A Funerary Inscription for a Twelve-Year Old Girl

This inscription is from Attica, dating to around 350 BCE.

SEG 25:298 (SEG 23.166 Peek: Greek from the PHI Website)

“Traveler, weep for the age of this dead girl—
For she left when she was only twelve, causing her friends much grief
And leaving behind immortal pain. The rest of it
This memorial announces to everyone who passes by.

Much-wept Hades, why did you take Kleoptolemê when she
Was still a girl, at an ill-fated age? Didn’t you feel any shame?
You left for her dear mother Mnêsô everlasting grief
In exchange for mortal misfortune.

Dear Mother and sisters and Meidotelês who fathered you
As a source of pain for himself, Kleoptolemê,–
They look forward only to grief, and not your bed-chamber, now that you’ve died,
but a lament instead of a husband, a funeral instead of a marriage.”

ἡλικίαν δάκ[ρυσον, ὁδοιπόρε, τῆσδε θανούσης]·
δωδεκέτις [γὰρ ἐοῦσ’ ὤιχετο, πολλὰ φίλοις]
στερχθεῖσ’, ἀθά[νατον δὲ λιποῦσ’ ἄλγος· τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ]
πᾶσι τόδ’ ἀγγέλλει [μνῆμα παρε]ρ[χομένοις]·

ὦ πολύκλαυθ’ Ἅιδη, τ[ί Κλεοπτολ]έμη[ν ἔτι κούραν]
ἥρπασας ἡλικίας δύσ̣[μορον; οὐ] σέ[βεαι];
μητρὶ δὲ τεῖ μελέαι πένθ[ο]ς Μνη[σοῖ προλέλοι]πας
ἀθάνατον θνητῆς εἵνεκα συν[τυχία]ς

ὦ μελέα μῆτερ καὶ ὁμαίμονες ὅς τέ σ’ ἔφυσεν
Μειδοτέλης αὑτῶι πῆμα, Κλεοπτολέμη·
οἳ γόον, οὐ θάλαμον τὸν σὸν προσορῶσι θανούσης,
θρῆνόν τε ἀντ’ ἀνδρὸς καὶ τάφον ἀντὶ γάμου.

Image result for funerary inscription Greek attica
Grave Relief for Naiskos of Sime at the Getty

A Funerary Inscription for a Twelve-Year Old Girl

This inscription is from Attica, dating to around 350 BCE.

SEG 25:298 (SEG 23.166 Peek: Greek from the PHI Website)

“Traveler, weep for the age of this dead girl—
For she left when she was only twelve, causing her friends much grief
And leaving behind immortal pain. The rest of it
This memorial announces to everyone who passes by.

Much-wept Hades, why did you take Kleoptolemê when she
Was still a girl, at an ill-fated age? Didn’t you feel any shame?
You left for her dear mother Mnêsô everlasting grief
In exchange for mortal misfortune.

Dear Mother and sisters and Meidotelês who fathered you
As a source of pain for himself, Kleoptolemê,–
They look forward only to grief, and not your bed-chamber, now that you’ve died,
but a lament instead of a husband, a funeral instead of a marriage.”

ἡλικίαν δάκ[ρυσον, ὁδοιπόρε, τῆσδε θανούσης]·
δωδεκέτις [γὰρ ἐοῦσ’ ὤιχετο, πολλὰ φίλοις]
στερχθεῖσ’, ἀθά[νατον δὲ λιποῦσ’ ἄλγος· τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ]
πᾶσι τόδ’ ἀγγέλλει [μνῆμα παρε]ρ[χομένοις]·

ὦ πολύκλαυθ’ Ἅιδη, τ[ί Κλεοπτολ]έμη[ν ἔτι κούραν]
ἥρπασας ἡλικίας δύσ̣[μορον; οὐ] σέ[βεαι];
μητρὶ δὲ τεῖ μελέαι πένθ[ο]ς Μνη[σοῖ προλέλοι]πας
ἀθάνατον θνητῆς εἵνεκα συν[τυχία]ς

ὦ μελέα μῆτερ καὶ ὁμαίμονες ὅς τέ σ’ ἔφυσεν
Μειδοτέλης αὑτῶι πῆμα, Κλεοπτολέμη·
οἳ γόον, οὐ θάλαμον τὸν σὸν προσορῶσι θανούσης,
θρῆνόν τε ἀντ’ ἀνδρὸς καὶ τάφον ἀντὶ γάμου.

