Get Ready for the #NANAIHB Elite Eight

This is the final day of round 1 of the Non-Atreid, Non-Achilles Iliadic Hero Bracket tournament to once and for all establish the second best of the Achaeans. 

“Achilles would not have had long hair if Thersites had not been bald.”

καὶ οὐκ ἂν ἦν Ἀχιλλεὺς κομήτης εἰ μὴ φαλακρὸς Θερσίτης. #Plutarch

The Achaean camp assembled with a buzz for the best match-up of round 1. Standing in one corner was the Lokrian speedster, a man known for his fast spear and his scatological mouth. In the other? The ugly scourge of leaders and kings, the wild son of Agrios, the sharp-tongued, fast witted Thersites. Bold words, fast feet–who wins?

As the two faced off, all were surprised by Thersites’ silence. The bent-over figure stood with his shield raised and two spears in the ground, his hand on his sword hilt. The Lokrian runner shouted, “Aitolian, bold-of-speech with a sparrow’s heart / where are your taunts now when you said you’d put your sword right into my belly? / I’m hungry for murder and no man or god alive will keep me from you”. As he said his last words he ran forward, releasing one spear, then another.

The first spear hit Thersites’ shield on the left side, drawing him to that side as the second spear landed into his exposed right thigh. As the crowd gasped, Thersites stood motionless and everyone was shocked when they realized Ajax the lesser was sprawled out near Thersites’ feet. He tripped and no one could see how he fell. Their gaze turned quickly to Thersites, calmly lowering his blade into the fallen man’s spine.

Uncharacteristically, Thersites said little as he drew his sword, and turned away with only the shadow of a grin on his face. Only Diomedes noticed Odysseus backing away from the contest ground, obscuring the print of his foot where the Lokrian had lost his way. Gazing at Odysseus, Diomedes said to Thersites, “Be bold and sit down*–you need to rest up to fight me next”

*θαρσέων καθίζευ, a play on Thersites’ name.

 

NANAIHB (10)

Recap the Action!

Day 6: Thersites evades Oilean Ajax

Day 5: Antilokhos defeats Thoas

Day 4: Patroklos annihilates Makhaon

Day 3: Ajax crushes Meriones

Day 2: Idomeneus bruises Sthenelos

Day 1: Teucer silences Tlepolemos

The Second Best of the Achaeans? Introducing the NANAIHB

As the world heats up, burns, and faces the uncertainty of our current mix of plague and politics, we seem desperate to look away from our Anglo-American race to the bottom to the distraction of sports. Yes, indeed, in the US the professional leagues are on the way to save us from Marble Races with plans for baseball and basketball to stage shortened seasons and professional football to proceed as normal (because the NFL is traditionally so concerned with player health). Given the players withdrawing or already testing positive for coronavirus, it seems likely that the smarter bets are on things falling apart rather than on the outcomes of particular games.

So, if you don’t want to feel too smug with Pliny (“I wonder that so many thousands of men can feel such a childish desire to watch horses running over and over”), we are launching our own bracket competition for the next few weeks: the Non-Atreid Non-Achilles Iliadic Hero Bracket (NANAIHB) to finally end the question of who just is the [second] best of the Achaeans. There are 12 14 contestants for 4 rounds of competition.

Now, this is is some sensitive ground, I know. but we’ve talked it over and we’re willing to forgo some usual debates about Ajax vs. Odysseus (that never ends well) or Diomedes as the alter-Akhilleus to turn to a time-tested, truly perfect solution: polling. We will run a poll every other day for the duration of the bracket on twitter in a single-elimination combination for the crown (or, um scepter?).

Before you get too upset about this one, let me be clear: Achilles complains that Agamemnon boasts to be “best of the Achaeans” (ὃς νῦν πολλὸν ἄριστος ᾿Αχαιῶν εὔχεται εἶναι, 1.91) while later asserting that he will be upset because he did not honor the one who is (χωόμενος ὅ τ’ ἄριστον ᾿Αχαιῶν οὐδὲν ἔτισας, 1.244). The narrative later claims that Telamonian Ajax was the “best of men while Achilles was raging” (ἀνδρῶν αὖ μέγ’ ἄριστος ἔην Τελαμώνιος Αἴας ὄφρ’ ᾿Αχιλεὺς μήνιεν, 1.768-769) and I suspect that the difference between being “best of men” and “best of the Acheans” might be meaningful….

