Snakehead and Boys in the Street: Plato the Comic on Politics (Two Fragments)

This is from Plato the Attic Comedian, not the Attic Philosopher. Who knew there were at least 30 men with the same name?

Plato, Fr. 202 (Stobaeus, 2.3.3)

“If one wicked person
perishes, then two politicians grow in his place.
For there is no Iolaus* in the city
Who might cauterize the politicians’ heads.
If you’ve been bent over, then you’ll be a politician.”

῍Ην γὰρ ἀποθάνῃ
εἷς τις πονηρός, δύ’ ἀνέφυσαν ῥήτορες•
οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἡμῖν ᾿Ιόλεως ἐν τῇ πόλει,
ὅστις ἐπικαύσει τὰς κεφαλὰς τῶν ῥητόρων.
κεκολλόπευκας• τοιγαροῦν ῥήτωρ ἔσει.

*Iolaus is Herakles’ nephew who helped the hero kill the Hydra by cauterizing its necks to prevent new heads from growing.

Platôn, Alliance (fr. 168)

“They are like those boys who each time they draw a line
in the street to divide themselves into two groups
stand with some of them on one side of the line and some on the other.
One who stands in the middle of the two hurls a pot sherd–
If the white side faces up, one group must flee right away
And the others must chase them.”

Εἴξασιν γὰρ τοῖς παιδαρίοις τούτοις, οἳ ἑκάστοτε γραμμήν
ἐν ταῖσιν ὁδοῖς διαγράψαντες διανειμάμενοι δίχ’ ἑαυτούς
ἑστᾶσ’, αὐτῶν οἱ μὲν ἐκεῖθεν τῆς γράμμης οἱ δ’ αὖ ἐκεῖθεν•
εἷς δ’ ἀμφοτέρων ὄστρακον αὐτοῖς εἰς μέσον ἑστὼς ἀνίησιν,
κἂν μὲν πίπτῃσι τὰ λεύκ’ ἐπάνω, φεύγειν ταχὺ τοὺς ἑτέρους δεῖ,
τοὺς δὲ διώκειν.

Herakles and Iolaus Mosaic

What A Piece of Work is Man: Reading Sophocles’ “Antigone” Online

Sophocles, Antigone 559-60

“My soul died long ago
so I could give  help to the dead.”

ἡ δ᾽ ἐμὴ ψυχὴ πάλαι τέθνηκεν,
ὥστε τοῖς θανοῦσιν ὠφελεῖν.

Sophocles, Antigone 332-341

“There are many wonders and none
is more awe-inspiring than humanity.
This thing that crosses the sea
as it whorls under a stormy wind
finding a path on enveloping waves.
It wears down imperishable Earth, too,
the oldest of the gods, a tireless deity,
as the plows trace lives from year to year
drawn by the race of horses….”

?Ο. Πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀν-
θρώπου δεινότερον πέλει·
τοῦτο καὶ πολιοῦ πέραν
πόντου χειμερίῳ νότῳ
χωρεῖ, περιβρυχίοισιν
περῶν ὑπ’ οἴδμασιν, θεῶν
τε τὰν ὑπερτάταν, Γᾶν
ἄφθιτον, ἀκαμάταν, ἀποτρύεται,
ἰλλομένων ἀρότρων ἔτος εἰς ἔτος,
ἱππείῳ γένει πολεύων.

RGTO.Antigone.poster

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ with discussion and interpretation during our time of isolation and social distancing. As Paul O’Mahony, whose idea this whole thing was said in an earlier blog post, Since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Each week we select scenes from a play, actors and experts from around the world, and put them all together for 90 minutes or so to see what will happen. This process is therapeutic for us; and it helps us think about how tragedy may have had similar functions in the ancient world as well.

Sophocles, Antigone 737

“The state which belongs to one man is no state at all.”

πόλις γὰρ οὐκ ἔσθ᾽ ἥτις ἀνδρός ἐσθ᾽ ἑνός.

This week we turn to Sophocles’ Antigone, arguably one of the most famous plays from antiquity. Alongside Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannos and Euripides’ Bacchae, Antigone is one of the most re-interpreted and translated plays in the last generation. Its reputation is well-deserved both for some of the most memorable and moving poetic passages to the seemingly harsh simplicity of its plot which forces the title character to choose between obeying the laws of the gods or obeying the laws of the state. This choice to bury her brother against the decree of her uncle Creon seals Antigone’s fate to die, a martyr of sorts in service to the gods

Nevertheless, this simple plot belies the complexity and strangeness of the play as a whole. From the initial bitter debate between the sisters about Antigone’s decision to Creon’s bluster and the surprising death of Haemon, Sophocles’ play is not just about competing systems of loyalty: it is also about how we cast ourselves as ‘players’ in the world between competing systems of identity and affiliation. Antigone is set in Thebes and the myth-verse of that terrible Oedipal family. Her story is about civil war and the story it writes on the bodies of combatants and non-combatants; her story is about how the fight lives on after wars are over; and her story is about how words and the stories we tell can make peace impossible.

But this play is also not only about Antigone: her sister Ismene plays an important role as does her cousin Haemon who has a tragic interest in her love. Even more confusing is what we should think of the ruler Creon, the man who awarded Jocasta (unknowingly) to her own son, oversaw the war between their sons, and is now positioning himself as the only one who can keep Thebes from falling apart.

Sophocles, Antigone 1056

“The race of tyrants loves shameful profit.”

τὸ δ᾽ ἐκ τυράννων αἰσχροκέρδειαν φιλεῖ.

Scenes (Using Paul Woodruff’s translation)

1-99: Antigone and Ismene
332-581: Chorus, Antigone, Creon, Ismene
631-780: Creon, Haemon, Chorus
781-943: Chorus, Antigone, Creon
1193-1243: Messenger
1261-1353: Creon, Messenger, Chorus

Sophocles, Antigone 141-145

“The seven leaders appointed to their seven gates
dedicated their bronze arms
to Zeus who turns the battle
except for only those two born
of a singer mother and father
who faced each other’s spears
each with a share of victory and death.”

ἑπτὰ λοχαγοὶ γὰρ ἐφ᾽ ἑπτὰ πύλαις
ταχθέντες ἴσοι πρὸς ἴσους ἔλιπον
Ζηνὶ τροπαίῳ πάγχαλκα τέλη,
πλὴν τοῖν στυγεροῖν, ὣ πατρὸς ἑνὸς
μητρός τε μιᾶς φύντε καθ᾽ αὑτοῖν
δικρατεῖς λόγχας στήσαντ᾽ ἔχετον
κοινοῦ θανάτου μέρος ἄμφω.

Performers

Antigone – Tabatha Gayle
Ismene – Evvy Miller
Creon – Tim Delap
Chorus – Sara Valentine, Austin Lee, and Gryphon Magnus
Haemon – Carlos Bellato
Messenger – Paul O’Mahony

Sophocles, Antigone 495-496

“I hate it when someone is caught in the midst of their evil deeds and tries to gloss over them.”

μισῶ γε μέντοι χὤταν ἐν κακοῖσί τις / ἁλοὺς ἔπειτα τοῦτο καλλύνειν θέλῃ.

