Blinding, Boasting and Justice: The Scholia on Odysseus and Poseidon

Od. 9.523-525

“I wish I could separate you from your soul
And your life and send you down to Hades’ home,
Then not even the earth-shaker would heal your eye”

‘αἲ γὰρ δὴ ψυχῆς τε καὶ αἰῶνός σε δυναίμην
εὖνιν ποιήσας πέμψαι δόμον ῎Αϊδος εἴσω,
ὡς οὐκ ὀφθαλμόν γ’ ἰήσεται οὐδ’ ἐνοσίχθων.’

Image result for ancient greek cyclops

Schol. ad Od. 9.525

he would not heal your eye”: [this is because] he does not want to, not because he is not capable. For Poseidon did not want to help his own son because he believed that it is right for him to be paid back for his wickedness. So the thought is ‘Poseidon will not heal you because you are evil’

Why did Odysseus so thoughtlessly demean Poseidon in saying “not even the earth-shaker will heal your eye?” Is it because he knowns that Poseidon is not a healer, but Apollo is? Or is it because he will not help him because of his wickedness?”

Why did Odysseus so thoughtlessly demean Poseidon when he said to the Kyklôps “not even the earth-shaker will heal your eye”? Antisthenes says that it is because he knows that Poseidon is not a doctor, but Apollo is; Aristotle says that it is not because he is not capable but because he is not willing, due to the Kyklôps’ wickedness.

Then why was Poseidon angry? Surely he is not upset because of the statement but because of the blinding, as the epic says “He was angry over the Kyklôps, because he had put out his eye” (Od. 1.69) even though he was completely wretched and had eaten Odysseus’ companions? Aristotle solves this problem in saying that [in terms of behavior] [responsibilities] are not the same for a free man toward a slave or for a slave toward a free man, nor again for those near to the gods toward those far away. Therefore, the Kyklôps deserved a penalty, but he didn’t need to be chastised by Odysseus, but by Poseidon, if he had any thought to help his son as he was harmed—it was the companions who started the wrongdoing.”

οὐκ ὀφθαλμόν γ’ ἰήσεται] μὴ βουλόμενος, οὐ γὰρ μὴ δυνάμενος. οὐκ ἐβούλετο δὲ Ποσειδῶν τὸν ἴδιον υἱὸν θεραπεῦσαι, δίκαιον ἡγούμενος τιμωρεῖσθαι αὐτὸν τῆς πονηρίας. ὁ δὲ νοῦς, οὐδὲ Ποσειδῶν ἰάσεταί σε κακὸν ἐόντα. B.Q.

διὰ τί ὁ ᾿Οδυσσεὺς οὕτως ἀνοήτως εἰς τὸν Ποσειδῶνα ὠλιγώρησεν εἰπὼν “ὡς οὐκ ὀφθαλμόν γ’ ἰήσεται οὐδ’ ἐνοσίχθων;” (525.) ἢ διὰ τὸ γινώσκειν ὡς οὐκ ἦν ἰατρὸς ὁ Ποσειδῶν, ἀλλ’ ὁ ᾿Απόλλων, ἢ ὅτι οὐ θεραπεύσει αὐτὰ διὰ τὴν πονηρίαν αὐτοῦ. M.

διὰ τί ᾿Οδυσσεὺς πρὸς τὸν Κύκλωπα οὕτως ἀνοήτως εἰς τὸν Ποσειδῶνα ὠλιγώρησεν τῷ λόγῳ εἰπὼν “ὡς οὐκ ὀφθαλμόν γ’ ἰήσεται οὐδ’ ἐνοσίχθων” (525.).

᾿Αντισθένης μέν φησι διὰ τὸ εἰδέναι ὅτι οὐκ ἦν ἰατρὸς ὁ Ποσειδῶν, ἀλλ’ ὁ᾿Απόλλων, ᾿Αριστοτέλης δὲ οὐχ ὅτι οὐ δυνήσεται, ἀλλ’ ὅτι οὐ βουληθήσεται διὰ τὴν πονηρίαν τοῦ Κύκλωπος. H.Q.T.