Why NANAIHB? Since Achilles is the best of the Achaeans, he’s obviously out. After him, the picture is more complicated. Tradition pits Ajax and Odysseus against one another in claiming Achilles’ special weapons, but our Iliad clearly makes Diomedes the man to beat when Achilles is off his feet. And, yet, in crucial moments Idomeneus and Thoas (also members of the ‘council of elders’) jump in to save the day. Don’t sleep on Idomeneus! Agamemnon lists him with Ajax, Odysseus and Achilles as a leader!(εἷς δέ τις ἀρχὸς ἀνὴρ βουληφόρος ἔστω, / ἢ Αἴας ἢ ᾿Ιδομενεὺς ἢ δῖος ᾿Οδυσσεὺς / ἠὲ σὺ Πηλεΐδη πάντων ἐκπαγλότατ’ ἀνδρῶν, 1.145-147). Thoas, is listed as one of the nine who stand to fight Hektor in a dual in book 7 (168) and he’s the best of the Aitolians….(15.281).

We’ve left out the Atreids (Agamemnon and Menelaos) because (1) no one wins when someone fights with them and (2) if Menelaos loses, what would the whole Trojan War even matter? (Yes, that was a dig against a certain movie…)

NANAIHB (2)

We split the groups into Front-runners (Patroklos, Diomedes, Odysseus, Ajax, Idomeneus, and Thoas) and then a collection of wannabes, pretenders, and sneaky contenders (Tlepolemos, Sthenelos, Teucer, Thersites, Antilochus, Oilean Ajax). This second list was winnowed down using random numbers, shedding Makhaon, Meriones, and Eurypylos, shedding Eurupylos: Makhaon and Meriones were reintroduced by divine intervention and now there are 14 contestants!

I gave the clear front-runners preferential treatment and assigned them the top four seeds using a random-number generator. I did the same thing to set up the rest of the competition. the random number generator has the added cleruchal bonus of functioning like the drawing of lots before the duel in Iliad 7; polling of the twitter masses replicates the time-honored judgment of Greek contests by popular acclaim (see, for instance, the contest of Hesiod and Homer). Yes, Odysseus randomly got the first seed, twice. What can you do when Athena is on someone’s side?

So, here we are, day 1, battle 1: Teucer vs. Tlepolemos.

NANAIHB day 1

Teucer, Ajax’s brother, another son of Telemon, a legendary founder of Salamis in some traditions and a fabulous archer. He does not get mentioned in the Catalogue of Ships and he has his first kill in book 6. He sometimes appears taking shots from behind his brother’s shield (8.266) but that’s a sign of his intelligence and not a lack of valor! He mows down a group of Trojans in book 8 (272-277) and Agamemnon exclaims “You were born as a saving light / to the Danaans and your father Telamon who raised you up when you were little / in his home even though you are a bastard.” (αἴ κέν τι φόως Δαναοῖσι γένηαι / πατρί τε σῷ Τελαμῶνι, ὅ σ’ ἔτρεφε τυτθὸν ἐόντα, / καί σε νόθον περ ἐόντα κομίσσατο ᾧ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ, 8.282-284).

Tlepolemos? Well, he’s the “big and noble” son o Herakles who sailed from Rhodes with nine ships! (2.653-666). Tlepolemos might have been a bit of a wild child: he fled to Rhodes after killing his father’s uncle accidentally when old Likymnios got in the way of him beating an enslaved servant. So, Tlepolemos becomes something of a foundational hero in Rhodes. In the Iliad, he draws the short straw and faces Sarpedon in a lengthy battle in book 5, which our epic uses as an opportunity to set a minor son of Herakles against an iliadic son of Zeus. He’s a big, strong, brash-talking  warrior. (Spoiler: Sarpedon kills him.)

These two are competing for a chance to face Odysseus….so, who’s it going to be? This sets the island of Salamis against the traditions of Rhodes, an archer against a bruiser, a bastard son of Telamon against an uncle-killing Heraklean braggart. All for the the dubious honor of most likely getting shivved in the night by Odysseus.