Sophocles, Antigone 506-507

“But tyranny is a happy state in many ways, and the tyrant has the power to act and speak as they wish.”

ἀλλ᾽ ἡ τυραννὶς πολλά τ᾽ ἄλλ᾽ εὐδαιμονεῖ/  κἄξεστιν αὐτῇ δρᾶν λέγειν θ᾽ ἃ βούλεται.

Special Guests, Paul Woodruff and James Collins

Artistic Director: Paul O’Mahony (Out of Chaos Theatre)
Associate Director: Liz Fisher
Director of Outreach: Amy Pistone (Gonzaga University)
Dramaturg: Emma Pauly
Executive Producer: Lanah Koelle (Center for Hellenic Studies)
Producers: Keith DeStone (Center for Hellenic Studies), Hélène Emeriaud, Janet Ozsolak, and Sarah Scott (Kosmos Society)
Poster Artist: John Koelle
Poster Designer: Allie Marbry (Center for Hellenic Studies)

Sophocles, Antigone 72–77

“It is noble for me to do this and then die.
I will lie with him because I belong to him, with him,
Once I have completed my sacred crimes. There’s more time
When I must please those below than those here,
Since I will lie there forever. You? Go head,
Dishonor what the gods honor if it seems right.”

… καλόν μοι τοῦτο ποιούσῃ θανεῖν.
φίλη μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ κείσομαι, φίλου μέτα,
ὅσια πανουργήσασ᾿· ἐπεὶ πλείων χρόνος
ὃν δεῖ μ᾿ ἀρέσκειν τοῖς κάτω τῶν ἐνθάδε·
ἐκεῖ γὰρ αἰεὶ κείσομαι. σὺ δ᾿ εἰ δοκεῖ
τὰ τῶν θεῶν ἔντιμ᾿ ἀτιμάσασ᾿ ἔχε.

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

Sophocles, Electra, August 12

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris, August 19th

Euripides, Hippolytus, August 23

Sophocles, Antigone 280–288

“Stop speaking before you fill me with rage!
And you’re revealed as a fool as well as an old man.

You speak of unendurable things, claiming that the gods
Have some plan for this corpse.
Did they do it to honor him so greatly for his fine work,
Concealing him, the man who came here
To burn their temples and their statutes,
To ruin their land and their laws?
Do you see the gods honoring evil people?”

παῦσαι, πρὶν ὀργῆς καί με μεστῶσαι λέγων,
μὴ ᾿φευρεθῇς ἄνους τε καὶ γέρων ἅμα.
λέγεις γὰρ οὐκ ἀνεκτὰ δαίμονας λέγων
πρόνοιαν ἴσχειν τοῦδε τοῦ νεκροῦ πέρι.
πότερον ὑπερτιμῶντες ὡς εὐεργέτην
ἔκρυπτον αὐτόν, ὅστις ἀμφικίονας
ναοὺς πυρώσων ἦλθε κἀναθήματα
καὶ γῆν ἐκείνων καὶ νόμους διασκεδῶν;
ἢ τοὺς κακοὺς τιμῶντας εἰσορᾷς θεούς;

Videos of Earlier Sessions (Go here for the project page)
Euripides’ Helen, March 25th
Sophocles’ Philoktetes, April 1st
Euripides’ Herakles, April 8th
Euripides’ Bacchae, April 15th
Euripides’ Iphigenia , April 22nd
Sophocles, Trachinian Women, April 29th
Euripides, Orestes May 6th
Aeschylus, Persians, May 13th
Euripides, Trojan Women May 20th
Sophocles’ Ajax, May 27th
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos, June 10th

Euripides, Ion,  June 17th

Euripides, Hecuba June 24th

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound June 30th

Euripides, Andromache 

Aristophanes, Clouds July 15th

Euripides, Alcestis July 22nd

Sophocles, Antigone 175–190 (Creon speaking)

“It is impossible to really learn a man’s
mind, thought and opinion before he’s been initiated
into the offices and laws of the state.
Indeed—whoever attempts to direct the country
but does not make use of the best advice
as he keeps his tongue frozen out of fear
Seems to me to be the worst kind of person now and long ago.

Anyone who thinks his friend is more important than the country,
I say that they live nowhere.
May Zeus who always sees everything witness this:
I could never be silent when I saw ruin
Overtaking my citizens instead of safety.

And I could never make my country’s enemy a friend
For myself, because I know this crucial thing:
The state is the ship which saves us
And we may make friends only if it remains afloat.”

ἀμήχανον δὲ παντὸς ἀνδρὸς ἐκμαθεῖν
ψυχήν τε καὶ φρόνημα καὶ γνώμην, πρὶν ἂν
ἀρχαῖς τε καὶ νόμοισιν ἐντριβὴς φανῇ.
ἐμοὶ γὰρ ὅστις πᾶσαν εὐθύνων πόλιν
μὴ τῶν ἀρίστων ἅπτεται βουλευμάτων,
ἀλλ᾿ ἐκ φόβου του γλῶσσαν ἐγκλῄσας ἔχει,
κάκιστος εἶναι νῦν τε καὶ πάλαι δοκεῖ·

καὶ μείζον᾿ ὅστις ἀντὶ τῆς αὑτοῦ πάτρας
φίλον νομίζει, τοῦτον οὐδαμοῦ λέγω.
ἐγὼ γάρ, ἴστω Ζεὺς ὁ πάνθ᾿ ὁρῶν ἀεί,
οὔτ᾿ ἂν σιωπήσαιμι τὴν ἄτην ὁρῶν
στείχουσαν ἀστοῖς ἀντὶ τῆς σωτηρίας,
οὔτ᾿ ἂν φίλον ποτ᾿ ἄνδρα δυσμενῆ χθονὸς
θείμην ἐμαυτῷ, τοῦτο γιγνώσκων ὅτι
ἥδ᾿ ἐστὶν ἡ σῴζουσα καὶ ταύτης ἔπι
πλέοντες ὀρθῆς τοὺς φίλους ποιούμεθα.

Sophocles, Antigone 1165-1167

“But when people lose their pleasures, I do not consider this life – rather, it is just a corpse with a soul.”

τὰς γὰρ ἡδονὰς ὅταν προδῶσιν ἄνδρες,
οὐ τίθημ᾽ ἐγὼ ζῆν τοῦτον,
ἀλλ᾽ ἔμψυχον ἡγοῦμαι νεκρόν.

Humanity’s Many Wonders: Reading Tragic Choruses Online

Sophocles, Antigone 332-341

“There are many wonders and none
is more awe-inspiring than humanity.
This thing that crosses the sea
as it whorls under a stormy wind
finding a path on enveloping waves.
It wears down imperishable Earth, too,
the oldest of the gods, a tireless deity,
as the plows trace lives from year to year
drawn by the race of horses….”