διὰ τί οὖν ὁ Ποσειδῶν ὠργίσθη, καίτοι μὴ χαλεπαίνων διὰ τὸ ἀπόφθεγμα, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὴν τύφλωσιν, “Κύκλωπος γὰρ κεχόλωται, ὃν ὀφθαλμοῦ ἀλάωσε” (Od. α, 69.), καὶ παμπονήρου ὄντος καὶ τοὺς ἑταίρους κατεσθίοντος; λύων δὲ ὁ ᾿Αριστοτέλης φησὶ μὴ ταυτὸν εἶναι ἐλευθέρῳ πρὸς δοῦλον καὶ δούλῳ πρὸς ἐλεύθερον, οὐδὲ τοῖς ἐγγὺς τῶν θεῶν οὖσι πρὸς τοὺς ἄπωθεν. ὁ δὲ Κύκλωψ ἦν μὲν ζημίας ἄξιος, ἀλλ’ οὐκ ᾿Οδυσσεῖ κολαστέος, ἀλλὰ τῷ Ποσειδῶνι, εἰ πανταχοῦ νόμιμον τῷ διαφθειρομένῳ βοηθεῖν, τῷ υἱῷ, καὶ ἦρχον ἀδικίας οἱ ἑταῖροι. H.M.T.

Arrows Are Words: A Scholion Reads a Poem for Us

Pindar, Olympian 2, 83-88

“Many are the swift arrows
Within the quiver
Under my arm—
They speak to those who understand,
But they lack interpreters
In every direction. Wise is the one who knows many things
by nature…”

…. πολλά μοι ὑπ’
ἀγκῶνος ὠκέα βέλη
ἔνδον ἐντὶ φαρέτρας
φωνάεντα συνετοῖσιν· ἐς δὲ τὸ πὰν ἑρμανέων
χατίζει. σοφὸς ὁ πολλὰ εἰδὼς φυᾷ·

(Special thanks to my thesis advisee Taylor for making me read Pindar)

Schol. Ad Pin. Ol. 2

“Swift arrows”: these are an allegory for poems from an archery metaphor. The quiver is his mind; the arrows are words.”

A ὠκέα βέλη: ἀλληγορεῖ ἀπὸ τῶν τόξων μεταφέρων ἐπὶ τὰ ποιήματα· φαρέτρα μὲν γὰρ ἡ διάνοια, βέλη δὲ οἱ λόγοι.

Image result for ancient greek archery vase

This made me think of this: Homer, Odyssey 21.407-409

“Just as a man who knows both lyre and song
easily stretches a string on a new peg
as he attaches the twisted sheep-gut to both sides
just so, without haste, Odysseus strung the great bow.”

ὡς ὅτ’ ἀνὴρ φόρμιγγος ἐπιστάμενος καὶ ἀοιδῆς
ῥηϊδίως ἐτάνυσσε νέῳ περὶ κόλλοπι χορδήν,
ἅψας ἀμφοτέρωθεν ἐϋστρεφὲς ἔντερον οἰός,
ὣς ἄρ’ ἄτερ σπουδῆς τάνυσεν μέγα τόξον ᾿Οδυσσεύς.

A beautiful repose before a banquet of death…the full text.

 

And also of this: Horace, Ars Poetica 347

“The string does not always return the sound that the hand and mind desire”.

neque chorda sonum reddit quem volt manus et mens.

Proverbs in the Scholia to the Odyssey

Occasionally, marginal notes on Homeric manuscripts (scholia) will attempt to explain a passage by appealing to a proverb or assert a proverb’s derivation from one of the epics. Several of the proverbs that appear in the scholia to the Odyssey don’t appear outside of the commentary tradition.

Schol. ad. Od. 8.17 (On why Odysseus is only responsible for the companions in his particular ship)

“According to the proverb “Common ship, common safety”
κατὰ τὴν παροιμίαν “κοινὴ ναῦς κοινὴ σωτηρία,”

Schol. ad. Od. 3.36

“Why is Peisistratos first? The proverb goes: “The same age delights the same age”
διὰ τί πρῶτος ὁ Πεισίστρατος; παροιμία ἐστὶν ἡ λέγουσα, ἧλιξ ἥλικα τέρπει. E.

