Cities and Women With the Same Name: The Ever-Clever Menelaos

The scene: Menelaos has been shipwrecked in Egypt. He left Helen—the fake one sent to Troy before the beginning of the war—in a cave for safekeeping before coming to town. Outside the house of Proteus, he meets an old servant who tells him that Proeteus’ son is not home, but that Helen, Zeus’ daughter from Sparta, is inside. Menelaos is dumfounded.

Euripides, Helen 483–499

‘What am I saying? What can I say? I am learning
terrible troubles on top of my old ones.
If I brought my wife, captured from Troy,
When I came here and she is safe in a cave,
Then someone else has the same name as my wife
And lives in this house here.
But this old lady said that she is the child of Zeus.
Is there some dude named Zeus who lives
On the banks of the Nile? There’s only one in heaven.
Where on earth is there a Sparta except where
The steams flow from only one lovely-reeded Eurotas?

Does the famous Tyndareion name have a twin?
Is there any place with the same name as Lakedaimon
Or Troy? I don’t know what to say.
Many things, I guess, over the great earth
have the same names: cities named the same,
Women named the same. Nothing should be surprising.”

Με. τί φῶ; τί λέξω; συμφορὰς γὰρ ἀθλίας
ἐκ τῶν πάροιθε τὰς παρεστώσας κλύω,
εἰ τὴν μὲν αἱρεθεῖσαν ἐκ Τροίας ἄγων
ἥκω δάμαρτα καὶ κατ’ ἄντρα σώιζεται,
ὄνομα δὲ ταὐτὸν τῆς ἐμῆς ἔχουσά τις
δάμαρτος ἄλλη τοισίδ’ ἐνναίει δόμοις.
Διὸς δ’ ἔλεξε παῖδά νιν πεφυκέναι·
ἀλλ’ ἦ τις ἔστι Ζηνὸς ὄνομ’ ἔχων ἀνὴρ
Νείλου παρ’ ὄχθας; εἶς γὰρ ὅ γε κατ’ οὐρανόν.
Σπάρτη δὲ ποῦ γῆς ἐστι πλὴν ἵνα ῥοαὶ
τοῦ καλλιδόνακός εἰσιν Εὐρώτα μόνον;
διπλοῦν δὲ Τυνδάρειον ὄνομα κλήιζεται,
Λακεδαίμονος δὲ γαῖά τις ξυνώνυμος
Τροίας τ’; ἐγὼ μὲν οὐκ ἔχω τί χρὴ λέγειν.
πολλοὶ γάρ, ὡς εἴξασιν, ἐν πολλῆι χθονὶ
ὀνόματα ταὔτ’ ἔχουσι καὶ πόλις πόλει
γυνὴ γυναικί τ’· οὐδὲν οὖν θαυμαστέον.

Image result for Ancient Greek Menelaus

Alternate Names, Assumed Identities, and Secret Codes: Olysseus, Oliseus, Odysseus

Yesterday I posted about etymologies and variants for Odysseus’ names. Eustathius records: ὁ ᾿Οδυσσεύς δέ που ᾿Ολυσσεύς καὶ ἡ ᾿Οδύσσεια ᾿Ολύσσεια. In a Boiotian inscription his name is Ὀλυσ(σ)εύς (Olusseus) and a few Corinthian inscriptions have Ὀλισ(σ)εύς (Olisseus). Rudolf Wachter (Non-Attic Greek Vase Inscriptions 2001, 267) argues that the Attic Olutteus and the Corinthian form just cited likely display a form that predates the epic spelling (and that it was the epic tradition itself that influenced the regularization).

While it seems these names may be non-Greek, this does not mean that Greek audiences did not hear echoes of the roots they knew for “woolly” (oulos), “scar” (oulê) or “destructive, ruinous” (oulos) in his name. At the same time, it does not matter whether or not one form predated the other–what matters is that Panhellenic audiences may have been familiar with multiple forms.

When Odysseus meets Penelope in disguise, he first describes what ‘Odysseus’ was wearing when he went to war, and then when she weeps, he comforts her by telling her that he has heard that Odysseus is nearby. Throughout his speech there are echoes of both his epic name Odysseus and what Wachter calls his “epichoric” (i.e. ‘local’) name.