?Ο. Πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀν-
θρώπου δεινότερον πέλει·
τοῦτο καὶ πολιοῦ πέραν
πόντου χειμερίῳ νότῳ
χωρεῖ, περιβρυχίοισιν
περῶν ὑπ’ οἴδμασιν, θεῶν
τε τὰν ὑπερτάταν, Γᾶν
ἄφθιτον, ἀκαμάταν, ἀποτρύεται,
ἰλλομένων ἀρότρων ἔτος εἰς ἔτος,
ἱππείῳ γένει πολεύων.

RGTO Chorus

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ with discussion and interpretation during our time of isolation and social distancing. As Paul O’Mahony, whose idea this whole thing was said in an earlier blog post, Since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Each week we select scenes from a play, actors and experts from around the world, and put them all together for 90 minutes or so to see what will happen. This process is therapeutic for us; and it helps us think about how tragedy may have had similar functions in the ancient world as well.

This week is dedicated entirely to the chorus, that most challenging of features of ancient Greek tragedy for modern stages. The chorus was not restricted to the dramatic stage in Ancient Greece. Ritual singing and dancing in groups seems to have been widespread: we find choral activity in Homer (Odyssey 8.264) and the Homeric hymns as well as Hesiod where the Muses are said to perform as Apollo plays the lyre. Indeed, several genres of Greek poetry where choral in structure and performance (including Epinician poetry like Pindar’s or the fragmentary poetry of Alcman).

The traditional story is that Greek tragedy developed out of Choral performances in honor of Dionysus. Over time, the performances grew more elaborate and as they told the stories of gods and heroes parts were individuated. While this traditional account is not certain, it is certain that the chorus was one of the most important parts of the performance of tragedy in Athens. It was the responsibility of an archon each year in Athens to choose the choregoi to select, finance, and have the chorus trained. The chorus was the central spectacle of tragedy in the beginning, with 12-15 performers singing and dancing in the orchestra in front of the stage and rarely leaving the scene.

In modern performances, the music and dance of the chorus often take a back seat to the poetry. The choral odes are where we find much of the most memorable poetry from ancient tragedy. But we often forget that these were songs too. So today we are going to take a look at the chorus and some different ways of conceiving it on the small screen.

Aeschylus, Agamemnon 176-183

“[Zeus] puts mortals on
The journey of comprehension.
And made this the powerful law:
We learn by suffering.
Pain-recalling trouble trickles
Through the heart in sleep—
And wisdom comes just so
To the unwilling.
The gods seated on their sacred seats
Bestow a hard grace I think.”

Ζῆνα δέ τις προφρόνως ἐπινίκια κλάζων
τεύξεται φρενῶν τὸ πᾶν,

τὸν φρονεῖν βροτοὺς ὁδώ-
σαντα, τὸν πάθει μάθος
θέντα κυρίως ἔχειν.
στάζει δ’ ἀνθ’ ὕπνου πρὸ καρδίας
μνησιπήμων πόνος· καὶ παρ’ ἄ-
κοντας ἦλθε σωφρονεῖν.
δαιμόνων δέ που χάρις βίαιος
σέλμα σεμνὸν ἡμένων.

Scenes

  1. Parodos from Antigone, 101-163
  2. Parodos from Agamemnon, 40-263
  3. “Ode to Man” from Sophocles, Antigone 377-416
  4. 5th Stasimon from Euripides’ Medea 1251-1292
  5. 5th Stasimon from Sophocles’ Antigone 1115-1154
  6.  Binding Song from Aeschylus, Eumenides 307-396

Sophocles, Antigone 141-145

“The seven leaders appointed to their seven gates
dedicated their bronze arms
to Zeus who turns the battle
except for only those two born
of a singer mother and father
who faced each other’s spears
each with a share of victory and death.”

ἑπτὰ λοχαγοὶ γὰρ ἐφ᾽ ἑπτὰ πύλαις
ταχθέντες ἴσοι πρὸς ἴσους ἔλιπον
Ζηνὶ τροπαίῳ πάγχαλκα τέλη,
πλὴν τοῖν στυγεροῖν, ὣ πατρὸς ἑνὸς
μητρός τε μιᾶς φύντε καθ᾽ αὑτοῖν
δικρατεῖς λόγχας στήσαντ᾽ ἔχετον
κοινοῦ θανάτου μέρος ἄμφω.

Performers

Hannah Barrie

Bettina Joy de Guzman

Tim Delap

T. Lynn Mikeska

Evelyn Miller

Paul O’Mahony

Sara Valentine

Special Guest: Anna Uhlig

Dramaturgical assistance: Emma Pauly

Posters: John Koelle

Technical, Moral, Administrative Support: Lanah Koelle, Allie Mabry, Janet Ozsolak, Helene Emeriaud, Sarah Scott, Keith DeStone

Euripides, Medea 1261-1270

“Pointless was the labor for your children
pointless when you raised dear offspring,
woman who escaped the Symplegades’ clash
of their dark cliffs in those straits
most unwelcoming to strangers.
Wretch of a woman, why does irrational rage
overcome you and one cruel murder answer another?
Mortals find the pollution from family’s blood overwhelming–
Grief from the gods stalks murderers equal to their deeds,
falling upon their houses.”

μάταν μόχθος ἔρρει τέκνων,
μάταν ἄρα γένος φίλιον ἔτεκες, ὦ
κυανεᾶν λιποῦσα Συμπληγάδων
πετρᾶν ἀξενωτάταν ἐσβολάν.
δειλαία, τί σοι φρενοβαρὴς
χόλος προσπίτνει καὶ ζαμενὴς <φόνου>
φόνος ἀμείβεται;
χαλεπὰ γὰρ βροτοῖς ὁμογενῆ μιά-
σματ᾽, ἕπεται δ᾽ ἅμ᾽ αὐτοφόνταις ξυνῳ-
δὰ θεόθεν πίτνοντ᾽ ἐπὶ δόμοις ἄχη.

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

The Chorus, July 29th [Special 10 AM time]

Sophocles, Antigone August 5

Sophocles, Electra, August 12

Euripides, Iphigenia in Tauris, August 19th

Videos of Earlier Sessions (Go here for the project page)
Euripides’ Helen, March 25th
Sophocles’ Philoktetes, April 1st
Euripides’ Herakles, April 8th
Euripides’ Bacchae, April 15th
Euripides’ Iphigenia , April 22nd
Sophocles, Trachinian Women, April 29th
Euripides, Orestes May 6th
Aeschylus, Persians, May 13th
Euripides, Trojan Women May 20th
Sophocles’ Ajax, May 27th
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos, June 10th

Euripides, Ion,  June 17th

Euripides, Hecuba June 24th

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound June 30th

Euripides, Andromache 

Aristophanes, Clouds July 15th

Euripides, AlcestisJuly 22nd

The Debt All Mortals Owe: Reading Euripides’ “Alcestis” Online

Euripides, Alcestis 745

“I am dead to you”

τέθνηκα γὰρ δὴ τοὐπὶ σ᾿.

Euripides, Alcestis  196-198

“These are what Admetos’ sufferings are like.
If he died, he would leave; but since he’s alive
He lives with the kind of grief he will never forget.”

