How to Say “Sharknado” in Ancient Greek

Last summer, while catching up with the SYFY series The Expanse, I learned that a fifth installment of the movie Sharknado has made its debut. So, got to thinking and sent a tweet. Some entertainment ensued. In honor of the sixth and allegedly final movie in the storied franchise The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time, here we go again.

I was surprised about the engagement (people like absurd questions), but not too surprised. I then got distracted by the idea. I have put some of the responses below. Apologies if I missed anyone.

My first thought was: Why is Shark-nado funny?

It is an absurd compound, the word shark plus a part of the word tornado, which has been amusingly reanalyzed as if it were a meaningful suffix. And, by the magical power of languag, it now is in fact a meaningful suffix.

Also, it is funny because it sounds like a metaphor but is actually literal: in the made for TV movies, of which there are now five, there is a churning gyro made of sharks.

Etymology, from the OED s.v. “tornado”

Etymology: In Hakluyt and his contemporaries, ternado; from Purchas 1625 onward, turnadotournadotornado. In none of these forms does the word exist in Spanish or Portuguese. But the early sense makes it probable that ternado was a bad adaptation (perhaps originally a blundered spelling) of Spanish tronada ‘thunderstorm’ ( <tronar to thunder), and that tornado was an attempt to improve it by treating it as a derivative of Spanish tornar to turn, return; compare tornado participle, returned. It is notable that this spelling is identified with explanations in which, not the thunder, but the turning, shifting, or whirling winds are the main feature. This is emphasized in the variants turnadotournado.

The suggestions from Twitter:

καρχαριοτυφῶν: from   [καρχαρίας “shark” + τυφῶν “tornado”] by @AntieDiaphanus

καρχαρίανεμοστρόβιλος: “shark-rain-gyre” from @didaclopez

κηταιγίδα: pun on “sea monster” (κῆτος) and storm (καταιγίς) from @KirkdaleBooks cf. κηταιγίδα (loved by @giovanni_lido)

καρχαρίομβρος: “shark-rain” from @nanocyborgasm

καρχαριοστρόβιλος: “shark-gyre” from @peneloPa

τερατολαῖλαψ: “monster=-omen hurricane” from @ohflanders

καρχαριηριώλη: “shark-air-destruction” from @deadfulprof

καρχαριάνεμος “shark-wind” from @jatrius

Κετρόβιλος: “sea-monster gyre” from @didaclopez

καρχαροδίνη: “shark-whorl” from @equiprimordial

Image result for ancient greek vase shark

My thought process:

I wanted Ancient Greek, so the problem is there is no word for “shark” according to Woodhouse’s Greek English dictionary. In Oppian’s Halieutika, we find a “fox-shark” (ἀλωπεκίαι, 1.380; cf. Ananius fr. 5.5: κἀλωπέκων) and, possibly, “the genus shark” in Aristotle’s On Breathing (τὸ τῶν καλουμένων σελαχῶν γένος, 476a) while Aelian prefers Ὁ γαλεὸς (On Animals, 2.55).

Of course, we need to go to Greek comedy if we want fish names: Platon the Comic gives us καρχαρίαν (fr. 189.14) while Cratinus, according to Athenaeus, gives us κύων (fr. 171.50), Eupolis provides σελάχιον (πρίω μοι σελάχιον, fr 1.: “buy some shark for me!”). I am going to leave aside the metaphorical transfer names (“dog” and “shark”) and focus just on the fish-words.

Here’s the LSJ on this:

σέλαχος, ὁ: “of all cartilaginous fishes” including “sharks”

καρχαρίας, ὁ: “a kind of shark” named so because of its “sharp” teeth (κάρχαρος means “sharp”).

Obviously, no one wants to use σέλαχος. So, the better suggestions should be from καρχαρίας.  Someone suggested a κητ- compound, which I find especially attractive since κῆτος is already productive in compounds (e.g. κητόδορπος (fish-food) κητοτρόφος (sea-monster nourishing), κητοφάγος (sea-monster eating), κητοφόνος (sea monster slaying). The reason I am leaning this way is because SHARK in American films and culture is a figure of respect and horror, not something you eat. IT EATS YOU. So, Greek κῆτος, while not a shark, seems more apt for the EXTREME nature of this gyronic KILLING MACHINE.

