν Λῆμνον, ᾿Ενυεῖ δὲ Κύρνον, Σταφύλῳ δὲ Πεπάρηθον, Εὐάνθει δὲ Μαρώνειαν, ᾿Αλκαίῳ δὲ Πάρον, ᾿Ανίωνι δὲ Δῆλον, ᾿Ανδρεῖ δὲ τὴν ἀπ’ ἐκείνου κληθεῖσαν ῎Ανδρον. διὰ δὲ τὴν ὑπερβολὴν τῆς περὶ αὐτὸν δικαιοσύνης μεμυθολογῆσθαι δικαστὴν αὐτὸν ἀποδεδεῖχθαι καθ’ ᾅδου καὶ διακρίνειν τοὺς εὐσεβεῖς καὶ τοὺς πονηρούς. τετευχέναι δὲ τῆς αὐτῆς τιμῆς καὶ τὸν Μίνω, βεβασιλευκότα νομιμώτατα καὶ μάλιστα δικαιοσύνης πεφροντικότα. τὸν δὲ τρίτον ἀδελφὸν Σαρπηδόνα

Apollodorus 2.64

“[Linos] was the brother of Orpheus. After he arrived at Thebes and became Theban, he was struck with his cithara by Herakles and died. Herakles killed him because he was angry at him for striking him. When some were demanding that he pay the penalty for murder, Herakles invoked the law of Radamanthus which said that whoever defended himself against a man who began the injustice was immune to punishment. Thus he was acquitted.”

οὗτος δὲ ἦν ἀδελφὸς ᾿Ορφέως· ἀφικόμενος δὲ εἰς Θήβας καὶ Θηβαῖος γενόμενος ὑπὸ ῾Ηρακλέους τῇ κιθάρᾳ πληγεὶς ἀπέθανεν· ἐπιπλήξαντα γὰρ αὐτὸν ὀργισθεὶς ἀπέκτεινε. δίκην δὲ ἐπαγόντων τινῶν αὐτῷ φόνου, παρανέγνω νόμον ῾Ραδαμάνθυος λέγοντος, ὃς ἂν ἀμύνηται τὸν χειρῶν ἀδίκων κατάρξαντα, ἀθῷον εἶναι, καὶ οὕτως ἀπελύθη.

Image result for rhadamanthus ancient greek

Words To Make You Sick: Vomiting in Ancient Greek

A friend of mine and his family recently suffered food poisoning. Of course, I started to read about vomiting in Greek. And then I realized that I have been feeling nauseous for a few months now….(I will happily post any other vomit-related content)

ἐξεμέω, ἐξερεύγομαι: “vomit”

κατεξεράω: “vomit upon”

κοπριήμετος: “shit-puking”

προεξεμέω: “to puke beforehand”

ἐμεσία: “pukey”; i.e., a disposition to vomit

ἔμεσμα: “puke”, i.e. “that which is vomited

ἐμετηρίζω: “to administer an emetic”

ἐμετικός: “something that causes vomiting; an emetic”

ἀκρητόχολος: “bilious vomiting”

δυσεμής: “Difficult to vomit”

εὐέμετος: “Vomiting easily”

χολημετέω: “to vomit bile”

Image result for Ancient greek vomit vase

Herodotus, 1.133

“They can’t puke or piss in front of another”

καί σφι οὐκ ἐμέσαι ἔξεστι, οὐκὶ οὐρῆσαι ἀντίον ἄλλου

Revelations, 3.16

“I’m going to puke you from my mouth.”

μέλλω σε ἐμέσαι ἐκ τοῦ στόματός μου

Cicero, For King Deiotauros 7.22

“When you said you wanted to puke after dinner, they began to lead you into the bathroom”

‘cum’ inquit ‘vomere post cenam te velle dixisses, in balneum te ducere coeperunt

Plautus, Rudens 27

“By the god, I wish too much that you’d puke upn your lungs!”

Pulmoneum edepol nimis velim vomitum vomas.

From P. Chantraine, an etymology. Did someone choke on a digamma?

chantraine (2)




Absurd Etymologies for Comedy And Tragedy

From the introduction to the Scholia to Lykophron’s Alexandra by John Tzetzes or his brother Isaac:

“Comedy is named either because of the time of the revel (kôma), since it was developed near sleep; because of the neighborhoods which are in the narrow streets (kômais); because of the villages (kômais) in the open countries; or because it developed in the vales (kômais) and places of Dionysus. But tragedy takes its name from the tragos or truga which is new wine: since in early times they anointed their heads with the raw wine. Or, they call it tragedy because they stand in a square (tetragônôs); or it turns from trakhodia into tragodia because they take their laments from harsh songs. Satyr-play is named from the satyrs who invented it or from the farmers and poor men.”

