Named for the Sound of Our Screams

I have been seeing this sign lately. EEE stands for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which sounds terrifying. The acronym is, coincidentally, the sound I make when I read about it. This, of course, made me think of the Homeric name for Circe’s Island, Aiaia.

Image result for road sign EEE

Schol. PQV ad Hom. Od. 9.32

“Aiaiê: A name from the Tyrrheanian Island, Aiaia, or, a Kolkhian one. For Aiaia is a city in Kolkhis.”

Αἰαίη] ἐξ Αἰαίης νήσου τῆς Τυρρηνίας, ἢ Κολχικῆς. Αἰαία γὰρ πόλις τῆς Κολχίδος

Schol. MS Barnes ad Od. 9.32

“But Aiaia is the name of Kirkê’s island which is near Hades and it comes from the moaning of the people on it, from the lamenting utterance “ai, ai”.

νῦν δὲ Αἰαία ἐστὶν ἡ τῆς Κίρκης νῆσος ἡ πλησίον τοῦ ῞Αιδου οὖσα ἀπὸ τῶν στεναγμάτων τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ, παρὰ τὸ αἲ αἲ θρηνητικὸν ἐπίρρημα.

Schol. E Ad. Od. 9.32

“Aiaiê, a daughter of Aiêtês. Or she is being honored from the Aiaian land. It is a city in Kolkhis.”

Αἰαίη] τοῦ Αἰήτου θυγάτηρ. ἢ ἀπὸ Αἰαίας χώρας τιμωμένη. ἔστι δὲ πόλις Κολχίας.

Hesychius

“Aiaiê: The island which Kirkê inhabits. And Kirkê herself receives the nickname the “tricky Aiaian”. This is probably an ethnic name from the Island. The word is made from the “ai ai” mourners utter, since this was how the men lamented when they were slaughtered by the Laistrygonians. Or the name comes from the rightful mourning of those men who were turned into beasts.”

Αἰαίη· ἡ νῆσος, ἣν κατῴκει ἡ Κίρκη. καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ Κίρκη ὁμώνυμος·  Αἰαίη δολόεσσα (ι 32) ‖ ἢ ἐθνική, ἀπὸ τῆς νήσου. τὸ ὄνομα δὲ πεποιημένον παρὰ τὸ αἲ αἲ τοὺς θρηνοῦντας φθέγγεσθαι, ἤτοι <οὕτως> τοὺς [ὑπὸ τῶν] παρὰ τοῖς Λαιστρυγόσιν ἀναιρεθέντας θρηνεῖσθαι. ἢ διὰ τὸ ἀξίαν εἶναι θρήνου τὴν τῶν μεταμορφουμένων ἀποθηρίωσιν

I have not seen any convincing modern updates, but if one shows up I will add it:

beekes motherbeekes

A Typology of Fear For Halloween

Halloween is right today! Here are some passages to go with Seneca’s ruminations on the fear of death.)

Stobaeus 2.7.10c [=Diogenes Laertius 7.113]

“Hesitation is fear of future action. Agony is fear of failure and otherwise fear of worse outcomes. Shock is fear of an uncustomary surprise. Shame is fear of a bad reputation. A ruckus is fear pressing down with sound. Divine fright is fear of gods or divine power. Terror is fear of a terrible thing. A fright is fear that comes from a story.”

     ῎Οκνος δὲ φόβος μελλούσης ἐνεργείας· ἀγωνία δὲ φόβος διαπτώσεως καὶ ἑτέρως φόβος ἥττης· ἔκπληξις δὲ φόβος ἐξ ἀσυνήθους φαντασίας· αἰσχύνη δὲ φόβος ἀδοξίας· θόρυβος δὲ φόβος μετὰ φωνῆς κατεπείγων· δει-σιδαιμονία δὲ φόβος θεῶν ἢ δαιμόνων· δέος δὲ φόβος δεινοῦ· δεῖμα δὲ φόβος ἐκ λόγου.