Woodhouse suggests for English “tornado”: χείμων, θύελλα, τυφώς. For hurricane: the same, but with πρηστήρ coming sooner. The blander “storm” gets these, plus τρικυμία, φυσήματα, κλύδων and νιφάς. It does not provide what I think is the best suggestion, λαῖλαψ, which I am probably particular to because it is rather archaic. I also love the Suda’s definition “rain with wind. And darkness” (Λαῖλαψ: μετ’ ἀνέμων ὄμβρος, καὶ σκότος). Hescyhius also glosses it as “a storm, a turning of wind with rain” (καταιγίς, ἀνέμου συστροφὴ μετὰ ὑετοῦ).

Some further suggestions

κητολαῖλαψ: “sea-monster hurricane”

κητοχειμών: “sea-monster storm”

καρχαριοτυφών: “shark-typhoon”

κητοτυφών: “sea-monster typhoon”

καρχαριολαῖλαψ: “sea-monster hurricane”

Palaiophron suggested ἕλιξ κητέων, which is pretty rad. But I would like to turn that bad-boy around and get κητο-ελιξ or perhaps κητόλελιξ or even καρχαριόλελιξ.

 

Side-note 1: One friend said this post would be really popular. I said maybe, but what people really like are posts about feces, middle-fingers, puking and masturbation.

Side-note 2: Another friend said that the compound should have some Greek compound of “turn” in it. I failed him.

Side-note 3: Another friend, in discovering that there were 5 Sharknado films, texted me: “What!? Where have I been? In such a world, “President Trump” should have come as no surprise.”

Side-note 4: My son who is 5 just walked by and saw the promo-picture for “Sharknado 5” and said “giant sharks on land and in the air? That. Is. A. Mazing.”

Postscript: There were some Latin suggestions too

https://twitter.com/lacrimaererum86/status/898597629369524224

Post-Post Script: There was a late-breaking addition that is worthy of note:

F*** Off Friday: Hipponax’s Curse for a Former Friend

Hipponax fr. 115 (P. Argent. 3 fr. 1.16, ed. Reitzenstein)

“Once he is struck by the wave,
And [comes] naked to a kind reception at Salmydessos
Where the top-knotted Thracians
Grab him—where he will suffer many evils
Eating the bread of slavery
He will shiver struck by the cold. When he emerges from the foam
May he puke up much seaweed
And let his teeth chatter, as he lies on his face
Like a dog in his weakness
At the farthest end of the sea…
I want him to see all of these things
Because he wronged me and broke his oath,
Even though he was once my friend before.”

κύμ[ατι] πλα[ζόμ]ενος̣·
κἀν Σαλμυδ[ησσ]ῶ̣ι̣ γυμνὸν εὐφρονε̣.[
Θρήϊκες ἀκρό[κ]ομοι
λάβοιεν—ἔνθα πόλλ’ ἀναπλήσαι κακὰ
δούλιον ἄρτον ἔδων—
ῥίγει πεπηγότ’ αὐτόν· ἐκ δὲ τοῦ χνόου
φυκία πόλλ’ ἐπέ̣χοι,
κροτέοι δ’ ὀδόντας, ὡς [κ]ύ̣ων ἐπὶ στόμα
κείμενος ἀκρασίηι
ἄκρον παρὰ ῥηγμῖνα κυμα….δ̣ο̣υ̣·
ταῦτ’ ἐθέλοιμ’ ἂ̣ν ἰδεῖ̣ν,
ὅς μ’ ἠδίκησε, λ̣[ὰ]ξ δ’ ἐπ’ ὁρκίοις ἔβη,
τὸ πρὶν ἑταῖρος [ἐ]ών.

I have placed in bold just a few of the fragments that remind me of Odyssean language. Although the phrase δούλιον ἄρτον does not appear in Homer, it does recall for me the phrase “day of slavery” (δούλιον ἦμαρ).

Image result for ancient greek curse
A curse tablet featuring Hekate from the Museo Archeologico Civico di Bologna

 

Mirabile Lectu! The Book That Was Born a Blog

 “As soon as the opportunity arrives, give yourself over to your studies or to leisure”

ut primum fuerit occasio, relinque teque studiis vel otio trade

Pliny Letters, 1.9

Way back in 2014, Erik and I sat down to read the Commentary to the Iliad by Eustathius, the Archbishop of Thessaloniki, and before reading more than a few words, we ended up starting on the Homeric Batrakhomuomakhia.