Look to twitter for the poll and the announcement of the victor when the contest is done.

Recap the Competition Here.

 

Day 2

Day 3

The Crowns of the City

Most people who think of the “Contest of Homer and Hesiod” remember the fact that Homer and Hesiod competed and that there was a mixed verdict (with Hesiod taking the prize).  The account, however, also details legendary travels of Homer. Wherever he goes, he composes poems, almost pathologically.

Here is an excerpt (Certamen, 15-16):

“When the sons of king Midas, Xanthos and Gorgos, heard Homer’s poetry they commissioned him to compose an epigram for their father’s tomb which was marked by a bronze maiden mourning Midas’ death. Homer made this:

“I am a bronze girl, and I sit on the grave of Midas.
As long as water flows and trees grow long,
While the rivers fill and the sea resounds,
As long as the sun rises to shine and the bright moon too,
I will remain here on this much-wept mound
A sign to those who pass by that Midas here is buried.”

He received from them a silver cup, which he inscribed and dedicated at Delphi to Apollo:

“Lord Phoibos, I Homer give you this fine gift
in exchange for your wisdom. May you always grant me fame.”

Then he composed the Odyssey (which is 12,000 lines) when he had already finished the Iliad (15,500 lines). They say that he left there and was entertained in Athens at the house of the king of the Athenians, Medon. In the council chamber, when it was cold and there was a fire burning, the story is that he improvised these lines:

“A man’s crown is his children; the city has its towers;
Horses decorate a plain and ships are the jewels of the sea.
The people who sit in the agora are an adornment to be seen;
But when a fire burns it makes a house a prouder sight
On a winter’s day when Kronos’ son sends snow.”

ἀκούσαντες δὲ τῶν ἐπῶν οἱ Μίδου τοῦ βασιλέως παῖδες Ξάνθος καὶ Γόργος παρακαλοῦσιν αὐτὸν ἐπίγραμμα ποιῆσαι ἐπὶ τοῦ τάφου τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτῶν, ἐφ’ οὗ ἦν παρθένος χαλκῆ τὸν Μίδου θάνατον οἰκτιζομένη. καὶ ποιεῖ οὕτως•

χαλκῆ παρθένος εἰμί, Μίδου δ’ ἐπὶ σήματος ἧμαι.
ἔς τ’ ἂν ὕδωρ τε νάῃ καὶ δένδρεα μακρὰ τεθήλῃ
καὶ ποταμοὶ πλήθωσι, περικλύζῃ δὲ θάλασσα,
ἠέλιος δ’ ἀνιὼν φαίνῃ λαμπρά τε σελήνη,
αὐτοῦ τῇδε μένουσα πολυκλαύτῳ ἐπὶ τύμβῳ
σημανέω παριοῦσι Μίδης ὅτι τῇδε τέθαπται.

λαβὼν δὲ παρ’ αὐτῶν φιάλην ἀργυρᾶν ἀνατίθησιν ἐν Δελφοῖς τῷ ᾿Απόλλωνι, ἐπιγράψας

Φοῖβε ἄναξ δῶρόν τοι ῞Ομηρος καλὸν ἔδωκα
σῇσιν ἐπιφροσύναις• σὺ δέ μοι κλέος αἰὲν ὀπάζοις.

μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ποιεῖ τὴν ᾿Οδύσσειαν ἔπη μβ′, πεποιηκὼς ἤδη τὴν ᾿Ιλιάδα ἐπῶν μεφ′. παραγενόμενον δὲ ἐκεῖθεν εἰς ᾿Αθήνας αὐτὸν ξενισθῆναί φασι παρὰ Μέδοντι τῷ βασιλεῖ τῶν ᾿Αθηναίων. ἐν δὲ τῷ βουλευτηρίῳ ψύχους ὄντος καὶ πυρὸς καιομένου σχεδιάσαι λέγεται τούσδε τοὺς στίχους•

ἀνδρὸς μὲν στέφανοι παῖδες, πύργοι δὲ πόληος,
ἵπποι δ’ αὖ πεδίου κόσμος, νῆες δὲ θαλάσσης,
λαὸς δ’ εἰν ἀγορῇσι καθήμενος εἰσοράασθαι.
αἰθομένου δὲ πυρὸς γεραρώτερος οἶκος ἰδέσθαι
ἤματι χειμερίῳ ὁπότ’ ἂν νείφῃσι Κρονίων.