Image result for funerary inscription Greek attica
Grave Relief for Naiskos of Sime at the Getty

Odysseus, Older Brother

Od. 14.145-147

“But a longing for Odysseus who has gone wrecks me.
I am feel ashamed to name him, stranger, even though he is absent.
For he used to really care about me and take pains in his heart.
But I call him my older brother even though he is not here.”

ἀλλά μ’ ᾿Οδυσσῆος πόθος αἴνυται οἰχομένοιο.
τὸν μὲν ἐγών, ὦ ξεῖνε, καὶ οὐ παρεόντ’ ὀνομάζειν
αἰδέομαι· περὶ γάρ μ’ ἐφίλει καὶ κήδετο θυμῷ·
ἀλλά μιν ἠθεῖον καλέω καὶ νόσφιν ἐόντα.”

Translators who contend with this passage may struggle with it because it seems odd in English to say “I feel shame to name…” someone. In fact, I don’t think I would understand this passage at all (and I still might be wrong) if it were not for my wife’s language and culture (she speaks Tamil, a language from southern India). In many cultures, naming someone by their personal name is a sign of privilege; not naming them or using an honorific is a token of respect. In Tamil, for instance, there are different names for aunts and uncles depending on whether they are older or younger than your parents.

Outside of the family, as a sign of respect, one calls older men and women aunt and uncle (or grandfather and grandmother) and family friends or cousins of close age but still older “big sister” (akka) or big brother (anna).

The passage above hinges, I think, on some kind of a token of respect. Eumaios, the swineherd, is hesitant to speak Odysseus’ name and declares that he should call him êtheion. Most translators render this as “lord”, “sir”, “master”. But the scholia give a different answer.

Schol. BQHV ad Hom. Od. 14.147

BQ. “But I call him elder…” I do not call Odysseus ‘master’ but big brother because of his loving-care for me. For to êtheie is the address of a younger [brother] to an older.”

ἀλλά μιν ἠθεῖον καλέω] οὐ καλῶ αὐτὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα ἢ δεσπότην, ἀλλὰ ἀδελφὸν μείζονα διὰ τὴν πρὸς ἐμὲ φιλοστοργίαν. τὸ δὲ ἠθεῖε προσφώνησίς ἐστι νεωτέρου πρὸς μείζονα. B.Q.

H. “This is one part of the speech [?]. But it clearly means older brother”

ἓν μέρος λόγου ἐστί· δηλοῖ δὲ τὸν πρεσβύτερον ἀδελφόν. H.

êtheion: Older brother, really amazing.

ἠθεῖον, πρεσβύτερον ἀδελφὸν, θαυμαστὸν ἄγαν. V.

The sociolinguistic apparatus that conveys the full force of Eumaios’ feeling here is not fully present in English. But even just translating this as “brother” would make sense since, earlier, Eumaios claims that he would not even mourn his parents as much as he would Odysseus.

(This is a little disturbing from the perspective of how a slave defers to the master, but it works out even better for Eumaios’ view of his position in the ‘family’ since later he says that he was raised with Odysseus’ sister Ktimene).

Image result for ancient GReek vase odysseus and eumaeus

Heal Your Body and Soul This Holiday Season: Talk with Family and Friends

In the holiday season, take some time away from madness to refresh your soul with family and friends.

From the Suda

“Pharmakon [medicine]: conversation, consoling, it comes from pherein [bringing] akos [relief/cure]. But it is also said to come from flowers.

Φάρμακον: παραμυθία, ὁμιλία, εἴρηται δὲ ἀπὸ τοῦ φέρειν τὴν ἄκεσιν: εἴρηται δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθέων

Etym. Magn.

“Medicine: consolation, conversation. This is from pherein [to bear] and akos [relief], something close to pherakon

Φάρμακον: Παραμυθία, ὁμιλία· παρὰ τὸ φέρειν τὸ ἄκος, φέρακόν τι ὄν·

Chantraine s.v. pharmakon, after surveying various approaches to its etymology (mostly reflexes of pherô and PIE *bher-) concludes “la question de l’origine de pharmakon est insoluble en l’ état present de nos connaissances.”