[here is the publisher’s homepage]

Anyone who knows either of us or who spends time in our classes would not find this all that surprising–we (and especially I) tend to leap from topic to topic with fury and swoon under the emotional influence of texts and languages both living and dead. At the time, Erik was thinking about teaching high school and I was moving into my post-tenure malaise.

We got to know each other a few years before. I used to have students read Greek with me in the summer. Erik–who was not my student and had graduated before I was a faculty member at UTSA–joined and quickly demonstrated that (1) he knew Latin a lot better than me and (2) he cared a lot more about scholarly minutiae than I typically did.

I cannot say with strong enough force that the time we spent together over the next few years changed the way I taught, read, and thought about the ancient world. By the time we sat down to read Eustathius, Erik was in my mind an intellectual model and a true friend.

During the early years of this blog, I struggled a bit to find a partner who had the time, energy, and interest to make it into something more than it was. Erik showed pretty quickly that he had these qualities, but also a different vision–as is clear from his essays on varied subjects.

As I begin from the first page, I pray that the chorus
comes from Helikon for the sake of the song
I have just set down on the tablets at my knees;
a song of limitless strife–the war-rousing work of Ares–
because I hope to send to the ears of all mortal men
how the mice went forth to best the frogs
in imitation of the deeds of the earth born men, the giants.
Or so the tale went among men. It has this kind of beginning.

When I asked Erik if he wanted to read the “Homeric Battle of Frogs and Mice” instead, it was an easy sell. We used to spend time in my office once of twice a week, using multiple monitors and just spreading all the texts we could around the place, Sometimes we would get through two lines in two hours. Sometimes we would do ten times as much. At first, we just thought we were posting translations, as we did. But, over time, as we realized we needed a commentary in English to finish our work and that we might as well write the commentary we needed, the posts changed. And, as a result, the blog changed too.

1 ᾿Αρχόμενος πρώτης σελίδος χορὸν ἐξ ῾Ελικῶνος
2 ἐλθεῖν εἰς ἐμὸν ἦτορ ἐπεύχομαι εἵνεκ’ ἀοιδῆς
3 ἣν νέον ἐν δέλτοισιν ἐμοῖς ἐπὶ γούνασι θῆκα,
4 δῆριν ἀπειρεσίην, πολεμόκλονον ἔργον ῎Αρηος,
5 εὐχόμενος μερόπεσσιν ἐς οὔατα πᾶσι βαλέσθαι
6 πῶς μύες ἐν βατράχοισιν ἀριστεύσαντες ἔβησαν,
7 γηγενέων ἀνδρῶν μιμούμενοι ἔργα Γιγάντων,
8 ὡς λόγος ἐν θνητοῖσιν ἔην• τοίην δ’ ἔχεν ἀρχήν.

So, in a way, the story of the book that came out today (“The Homeric Battle of the Frogs and Mice”, Bloomsbury 2018) is the story both of how a book came from a blog and how a blog became a book. At our wildest fancy, we thought we would pitch it to some open source repository or present it more completely on the website.

But we were afforded the otium to pursue and complete this project. We built up several documents in Dropbox and spent hours apart adding and subtracting to the comments and what we thought should be in the introduction…While kids and pets were sleeping or eating, we typed away at additional bits or did extra word searches. We had help from excellent libraries at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the Center for the Anthropology of the Ancient World at the University of Siena, and Brandeis University. We tested the commentary online and with graduate students at UT Austin and Brandeis.

“Clearly, something must be published – ah, it would be best if I could just publish what I have already finished!

Est enim plane aliquid edendum — atque utinam hoc potissimum quod paratum est!

Pliny the Younger

And]along the way, I think we had a pretty good time. After we had completed the book’s parts, we had a few conversations with the classics acquisitions editor at Bloomsbury. She was interested in the project, and, believe it or not, the blog and twitter feed’s following. That meeting was in the spring of 2016.

During the summer I left Texas for Boston (to return to teach at my undergraduate alma mater, Brandeis University) and Erik continued his teaching at a local high school with a serendipitously similar name. Ah, we no longer have those long Monday afternoons staring at ancient Greek! But we have the memory and this book. Imperfect as it may be, I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of it.

Seneca, De Tranquilitate Animi

“Still nothing lightens the spirit as much as sweet and faithful friendship. What a good it is when hearts have been made ready in which every secret may be safely deposited, whose understanding of yourself you worry about less than your own, whose conversation relieves your fear, whose opinion hastens your plans, whose happiness dispels your sadness, and whose very sight delights you!”