Schol. ad Od. 3.32

“Problem: Why do they dedicate tongues to the gods? Solution: Some say it is because the tongue is the strongest of the limbs; others claim that it is because it is right to be careful about what is said at a drinking party. This is where the proverb “I have the drinking buddy who doesn’t forget” comes from.

᾿Απορία. διὰ τί τοῖς θεοῖς ἀπένεμον τὰς γλώσσας; Λύσις. οἱ μὲν ὅτι κράτιστον τῶν μελῶν ἡ γλῶσσα, οἱ δὲ ὅτι δεῖ τὰ ἐν συμποσίοις λεχθέντα τηρεῖν. ὅθεν καὶ παροιμία “μισῶ μνάμονα συμπόταν.” B.


Schol. ad Od. 7.36

“Or like a thought: this is where the proverbial saying comes from: “It flew like a thought”

ἠὲ νόημα] ἐντεῦθεν τὸ παροιμιῶδες “διέπτατο δ’ ὥστε νόημα.”

Schol. ad. Od. 8.285

“He was not blind, according to the common proverb, “the blind man saw it”
οὐδ’ ἀλαοσκοπίην] οὐ τυφλὸς ἦν, κατὰ τὴν κοινὴν παροιμίαν, ὁ τυφλὸς ἐσκόπησεν.

Schol. ad Od. 8.329

“A gnomic phrase” through the idea “the slow overtakes the swift, there is a popular proverb “a race of cripples.”
γνωμικόν. διὰ δὲ τοῦ “κιχάνει τοι βραδὺς ὠκύν” ἡ παρὰ πολλοῖς παροιμία ἐστὶν “καὶ χωλῶν δρόμος·”

Schol. ad Od. 9.80

“Maleia”: “But when he was about then to come to the steep peak of the Maleains”. It is a rather high mountain in Laconia. It is a rather high, dangerous peak in Laconia, this is where we get the proverb “after rounding Malea, you forgot everything at home.”
Μάλειαν] “ἀλλ’ ὅτε δή ῥα ἔμελλε Μαλειάων ὄρος αἰπὺ ἵξεσθαι” (Od. δ, 514.). ἔστι δὲ ἀκρωτήριον τῆς Λακωνικῆς. B.E.Q. ἀκρωτήριον τῆς Λακωνικῆς λίαν ἐπικίνδυνον. ὅθεν ἡ παροιμία “Μαλέαν δὲ κάμψας ἐπιλαθοῦ τῶν οἴκαδε.” MS. Barnes.

Schol. ad Od. 14.214

“But still the reed.” There is also the proverb, “grain from the reed”
ἀλλ’ ἔμπης καλάμην] καὶ ἡ παροιμία, ἀπὸ τῆς καλάμης τὸν στάχυν. Q.

Schol ad Od. 22.9-12

“For the men…” Dionysus Thrax says in his Thoughts that the proverb “there are many things between the cup and the tip of the lip” comes from this scene. For after raising the cup, Antinoos was struck. Aristotle says this about the proverb. Angkaios, the son of Poseidon and Astupalaia, who was Samian by birth had a household servant from Krete and ordered him to bring him a drink to drink. When he saw that he was not able to drink where the grapes happened to be, Ankaios himself threatened the servants, took the cup and raised it. After he said “there are many thinks between a cup and the tip of its lip”, a curse of a great boar came to ravage the land of Ankaios. After he heard this, he pulled the cup from his lips, put it down, and ran out to face the beast, where he died. Aristotle says that the proverb developed from this story.”