Odyssey  19.254–271

“Revered wife of Odysseus, son of Laertes
Don’t harm your fair skin or wear out your heart
At all any longer, mourning your husband. I would not find fault at all.
For someone mourns [ODUretai] when she has lost [OLESasa] a different man,
A husband, one she has slept with and borne children to,
Different from Odysseus, a man they claim is like the gods.
But cease from mourning, take my speech to heart:
For I will speak truly and I will hide nothing.
Since I have already heard about the homecoming of Odysseus
Nearby, in the rich land of the Thesprotian men,
Alive. He took many fine possession there,
Seeking help throughout the country. But his faithful companions,
He lost [Olese] them along with his gray ship on the wine-faced sea
As he traveled from the island of Thrinakia. They were hateful [odusanto] to him,
Zeus and Helios. For his companions Helios’ cattle.
They all perished on the much-sounding sea.
But the waves through him on the keep of the ship to land,
The land of the Phaeacians, who are a race close to the gods.”

ὦ γύναι αἰδοίη Λαερτιάδεω ᾿Οδυσῆος,
μηκέτι νῦν χρόα καλὸν ἐναίρεο μηδέ τι θυμὸν  (255)
τῆκε πόσιν γοόωσα. νεμεσσῶμαί γε μὲν οὐδέν·
καὶ γάρ τίς τ’ ἀλλοῖον ὀδύρεται ἄνδρ’ ὀλέσασα
κουρίδιον, τῷ τέκνα τέκῃ φιλότητι μιγεῖσα,
ἢ ᾿Οδυσῆ’, ὅν φασι θεοῖσ’ ἐναλίγκιον εἶναι.
ἀλλὰ γόου μὲν παῦσαι, ἐμεῖο δὲ σύνθεο μῦθον· (260)
νημερτέως γάρ τοι μυθήσομαι οὐδ’ ἐπικεύσω,
ὡς ἤδη ᾿Οδυσῆος ἐγὼ περὶ νόστου ἄκουσα
ἀγχοῦ, Θεσπρωτῶν ἀνδρῶν ἐν πίονι δήμῳ,
ζωοῦ· αὐτὰρ ἄγει κειμήλια πολλὰ καὶ ἐσθλά,
αἰτίζων ἀνὰ δῆμον. ἀτὰρ ἐρίηρας ἑταίρους (265)
ὤλεσε καὶ νῆα γλαφυρὴν ἐνὶ οἴνοπι πόντῳ,
Θρινακίης ἄπο νήσου ἰών· ὀδύσαντο γὰρ αὐτῷ
Ζεύς τε καὶ ᾿Ηέλιος· τοῦ γὰρ βόας ἔκταν ἑταῖροι.
οἱ μὲν πάντες ὄλοντο πολυκλύστῳ ἐνὶ πόντῳ·
τὸν δ’ ἄρ’ ἐπὶ τρόπιος νηὸς βάλε κῦμ’ ἐπὶ χέρσου, (270)
Φαιήκων ἐς γαῖαν, οἳ ἀγχίθεοι γεγάασιν·

I am likely pressing this a bit, but the wordplay from a traditional level may be toying with different notions of Odysseus as a destroyer or as one hateful to the gods while on the level of this narrative, Odysseus may be invoking aspects of his name and character in a code for a patient Penelope. Given the ornate prohibition against weeping and the strange comparison to “another man” coupled with these sound games, I am entertaining for an evening at least that Odysseus has passed a secret message (perhaps ἐμεῖο δὲ σύνθεο μῦθον is a clue too). It may be interest to note that Penelope has just said (19.257-260):

“…I will not welcome him again
after he has come home to his paternal country.
Odysseus left with a wicked fate in his empty ship
going out to see Ev(il)-Ilion, which should not be named.”

…. τὸν δ’ οὐχ ὑποδέξομαι αὖτις
οἴκαδε νοστήσαντα φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν.
τῶ ῥα κακῇ αἴσῃ κοίλης ἐπὶ νηὸς ᾿Οδυσσεὺς
ᾤχετ’ ἐποψόμενος Κακοΐλιον οὐκ ὀνομαστήν

Image result for Odysseus and Penelope

Twitter gave me help with this:

Special thanks also to @Giovanni_Lido.