τοιαῦτ᾿ ἐν οἴκοις ἐστὶν Ἀδμήτου κακά.
καὶ κατθανών τἂν ᾤχετ᾿, ἐκφυγὼν δ᾿ ἔχει
τοσοῦτον ἄλγος, οὔποθ᾿ οὗ λελήσεται.

RGTO Alcestis

Euripides, Alcestis, 141

“You could say that she’s dead and alive.”

καὶ ζῶσαν εἰπεῖν καὶ θανοῦσαν ἔστι σοι.

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ with discussion and interpretation during our time of isolation and social distancing. As Paul O’Mahony, whose idea this whole thing was said in an earlier blog post, Since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Each week we select scenes from a play, actors and experts from around the world, and put them all together for 90 minutes or so to see what will happen. This process is therapeutic for us; and it helps us think about how tragedy may have had similar functions in the ancient world as well.

Euripides, Alcestis 71

“You can’t gain anything more by saying much.”

πόλλ᾿ ἂν σὺ λέξας οὐδὲν ἂν πλέον λάβοις·

This play is dated as one of Euripides’ earliest extant dramas, coming from around 438. It tells the story of a king in Thessaly who impressed Apollo with his reverence and whose death Apollo is trying to prevent by having his wife Alcestis take his place. The tone and content of this mythical Romance of sorts has challenged readers for some time. As a scholion introducing the play complains:

“This drama is rather like a satyr play because it mixes in joy and pleasure and and those things rejected as ill-fit to tragic poetry, which is the same thing in the Orestes and the Alkestis, they begin from misfortune and end in good fortune and ending in joy, which is more proper of comedy. [Many of this kinds of things are in tragedy]”

τὸ δὲ δρᾶμά ἐστι σατυρικώτερον ὅτι εἰς χαρὰν καὶ ἡδονὴν κατστρέφει [παρὰ τοῖς τραγικοῖς] <καὶ> ἐκβάλλεται ὡς ἀνοίκεια τῆς τραγικῆς ποιήσεως ὅ τε ᾿Ορέστης καὶ ἡ ῎Αλκηστις, ὡς ἐκ συμφορᾶς μὲν ἀρχόμενα, εἰς εὐδαιμονίαν <δὲ> καὶ χαρὰν λήξαντα, <ἅ> ἐστι μᾶλλον κωμῳδίας ἐχόμενα. <πολλὰ δὲ τοιαῦτα παρὰ τοῖς τραγικοῖς>:

Of course, this play comes before Aristotle codified what a tragedy and comedy should be! It could not have been too strange, because Euripides won second place with this play, bested again by Sophocles. In the Alkestis, again, we find Euripides challenging modern assumptions about what a tragedy should provide. But what if we ignore Aristotle for a bit, and ask what a play should do instead?

Scenes (Using this translation)

1-76: Apollo and Thanatos
77-135: Chorus
238-392: Chorus, Alcestis, Admetus
509-568: Admetus, Heracles, Chorus
747-860: Servant and Heracles
1008-1158: Heracles, Admetus, Alcestis (silent)

Euripides, Alcestis  252-7

“I see the double-oared skiff
In the lake, the ferryman of the corpses
Kharon keeps his hand on the rudder
And calls to me, “Why do you put this off?
Press on, you are holding me back.”
He hurries me on, fast with these words.”

ὁρῶ δίκωπον ὁρῶ σκάφος ἐν
λίμνᾳ· νεκύων δὲ πορθμεὺς
ἔχων χέρ᾿ ἐπὶ κοντῷ Χάρων
μ᾿ ἤδη καλεῖ· Τί μέλλεις;
ἐπείγου· σὺ κατείργεις. τάδε τοί
με σπερχόμενος ταχύνει.

Actors

Thanatos – Noelia Antweiler
Alcestis – Tabatha Gayle
Admetus – Martin Lewis
Chorus – Toph Marshall
Apollo/Servant – Paul O’Mahony
Heracles – René Thornton Jr

Special Guest: Maria Xanthou

Dramaturgical assistance: Emma Pauly

Direction: Beth Burns with production assistance by Paul O’Mahony

Posters: John Koelle

Technical, Moral, Administrative Support: Lanah Koelle, Allie Mabry, Janet Ozsolak, Helene Emeriaud, Sarah Scott, Keith DeStone

Euripides, Alcestis 780-784

“Do you understand the nature of mortal affairs?
I don’t think so. How would you? Listen to me.
Dying is the debt that all mortals owe
And no one who is mortal will know
Whether they will be alive on the coming day.”

τὰ θνητὰ πράγμαθ᾿ ἥντιν᾿ οἶσθ᾿ ἔχει φύσιν;
οἶμαι μὲν οὔ· πόθεν γάρ; ἀλλ᾿ ἄκουέ μου.
βροτοῖς ἅπασι κατθανεῖν ὀφείλεται,
κοὐκ ἔστι θνητῶν ὅστις ἐξεπίσταται
τὴν αὔριον μέλλουσαν εἰ βιώσεται·

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

The Chorus, July 29th [Special 10 AM time]

Sophocles, Antigone August 5

Sophocles, Electra, August 12

Euripides, Alcestis 349-355

“A statue of you shaped by the wise hand
Of craftsmen will be laid out in our bed.
I will cast myself into her arms while embracing
Call our your name, believing that I have
My dear wife in my arms, even though I don’t.
I believe this is a cold pleasure, but still
It will balance the weight in my soul…”

σοφῇ δὲ χειρὶ τεκτόνων δέμας τὸ σὸν
εἰκασθὲν ἐν λέκτροισιν ἐκταθήσεται,
ᾧ προσπεσοῦμαι καὶ περιπτύσσων χέρας
ὄνομα καλῶν σὸν τὴν φίλην ἐν ἀγκάλαις
δόξω γυναῖκα καίπερ οὐκ ἔχων ἔχειν·
ψυχρὰν μέν, οἶμαι, τέρψιν, ἀλλ᾿ ὅμως βάρος
ψυχῆς ἀπαντλοίην ἄν.

Videos of Earlier Sessions (Go here for the project page)
Euripides’ Helen, March 25th
Sophocles’ Philoktetes, April 1st
Euripides’ Herakles, April 8th
Euripides’ Bacchae, April 15th
Euripides’ Iphigenia , April 22nd
Sophocles, Trachinian Women, April 29th
Euripides, Orestes May 6th
Aeschylus, Persians, May 13th
Euripides, Trojan Women May 20th
Sophocles’ Ajax, May 27th
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos, June 10th

Euripides, Ion,  June 17th

Euripides, Hecuba June 24th

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound June 30th

Euripides, Andromache 

Aristophanes, Clouds July 15th

Euripides, Alcestis  689-774

“How have I wronged you? What have I taken from you?
Don’t die for this man and I won’t for you.
You delight seeing the light. Don’t you imagine your father does too?
Really, I reckon that the time below stretches out
And that living is short but still sweet.