καὶ κωμωδία δὲ κλήθη ἢ ὅτι κατὰ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦ κώματος ἤτοι τοῦ ὕπνου εὑρέθη ἢ ὅτι ἐν ταῖς κώμαις τουτέστι ταῖς στενωπαῖς ἢ ὅτι ἐν ταῖς κώμαις τουτέστι τοῖς μεγίστοις χωρίοις ἢ ὅτι ἐν ταῖς κώμαις καὶ τόποις τοῦ Διονύσου εὑρέθη. ἡ δὲ τραγωδία  ἀπὸ τοῦ τράγον ἢ τρύγα λαμβάνειν τουτέστι *νέον* οἶνον ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ τρύγα χρίεσθαι τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν κατ’ ἀρχάς· ἢ ὅτι τετραγώνως ἵσταντο, τετραγωδία ἐκλήθη ἢ ἀπὸ τοῦ τραχείας ὠδὰς ἔχειν τοὺς θρήνους τραχωδία καὶ τραγωδία. ἡ σατυρικὴ δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν σατύρων ἐκλήθη τῶν εὑρόντων αὐτὴν ἤτοι γεωργῶν καὶ εὐτελῶν ἀνθρώπων.

As in the case of dithyramb, this seems largely summarized from a contemporary dictionary, as in:

Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. tragodia:

“Tragedy: This is the dramatic performance of heroic lives and stories. It is called tragoidia because the prize that was given to the song was a goat [tragos têi oidê]. The song was thus the tragoidia. Or, those who won the competition took truga [“ripe grapes; or new wine”] as a prize. The ancients used to call new wine truga. Or, it is called this because the chorus had a four-sided shape [tetragônon]. Or because the choruses were composed of satyrs whom they used to call ‘goats’ [tragous] because they resembled them either because of their hairy bodies or because of their sexual zeal. For the animal was like that. Or tragedy is from the lees of wine [trugos]. This name has something in common with comedy, so the names of each type of poetry should be distinguished.

There was one prize for the latter, which is the truks [“new wine, lees”]. Later, tragedy had a common name [for the two?]. But the latter was named comedy since they used to perform them in the revels during the festivals for Dionysus and Demeter. This name came from “reveling” [kômazein] which is the song at the revel. This was developed at the time near sleep. Or it is the song of villagers [komêtai]. For larger rustic settlements are called kômai. Some farmers who were harmed by the citizens of Athens departed near the time of sleep. And those who lived near the roads used to refer to these wrongs which they suffered periphrastically. Thus, someone waits there and performs these deeds and others; as a results, there was to the injustice.

Τραγωιδία: ῎Εστι βίων τε καὶ λόγων ἡρωϊκῶν μίμησις. Κέκληται δὲ τραγῳδία, ὅτι τράγος τῇ ᾠδῇ ἆθλον ἐτίθετο· ᾠδὴ γὰρ ἡ τραγῳδία. ῍Η ὅτι τρύγα ἆθλον ἐλάμβανον οἱ νικῶντες· τρύγα γὰρ ἐκάλουν οἱ παλαιοὶ τὸν νέον οἶνον. ῍Η ὅτι τετράγωνον εἶχον οἱ χοροὶ σχῆμα· ἢ ὅτι τὰ πολλὰ οἱ χοροὶ ἐκ σατύρων συνίσταντο· οὓς ἐκάλουν τράγους, σκώπτοντες, ἢ διὰ τὴν τοῦ σώματος δασύτητα, ἢ διὰ τὴν περὶ τὰ ἀφροδίσια σπουδήν· τοιοῦτον γὰρ τὸ ζῷον. ῍Η ὅτι οἱ χορευταὶ τὰς κόμας ἀνέπλεκον, σχῆμα τράγων μιμούμενοι. ῍Η ἀπὸ τῆς τρυγὸς τρυγῳδία. ῏Ην δὲ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦτο κοινὸν καὶ πρὸς τὴν κωμῳδίαν· ἐπεὶ οὔπω διεκέκριτο τὰ τῆς ποιήσεως ἑκατέρας· ἀλλ’ εἰς αὐτὴν ἓν ἦν τὸ ἆθλον, ἡ τρύξ· ὕστερον δὲ τὸ μὲν κοινὸν ὄνομα ἔσχεν ἡ τραγῳδία· ἡ δὲ κωμῳδία ὠνόμασται, ἐπειδὴ πρότερον κατὰ κώμας ἔλεγον αὐτὰ ἐν ταῖς ἑορταῖς τοῦ Διονύσου καὶ τῆς Δήμητρος· ἢ παρὰ τὸ κωμάζειν, ἡ ἐπὶ τῷ κώματι ᾠδή· ἐπειδὴ ἐπὶ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦ ὕπνου τὴν ἀρχὴν ἐφευρέθη· ἢ ἡ τῶν κωμητῶν ᾠδή· κῶμαι γὰρ λέγονται οἱ μείζονες ἀγροί. Βλαπτόμενοι γάρ τινες γεωργοὶ παρὰ τῶν ἐν ᾿Αθήνῃσι πολιτῶν, κατῄεσαν περὶ τὸν καιρὸν τοῦ ὕπνου· καὶ περιϊόντες τὰς ἀγυιὰς, ἔλεγον ἀνωνυμὶ τὰς βλάβας ἃς ἔπασχον ὑπ’ αὐτῶν· οἷον, ἐνταῦθα μένει τὶς τὰ καὶ τὰ ποιῶν· καὶ ἐκ τούτου ἀνοχὴ τῶν ἀδικιῶν ἐγίνετο.