But it seems that the medicinal/therapeutic power of conversation was a popular trope in several contexts.

Some Proverbs from Arsenius, Paroemiographer

“Only words [reason] is medicine for grief”

Λόγος μέν ἐστι φάρμακον λύπης μόνος.

“Conversation [ or ‘reason’] is the doctor for suffering in the soul”

Λόγος ἰατρὸς τοῦ κατὰ ψυχὴν πάθους.

The palliative and or curative effect of stories and speech appears with some frequency in Euripides (and then appears in other authors as well)

Euripides, fr. 1065

“Many words of the ancients still ring true:
Their fine stories are medicine for mortal fear.”

καὶ τῶν παλαιῶν πόλλ’ ἔπη καλῶς ἔχει·
λόγοι γὰρ ἐσθλοὶ φάρμακον φόβου βροτοῖς.

Euripides, fr. 1079

“Mortals have no other medicine for pain
Like the advice of a good man, a friend
Who has experience with this sickness.
A man who troubles then calms his thoughts with drinking,
Finds immediate pleasure, but laments twice as much later on.”

Οὐκ ἔστι λύπης ἄλλο φάρμακον βροτοῖς
ὡς ἀνδρὸς ἐσθλοῦ καὶ φίλου παραίνεσις.
ὅστις δὲ ταύτῃ τῇ νόσῳ ξυνὼν ἀνὴρ
μέθῃ ταράσσει καὶ γαληνίζει φρένα,
παραυτίχ’ ἡσθεὶς ὕστερον στένει διπλᾶ.

Eur. Fr. 962

“There are different medicines for different diseases.
A kind story [muthos] from friends for a man in grief;
Advice for someone playing the fool to excess”

. . . ἄλλ᾿ ἐπ᾿ ἄλλῃ φάρμακον κεῖται νόσῳ·
λυπουμένῳ μὲν μῦθος εὐμενὴς φίλων,
ἄγαν δὲ μωραίνοντι νουθετήματα.

Menander (fr. 591 K.).

“The man who is sick in the body needs a doctor;
someone who is sick in the mind needs a friend
For a well-meaning friend knows how to treat grief.”

Τῷ μὲν τὸ σῶμα † διατεθειμένῳ κακῶς
χρεία ‘στ’ ἰατροῦ, τῷ δὲ τὴν ψυχὴν φίλου·
λύπην γὰρ εὔνους οἶδε θεραπεύειν φίλος.

Attributed to Socrates (in Stobaeus)

“The sick need doctors; the unlucky need encouragement from friends.”

Τοῖς μὲν νοσοῦσιν ἰατρούς, τοῖς δ’ ἀτυχοῦσι φίλους δεῖ παραινεῖν.

Euripides, Alcestis, 962—966

I have leapt through the Muses
And soared high but
Even though I have tried most words
I have found nothing stronger than Necessity
Not any medicine at all.

᾿Εγὼ καὶ διὰ Μούσας
καὶ μετάρσιος ᾖξα καὶ
πλείστων ἁψάμενος λόγων
κρεῖσσον οὐδὲν ᾿Ανάγκας
εὗρον, οὐδέ τι φάρμακον.

Sotion, About Rage

“Consolation is the greatest medicine for anger,
It counters grief, anger, and brings forgetfulness from all evils.”

῞Οτι ἡ παραμυθία φάρμακον ἀνίας ἐστὶ μέγιστον,
νηπενθές τ’ ἄχολόν τε, κακῶν ἐπίληθον ἁπάντων.

Biôn (c. XIV Herm., XVIII Ahr.).

“Love should summon the Muses; the Muses should carry love.
The Muses—I hope—give song to me always when I need it,
Sweet song, no medicine is more pleasing!”

Μοίσας ῎Ερως καλέοι, Μοῖσαι τὸν ῎Ερωτα φέροιεν·
μολπὰν ταὶ Μοῖσαί μοι ἀεὶ ποθέοντι διδοῖεν,
τὰν γλυκερὰν μολπάν, τᾶς φάρμακον ἅδιον οὐδέν.

Image result for Ancient Greek friends

All of these quotes make me rethink the following from the Odyssey (14.399-400):

“Let us take pleasure from recalling one another’s grievous pains”

κήδεσιν ἀλλήλων τερπώμεθα λευγαλέοισι / μνωομένω