But you have shamefully fought not to die
And you live, passing the fate allotted to you
By killing her…”

“τί δῆτά σ᾿ ἠδίκηκα; τοῦ σ᾿ ἀποστερῶ;
μὴ θνῇσχ᾿ ὑπὲρ τοῦδ᾿ ἀνδρός, οὐδ᾿ ἐγὼ πρὸ σοῦ.
χαίρεις ὁρῶν φῶς· πατέρα δ᾿ οὐ χαίρειν δοκεῖς;
ἦ μὴν πολύν γε τόν κάτω λογίζομαι
χρόνον, τὸ δὲ ζῆν σμικρὸν ἀλλ᾿ ὅμως γλυκύ.
σὺ γοῦν ἀναιδῶς διεμάχου τὸ μὴ θανεῖν
καὶ ζῇς παρελθὼν τὴν πεπρωμένην τύχην,
ταύτην κατακτάς…

Turn Your Life Around! Reading Aristophanes’ “Clouds” Online

Aristophanes, Clouds 745

“My little sweetie, Sokratido!”

ὦ Σωκρατίδιον φίλτατον.

Aristophanes, Clouds 785

“Forget everything you’ve learned immediately.”

ἀλλ᾿ εὐθὺς ἐπιλήθει σύ γ᾿ ἅττ᾿ ἂν καὶ μάθῃς.

RGTO Clouds

Aristophanes, Clouds 2-3

“Sweet Zeus! How long a night this is!
It is endless. Will it ever be day?

ὦ Ζεῦ βασιλεῦ, τὸ χρῆμα τῶν νυκτῶν ὅσον.
ἀπέραντον. οὐδέποθ᾿ ἡμέρα γενήσεται;

The Center for Hellenic Studies , the Kosmos Society and Out of Chaos Theatre has been presenting scenes from Greek tragedy on the ‘small screen’ with discussion and interpretation during our time of isolation and social distancing. As Paul O’Mahony, whose idea this whole thing was said in an earlier blog post, Since we are “unable to explore the outside world, we have no option but to explore further the inner one.

Each week we select scenes from a play, actors and experts from around the world, and put them all together for 90 minutes or so to see what will happen. This process is therapeutic for us; and it helps us think about how tragedy may have had similar functions in the ancient world as well.

Aristophanes, Clouds 88-89

“Turn your life around ASAP
Go and learn what I am suggesting.”

ἔκτρεψον ὡς τάχιστα τοὺς σαυτοῦ τρόπους
καὶ μάνθαν᾿ ἐλθὼν ἃν ἐγὼ παραινέσω.

This week we are taking a break from tragedy and turning to Aristophanes for some much needed comic relief. His Clouds, however, is not just funny: it is serious intellectual history in the way his other plays are serious political commentary and literary theory. Ok, that might be a step too far, but Aristophanes provides a cutting and fun critique of sophists like Socrates who attracted followers for their dynamic style of argumentation, their investigation into natural sciences, and their willingness to question religious and ritual convention. And this critique seems to have made some impact, since Plato has Socrates bring it up 20 years later.

Plato, Apology of Socrates 19c5

“You have witness these things yourself in the comedy of Aristophanes where some Socrates is carried around saying “I walk on the are” and spouting much other nonsense I don’t know anything serious or small about.”

ταῦτα γὰρ ἑωρᾶτε καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν τῇ ᾿Αριστοφάνους κωμῳδίᾳ, Σωκράτη τινὰ ἐκεῖ περιφερόμενον, φάσκοντά τε ἀεροβατεῖν καὶ ἄλλην πολλὴν φλυαρίαν φλυαροῦντα, ὧν ἐγὼ οὐδὲν οὔτε μέγα οὔτε μικρὸν πέρι ἐπαΐω.

This week we are trying something different and will be performing the whole play (a bit a abridged) from beginning to end using this translation by Ian Johnston.

Aristophanes, Clouds 94-99

“That is the thinkery of wise minds.
Inside there are men who are very convincing
when they argue that the sky is a grill cover
and that it covers over us because we are coals.
These people teach anyone who gives them money
how to kill in debates, whether they’re just or not.”

ψυχῶν σοφῶν τοῦτ᾿ ἐστὶ φροντιστήριον.
ἐνταῦθ᾿ ἐνοικοῦσ᾿ ἄνδρες οἳ τὸν οὐρανὸν
λέγοντες ἀναπείθουσιν ὡς ἔστιν πνιγεύς,
κἄστιν περὶ ἡμᾶς οὗτος, ἡμεῖς δ᾿ ἅνθρακες.
οὗτοι διδάσκουσ᾿, ἀργύριον ἤν τις διδῷ,
λέγοντα νικᾶν καὶ δίκαια κἄδικα.

Actors

Socrates – Tony Jayawardena
Strepsaides –  René Thornton Jr.
Pheidippides – Patrick Walshe McBride
Main Chorus – T. Lynn Mikeska, Valoneecia Tolbert
Main Student. -James Callás Ball
Good Argument – Judd Farris
Worse Argument – Richard Neale

Special Guest: Joel Alden Schlosser

Dramaturgical assistance: Emma Pauly

Direction: Beth Burns with production assistance by Paul O’Mahony

Posters: John Koelle

Technical, Moral, Administrative Support: Lanah Koelle, Allie Mabry, Janet Ozsolak, Helene Emeriaud, Sarah Scott, Keith DeStone

Aristophanes, Clouds 101-103

“Gross, those bums! I know them. They’re con-men,
those lilywhite, shoeless scoundrels you’re talking about–
that haunted Socrates and his Khairophon.

αἰβοῖ, πονηροί γ᾿, οἶδα. τοὺς ἀλαζόνας,
τοὺς ὠχριῶντας, τοὺς ἀνυποδήτους λέγεις,
ὧν ὁ κακοδαίμων Σωκράτης καὶ Χαιρεφῶν.

Upcoming Readings (Go here for the project page)

Euripides, Alcestis, July 22

The Chorus, July 29th [Special 10 AM time]

Sophocles, Antigone August 5

 

Aristophanes, Clouds 181-182

“Open the door, hurry and open up the Thinkery,
show me this Socrates as fast as you can!”

ἄνοιγ᾿ ἄνοιγ᾿ ἁνύσας τὸ φροντιστήριον
καὶ δεῖξον ὡς τάχιστά μοι τὸν Σωκράτη.

Aristophanes, Clouds 225

“I walk on the air and examine the sun!”

ἀεροβατῶ καὶ περιφρονῶ τὸν ἥλιον.

Aristophanes, Clouds 295

“don’t make jokes and act like those wastrel playwrights!”

οὐ μὴ σκώψει μηδὲ ποιήσεις ἅπερ οἱ τρυγοδαίμονες οὗτοι,

Aristophanes, Clouds 365

“These are the only real deities: the rest of them are nonsense”

αὗται γάρ τοι μόναι εἰσὶ θεαί, τἄλλα δὲ πάντ᾿ ἐστὶ φλύαρος.

Aristophanes, Clouds 392-3

“Think about the farts you achieve with this little tummy.
How wouldn’t the limitless sky also thunder powerfully?”

