Poisoned Arrows and an Etymology for Toxic

Aristotle, On Marvellous things heard, 86 [=837a]

“People claim that among the Celts there is a drug which they call the “arrow” [toxikon]. They report that it induces so quick a death that the Celts’ hunters, whenever they have shot a deer or some other animal, rush ahead to cut off its flesh before it is penetrated completely by the drug both for the sake of using the meat and so that the animal might not rot.

They also claim that the oak tree’s bark has been found to be an antidote for the poison. But others claim that there is a leaf which that call “raven’s leaf” because they have seen ravens, once they taste the poison mentioned before and start to feel the drug’s effect, rush to this leaf and stop their suffering by eating it.”

Φασὶ δὲ παρὰ τοῖς Κελτοῖς φάρμακον ὑπάρχειν τὸ καλούμενον ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν τοξικόν· ὃ λέγουσιν οὕτω ταχεῖαν ποιεῖν τὴν φθορὰν ὥστε τῶν Κελτῶν τοὺς κυνηγοῦντας, ὅταν ἔλαφον ἢ ἄλλο τι ζῷον τοξεύσωσιν, ἐπιτρέχοντας ἐκ σπουδῆς ἐκτέμνειν τῆς σαρκὸς τὸ τετρωμένον πρὸ τοῦ τὸ φάρμακον διαδῦναι, ἅμα μὲν τῆς προσφορᾶς ἕνεκα, ἅμα δὲ ὅπως μὴ σαπῇ τὸ ζῷον. εὑρῆσθαι δὲ τούτῳ λέγουσιν ἀντιφάρμακον τὸν τῆς δρυὸς φλοιόν· οἱ δ᾿ ἕτερόν τι φύλλον, ὃ καλοῦσι κοράκιον διὰ τὸ κατανοηθῆναι ὑπ᾿ αὐτῶν κόρακα, γευσάμενον τοῦ φαρμάκου καὶ κακῶς διατιθέμενον, ἐπὶ τὸ φύλλον ὁρμήσαντα τοῦτο καὶ καταπιόντα παύσασθαι τῆς ἀλγηδόνος.

Toxic Dictionary
OED is missing this etymology

This comes from the Greek nominal root for bow:

toxos

We could also just do this:

 

“Oh,
The taste of your lips
I’m on a ride
You’re toxic I’m slippin’ under
With a taste of a poison paradise
I’m addicted to you
Don’t you know that you’re toxic?
And I love what you do
Don’t you know that you’re toxic?”

Instruction vs. Art

Isidore of Seville, Etymologies 1.1:

Instruction (disciplina) received its name from learning (discendo): for this reason, it can also be called knowledge (scientia), because to know (scire) is derived from to learn (discere), because no one knows something if they have not learned it. Alternatively, it is called disciplina because it is learned in its fullness (discitur plena). Art however is so called because it consists of strict (artis) precepts and rules. Others say that this word is derived from the Greeks, from arete, that is, from virtue, which they called knowledge.

Plato and Aristotle wanted to establish this difference between art and instruction, saying that art (ars) consists of those things which can come about in an alternative way; but instruction (disciplina) deals with those things which cannot be otherwise than they are. For when something is discussed in true disputations, it is instruction; but when something similar to the truth and depending on conjecture is under discussion, it has the name of art.

Isidor von Sevilla.jpeg

DE DISCIPLINA ET ARTE. [1] De disciplina et arte. Disciplina a discendo nomen accepit: unde et scientia dici potest. Nam scire dictum a discere, quia nemo nostrum scit, nisi qui discit. Aliter dicta disciplina, quia discitur plena. [2] Ars vero dicta est, quod artis praeceptis regulisque consistat. Alii dicunt a Graecis hoc tractum esse vocabulum ἀπὸ τῆς ἀρετῆς, id est a virtute, quam scientiam vocaverunt. [3] Inter artem et disciplinam Plato et Aristoteles hanc differentiam esse voluerunt, dicentes artem esse in his quae se et aliter habere possunt; disciplina vero est, quae de his agit quae aliter evenire non possunt. Nam quando veris disputationibus aliquid disseritur, disciplina erit: quando aliquid verisimile atque opinabile tractatur, nomen artis habebit.