Image result for medieval manuscript contest of homer and hesiod

Two Guys Named Hesiod. Two Places Called Nemea: Another Tale of a Poet’s Death

Certamen of Homer and Hesiod

Earlier we posted the story of the death of Hesiod according to Plutarch. This version shares some of the details, but not others.  Hesiod defeats Homer in a poetic competition. Things only go downhill from there…

“After the contest [with Homer] was over, Hesiod went to Delphi to get an oracle and to make a thanks-offering for the victory to the god. When he arrived at the shrine, people claim that the prophetess was inspired and said:

“This lucky man who travels to my home
Is Hesiod, honored by the divine Muses.
His fame will spread as far as the sun shines.
But guard against the gorgeous grove of Nemeian Zeus.
It is there where your fated death will come.”

Hesiod, after he heard this oracle, went retreating from the Peloponnese because he believed  that the god meant the oracle there. He went to Oinoê in Lokris and rested with Amphiphanes and Ganuktôr, the children of Phêgeus,  and he really did not understand the oracle. For this place was called the shrine of Zeus Nemeios. After he spent a period of time with the Oineans, the youths, because they suspected that Hesiod fornicated with their sister, killed him and through hem into the sea between Euboia and Lokris.

When the abandoned corpse was carried by dolphins to land, there was some local festival happening and everyone ran to the shore. Once they recognized who this was, they grieved and buried him—and then they began to seek his murderers. The brothers, because they feared the rage of the citizens, made off with a fishing skiff and sailed toward Krêtê. Zeus struck that vessel in the middle with lightening and submerged them in the sea, as Alkidamas says in the Mouseion.

Eratosthenes says in his epode that Ktimenos and Antiphon, the sons of Ganuktôr, were arrested for the aforementioned reason and sacrificed to the gods of hospitality by Eurukles the prophet. According to the same author, The virgin sister of these men hanged herself after she was raped—and Eratosthenes says she was raped by some stranger on the road who was named Hesiod, the son of Dêmades. He was also killed by the same men. Later, the Orkhomenians, in accordance with an oracle, transferred Hesiod and buried them in their land….”

Cert. Hom. et Hes. v. 214 West. (unde eadem Tzetzes

 τοῦ δὲ ἀγῶνος διαλυθέντος διέπλευσεν ὁ ῾Ησίοδος εἰς Δελφοὺς χρησόμενος καὶ τῆς νίκης ἀπαρχὰς τῷ θεῷ ἀναθήσων. προσερχομένου δὲ αὐτοῦ τῷ ναῷ ἔνθεον γενομένην τὴν προφῆτίν φασιν εἰπεῖν

ὄλβιος οὗτος ἀνήρ, ὃς ἐμὸν δόμον ἀμφιπολεύει,

῾Ησίοδος Μούσῃσι τετιμένος ἀθανάτῃσι·

τοῦ δή τοι κλέος ἔσται ὅσην τ’ ἐπικίδναται ἠώς.

ἀλλὰ Διὸς πεφύλαξο Νεμείου κάλλιμον ἄλσος·

κεῖθι δέ τοι θανάτοιο τέλος πεπρωμένον ἐστίν.

ὁ δὲ ῾Ησίοδος ἀκούσας τοῦ χρησμοῦ τῆς Πελοποννήσου μὲν ἀνεχώρει νομίσας τὴν ἐκεῖ Νεμέαν τὸν θεὸν λέγειν, εἰς δὲ  Οἰνόην τῆς Λοκρίδος ἐλθὼν καταλύει παρὰ ᾿Αμφιφάνει καὶ Γανύκτορι, τοῖς Φηγέως παισίν, ἀγνοήσας τὸ μαντεῖον· ὁ γὰρ τόπος οὗτος ἐκαλεῖτο Διὸς Νεμείου ἱερόν. διατριβῆς δ’ αὐτῷ πλείονος γενομένης ἐν τοῖς Οἰνεῶσιν, ὑπονοήσαντες οἱ νεανίσκοι τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτῶν μοιχεύειν τὸν ῾Ησίοδον, ἀποκτείναντες εἰς τὸ μεταξὺ τῆς Εὐβοίας καὶ τῆς Λοκρίδος πέλαγος κατεπόντισαν.