σκέψαι τοίνυν ἀπὸ γαστριδίου τυννουτουὶ οἷα πέπορδας·
τὸν δ᾿ ἀέρα τόνδ᾿ ὄντ᾿ ἀπέραντον πῶς οὐκ εἰκὸς μέγα βροντᾶν;

Videos of Earlier Sessions (Go here for the project page)
Euripides’ Helen, March 25th
Sophocles’ Philoktetes, April 1st
Euripides’ Herakles, April 8th
Euripides’ Bacchae, April 15th
Euripides’ Iphigenia , April 22nd
Sophocles, Trachinian Women, April 29th
Euripides, Orestes May 6th
Aeschylus, Persians, May 13th
Euripides, Trojan Women May 20th
Sophocles’ Ajax, May 27th
Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannos, June 10th

Euripides, Ion,  June 17th

Euripides, Hecuba June 24th

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound June 30th

Euripides, Andromache 

Aristophanes, Clouds 700-706

“Think a bit and bear down heard,
turn yourself in every direction,
cogitating, contemplating. Quick! if you get lost,
leap to some other part of your mind.
Keep sweet-tempered sleep far from your eyes!”

φρόντιζε δὴ καὶ διάθρει
πάντα τρόπον τε σαυτὸν
στρόβει πυκνώσας. ταχὺς δ᾿, ὅταν εἰς ἄπορον
πέσῃς, ἐπ᾿ ἄλλο πήδα
νόημα φρενός· ὕπνος δ᾿ ἀπέ-
στω γλυκύθυμος ὀμμάτων.

“I Defecated Because of Fear”

See here for our ongoing skatokhasm and the sheer variety of excremental words in ancient Greek.

Suda, Epsilon 93 [referring to Aristophanes, Frogs 479]

“I shat myself”: I defecated because of some fear. I pooped. Aristophanes says this in the Frogs. He is calling the god to help.”

᾿Εγκέχοδα: ἀπεπάτησα διὰ φόβον τινά, ἔχεσον. ᾿Αριστοφάνης Βατράχοις. κάλει θεὸν εἰς βοήθειαν.

Principal parts: χέζω, χεσοῦμαι, ἔχεσα, κέχοδα, κέχεσμαι….

Strattis, fr. 1.3

“If he will not have the leisure to shit,
Nor to visit a profligate man’s home, nor if he meets
Anyone, to talk to them at all…”

Εἰ μηδὲ χέσαι γ’ αὐτῷ σχολὴ γενήσεται,
μηδ’ εἰς ἀσωτεῖον τραπέσθαι, μηδ’ ἐάν
αὐτῷ ξυναντᾷ τις, λαλῆσαι μηδενί.

Image result for medieval manuscript defecation
Add_ms_49622_f061r_detail

Aristophanes, Clouds, 391

“When I shit, it’s like thunder: pa-pa-pa-papp-AKS!

χὤταν χέζω, κομιδῇ βροντᾷ “παπαπαππάξ,”

thunder dance

 

 

 

 

What We Need in Isolation: Masturbating in Latin and Greek

Aristophanes, Peace 290-292

“Now comes the time of for Datis’ song
The one he sang once at midday as he masturbated
“How I am pleased and I enjoy this and I am finding delight!”

ΤΡ.                Νῦν, τοῦτ’ ἐκεῖν’, ἥκει τὸ Δάτιδος μέλος.
δεφόμενός ποτ’ ᾖδε τῆς μεσημβρίας·
«῾Ως ἥδομαι καὶ χαίρομαι κεὐφραίνομαι.»

The small LSJ defines δέφω as “to soften by working by the hand, to make supple, to tan hides.” The 1902 LSJ uses Latin to explain: “sensu obscoeno, v. Lat. Masturbari.”

The Suda (delta 297) cuts to the chase on this one with “dephein: grabbing someone by the genitals. Also, “rubbing” (Dephomenos) instead of “flogging your genitals.” (Δέφειν: τὸ τοῦ αἰδοίου τινὰ ἅπτεσθαι. καὶ Δεφόμενος, ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀποδέρων τὸ αἰδοῖον). So, the active vs. middle voice is an important distinction (echoing something I have emphasized in teaching Greek: active voice is something you do to someone else, middle is what you do to yourself…).

Here’s a nice passage that shows the difference in active and passive voice:

Artemidorus, Dream Interpretation 1.78: 74-80

“I know of a certain slave who dreamed that he was masturbating his master—and he then became the teacher and nurse of his children. For he was holding his master’s genitals in his hands which was a symbol of his children. And again, I know of another who dreamed he was being jerked off by his master, and, later he was bound to a pillar and then he received many blows…”

οἶδα δέ τινα δοῦλον, ὃς ἔδοξε τὸν δεσπότην αὐτοῦ δέφειν, καὶ ἐγένετο τῶν παίδων αὐτοῦ παιδαγωγὸς καὶ τροφός· ἔσχε γὰρ ἐν ταῖς χερσὶ τὸ τοῦ δεσπότου αἰδοῖον ὂν τῶν ἐκείνου τέκνων σημαντικόν. καὶ πάλιν αὖ οἶδά <τινα> ὃς ἔδοξεν ὑπὸ τοῦ δεσπότου δέφεσθαι, καὶ προσδεθεὶς κίονι πολλὰς ἔλαβε πληγάς….

Most of the extant uses of this verb appear in comedy. And, not surprisingly, this means Aristophanes:

Aristophanes, Knights 23-24

ΟΙ. Β′                                               Πάνυ καλῶς.
῞Ωσπερ δεφόμενός νυν ἀτρέμα πρῶτον λέγε
τὸ μολωμεν, εἶτα δ’ αὐτο, κᾆτ’ ἐπάγων πυκνόν.

“Excellent.
Just as if you were masturbating, say it first now gently
“let us hurry” and then again pushing on, quickly.”

[Here’s a link to the whole play. Soon, one of the interlocutors stops “because the skin is irritated by masturbation.” (῾Οτιὴ τὸ δέρμα δεφομένων ἀπέρχεται, 29)]

The verb is not common, to say the least, so later commentators found it necessary to gloss it and explain Aristophanes’ joke. Through the explanations of the joke, it immediately becomes less funny, and the language used in the commentaries.

Scholia in Knights:

[1] “ ‘Just like dephomenos’: instead of “flogging your genitals” (apodérôn to aidoion). For, when men touch their genitals they don’t complete as they began, but they move more eagerly towards the secretion of semen. This plays on that, he means start small at first but then go continuously.

[2]dephomenos’: “having intercourse’. Flogging genitals.

[3]dephomenos’: They mean handling the penis. For, when men take hold of their penises they don’t move towards ejaculation the way they began, but more eagerly over time, as they are inflamed by the continuity of movement.”