ἀνδράσιν] Διονύσιος ὁ Θρᾷξ ἐν ταῖς Μελέταις φησὶ τὴν παροιμίαν “πολλὰ μεταξὺ πέλει κύλικος καὶ χείλεος ἄκρου” ἀπὸ τούτου διαδε-δόσθαι. προστιθέμενος γὰρ ᾿Αντίνοος τὸ ἔκπωμα βάλλεται. λέγει δὲ ᾿Αριστοτέλης περὶ τῆς παροιμίας οὕτως. ᾿Αγκαῖος ὁ Ποσειδῶνος καὶ ᾿Αστυπαλαίας Σάμιος ὢν τὸ γένος ἔχων οἰκέτην ἀπὸ Κρήτης ἐκέ-λευσεν αὐτῷ προσφέρειν ποτὸν πίνειν. εἰπόντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ὡς οὐ δυνήσεται πιεῖν ὅθεν ἐντεῦθεν αἱ ἄμπελοι τυγχάνουσιν, αὐτὸς ὁ ᾿Αγκαῖος κατακερτομήσας τοὺς θεράποντας ἔλαβε τὴν κύλικα καὶ προσέθετο.λέξαντος δὲ ἐκείνου “πολλὰ μεταξὺ πέλει κύλικος καὶ χείλεος ἄκρου” ἄφνω συνέβη χρῆμα συὸς μεγάλου ἐπιζαρῆσαι τοῖς τοῦ ᾿Αγκαίου χωρίοις. ἀκούσαντα δὲ αὐτὸν ἀπὸ τῶν χειλέων τὴν κύλικα καταθεῖναι καὶ δραμεῖν ὡς τὸν ἄγριον ὗν, συμβαλόντα δὲ τῷ κάπρῳ τελευτῆσαι. ἔνθα φησὶ κατανοῆσαι τὴν παροιμίαν. V.

 

This version is not very clear. Here is the account from Zenobius

Zenobius, 5.71

“There are many things between the cup and the tip of the lip”. This proverb was coined for the following reason. Ankaios was a child of Poseidon who planted vines and was mean to his servants. One of his servants said that the master would have no part of the harvest. Ankaois, once the fruit had ripened, he delighted, living luxuriously, and he ordered his servant to mix [wine] for him. When he was about to raise the cup to his mouth, he reminded him of the speech. Then he spoke the line which had been uttered. While these things were being said, another servant arrived and announced that a super-big board was destroying the vineyard. Ankaos dropped his drink and rushed to the boar; he was struck by him and died. This is where the proverb comes from.

Dionysius claims that it refers to the fate of Antinoos after he was wooing Penelope. For he deid as he was lifting a cup to his lips, shot by Odysseus’ bow.”

Πολλὰ μεταξὺ πέλει κύλικος καὶ χείλεος ἄκρου: παροιμία λεχθεῖσα ἐξ αἰτίας τοιαύτης· ᾿Αγκαῖος παῖς Ποσειδῶνος φυτεύων ἀμπελῶνα βαρέως ἐπέκειτο τοῖς οἰκέταις. Εἷς δὲ τῶν οἰκετῶν ἔφη, μὴ μεταλήψεσθαι τὸν δεσπότην τοῦ καρποῦ. ῾Ο δὲ ᾿Αγκαῖος ἐπειδὴ ὁ καρπὸς ἐφθάκει, χαίρων ἐτρύφα, καὶ τὸν οἰκέτην ἐκέλευσε κεράσαι αὐτῷ. Μέλλων δὲ τὴν κύλικα προσφέρειν τῷ στόματι, ὑπεμίμνησκεν αὐτὸν τοῦ λόγου· ὁ δὲ ἔφη τὸν εἰρημένον στίχον. Τούτων ἔτι λεγομένων οἰκέτης ἦλθεν ἀπαγγέλλων,  ὡς ὑπερμεγέθης σῦς τὸν ὄρχατον λυμαίνεται. ῾Ο δὲ ᾿Αγκαῖος ἀποβαλὼν τὴν πόσιν ἐπὶ τὸν σῦν ὥρμησε καὶ πληγεὶς ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐτελεύτησεν. ῞Οθεν ἡ παροιμία. Διονύσιος δέ φησιν εἰρῆσθαι αὐτὴν ἀπὸ τῆς ᾿Αντινόου μνηστευσαμένου τὴν Πηνελόπην συμφορᾶς. Προσαγόμενος γὰρ τὸ ἔκπωμα ἐτελεύτησε τοξευθεὶς παρὰ τοῦ ᾿Οδυσσέως.