Nihil tamen aeque oblectaverit animum, quam amicitia fidelis et dulcis. Quantum bonum est, ubi praeparata sunt pectora, in quae tuto secretum omne descendat, quorum conscientiam minus quam tuam timeas, quorum sermo sollicitudinem leniat, sententia consilium expediat, hilaritas tristitiam dissipet, conspectus ipse delectet!

BM

Death and Love from Friendship

Augustine, Confessions 4.8-9

“Certainly, the comfort of various friends used to repair and refresh me—friends whom I once loved in your place. This was an immense fiction and a long-lasting lie, the incitement of which in our ears made our mind corrupted. But my fiction would was not relenting even if some of my friends would die.

There were other things that attracted my mind more: conversation, laughter, doing each other favors, reading sweet-tongued books together, having fun, being serious, sometimes disagreeing without anger just as a people might do on his own and even mixing up our many agreements with occasional dissent. We get pain when some are absent only to receive them with joy as they return. By these kinds of signs coming from the heart of those who love and love in return, through their mouth, tongue, eyes and a thousand very grateful gestures,  fan the burning of our minds and  make one out of many.

This is what is loved in friends and what we love such that the human conscience—if it does not love what loves it back or if it does not return love when loved—seeks nothing from that source except for a sign of kindness. This is where grief comes from if someone dies—the shadows of sorrows—and when sweetness turns bitter a heart weighs heavy and the loss of the life of those who are dying is the death of those still alive.”

Maxime quippe me reparabant atque recreabant aliorum amicorum solacia, cum quibus amabam quod pro te amabam, et hoc erat ingens fabula et longum mendacium, cuius adulterina confricatione corrumpebatur mens nostra pruriens in auribus. sed illa mihi fabula non moriebatur, si quis amicorum meorum moreretur. alia erant quae in eis amplius capiebant animum, conloqui et conridere et vicissim benivole obsequi, simul legere libros dulciloquos, simul nugari et simul honestari, dissentire interdum sine odio tamquam ipse homo secum atque ipsa rarissima dissensione condire consensiones plurimas, docere aliquid invicem aut discere ab invicem, desiderare absentes cum molestia, suscipere venientes cum laetitia: his atque huius modi signis a corde amantium et redamantium procedentibus per os, per linguam, per oculos et mille motus gratissimos, quasi fomitibus conflare animos et ex pluribus unum facere.

 Hoc est quod diligitur in amicis, et sic diligitur ut rea sibi sit humana conscientia si non amaverit redamantem aut si amantem non redamaverit, nihil quaerens ex eius corpore praeter indicia benivolentiae. hinc ille luctus si quis moriatur, et tenebrae dolorum, et versa dulcedine in amaritudinem cor madidum, et ex amissa vita morientium mors viventium.

Image result for medieval manuscript augustine friendship
Hot and cold bath Livre de la Vigne nostre Seigneur, France ca. 1450

Twitter Is Not A Complete Garbage-fire

An illustration from twitter on how our interconnectivity can be useful and edifying.

This morning I was working on translating a bit of Biblical verse for a memorial service. This not in my typical range of activities. Because of the complex manuscript traditions, the strong modern feelings and attachments, and the myriad ways in which any translation of the Bible might be misconstrued, we tend to avoid it on this site. But when I was having trouble, I reached out to some friends on twitter and in like 30 minutes learned about tools online I didn’t know, the history of the translations of Ecclesiastes, Hebrew grammar, and had a great conversation along the way. So, here’s the record. Twitter may exist in part for potentates to light garbage fires, but it can work for good too…

https://twitter.com/Scaevola67/status/926413968666775552

https://twitter.com/Scaevola67/status/926416058013057028

https://twitter.com/Scaevola67/status/926418529397723136

https://twitter.com/Scaevola67/status/926422558974595074

https://twitter.com/Scaevola67/status/926421014703235072

https://twitter.com/Scaevola67/status/926424247890792448

Image result for Ancient Greek twitter

How to Say “Sharknado” in Ancient Greek: A Linguistic Choose-Your-Own Adventure

There are a few weeks between the ending of my children’s summer activities and the beginning of school. We have been going to parks, zoos, cook-outs, etc. I have been less intense about other work and actually watching some television. I discovered, upon catching up with the SYFY series The Expanse, that a fifth installment of the movie Sharknado has made its debut. So, got to thinking and sent a tweet.