 ὥσπερ δεφόμενος: ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀποδέρων τὸ αἰδοῖον. οἱ γὰρ ἁπτόμενοι τῶν αἰδοίων οὐχ ὡς ἤρξαντο, ἀλλὰ σπουδαιότερον κινοῦσι πρὸς τῇ τῆς γονῆς ἐκκρίσει. τοῦτο οὖν λέγει, ὅτι πρῶτον κατὰ μικρόν, εἶτα συνεχῶς λέγε. RVEΓ2M

δεφόμενος] ξυνουσιάζων, ἀποδέρων τὸ αἰδοῖον. M

δεφόμενος] ἤγουν τοῦ μορίου ἁπτόμενος. οἱ γὰρ ἁπτόμενοι τοῦ μορίου
πρὸς ἔκκρισιν τῆς γονῆς οὐχ ὡς ἤρξαντο κινοῦσιν ἀλλὰ σπουδαιότερον, ἐκπυρούμενοι τῇ συνεχείᾳ τῆς κινήσεως. VatLh

Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae, 705–709

“It is decreed that the ugly and the wretched
Get to fuck first.
Take your pleasure on the porch in the meantime
Handling your fig-leaves in the courtyard”

τοῖς γὰρ σιμοῖς καὶ τοῖς αἰσχροῖς
ἐψήφισται προτέροις βινεῖν,
ὑμᾶς δὲ τέως θρῖα λαβόντας
διφόρου συκῆς
ἐν τοῖς προθύροισι δέφεσθαι.

The Suda interprets this passage as meaning that someone is masturbating with a fig leaf. Henderson ( The Maculate Muse. New Haven 1975) explains that the “fig-leaves” are the foreskin and the “courtyard” means outside of a vagina.

Image result for ancient Greek Masturbating vase

And just in case one might worry about moral dimensions of masturbation, ancient philosophers have already tackled the question:

From Sextus Empiricus Pyrrhonian Hypotyposes, 3.206-207

“Similarly, this seems shameful to one of the sages but not to another. For us it is wrong to marry your own mother or sister. But the Persians, especially those of them who seem to pursue wisdom, the Magi, marry their mothers just as the Egyptians marry their sisters. The poet also says: “Zeus addressed Hera, his wife and sister…”

Zeno of Citium even says that it is not strange to rub your mother’s genitals with your own, just as no one would claim it is wrong to rub any other part of her body with your hand. Chrysippus approves in his Republic of a father getting children from his daughter, a mother from her son, and a brother from his sister. Plato insisted generally that wives should be held in common. Zeno also does not disapprove of masturbation, which is shameful in our culture. We have also learned that others practice this wicked habit as if it were a good thing.”

οὕτω καὶ τῶν σοφῶν ᾧ μὲν οὐκ αἰσχρόν, ᾧ δὲ αἰσχρὸν ἐδόκει τοῦτο εἶναι. ἄθεσμον τέ ἐστι παρ’ ἡμῖν μητέρα ἢ ἀδελφὴν ἰδίαν γαμεῖν· Πέρσαι δέ, καὶ μάλιστα αὐτῶν οἱ σοφίαν ἀσκεῖν δοκοῦντες, οἱ Μάγοι, γαμοῦσι τὰς μητέρας, καὶ Αἰγύπτιοι τὰς ἀδελφὰς ἄγονται πρὸς γάμον, καὶ ὡς ὁ ποιητής φησιν,

Ζεὺς ῞Ηρην προσέειπε κασιγνήτην ἄλοχόν τε.

ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ Κιτιεὺς Ζήνων φησὶ μὴ ἄτοπον εἶναι τὸ μόριον τῆς μητρὸς τῷ ἑαυτοῦ μορίῳ τρῖψαι, καθάπερ οὐδὲ ἄλλο τι μέρος τοῦ σώματος αὐτῆς τῇ χειρὶ τρῖψαι φαῦλον ἂν εἴποι τις εἶναι. καὶ ὁ Χρύσιππος δὲ ἐν τῇ πολιτείᾳ δογματίζει τόν τε πατέρα ἐκ τῆς θυγατρὸς παιδοποιεῖσθαι καὶ τὴν μητέρα ἐκ τοῦ παιδὸς καὶ τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἐκ τῆς ἀδελφῆς. Πλάτων δὲ καὶ καθολικώτερον κοινὰς εἶναι τὰς γυναῖκας δεῖν ἀπεφήνατο. τό τε αἰσχρουργεῖν ἐπάρατον ὂν παρ’ ἡμῖν ὁ Ζήνων οὐκ ἀποδοκιμάζει· καὶ ἄλλους δὲ ὡς ἀγαθῷ τινι τούτῳ χρῆσθαι τῷ κακῷ πυνθανόμεθα.

Note that many of lexical metaphors for masturbation are shared by the two languages. Much of the following material is drawn from J.N. Adams. The Latin Sexual Vocabulary. 1982. Note, however, that many of the examples are not truly masturbatory.

As an important prefatory note, the Latin word masturbor (whence modern “masturbate”) has unclear and irregular use in Latin (discussed by Adams 209-211 with some rather strong attacks on J. P. Hallet’s 1976 “Masturbator, Mascarpio.” Glotta, vol. 54: 292–308.) The word occurs most prominently in an agentive form  in Martial (translated here with considerable license):

Martial, 14.203 Puella Gaditana

“She sways with such curves and oozes sex so deep
That she’d turn Hippolytus himself into a masturbating creep.”

Tam tremulum crisat, tam blandum prurit, ut ipsum
masturbatorem fecerit Hippolytum.

Adams mast

Other words and terms

Frico, “to rub, chafe”, cf. cont. vulg: “rub one out”

Petronius 91.11

“it is that much more advantageous to rub your groin rather than your genius”

tanto magis expedit inguina quam ingenia fricare

Sollicito, “to shake, stir, rouse, agitate, excite, urge” etc.

Despite Adam’s assertion, the primary examples he cites are about the manipulation of genitals by another party.

Ovid, Amores 3.7.73-4

“Despite this, my girl was not reluctant
To stroke me gently once she moved her hand down…”

Hanc etiam non est mea dedignata puella
molliter admota sollicitare manu;

Martial, 11.22.4

“Who denies this? This is too much. But let it be enough
Stop urging on their groins with that fucker of a hand.”

quis negat?—hoc nimium est. sed sit satis; inguina saltem
parce fututrici sollicitare manu.

Petronius 20.2

“She stirred up my groin which was cold already because of a thousand deaths.”

Sollicitavit inguina mea mille iam mortibus frigida

Cf. Maximianus 5.58 “she began to handle my dirty parts with her hand / and to excite me too with her fingers.” contrectare manu coepit flagrantia membra / meque etiam digitis sollicitare suis

Tango, “touch”, cf. Divinyls Classic “I Touch Myself”

Ovid, Ars Amatoria 2.719–720

“When you find those places where the lady delights at being touched,
Don’t let shame get in the way of you touching her.”

Cum loca reppereris, quae tangi femina gaudet,
Non obstet, tangas quo minus illa, pudor.

Tracto: “to draw, haul, handle, treat” cf. perhaps “to jerk [off]” or “wank”

Martial 11.29.8

“I don’t need a finger: handle me like this, Phyllis”

nil opus est digitis: sic mihi, Phylli, frica

Priapea 80.1-2

“But this limp dick is not long enough nor does it stand up strong enough,
Even if you play with it, do you think it can grow?”

At non longa bene est, non stat bene mentula crassa
et quam si tractes, crescere posse putes?

