“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.”
“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
“to recline in dung,” κοπροκλίνειν
(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.
*”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”
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.”
“If one of Ares’ priests die, he is wrapped well by the local people and taken into some public space after the third die. When his relatives cremate him, the temple acolyte elected by the people places the god’s sword under the body. Once there is total silence, if everything is done lawfully, the priest receives those things which are done.
But if there is some knowledge of an accusation, once the iron is put under the priest’s body, he is called back to like and he offers an accusation of how much he transgressed against the god. Once this is prosecuted—there is a [ of the accounts]…and he bears [the penalty] for the entire responsibility. This is how Arkhelaos and Zenodotus explain it in their works…”
“Areopagos. A combination of meaningful words. Areios and Pagos. It is court in Athens. It was called the “hill of Ares” because the court is on a hill and is on the top and after Ares because it is where murder cases are adjudicated and Ares is associated with murders. Or, this may be the place where Ares stuck [epêkse] his spear in a suit brought against him by Poseidon over the murder of Halirrothios. Ares killed him because he raped his daughter Alkippê from Agraulos, Kekrops’ daughter, as Hellenikos claims in his first book.”
This court was largely limited to homicide after the Ephialtic reforms (c. 465 BCE). The second tale pushes the basic etymology (“Hill of Ares”) even further and gives an aetiological narrative for Athenians putting a spear in the grave of murder victims. This narrative also recalls the conflict between Athena and Poseidon over the sponsorship of the city. See Fowler 2013, 454.
My daughter learned a series of neologisms at school this year, including the clever but cloying “hangry”. What is a classically trained pedant to do but look for ancient precedents for a newly coined term?
Phrynichus, fr. 75
“In the grumpy rages of old men with rotting lives.”
ἐν χαλεπαῖς ὀργαῖς ἀναπηροβίων †γερόντων
Aristophanes, Knights 706-7
“You’re so cranky! Come on, what can I feed you?
What do you munch on most happily? Is it a wallet?”
“Akhilleus: [this name comes from] lessening grief, for Achilles was a doctor. Or it is because of the woe, which is pain, he brought to his mother and the Trojans. Or it is from not touching his lips to food [khilê]. For he had no serving of milk at all, but was fed with stag-marrow by Kheiron. This is why he was hailed by the Myrmidons in the following way, according to Euphoriôn:
He came to Phthia without ever tasting any food
This is why the Myrmidons named him Achilles.”
“The name Odysseus has been explained through the following story. For they claim that when Antikleia, Odysseus’ mother, was pregnant she was travelling [hodeuousan] on Mt. Neritos in Ithaka, and it began to rain [husantos] terribly Because of her labor and fear she collapsed and gave birth to Odysseus there. So, he obtained is name in this way, since Zeus, on the road [hodon] rained [hûsen].”
It is more typical to derive Odysseus’ name from the verb odussomai, which means something like “being hateful, being hated”. Autolykos, Odysseus’ maternal grandfather, is reported to have named him in the Odyssey (19.407–409).
“I have come to this point hated [odussamenos] by many—
Both men and women over the man-nourishing earth.
So let his name be Ody[s]seus…”
He whores (scortatur), he drinks, he smells like perfume at my cost!
The verb to whore (scortari) means quite often to take a prostitute, which is so called from a pelt. For the ancients not only called a pelt a scortum, but even today we call those things which are made of hide and pelt scortea. In some sacred rites and sacrificial places we have it written:
Let not a prostitute (scortum) be admitted
meaning by this that nothing dead should be present. In Atellan farces one may observe that they brought home a little skin (pellicula) instead of a scortum.
Scortatur, potat, olet unguenta de meo.
Scortari est saepius meretriculam ducere, quae dicta a pelle: id enim non solum antiqui dicebant scortum, sed etiam nunc dicimus scortea ea quae e corio ac pellibus sunt facta; in aliquot sacris ac sacellis scriptum habemus:
Ne quod scorteum adhibeatur,
ideo ne morticinum quid adsit. In Atellanis licet animadvertere rusticos dicere se adduxisse pro scorto pelliculam.