τοῦ δὲ νεκροῦ τριταίου πρὸς τὴν γῆν ὑπὸ δελφίνων προσενεχθέντος, ἑορτῆς τινὸς ἐπιχωρίου παρ’ αὐτοῖς οὔσης ἀριαδνείας πάντες ἐπὶ τὸν αἰγιαλὸν ἔδραμον καὶ τὸ σῶμα γνωρίσαντες ἐκεῖνο μὲν πενθήσαντες ἔθαψαν, τοὺς δὲ φονεῖς ἀνεζήτουν. οἱ δὲ φοβηθέντες τὴν τῶν πολιτῶν ὀργήν, κατασπάσαντες ἁλιευτικὸν σκάφος διέπλευσαν εἰς Κρήτην. οὓς κατὰ μέσον τὸν πλοῦν ὁ Ζεὺς κεραυνωθεὶς κατεπόντωσεν, ὥς φησιν ᾿Αλκιδάμας ἐν μουσείῳ φησιν ᾿Αλκιδάμας ἐν Μουσείῳ.

᾿Ερατοσθένης δέ φησιν ἐν † ἐνηπόδω † Κτίμενον καὶ ῎Αντιφον τοὺς Γανύκτορος ἐπὶ τῇ προειρημένῃ αἰτίᾳ ἀνελόντας σφαγιασθῆναι θεοῖς τοῖς  ξενίοις ὑπ’ Εὐρυκλέους τοῦ μάντεως. τὴν μέντοι παρθένον τὴν ἀδελφὴν τῶν προειρημένων μετὰ τὴν φθορὰν ἑαυτὴν ἀναρτῆσαι, φθαρῆναι δὲ ὑπό τινος ξένου συνόδου τοῦ ῾Ησιόδου Δημώδους ὄνομα· ὃν καὶ αὐτὸν ἀναιρεθῆναι ὑπὸ τῶν αὐτῶν φησιν. ὕστερον δὲ ᾿Ορχομένιοι κατὰ χρησμὸν μετενέγκαντες αὐτὸν παρ’ αὑτοῖς ἔθαψαν καὶ ἐπέγραψαν ἐπὶ τῷ τάφῳ·

Image result for Ancient Greek Hesiod

The Judgment of…Rufinus (NSFW)

From the Greek Anthology (5.35)

“I judged the asses of three women—they chose themselves
to show me the naked treasure of their limbs.
The first was signed with round dimples
and crowned with a white softness from her thighs.
The snowy flesh of the second reddened as it parted,
blushing darker than a purple rose.
The third, a calm sea furrowed by a quiet wave,
undulated across the surface of her tender skin.
If the goddesses’ judge had seen these rear-ends,
he never would have wished to see those other ones…

Πυγὰς αὐτὸς ἔκρινα τριῶν• εἵλοντο γὰρ αὐταὶ
δείξασαι γυμνὴν ἀστεροπὴν μελέων.
καί ῥ’ ἡ μὲν τροχαλοῖς σφραγιζομένη γελασίνοις
λευκῇ ἀπὸ γλουτῶν ἤνθεεν εὐαφίῃ•
τῆς δὲ διαιρομένης φοινίσσετο χιονέη σὰρξ
πορφυρέοιο ῥόδου μᾶλλον ἐρυθροτέρη•
ἡ δὲ γαληνιόωσα χαράσσετο κύματι κωφῷ,
αὐτομάτη τρυφερῷ χρωτὶ σαλευομένη.
εἰ ταύτας ὁ κριτὴς ὁ θεῶν ἐθεήσατο πυγάς,
οὐκέτ’ ἂν οὐδ’ ἐσιδεῖν ἤθελε τὰς προτέρας.

judgment

In 5.36, Rufinus uses a similar trope, but focusing on a different body part. For now, I will leave this one untranslated.