Wool, Scar, Wholeness: Oúlos, Oulê, Oulos and Odysseus

In book 19 of the Odyssey, Odysseus (in disguise) confirms for Penelope that he saw Odysseus (in the past) as he was traveling to Troy by describing the woolen cloak and golden brooch he was wearing. Fewer than two hundred lines later, Eurykleia recognizes Odysseus by his scar. In Greek, the words used for the “wool”[oúlê] cloak and the scar [oulé] differ only in accent. Later in the Odyssey, Dolios uses another word that sounds the same but means something else to address Odysseus. How might audiences distinguish between these meanings? How might the epic capitalize upon their similarity? (see below for some answers)

Odyssey 19.225–227

“Glorious Odysseus had a purple wool [oúlên] cloak with a double fold
And the brooch on it was made of gold with double clasps
On the surface it had an intricate design.”

χλαῖναν πορφυρέην ‖ οὔλην ἔχε δῖος ᾿Οδυσσεύς,
διπλῆν· ἐν δ’ ἄρα οἱ περόνη χρυσοῖο τέτυκτο
αὐλοῖσιν διδύμοισι· πάροιθε δὲ δαίδαλον ἦεν·

19.390-394

“Immediately he pondered in his heart how she might not take him
And recognize his scar [oulén] and bring everything out in the open.
But she came near and took him up for bathing. Immediately
She recognized the scar [oulén] which long ago a boar gave him with its white fang
When he went to Parnassus to see Autolykos and his sons.”

αὐτίκα γὰρ κατὰ θυμὸν ὀΐσατο, μή ἑ λαβοῦσα
οὐλὴν ἀμφράσσαιτο καὶ ἀμφαδὰ ἔργα γένοιτο.
νίζε δ’ ἄρ’ ἄσσον ἰοῦσα ἄναχθ’ ἑόν· αὐτίκα δ’ ἔγνω
οὐλήν, τήν ποτέ μιν σῦς ἤλασε λευκῷ ὀδόντι
Παρνησόνδ’ ἐλθόντα μετ’ Αὐτόλυκόν τε καὶ υἷας,

Od. 24.402 (Dolios to Odysseus)

“Be well [oule] and be of great cheer. May the gods give you blessings”

οὖλέ τε καὶ μέγα χαῖρε, θεοὶ δέ τοι ὄλβια δοῖεν.

How might audiences tell the difference between these two words in addition to accent? Usage in the hexameter line indicates some separation. “Scar” tends to come at the beginning of the line:

19.464 οὐλὴν ὅττι πάθοι· ὁ δ’ ἄρα σφίσιν εὖ κατέλεξεν,
19.507 θερσόμενος, οὐλὴν δὲ κατὰ ῥακέεσσι κάλυψε.
21.221      ὣς εἰπὼν ῥάκεα μεγάλης ἀποέργαθεν οὐλῆς.
23.74 οὐλήν, τήν ποτέ μιν σῦς ἤλασε λευκῷ ὀδόντι·
24.331 “οὐλὴν μὲν πρῶτον τήνδε φράσαι ὀφθαλμοῖσι,

“Woolly” tends to come before a caesura:

4.450 ἀμφὶ δ’ ἄρα χλαίνας ‖ οὔλας βάλον ἠδὲ χιτῶνας (=10.451, 17.89)
4.299 χλαίνας τ’ ἐνθέμεναι ‖ οὔλας καθύπερθεν ἕσασθαι. (=7.338)

The one exception to this separation in the Odyssey seems to be when Odysseus is transformed into a better looking version of himself in books 6 and 23. Here, the “woolly hair” begins the line, placing the same sounds in the same position as his defining scar.

“She made the woolly hair come from his head like a hyacinth flower.”

6.230-231 …οὔλας ἧκε κὄμας, ὑακινθίνῳ ἄνθει ὁμοίας. (=23.158).