I was surprised about the engagement (people like absurd questions), but not too surprised. I then got distracted by the idea. I have put some of the responses below. Apologies if I missed anyone.

My first thought was: Why is Shark-nado funny?

It is an absurd compound, the word shark plus a part of the word tornado, which has been amusingly reanalyzed as if it were a meaningful suffix. And, by the power of language to utter something into being, it now is a suffix.

Also, it is funny because it sounds like a metaphor but is actually literal: in the made for TV movies, of which there are now five, there is a churning gyro made of sharks.

Etymology, from the OED s.v. “tornado”

Etymology: In Hakluyt and his contemporaries, ternado; from Purchas 1625 onward, turnadotournadotornado. In none of these forms does the word exist in Spanish or Portuguese. But the early sense makes it probable that ternado was a bad adaptation (perhaps originally a blundered spelling) of Spanish tronada ‘thunderstorm’ ( <tronar to thunder), and that tornado was an attempt to improve it by treating it as a derivative of Spanish tornar to turn, return; compare tornado participle, returned. It is notable that this spelling is identified with explanations in which, not the thunder, but the turning, shifting, or whirling winds are the main feature. This is emphasized in the variants turnadotournado.

The suggestions from Twitter:

καρχαριοτυφῶν: from   [καρχαρίας “shark” + τυφῶν “tornado”] by @AntieDiaphanus

καρχαρίανεμοστρόβιλος: “shark-rain-gyre” from @didaclopez

κηταιγίδα: pun on “sea monster” (κῆτος) and storm (καταιγίς) from @KirkdaleBooks cf. κηταιγίδα (loved by @giovanni_lido)

καρχαρίομβρος: “shark-rain” from @nanocyborgasm

καρχαριοστρόβιλος: “shark-gyre” from @peneloPa

τερατολαῖλαψ: “monster=-omen hurricane” from @ohflanders

καρχαριηριώλη: “shark-air-destruction” from @deadfulprof

καρχαριάνεμος “shark-wind” from @jatrius

Κετρόβιλος: “sea-monster gyre” from @didaclopez

καρχαροδίνη: “shark-whorl” from @equiprimordial

 

Image result for ancient greek shark

My thought process:

I wanted Ancient Greek, so the problem is there is no word for “shark” according to Woodhouse’s Greek English dictionary. In Oppian’s Halieutika, we find a “fox-shark” (ἀλωπεκίαι, 1.380; cf. Ananius fr. 5.5: κἀλωπέκων) and, possibly, “the genus shark” in Aristotle’s On Breathing (τὸ τῶν καλουμένων σελαχῶν γένος, 476a) while Aelian prefers Ὁ γαλεὸς (On Animals, 2.55).

Of course, we need to go to Greek comedy if we want fish names: Platon the Comic gives us καρχαρίαν (fr. 189.14) while Cratinus, according to Athenaeus, gives us κύων (fr. 171.50), Eupolis provides σελάχιον (πρίω μοι σελάχιον, fr 1.: “buy some shark for me!”). I am going to leave aside the metaphorical transfer names (“dog” and “shark”) and focus just on the fish-words.

Here’s the LSJ on this:

σέλαχος, ὁ: “of all cartilaginous fishes” including “sharks”

καρχαρίας, ὁ: “a kind of shark” named so because of its “sharp” teeth (κάρχαρος means “sharp”).

Obviously, no one wants to use σέλαχος. So, the better suggestions should be from καρχαρίας.  Someone suggested a κητ- compound, which I find especially attractive since κῆτος is already productive in compounds (e.g. κητόδορπος (fish-food) κητοτρόφος (sea-monster nourishing), κητοφάγος (sea-monster eating), κητοφόνος (sea monster slaying). The reason I am leaning this way is because SHARK in American films and culture is a figure of respect and horror, not something you eat. IT EATS YOU. So, Greek κῆτος, while not a shark, seems more apt for the EXTREME nature of this gyronic KILLING MACHINE.