Comedy Vase

All Just Fools For Words

An Absurd Etymology for Dithyramb


Scholia to Lykophron’s Alexandra, Introduction

“In addition to these, here are the characteristics of prominent poets, the lyric ones who sing their songs to a lyre and who may have a chorus of fifty men set up in a circle, those who also used to take a bull as a prize. These features are shared with the dithyrambic poets. The dithyrambic poets are in the habit of composing their fine hymns do Dionysus and they used to take tripods [as gifts?]. These poems are called dithyramboi thanks to the “two exit doors” of Dionysus, Semele’s stomach and Zeus’ thigh. “

καὶ ταῦτα μὲν τὰ γνωρίσματα τῶν καλουμένων κατ’ ἐξοχὴν ποιητῶν, λυρικῶν δὲ γνωρίσματα τὸ πρὸς λύραν τὰ τούτων ἄδεσθαι μέλη καὶ χορὸς ἑστὼς κυκλικῶς ἄνδρας ἔχων πεντήκοντα, οἵπερ καὶ δῶρον ταῦρον ἐλάμβανον.

καὶ διθυραμβικοῖς δὲ τοῦτο κοινόν. οἱ διθυραμβικοὶ δὲ τῶν λυρικῶν εἶχόν τι πλέον τὸ πρὸς τὸν Διόνυσον πολυστρόφους πλέκειν τοὺς ὕμνους καὶ τρίποδας ἐλάμβανον διὸ καὶ διθύραμβοι ἀπὸ τοῦ Διονύσου ἐλέγοντο τοῦ διὰ δύο θυρῶν βάντος, τῆς τε γαστρὸς τῆς Σεμέλης καὶ τοῦ μηροῦ τοῦ Διός.

If you didn’t get the joke, it is because di-thura-ba- [here, duo-thuron-bantos; “two-doors-walking”] presents the essential sounds of dithyramb.  Byzantine etymological text repeats the origin and explains it a bit, not without adding another on its own.

Etymologicum Magnum, s.v. dithyrambos

“Dithyrambos: Dionysus. It is an epithet of Dionysus because he was raised in a cave with two doors in Nussê. This is also the hymn named for the god and dedicated to him.  It comes from “coming through two doors”, the womb of his mother Semele and Zeus’ thigh—since he was born twice: once from his mother, and once from Zeus’ thigh. This is how he exited the ‘door’ twice.”

Διθύραμβος: ῾Ο Διόνυσος. ᾿Επίθετόν ἐστι τοῦ Διονύσου, ὅτι ἐν διθύρῳ ἄντρῳ τῆς Νύσσης ἐτράφη· καὶ ὁμωνύμως τῷ θεῷ ὁ εἰς αὐτὸν ὕμνος. ῍Η ἀπὸ τοῦ δύο θύρας βαίνειν, τήν τε κοιλίαν τῆς μητρὸς Σεμέλης, καὶ τὸν μηρὸν τοῦ Διός· ἀπὸ τοῦ δεύτερον τετέχθαι, ἀπό τε τῆς μητρὸς, καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ μηροῦ τοῦ Διός· ἵν’ ᾖ ὁ δὶς θύραζε βεβηκώς.


Birth 2/2. The first was from Semele…

The History of the Paragraph

J.E. Sandys, The History of Classical Scholarship, 1.1.7:

“The writings of Heracleitus are described (Rhet. Iii 5) as hard to punctuate (διαστίξαι), but the only mark of punctuation actually mentioned by Aristotle is the παραγραφή (ib. 8), a short horizontal dash drawn below the first word of the line in which the sentence is about to end. It is from this ancient symbol, which marks the close of the sentence, that we give to the sentence itself, or to a connected group of sentences, the name of a ‘paragraph.’”

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