For UK Election Day, A Reminder: Sh*tting The Bed in Ancient Greek

“Does anyone know the ancient Greek for shitting the bed?”

It is a sign of the high rhetoric of our sophisticated era that this (perhaps rhetorical) question was posed in Marina Hyde’s Guardian opinion piece on the befuddled blond-con PM Boris Johnson who just happens to have a Classical education.* It is perhaps also a sign of my esteemed place in this ecology of elevated discourse that multiple people tweeted me the question. And, finally, it is a sign of my own academic training that I resisted the urge initially because my first thought was “well, now, Ancient Greek just does not have that idiom.”

But, if it did, well, it might look like one of these:

“to shit the bed,” κλινοχέζειν

“bed-shitter,” κλινοχέστης

“to recline in dung,” κοπροκλίνειν

“shit-sleeper,” σκατοκαθεύδων

(for Ancient Greek students, we have two compound infinitives, a compound agentive noun, and a compound participle!)

There are many Greek words for bed apart from klinê. One could also select koitê, strômnê, lektron, or lekhos. I chose klinê because it may be familiar from the English clinomania. I avoided koitê because it has a sexual use in English and the last thing I would want to do is imply that we are talking about a shit-fucking politician. I chose khezein for the verb because it is, according to Henderson’s Maculate Muse, the “standard term” (188). The ending χέστης is a totally made-up agentive from khezein. The participle  χέσας appears for the “shitter”  at Aristophanes Birds 790.

Based on the parallel βορβορκοίτης (“lying in filth,” Batrakh 220) we could have σκατοκοίτης / κοπροκοίτης (“lying in shit”) but I don’t think this compound gets to the sense of the English idiom which is, essentially, to fuck up so completely that you might as well be lying in a post-mortem pile of shit.

If you want to play along, here’s an earlier post about various words for excrement and here’s another with compounds for beds. Apparently this is a “chiefly US expression” reddit is divided on the origin of the phrase, one person asserting that it has to do with bowel evacuation after death.

Ancient Greek seems sadly deficient in scatological proverbs. I found only one:

Arsenius, 6.70c

“You have fallen into Augeus’ dung: this means “you are immersed in filth”

 Εἰς τὴν Αὐγέου κόπρον ἐμπέπτωκας: ἤγουν ἐβορβορώθης.

*”happens to have” is perhaps unfair and untrue. He has this education because he is part of a moneyed elite who use education as one of many tools to decorate the facade of their elitist pillaging of their country and blithe assumption to the privilege of rule.

h/t @brixtandrew and the others who brought this to my attention

I found this while searching:

Sophron, fr. 11

“They filled their bedroom with shit while dancing”

βαλλίζοντες τὸν θάλαμον σκάτους ἐνέπλησαν

Damox, fr. 2. 15-16

“Rub him down with shit / and expel him from school”

μινθώσας ἄφες / ὡς ἐκ διατριβῆς

Image result for shit the bed
Someone made this. It seemed appropriate

Cock and Bull Etymology

Isidore of Seville, Etymologies 12.7:

The cock [gallus] is named after castration; for among other birds, it alone has its testicles removed, and the ancients used to call eunuchs cocks [galli]. Just as lioness is derived from lion, serpetness from serpent, so too is hen (gallina) derived from cock (gallus). Certain people say that if its limbs are mixed with molten gold, they are consumed entirely.

Fighting roosters on a Roman mosaic

Gallus a castratione vocatus; inter ceteras enim aves huic solo testiculi adimuntur. Veteres enim abscisos gallos vocabant. Sicut autem a leone leaena et a dracone dracaena, ita a gallo gallina. Cuius membra, ut ferunt quidam, si auro liquescenti misceantur, consumi.

Blessed Isles and Denial: Some Etymological Notes

Photios, Lexikon, Μακάρων νῆσος

“the Isle of the Blessed. The Acropolis of Boiotian Thebes in ancient times, according to Armenidas.”

Μακάρων νῆσος· ἡ ἀκρόπολις τῶν ἐν Βοιωτίαι Θηβῶν τὸ παλαιόν, ὡς ᾽Αρμεν<ί>δας.