In this, Dolios’ hapax legomenon greeting to Odysseus seems potentially playful and interesting: οὖλέ τε καὶ μέγα χαῖρε, θεοὶ δέ τοι ὄλβια δοῖεν. Here the imperative could sound like a vocative for “wool”. But, it might also recall another word that sounds the same, οὖλος “destructive”, which appears in the Iliad but not in the Odyssey.

Ancient authors associate this imperative with “wholeness, and healthiness”:

Schol. H ad. Hom. Od. 24.402

“Oule: “be healthy, from “wholeness”. This is only said once.
οὖλε] ὑγίαινε· παρὰ τὸ ὅλην. τῶν ἅπαξ εἰρημένων. H.

Strabo 14.1.6

“The Milesians and Delians call Apollo Oulios, as if he his a bringer of health and healing. For, to oulein is to “to be healthy” [hugiainein], from which we get the word “scar” [oulê] and the [greeting] “be well and be very happy”.

Οὔλιον δ’ ᾿Απόλλωνα καλοῦσί τινα καὶ Μιλήσιοι καὶ Δήλιοι, οἷον ὑγιαστικὸν καὶ παιωνικόν· τὸ γὰρ οὔλειν ὑγιαίνειν, ἀφ’ οὗ καὶ τὸ οὐλὴ καὶ τό „οὖλέ τε „καὶ μέγα χαῖρε.”

The aural similarity between these four terms (“scar”, “wool”, “ruinous”, “whole”) and their potentially intentional juxtapositions and interplay in the Odyssey help to map out different variations on Odysseus’ character and his development in this particular epic. In folk etymology, the name  (whence Roman Ulysses through Doric Olisseus?. cf. Oulikseus below “Alternatives…”) may mark him as the “scarred man”, evoking the tale of his naming and thus an essential aspect of his character.

The “wool” may recall both his physical trait of curly hair (emphasized in his rejuvenations in the Odyssey) and his legendary tale of sneaking out under a ram after the blinding of Polyphemos (depicted in many vase images at an early period and perhaps echoed when Priam describes him as a “ram among the sheep” in the Iliad  3.197–198). But the “wool garment” has intra-textual relevance within our epic (since Odysseus in disguise keeps asking for a cloak) and as the garment that confirms his past identity to Penelope.

Both “scar” and “wool”, then, are intimately connected with the characterization of an Odysseus from a broader mythical perspective and are introduced as positive identification for the hero in this epic.  The echo of a “destructive” hero is mostly up to speculation. The meaning of the final imperative “be whole”, however, might be intentionally jarring and telling: at this moment, Odysseus has finally confirmed his identities with everyone and has become whole, combining and transcending his identities as “woolly haired” and “scarred”.

 Image result for Odysseus and Ram

From the Iliad

5.461 Τρῳὰς δὲ στίχας οὖλος ῎Αρης ὄτρυνε μετελθὼν
5.517 εἰ οὕτω μαίνεσθαι ἐάσομεν οὖλον ῎Αρηα.
21.536 δείδια γὰρ μὴ οὖλος ἀνὴρ ἐς τεῖχος ἅληται. [=Achilles]

 

Some Etymologies

Etymologicum Gudianum

“Scar” (oulê): This is a healed wound which is still apparent. Others call it a “persistent/painful wound” [epiponaion]”

Οὐλὴ, τὸ ὑγιασθὲν τραῦμα καὶ φαινόμενον· ἄλλοι δὲ ἐπιπόναιον ἕλκος.

“Scar and wound [ôteilê] are different. For a ‘scar’ is a strike healed from an earlier wound; whereas a ôteilê is what the wound [trauma] is called. But Homer has obscured the difference when he said “the same mark [oulê] poured out black blood from the wound [ôteilês].”

Οὐλὴ καὶ ὠτειλὴ διαφέρει· οὐλὴ μὲν γάρ ἐστιν, ἡ ἐκ παλαιοῦ τραύματος ὑγιασμένη πλήγη· ὠτειλὴ δὲ τὸ πρόσφατον τραῦμα· καὶ ῞Ομηρος δὲ τετήρηκε τὴν διαφορὰν εἴπων· οὐλὴν δ’ αὐτὴν ἔρεεν αἷμα κελαινεφὲς ἐξ ὠτειλῆς.