῎Ηρισαν ἀλλήλαις ῾Ροδόπη, Μελίτη, ῾Ροδόκλεια,
τῶν τρισσῶν τίς ἔχει κρείσσονα μηριόνην,
καί με κριτὴν εἵλοντο· καὶ ὡς θεαὶ αἱ περίβλεπτοι
ἔστησαν γυμναί, νέκταρι λειβόμεναι.
καὶ ῾Ροδόπης μὲν ἔλαμπε μέσος μηρῶν πολύτιμος
οἷα ῥοδὼν πολλῷ σχιζόμενος ζεφύρῳ …
τῆς δὲ ῾Ροδοκλείης ὑάλῳ ἴσος ὑγρομέτωπος
οἷα καὶ ἐν νηῷ πρωτογλυφὲς ξόανον.
ἀλλὰ σαφῶς, ἃ πέπονθε Πάρις διὰ τὴν κρίσιν, εἰδὼς
τὰς τρεῖς ἀθανάτας εὐθὺ συνεστεφάνουν.

Prematurely Gray, “A Trial Proves the Worth of A Man”

Michaelos Apostolius, Collection of Proverbs, 7.95 (15th Century CE)

“Erginos’ gray hair: A proverb applied to the prematurely gray. This man was a child of Klumenos, one of the Argonauts. When Hypsipyle, the daughter of Thoas, the king of the Lemnians, held funeral games for her father, even though Erginos was young, he was prematurely gray, and he went there to compete in the games only to be mocked by the Lemnian women because of his gray hair. Therefore, he competed in the context most nobly and overcame his competitors the sons of Boreas, Zêthus and Kalaïs—he was wondered at for how far ahead he was! Pindar speaks about him when he says “a trial is a test of a man”.

᾿Εργίνου πολιαί: ἐπὶ τῶν προπολίων· οὗτος ἦν παῖς Κλυμένου, εἷς τῶν ᾿Αργοναυτῶν· ῾Υψιπύλης δὲ τῆς θυγατρὸς Θόαντος βασιλέως Λημνίων ἐπιτάφιον ἀγῶνα τοῦ πατρὸς προτεθεικυίας, ᾿Εργῖνος νέος μὲν ὢν τῇ ἡλικίᾳ, προπόλιος δέ, παρῆλθεν ἀγωνισόμενος, καὶ ἐγελᾶτο ὑπὸ τῶν Λημνιάδων γυναικῶν διὰ τὰς πολιάς· κάλλιστα οὖν τὸν ἀγῶνα διενεγκὼν καὶ τοὺς συνάθλους νικήσας Βορεάδας Ζῆθον καὶ Κάλαϊν, εἰς ὑπερβολὴν ἐθαυμάσθη. περὶ οὗ καὶ ὁ Πίνδαρος εἶπε, διάπειρά τοι βροτῶν ἔλεγχος.

 

Schol.Pind. O4 32b-c

“This contest took the dishonor of the Lemnian women away from the son of Klymenos. The story goes like this: when Hypsipyle held funeral games for her father Thoas, the king of the Lemnians, it happened that the Argonauts appeared as they were sailing for the golden fleece and they offered to compete in the games. One of them, Erginos, was younger than old, but his hair was prematurely grey and he was taunted by the women for it.  But he showed them in the deeds by defeating his competitors. They were the sons of Boreas, Zetes and Kalaïs.

ἥτις διάπειρα τὸν Κλυμένου παῖδα ἀπέλυσε τῆς ἀτιμίας τῶν ἐν Λήμνῳ γυναικῶν.ἡ δὲ ἱστορία τοιαύτη· ῾Υψιπύλης ἀγῶνα ἐπιτελούσης ἐπιτάφιον Θόαντι τῷ πατρὶ Λημνίων βασιλεῖ, συμβέβηκεν  ἀπιόντας ἐπὶ τὸ χρυσοῦν δέρας τοὺς ᾿Αργοναύτας ἐκεῖσε γενέσθαι, καὶ προτραπέντας εἰς τὸν ἀγῶνα ἀγωνίσασθαι. εἷς ὢν οὖν αὐτῶν ὁ ᾿Εργῖνος νεώτερος μὲν τῷ χρόνῳ, προπόλιος δὲ τὴν κόμην, ὡς μὴ ἱκανὸς ἀγωνίσασθαι διὰ τὴν ὄψιν τῶν πολιῶν ἐγελᾶτο ὑπὸ τῶν γυναικῶν καὶ ἐπεκερτομεῖτο. ὡς δὲ διὰ τῶν ἔργων ἐδείχθη ὑπερβαλλόμενος τοὺς ἀγωνιστάς· ἦσαν δὲ οἱ τοῦ Βορέου παῖδες Ζήτης καὶ Κάλαϊς·