Woodhouse suggests for English “tornado”: χείμων, θύελλα, τυφώς. For hurricane: the same, but with πρηστήρ coming sooner. The blander “storm” gets these, plus τρικυμία, φυσήματα, κλύδων and νιφάς. It does not provide what I think is the best suggestion, λαῖλαψ, which I am probably particular to because it is rather archaic. I also love the Suda’s definition “rain with wind. And darkness” (Λαῖλαψ: μετ’ ἀνέμων ὄμβρος, καὶ σκότος). Hescyhius also glosses it as “a storm, a turning of wind with rain” (καταιγίς, ἀνέμου συστροφὴ μετὰ ὑετοῦ).

Some further suggestions

κητολαῖλαψ: “sea-monster hurricane”

κητοχειμών: “sea-monster storm”

καρχαριοτυφών: “shark-typhoon”

κητοτυφών: “sea-monster typhoon”

καρχαριολαῖλαψ: “sea-monster hurricane”

Palaiophron suggested ἕλιξ κητέων, which is pretty rad. But I would like to turn that bad-boy around and get κητο-ελιξ or perhaps κητόλελιξ or even καρχαριόλελιξ.

 

Side-note 1: One friend said this post would be really popular. I said maybe, but what people really like are posts about feces, middle-fingers, puking and masturbation.

Side-note 2: Another friend said that the compound should have some Greek compound of “turn” in it. I failed him.

Side-note 3: Another friend, in discovering that there were 5 Sharknado films, texted me: “What!? Where have I been? In such a world, “President Trump” should have come as no surprise.”

Side-note 4: My son who is 5 just walked by and saw the promo-picture for “Sharknado 5” and said “giant sharks on land and in the air? That. Is. A. Mazing.”

Postscript: There were some Latin suggestions too

https://twitter.com/lacrimaererum86/status/898597629369524224

Post-Post Script: There was a late-breaking addition that is worthy of note:

Leadership, A Conference and Some Quotes

Starting next week a Virtual Conference “Teaching Leaders and Leadership Through Classics” is going live. This conference includes many interesting speakers (and friends) but it also comes at a time when we are nearly constantly thinking about how we choose our leaders and our assumptions about the purpose of education.

We will be posting more Greek and Roman material that reflects on the topic over the next few days as proverbial food for thought. One can register online to be part of the conversation: https://teachingleadershipthruclassics.wordpress.com/register/

 

Plutarch, Precepts of Statecraft 802 E

“Public leadership comes from persuading people through argument. But manipulating a mob in this way differs little from the capture and herding of stupid animals.”

δημαγωγία γὰρ ἡ διὰ λόγου πειθομένων ἐστίν, αἱ δὲ τοιαῦται τιθασεύσεις τῶν ὄχλων οὐδὲν ἀλόγων ζῴων ἄγρας καὶ βουκολήσεως διαφέρουσιν.

Image result for Ancient Roman Cyclops statue

Plutarch, Sayings of Kings and Commanders 181

“As he died, Demadês the politician was saying that because of its lack of a leader, the Macedonian army was like the Cyclops after he was blinded.”

Τελευτήσαντος δὲ αὐτοῦ Δημάδης ὁ ῥήτωρ ὅμοιον ἔφη διὰ τὴν ἀναρχίαν ὁρᾶσθαι τὸ στρατόπεδον τῶν Μακεδόνων ἐκτετυφλωμένῳ τῷ Κύκλωπι.

Isocrates, On the Peace 142-3

“I am now able to say the most important thing, upon which everything I have said is based and against which one must compare and judge the actions of the city. For if we truly wish to dispel these current slanders, we must stop these wars which were begun with no purpose and safeguard for our state a leadership for all time. We must hate every kind of tyrannical government because we remember and weigh the calamities they have borne. We must envy, even imitate, the Spartan kings: for it is less possible for them to commit injustice than the individual citizens, but they happen to be that much more worthy of envy than men who wield tyranny by force. Men who kill tyrants among them have a greater amount of honor equal to the difference between those who are willing to die in battle and those who flee the ranks and abandon their shield.

This kind of leadership is a worthy goal. We can earn the kind honor the Spartan Kings have among their citizens from the rest of the Greeks if they believe that our power will not cause their servitude but instead their liberation.”