οὐλή, ἡ: “scar”

Chantraine s.v. οὐλή, “cicatrice, blessure, cicatrisée. From *ϝολ-. Cf. lat volnus, eris?

Beekes s.v οὐλή, “scarred wound, scar”,< IE *uel- ‘draw, tear’. But “As a common basis for these nouns, the root *uelh3- ‘to strike’ must be assumed…”

οὖλος, “wool”

Chaintraine, s.v. οὖλος 2 “Le sense ancient de οὖλος “bouclé, crépu” [“curled, frizzy”] se tire aisément de 2 εἰλέω “tourner, rouler”…Le sens secondaire de “dense” etc. n’impose pas un rapport avec 1 εἰλέω “serrer, presser”.

Beeks s.v. οὖλος, “frizzy, shaggy, woolly, crinkly’ “can be connected with εἰλέω 2 “to roll, rutnr, wind’…” We may reconstruct *uol(H)-no ‘wool’, either from *uel “to twist’ or *uelH- ‘to pluck’ (Lat. Vello).

Note for 19.225 from Merry, Riddell and Montro 1886: οὔλην ‘thick,’ ‘woolly,’ from the same root as Lat. vellus, also lāna (for vlā-na). Whether it is akin to “εἶρος, ἔρια” (Lat. vervēx) is more than doubtful.”

οὖλος, “ruinous”

Chantraine, s.v. οὖλος 3 “perniceaux, funeste, destructeur”. Epithet of Ares, Achilles and in the hellinist period, Eros… Ety. Famille ὄλλυμι, *ὄλϝος à côte de *ὀλεϝός >ὀλοός…

Beekes, s.v. οὖλος 3 “baneful”…from IE *H3lh3-u– “destructive”

οὖλος, Chantraine s.v. οὖλος 1 “tout entier”, voir ὅλος.

Schol. B ad Od. 19.393

“Scar”: Attic speakers call a wound that has been healed  ôteilê. In Homer, ôteilê is unhealed, and an oulê is healed.”

οὐλὴν] ᾿Αττικοὶ τὸ θεραπευθὲν τραῦμα ὠτειλήν φασι· παρὰ δὲ ῾Ομήρῳ ὠτειλὴ μὲν τὸ ἀθεράπευτον, οὐλὴ δὲ τὸ θεραπευθέν. B.

Alternatives to Odysseus’ name

Eust. Comm. Ad Homeri Il 1.446: ὁ ᾿Οδυσσεύς δέ που ᾿Ολυσσεύς καὶ ἡ ᾿Οδύσσεια ᾿Ολύσσεια

Herodian, de prosodia cath. 3.1.14: Οὐλιξεύς Ulixes, in quo Doris sequimur

From Brill’s New Pauly s.v Odysseus: Attic inscriptions: Ὀλυττεύς/Olytteús; Corinthian: Ὀλισ(σ)εύς/Olis(s)eús;

For other etymologies for Odysseus’ name, see here.

For “whole” elsewhere in the Odyssey see: 17.342-3

“Têlemakhos called the swineherd over to him and addressed him,
Once he took the whole [oûlon] loaf from the fancy basket”

Τηλέμαχος δ’ ἐπὶ οἷ καλέσας προσέειπε συβώτην,
ἄρτον τ’ οὖλον ἑλὼν περικαλλέος ἐκ κανέοιο

Achilles’ Name(s), When He Was A Girl

From the Fragments of the Greek Historians–Mythical traditions record that Thetis hid Achilles at Skyros to prevent him from getting taken to fight at Troy where she knew he would die. Most retellings of this focus on how Odysseus tricked him into revealing himself. But it turns out Achilles also took on a girl’s name while he was there.

Aristonikos of Tarentum (57; appearing in Photios)

Aristonikos of Tarentum reports that Achilles, when he was spending time  with the girls at Lykomedes’ home, used to be called Kerkysera and Issa and Pyrrha. He was also called Aspetos and Prometheus.