Suda

“Fear: flight or cowardice. Fear is expecting evil. These emotions are categorized as fear: terror, hesitation, shame, shock, commotion, anxiety. Terror is fear that brings dread. Hesitation is fear about future action. Shame is fear about a bad reputation. Shock is fear from an unusual thing. Commotion is fear from a striking sound. Anxiety is fear of an uncertain matter.”

Φόβος: φυγή. καὶ ἡ δειλία. Φόβος δέ ἐστι προσδοκία κακοῦ. εἰς δὲ τὸν φόβον ἀνάγεται ταῦτα· δεῖμα, ὄκνος, αἰσχύνη, ἔκπληξις, θόρυβος, ἀγωνία. δεῖμα μὲν οὖν ἐστι φόβος δέος ἐμποιῶν, ὄκνος δὲ φόβος μελλούσης ἐνεργείας, αἰσχύνη δὲ φόβος ἀδοξίας, ἔκπληξις δὲ φόβος ἐκ φαντασίας ἀσυνήθους πράγματος, θόρυβος δὲ φόβος μετὰ κατεπείξεως φωνῆς· ἀγωνία δὲ φόβος ἀδήλου πράγματος.

Image result for Ancient Greek monster vase

A Typology of Fear, In Anticipation of Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner. In what is becoming an annual tradition, we are going to post Greek and Roman passages in the spirit of the season. Over the next few weeks you can expect vampires, brain-eaters and a lot of werewolves. But first, fear. (Going well with Seneca’s ruminations on the fear of death.)

Stobaeus 2.7.10c [=Diogenes Laertius 7.113]

“Hesitation is fear of future action. Agony is fear of failure and otherwise fear of worse outcomes. Shock is fear of an uncustomary surprise. Shame is fear of a bad reputation. A ruckus is fear pressing down with sound. Divine fright is fear of gods or divine power. Terror is fear of a terrible thing. A fright is fear that comes from a story.”

     ῎Οκνος δὲ φόβος μελλούσης ἐνεργείας· ἀγωνία δὲ φόβος διαπτώσεως καὶ ἑτέρως φόβος ἥττης· ἔκπληξις δὲ φόβος ἐξ ἀσυνήθους φαντασίας· αἰσχύνη δὲ φόβος ἀδοξίας· θόρυβος δὲ φόβος μετὰ φωνῆς κατεπείγων· δει-σιδαιμονία δὲ φόβος θεῶν ἢ δαιμόνων· δέος δὲ φόβος δεινοῦ· δεῖμα δὲ φόβος ἐκ λόγου.

Suda

“Fear: flight or cowardice. Fear is expecting evil. These emotions are categorized as fear: terror, hesitation, shame, shock, commotion, anxiety. Terror is fear that brings dread. Hesitation is fear about future action. Shame is fear about a bad reputation. Shock is fear from an unusual thing. Commotion is fear from a striking sound. Anxiety is fear of an uncertain matter.”

Φόβος: φυγή. καὶ ἡ δειλία. Φόβος δέ ἐστι προσδοκία κακοῦ. εἰς δὲ τὸν φόβον ἀνάγεται ταῦτα· δεῖμα, ὄκνος, αἰσχύνη, ἔκπληξις, θόρυβος, ἀγωνία. δεῖμα μὲν οὖν ἐστι φόβος δέος ἐμποιῶν, ὄκνος δὲ φόβος μελλούσης ἐνεργείας, αἰσχύνη δὲ φόβος ἀδοξίας, ἔκπληξις δὲ φόβος ἐκ φαντασίας ἀσυνήθους πράγματος, θόρυβος δὲ φόβος μετὰ κατεπείξεως φωνῆς· ἀγωνία δὲ φόβος ἀδήλου πράγματος.