Hesychius s.v. βουλεψίη

“Boulepsiê: This word is in Xanthos. For he says that when they give birth to a male, they gouge out his eyes with their own hands.”

βουλεψίη· ἡ λέξις παρὰ Ξάνθωι. λέγει δὲ τὰς ᾽Αμαζόνας ἐπειδὰν τέκωσιν ἄρρεν, ἐξορύσσειν αὐτοῦ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοχειρίαι.

BNJ 453 F 1a (=Etym. Magn. S.v. ῞Αρνη)

“Arnê: A nymph and nurse of Poseidon. The nymph Sinoessa is also named Arnê, reportedly, because when she received Poseidon from Rhea to raise him, she denied it (aparnêsato) when Kronos came asking about him. For this she was called Arnê [denial]. That’s the account of Theseus in the third book of his Korinthian Affairs.”

῎Αρνη· νύμφη, τροφὸς Ποσειδῶνος. εἴρηται δὲ καὶ ῎Αρνη ἡ νύμφη Σινόεσσα καλουμένη, ὅτι τὸν Ποσειδῶνα λαβοῦσα παρὰ τῆς ῾Ρέας ἐκτρέφειν, πρὸς τὸν Κρόνον ζητοῦντα ἀπηρνήσατο, καὶ ἐντεῦθεν ῎Αρνη ὠνομάσθη. οὕτω Θησεὺς ἐν Κορινθιακῶν τρίτωι.

Hieronymus Löschenkohl Joseph II. im Elysium.jpg
Hieronymus Löschenkohl (1753–1807): Ankunft Josephs II. in Elysium, kolorierter Stich, 1790

Sh*tting The Bed in Ancient Greek

“Does anyone know the ancient Greek for shitting the bed?”

It is a sign of the high rhetoric of our sophisticated era that this (perhaps rhetorical) question was posed in Marina Hyde’s Guardian opinion piece on the befuddled blond-con PM Boris Johnson who just happens to have a Classical education.* It is perhaps also a sign of my esteemed place in this ecology of elevated discourse that multiple people tweeted me the question. And, finally, it is a sign of my own academic training that I resisted the urge initially because my first thought was “well, now, Ancient Greek just does not have that idiom.”

But, if it did, well, it might look like one of these:

“to shit the bed,” κλινοχέζειν

“bed-shitter,” κλινοχέστης

“to recline in dung,” κοπροκλίνειν

“shit-sleeper,” σκατοκαθεύδων

(for Ancient Greek students, we have two compound infinitives, a compound agentive noun, and a compound participle!)

There are many Greek words for bed apart from klinê. One could also select koitê, strômnê, lektron, or lekhos. I chose klinê because it may be familiar from the English clinomania. I avoided koitê because it has a sexual use in English and the last thing I would want to do is imply that we are talking about a shit-fucking politician. I chose khezein for the verb because it is, according to Henderson’s Maculate Muse, the “standard term” (188). The ending χέστης is a totally made-up agentive from khezein. The participle  χέσας appears for the “shitter”  at Aristophanes Birds 790.

Based on the parallel βορβορκοίτης (“lying in filth,” Batrakh 220) we could have σκατοκοίτης / κοπροκοίτης (“lying in shit”) but I don’t think this compound gets to the sense of the English idiom which is, essentially, to fuck up so completely that you might as well be lying in a post-mortem pile of shit.

If you want to play along, here’s an earlier post about various words for excrement and here’s another with compounds for beds. Apparently this is a “chiefly US expression” reddit is divided on the origin of the phrase, one person asserting that it has to do with bowel evacuation after death.

Ancient Greek seems sadly deficient in scatological proverbs. I found only one:

Arsenius, 6.70c

“You have fallen into Augeus’ dung: this means “you are immersed in filth”

 Εἰς τὴν Αὐγέου κόπρον ἐμπέπτωκας: ἤγουν ἐβορβορώθης.