ὡς ᾽Αχιλλέα μὲν ᾽Αριστόνικος ὁ Ταραντῖνος διατρίβοντα ἐν ταῖς παρθένοις παρὰ Λυκομήδει Κερκυσέραν καλεῖσθαί φησιν καὶ ῎ Ἴσσαν καὶ Πύρραν ἐκαλεῖτο δὲ  καὶ ῎Ασπετος καὶ Προμηθεύς.

The names he takes on surely deserve a little more contemplation. Why did he also have male names while he was there?

Ken Dowden, in his commentary on this fragment, provides the following explanation of the female names:

“The name Pyrrha (red-head, like Pyrrhos the alternative name of his son Neoptolemos) is also found in Hyginus, Fabulae 96. The name Kerkysera is held to be a ‘joke’ (i.e., of Ptolemy Chennos) by A. Cameron, Greek Mythography in the Roman World (Oxford 2004), 141, presumably by association with κέρκος (a tail or penis). M. van der Valk, Researches on the Text and Scholia of the Iliad (Leiden 1963), 369 n. 228, regards the name as corrupt–it should, according to him, be Κερκουρᾶς (Kerkouras) ‘he who urinates by means of his tail’. Even if this is right, it does not, of course, show that the name was invented by Ptolemy Chennos. Cameron, Mythography, 141, views Issa as an out-of-place Latin term of endearment. But it appears in Greek as the name of a Dalmatian island and, more appropriately to Achilles, of a city on Lesbos (named after a daughter of MakarSteph. Byz., s.v. Issa). ‘There is also a feminine form Issas on Lesbos found in Partheniosin his Herakles’ (ἔστι καὶ θηλυκὸν Ἰσσάς ἐπὶ τῆς Λέσβου παρὰ Παρθενίῳ ἐν Ἡρακλεῖ) according to Steph. Byz. ibid. A real Aristonikos, given the range of possible dates (see Biographical Essay), might well have been reading Parthenios, or even vice-versa.”

This text is from Brill’s new Jacoby, a collection of the Fragments of the Greek historians

Image result for Achilles at Skyros

 

Varro and Augustine on Speech and Development

From Varro, 7.52

“A man speaks [fatur] who first releases from his mouth a sound that has a meaning. From this, children are called infants [lit. the ‘unspeaking’] before they can do this; when they can do this, they are said “to speak”.

Fatur is qui primum homo significabilem ore mittit vocem. Ab eo, ante quam ita faciant, pueri dicuntur infantes; cum id faciunt, iam fari;

Augustine, Confessions 1.8

“Was it really this man—me—who jumped from infancy and moved to childhood? Or was it more that childhood entered me and replaced infancy? Infancy didn’t depart—where would it go? But still, it was not there anymore. For I was no longer an infant who could not speak but I was a boy who spoke. I remember this and sometime later I understood where I learned to speak. My elders were not teaching me, offering me words in some established curriculum as they would later with reading, but I, with the mind you gave me, my God, I wanted to make clear the feelings of my heart with all types of groaning and sounds and mad moving of the limbs, so that my will would be obeyed; when I did not prevail over all the things which I wanted from everyone, I picked at it with my memory. Whenever anyone called something something and when they moved toward a thing in response to that word a second time, I observed it and I understood that the thing was named by them—when they made that sound they meant to indicate it.”

nonne ab infantia huc pergens veni in pueritiam? vel potius ipsa in me venit et successit infantiae? nec discessit illa: quo enim abiit? et tamen iam non erat. non enim eram infans qui non farer, sed iam puer loquens eram. et memini hoc, et unde loqui didiceram post adverti. non enim docebant me maiores homines, praebentes mihi verba certo aliquo ordine doctrinae sicut paulo post litteras, sed ego ipse mente quam dedisti mihi, deus meus, cum gemitibus et vocibus variis et variis membrorum motibus edere vellem sensa cordis mei, ut voluntati pareretur, nec valerem quae volebam omnia nec quibus volebam omnibus, prensabam memoria. cum ipsi appellabant rem aliquam et cum secundum eam vocem corpus ad aliquid movebant, videbam et tenebam hoc ab eis vocari rem illam quod sonabant cum eam vellent ostendere.

The Full Latin Text

Image result for Ancient Roman Infant