Adams 1982, 208:

adams

(de)glubo: “to skin, flay, peel” cf. “skin off”

Ausonius, Epigram 79 “Inscribed Beneath the Picture of a Lusty Lady”

Beyond the genial joining of authorized sex
Sinful lust has discovered unnatural modes of love:
What the Lemnian lack posited to the heir of Herakles,
Or what the plays of Afranius in Roman garb presented
Or the total depravity that marked the Nolan people.
Somehow, in a single body, Crispa practices all three!
She masturbates, fellates, and rides with either hole—
So that she might not die frustrated, leaving anything untried.

LXXIX.—Subscriptum Picturae Mulieris impudicae

Praeter legitimi genialia foedera coetus
repperit obscenas veneres vitiosa libido:
Herculis heredi quam Lemnia suasit egestas,
quam toga facundi scaenis agitavit Afrani
et quam Nolanis capitalis luxus inussit.
Crispa tamen cunctas exercet corpore in uno:
deglubit, fellat, molitur per utramque cavernam,
ne quid inexpertum frustra moritura relinquat.

Tawdry Tuesday: A Wedding Recipe

Aristophanes, Peace 868-870

“The child is bathed and her ass-situation is fine.
The cake is baking and the sesame buns are shaped—
Everything else is complete—but we need a penis.”

ἡ παῖς λέλουται καὶ τὰ τῆς πυγῆς καλά·
ὁ πλακοῦς πέπεπται, σησαμῆ ξυμπλάττεται,
870καὶ τἄλλ᾿ ἁπαξάπαντα· τοῦ πέους δὲ δεῖ.

According to a scholion, sesame cakes are made for weddings to ensure an abundance of offspring (vet σησαμὴ R: πλακοῦς γαμικὸς ἀπὸ σησάμων πεποιημένος διὰ τὸ πολύγονον, ὥς φησι Μένανδρος. RV)

Later, a Slave remarks on the girl’s rear end:“Master, she’s got a five-year ass” ὦ δέσποτα, ὅσην ἔχει τὴν πρωκτοπεντετηρίδα. (876).

Image result for ancient greek comedy wedding

A scholion relates this to the frequency of the completion of the Dionysia. Another adds that at this point they are grabbing the girl and showing her genitals to the audience. (Schol V. ad Aristop. Pax 867b ἁπτόμενος γὰρ αὐτῆς τῆς πυγῆς <φησι> καὶ θαυμάζων καὶ τοῖς θεαταῖς ἐπιδεικνύμενος τὸ αἰδοῖον. V Although, here we should probably imagine a male actor with female genital apparatus).

From Henderson’s Maculate Muse:

Peos

Slander and Salt

Demetrius, On Style 301.

“Because he wanted to slander his enemies, [Hipponax] broke his meter and made it stumble instead of straight: he made the rhythm irregular. This is appropriate for surprise and attack. For rhythmic and smooth composition is more appropriate for praise than for blame. This is all I have to say about hiatus.”

 (301) καὶ ὥσπερ τὸ διαλελυμένον σχῆμα δεινότητα ποιεῖ, ὡς προλέλεκται, οὕτω ποιήσει ἡ διαλελυμένη ὅλως σύνθεσις. σημεῖον δὲ καὶ τὸ Ἱππώνακτος· λοιδορῆσαι γὰρ βουλόμενος τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ἔθραυσεν τὸ μέτρον, καὶ ἐποίησεν χωλὸν ἀντὶ εὐθέος καὶ ἄρυθμον, τουτέστι δεινότητι πρέπον καὶ λοιδορίᾳ· τὸ γὰρ ἔρρυθμον καὶ εὐήκοον ἐγκωμίοις ἂν πρέποι μᾶλλον ἢ ψόγοις. τοσαῦτα καὶ περὶ συγκρούσεως.

Com. Adesp. 842 Σ Aristophanes Birds 281

“Philokles was a tragic poet, the son of Philopeithes and Aeschylus’ sister. Whoever calls him “Salt’s son” does it because he was bitter and salt is bitter.”

ἔστι δὲ ὁ Φιλοκλῆς τραγῳδίας ποιητὴς, καὶ Φιλοπείθους υἱὸς ἐξ Αἰσχύλου ἀδελφῆς. ὅσοι δὲ Ἁλμίωνος αὐτόν φασιν, ἐπιθετικῶς λέγουσι διὰ τὸ πικρὸν εἶναι. ἅλμη γὰρ ἡ πικρία.

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A Bad Combination of Good Things

Lucian, You’re a Prometheus in Words

I am afraid that my work too is a camel in Egypt and people admire its bridle and its sea-purple, since even the combination of those two very fine creations, dialogue and comedy, is not enough for beauty of form if the blending lacks harmony and symmetry.

The synthesis of two fine things can be a freak—the hippocentaur is an obvious example: you would not call this creature charming, rather a monstrosity, to go by the paintings of their drunken orgies and murders. Well then, can nothing beautiful come from the synthesis of two things of high quality, as the mixture of wine and honey is exceedingly pleasant? Yes, certainly. But I cannot maintain that this is the case with my two: I’m afraid that the beauty of each has been lost in the blending.

Dialogue and comedy were not entirely friendly and compatible from the beginning.

Δέδοικα δὲ μὴ καὶ τοὐμὸν κάμηλος ἐν Αἰγυπτίοις ᾖ, οἱ δὲ ἄνθρωποι τὸν χαλινὸν ἔτι αὐτῆς θαυμάζωσι καὶ τὴν ἁλουργίδα, ἐπεὶ οὐδὲ τὸ ἐκ δυοῖν τοῖν καλλίστοιν συγκεῖσθαι, διαλόγου καὶ κωμῳδίας, οὐδὲ τοῦτο ἀπόχρη εἰς εὐμορφίαν, εἰ μὴ καὶ ἡ μῖξις ἐναρμόνιος καὶ κατὰ τὸ σύμμετρον γίγνοιτο. ἔστι γοῦν ἐκ δύο καλῶν ἀλλόκοτον τὴν ξυνθήκην εἶναι, οἷον ἐκεῖνο τὸ προχειρότατον, ὁ ἱπποκένταυρος· οὐ γὰρ ἂν φαίης ἐπέραστόν τι ζῷον τουτὶ γενέσθαι, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὑβριστότατον, εἰ χρὴ πιστεύειν τοῖς ζωγράφοις ἐπιδεικνυμένοις τὰς παροινίας καὶ σφαγὰς αὐτῶν. τί οὖν; οὐχὶ καὶ ἔμπαλιν γένοιτ᾿ ἂν εὔμορφόν τι ἐκ δυοῖν τοῖν ἀρίστοιν ξυντεθέν, ὥσπερ ἐξ οἴνου καὶ μέλιτος τὸ ξυναμφότερον ἥδιστον; φημὶ ἔγωγε. οὐ μὴν περί γε τῶν ἐμῶν ἔχω διατείνεσθαι ὡς τοιούτων ὄντων, ἀλλὰ δέδια μὴ τὸ ἑκατέρου κάλλος ἡ μῖξις συνέφθειρεν.

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Prometheus Stauros. That bird doesn’t look so bad….