Κεφάλαιον δὲ τούτων ἐκεῖν᾿ ἔχω λέγειν, εἰς ὃ πάντα τὰ προειρημένα συντείνει καὶ πρὸς ὃ χρὴ βλέποντας τὰς πράξεις τὰς τῆς πόλεως δοκιμάζειν. δεῖ γὰρ ἡμᾶς, εἴπερ βουλόμεθα διαλύσασθαι μὲν τὰς διαβολὰς ἃς ἔχομεν ἐν τῷ παρόντι, παύσασθαι δὲ τῶν πολέμων τῶν μάτην γιγνομένων, κτήσασθαι δὲ τῇ πόλει τὴν ἡγεμονίαν εἰς τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον, μισῆσαι μὲν ἁπάσας τὰς τυραννικὰς ἀρχὰς καὶ τὰς δυναστείας, ἀναλογισαμένους τὰς συμφορὰς τὰς ἐξ αὐτῶν γεγενημένας, ζηλῶσαι δὲ καὶ μιμήσασθαι τὰς ἐν Λακεδαίμονι βασιλείας. ἐκείνοις γὰρ ἀδικεῖν μὲν ἧττον ἔξεστιν ἢ τοῖς ἰδιώταις, τοσούτῳ δὲ μακαριστότεροι τυγχάνουσιν ὄντες τῶν βίᾳ τὰς τυραννίδας κατεχόντων, ὅσον οἱ μὲν τοὺς τοιούτους ἀποκτείναντες τὰς μεγίστας δωρεὰς παρὰ τῶν τολμῶντες ἐν ταῖς μάχαις ἀποθνήσκειν ἀτιμότεροι γίγνονται τῶν τὰς τάξεις λειπόντων καὶ τὰς ἀσπίδας ἀποβαλλόντων. ἄξιον οὖν ὀρέγεσθαι τῆς τοιαύτης ἡγεμονίας. ἔνεστι δὲ τοῖς πράγμασιν ἡμῶν τυχεῖν παρὰ τῶν Ἑλλήνων τῆς τιμῆς ταύτης, ἥνπερ ἐκεῖνοι παρὰ τῶν πολιτῶν ἔχουσιν, ἢν ὑπολάβωσι τὴν δύναμιν τὴν ἡμετέραν μὴ δουλείας ἀλλὰ σωτηρίας αἰτίαν αὑτοῖς ἔσεσθαι.

Who Rolls Up the NPCs? Homeric Poetry As an RPG

One of my intrepid students sent me a link to this tumblr page which imagines the Iliad and the Odyssey as the product of one long role-playing game. Why did she send it to meBecause I constantly joke about the ‘campaigns’ of myth in terms only those who have wielded a 20-sided die might enjoy.

Image result for ancient roman 20 sided die

Now, I am doubly happy because I have met the Commander of Trash in person at the University of Tennessee. I am now triply happy because I hitherto believed  that there was not a Homeric Heroes RPG . But there is! A Trojan War RPG has debuted in the world! And there was an Odysseus game published almost 40 years ago (enough time to go to Troy and come back twice.)

I have used role-playing techniques before in modeling historical battles, but I have never tried a D&D campaign. I imagine that it could be exciting, engrossing, and a little intense. You know, like the Trojan War.

Image result for ancient roman 20 sided dieThey are not playing a board game, they are distributing points to NPCs.

I would love to hear from anyone who has played these games to know what they’re like. But more importantly, what traditional D&D class would Odysseus be? (I think thief or bard, probably). What kind of a + defense would Achilles’ armor have? What happens if you roll a 1 when wielding Philoktetes’ bow?

I have more questions–but for now I will just be contemplating Achilles’ charisma score.

Theognis: Three Fragments on Tyrants, Enemies and Friends

 

 

“Bring down a people-eating tyrant however you desire

No criticism for this comes from the gods”

 

δημοφάγον δὲ τύραννον ὅπως ἐθέλεις κατακλῖναι

οὐ νέμεσις πρὸς θεῶν γίνεται οὐδεμία.

 

1318a-b

“Alas, I am a wretch: because of the terrors I have suffered

I bring pleasure to my enemies and toil to my friends”

 

῎Ωιμοι ἐγὼ δειλός· καὶ δὴ κατάχαρμα μὲν ἐχθροῖς,

τοῖσι φίλοις δὲ πόνος δεινὰ παθὼν γενόμην.

 

1079-80

 

“I’ll fault no enemy when he is noble,

nor will I praise a friend when he is wrong”

 

Οὐδένα τῶν ἐχθρῶν μωμήσομαι ἐσθλὸν ἐόντα,

οὐδὲ μὲν αἰνήσω δειλὸν ἐόντα φίλον.