Image result for Ancient Greek monster vase

Some Useful Principles On Science and Fear

Some of Epicurus’ Maxims (taken from Diogenes Laertius‘ Lives of the Eminent Philosophers)

  1. “If fear of the skies or about death had never afflicted us—along with the ignoring of the limits of pain and desires—we never would have needed natural science”

Εἰ μηθὲν ἡμᾶς αἱ τῶν μετεώρων ὑποψίαι ἠνώχλουν καὶ αἱ περὶ θανάτου, μή ποτε πρὸς ἡμᾶς ᾖ τι, ἔτι τε τὸ μὴ κατανοεῖν τοὺς ὅρους τῶν ἀλγηδόνων καὶ τῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν, οὐκ ἂν προσεδεόμεθα φυσιολογίας.

  1. “It is not possible to eliminate fear about the most important things unless one understands the nature of everything—otherwise, we live fearing things we heard from myths. Therefore, it is not possible to enjoy unmixed pleasures without natural science.”

XII. Οὐκ ἦν τὸ φοβούμενον λύειν ὑπὲρ τῶν κυριωτάτων μὴ κατειδότα τίς ἡ τοῦ σύμπαντος φύσις, ἀλλ’ ὑποπτευόμενόν τι τῶν κατὰ τοὺς μύθους· ὥστε οὐκ ἦν ἄνευ φυσιολογίας ἀκεραίους τὰς ἡδονὰς ἀπολαμβάνειν.

  1. “There is no profit in making yourself secure against other people as long as you fear what happens above and below the earth or elsewhere in the endless universe.”

XIII. Οὐθὲν ὄφελος ἦν τὴν κατ’ ἀνθρώπους ἀσφάλειαν κατασκευάζεσθαι τῶν ἄνωθεν ὑπόπτων καθεστώτων καὶ τῶν ὑπὸ γῆς καὶ ἁπλῶς τῶν ἐν τῷ ἀπείρῳ.

Image result for Ancient Greek Epicurus fear

Fear is the Mind-Killer? (Lucretius, De Rerum Natura 2.53-61)

“But what if we see that these things are ridiculous and contemptible,
that, in truth, man’s fear and lurking anxiety
do not shudder at the sound of arms or fierce weapons
or when they bravely move among kings and the world’s rulers
if they do not revere the shine of gold or
turn at the bright shine of purple fabrics—
why do you doubt that real power is wholly the province of reason
especially when life labors completely in the shadows?
For just as children tremble at anything and
jump at dark shadows, so we remain afraid in the light
of things which should not be feared any more
than boys grow pale at shadows in imagining future dangers.
We must therefore dispel the mind’s fear and shadows
Not with a ray of sunshine or the clear shafts of day
But through nature’s clear vision and reason.”

quod si ridicula haec ludibriaque esse videmus,
re veraque metus hominum curaeque sequaces
nec metuunt sonitus armorum nec fera tela
audacterque inter reges rerumque potentis 50
versantur neque fulgorem reverentur ab auro
nec clarum vestis splendorem purpureai,
quid dubitas quin omnis sit haec rationis potestas,
omnis cum in tenebris praesertim vita laboret?
nam vel uti pueri trepidant atque omnia caecis 55
in tenebris metuunt, sic nos in luce timemus
inter dum, nihilo quae sunt metuenda magis quam
quae pueri in tenebris pavitant finguntque futura.
hunc igitur terrorem animi tenebrasque necessest
non radii solis neque lucida tela diei 60
discutiant, sed naturae species ratioque.

Now, I don’t know that Frank Herbert was reading Lucretius (and I don’t know that he wasn’t) but notions of pure rationalism that are a product of Enlightenments thinking (as well as some Near Eastern strands of thought) draw a bit on our friend Lucretius. Reading this passage made me think of the “Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear” which shows up early in Herbert’s Dune:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain

Want to find more connections between the Classics and Science Fiction? There’s a whole book about that: Classical Traditions in Science Fiction edited by Brett Rogers and Benjamin Stevens.