 

Pind. Olympian 4.17-27

“I will not stain my story
With a lie. A test proves the worth of a man.
This rescued the child of Klumenos
from the dishonor of the Lemnian women.
He won the race in bronze armor
And said to Hypsipyle as he left with the crown:
“This is my speed:
My hands and heart are its equal. Sometimes gray hair
grows even on young men
thick, before the appointed time.

 

οὐ ψεύδεϊ τέγξω
λόγον· διάπειρά τοι βροτῶν ἔλεγχος
ἅπερ Κλυμένοιο παῖδα
Λαμνιάδων γυναικῶν ἔλυσεν ἐξ ἀτιμίας.
χαλκέοισι δ’ ἐν ἔντεσι νικῶν δρόμον
ἔειπεν ῾Υψιπυλείᾳ μετὰ στέφανον ἰών·
‘οὗτος ἐγὼ ταχυτᾶτι·
χεῖρες δὲ καὶ ἦτορ ἴσον. φύονται δὲ καὶ νέοις
ἐν ἀνδράσιν πολιαί
θαμάκι παρὰ τὸν ἁλικίας ἐοικότα χρόνον.’

Tawdry Tuesday: The Judgement of Rufinus

From the Greek Anthology (5.35)

“I judged the asses of three women—they chose themselves
to show me the naked treasure of their limbs.
The first was signed with round dimples
and crowned with a white softness from her thighs.
The snowy flesh of the second reddened as it parted,
blushing darker than a purple rose.
The third, a calm sea furrowed by a quiet wave,
undulated across the surface of her tender skin.
If the goddesses’ judge had seen these rear-ends,
he never would have wished to see those other ones…

Πυγὰς αὐτὸς ἔκρινα τριῶν• εἵλοντο γὰρ αὐταὶ
δείξασαι γυμνὴν ἀστεροπὴν μελέων.
καί ῥ’ ἡ μὲν τροχαλοῖς σφραγιζομένη γελασίνοις
λευκῇ ἀπὸ γλουτῶν ἤνθεεν εὐαφίῃ•
τῆς δὲ διαιρομένης φοινίσσετο χιονέη σὰρξ
πορφυρέοιο ῥόδου μᾶλλον ἐρυθροτέρη•
ἡ δὲ γαληνιόωσα χαράσσετο κύματι κωφῷ,
αὐτομάτη τρυφερῷ χρωτὶ σαλευομένη.
εἰ ταύτας ὁ κριτὴς ὁ θεῶν ἐθεήσατο πυγάς,
οὐκέτ’ ἂν οὐδ’ ἐσιδεῖν ἤθελε τὰς προτέρας.

 

In 5.36, Rufinus uses a similar trope, but focusing on a different body part. For now, I will leave this one untranslated.

῎Ηρισαν ἀλλήλαις ῾Ροδόπη, Μελίτη, ῾Ροδόκλεια,
τῶν τρισσῶν τίς ἔχει κρείσσονα μηριόνην,
καί με κριτὴν εἵλοντο· καὶ ὡς θεαὶ αἱ περίβλεπτοι
ἔστησαν γυμναί, νέκταρι λειβόμεναι.
καὶ ῾Ροδόπης μὲν ἔλαμπε μέσος μηρῶν πολύτιμος
οἷα ῥοδὼν πολλῷ σχιζόμενος ζεφύρῳ …
τῆς δὲ ῾Ροδοκλείης ὑάλῳ ἴσος ὑγρομέτωπος
οἷα καὶ ἐν νηῷ πρωτογλυφὲς ξόανον.
ἀλλὰ σαφῶς, ἃ πέπονθε Πάρις διὰ τὴν κρίσιν, εἰδὼς
τὰς τρεῖς ἀθανάτας εὐθὺ συνεστεφάνουν.