*”happens to have” is perhaps unfair and untrue. He has this education because he is part of a moneyed elite who use education as one of many tools to decorate the facade of their elitist pillaging of their country and blithe assumption to the privilege of rule.

h/t @brixtandrew and the others who brought this to my attention

I found this while searching:

Sophron, fr. 11

“They filled their bedroom with shit while dancing”

βαλλίζοντες τὸν θάλαμον σκάτους ἐνέπλησαν

Damox, fr. 2. 15-16

“Rub him down with shit / and expel him from school”

μινθώσας ἄφες / ὡς ἐκ διατριβῆς

Image result for shit the bed
Someone made this. It seemed appropriate

Thirsty as A Wolf: How Lykia Got Its Name

BNJ 769 F 2 Antoninos Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 35

“Cowherds: Menekrates the Xanthian reports in his Lykian Matters and Nicander does as well. Once she gave birth to Apollo and Artemis on the island Asteria, Leto went to Lykia carrying the children to the baths of Xanthus. And as soon she she appeared in the land, she went to the Melitean spring where she wanted her children to drink before they went to the Xanthus.

But when some cowherds drove her away, so that their cattle might drink from the spring, Leto retreated, abandoning the Melitê, and wolves came to meet her, and they gave her directions and led her right up to the Xanthus itself while wagging their tails. She drank the water, bathed her children and made the Xanthus sacred to Apollo. She also changed the land’s name to Lykia—it was called Tremilis before—after the wolves who led her there.

Then she went again to the spring to bring punishment to the cowherds who drove her off. At they time they were washing their cattle near the spring. After she changed them all into frogs and struck their backs and shoulders with rough stones, she threw them all into the spring and granted them  life in the water. In our time still, they shout out along the rivers and ponds.”

Βουκόλοι. ἱστορεῖ Μενεκράτης Ξάνθιος Λυκιακοῖς καὶ Νίκανδρος. Λητὼ ἐπεὶ ἔτεκεν ᾽Απόλλωνα καὶ ῎Αρτεμιν ἐν ᾽Αστερίαι τῆι νήσωι, ἀφίκετο εἰς Λυκίαν ἐπιφερομένη τοὺς παῖδας ἐπὶ τὰ λουτρὰ τοῦ Ξάνθου  καὶ ἐπεὶ τάχιστα ἐγένετο ἐν τῆι γῆι ταύτηι, ἐνέτυχε πρῶτα Μελίτηι κρήνηι, καὶ προεθυμεῖτο πρὶν ἐπὶ τὸν Ξάνθον ἐλθεῖν ἐνταυθοῖ τοὺς παῖδας ἀπολοῦσαι. (2) ἐπεὶ δὲ αὐτὴν ἐξήλασαν ἄνδρες βουκόλοι, ὅπως ἂν αὐτοῖς οἱ βόες ἐκ τῆς κρήνης πίωσιν, ἀπαλλάττεται καταλιποῦσα τὴν Μελίτην ἡ Λητώ, λύκοι δὲ συναντόμενοι καὶ σήναντες ὑφηγήσαντο τῆς ὁδοῦ, καὶ ἀπήγαγον ἄχρι πρὸς τὸν ποταμὸν αὐτὴν τὸν Ξάνθον. (3) ἡ δὲ πιοῦσα τοῦ ὕδατος καὶ ἀπολούσασα τοὺς παῖδας τὸν μὲν Ξάνθον ἱερὸν ἀπέδειξεν ᾽Απόλλωνος, τὴν δὲ γῆν Τρεμιλίδα λεγομένην Λυκίαν μετωνόμασεν ἀπὸ τῶν καθηγησαμένων λύκων. (4) ἐπὶ δὲ τὴν κρήνην αὖτις ἐξίκετο δίκην ἐπιβαλοῦσα τοῖς ἀπελάσασιν αὐτὴν βουκόλοις. καὶ οἱ μὲν ἀπέλουον τότε παρὰ τὴν κρήνην τοὺς βοῦς, Λητὼ δὲ μεταβαλοῦσα πάντας ἐποίησε βατράχους, καὶ λίθωι τραχεῖ τύπτουσα τὰ νῶτα καὶ τοὺς ὤμους κατέβαλε πάντας εἰς τὴν κρήνην, καὶ βίον ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καθ᾽ ὓδατος · οἱ δὲ ἄχρι νῦν παρὰ ποταμοὺς βοῶσι καὶ λίμνας.

Lycian rock cut tombs of Dalyan
Tombs in Lykia (AlexanderShap at en.wikipedia)