Image result for ancient greek drinking cup

Porphyry on Odysseus and His Companions, Part 2

For part 1, go here

Schol. H ad Od. 1.8 ex. Porphyry

“Because he saved himself from every threat of death rushing upon him, he was also only skilled enough to save his companions from the dangers looming over him, if they would accept their own responsibility, not an excuse. But wisdom is not able to make men immortal nor can a wise man preserve them from every kind of death, but only that which is selected due to our own responsibility, if those who are with him might obey him. Nor again is the wise man able to persuade in every situation.

“He suffered much as he tried to preserve his life and the homecoming of his companions” in those deeds which safeguard against dangers, but not in those which do not occur by our own agency. And similarly in events that occur through our own choice, he would have saved them as he trusted in his own virtue if they had been capable of not dying thanks to some preordained external fortune, and from their own responsibility, even though he was especially eager, “because they perished from their own recklessness: when they went and disrespected Helios independently.

This shows that some events occur according to fortune and from external causes, over which a wise man has power, while others occur because of us and our own drive, over which a serious man may have power. But the serious man is not in control of death which is motivated externally and according to fortune, either for himself or for another, even as he will foresee from every angle the danger caused by our own fault for both himself and those who differ from him. The same man will be conspicuous in trying many things for himself and others when they do not have the same ability of thought as him. This is how to understand “he suffered many things in his heart as he tried to save his life and the homecoming of his companions.”

[This refers] to in those moments we are capable and responsible for death for ourselves, and certainly does not apply to the situations where it is not our fault. For the serious man is desirous only of things under our control and because of this he is on guard against the death that comes due to our own responsibility. But he has neither for those events motivated by external fate. For there is no control over everything subject to external fate nor even everything under our power: some of the external events overpower those things that are under our control. Some deaths issue from external causes, but others come from our own mistakes—and these especially are connected to our stupidity, because most of those who are compelled because of wickedness to chastisement by the law are condemned by their own voluntary transgressions.”

 

ὡς γὰρ ἑαυτὸν σώζει ἐκ παντὸς τοῦ παρ’ ἑαυτὸν ῥυόμενος θανάτου, οὕτως καὶ τοὺς ἑταίρους ἐκ τοῦ παρ’ ἑαυτὸν δύναται μόνος σοφὸς ῥύεσθαι θανάτου, εἰ τὸπαρ’ ἑαυτοὺς αἴτιον μὴ πρόφασιν ἐνδοῦναι πείσειεν· ἀθανάτους δὲ οὔτε σοφία ποιῆσαι ἐπαγγέλλεται οὔθ’ ὁ σοφὸς σώσειεν ἂν ἐκ παντὸς θανάτου, ἀλλ’ ἐκ μόνου ἄρα τοῦ παρὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν αἰτίαν ὑφισταμένου, εἰ πεισθεῖεν αὐτῷ οἱ συνόντες· οὐδὲ γὰρ οὐδὲ τοῦ πεῖσαι ἐκ παντὸς κύριος  ὁ σοφός. πολλὰ ὁ μὲν ἔπαθεν ἀρνύμενος ἥν τε ψυχὴν καὶ νόστον ἑταίρων ἐν τοῖς παρ’ ἑαυτῷ σωστικοῖς ἔργοις τῶν κινδύνων, ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐν τοῖς μὴ παρ’ ἡμᾶς ἀποβαινόντων. καὶ ὁμοίως ἐν τοῖς παρ’ ἡμᾶς αὐτὸς μὲν ἔσωσεν ἀρετῇ πειθόμενος τοὺς δυνηθέντας ἂν μὴ διὰ τύχην

ἔξωθέν τινα καθ’ εἱμαρμένην ἀποθανεῖν, ἐκ δὲ τῆς παρ’ ἑαυτῶν αἰτίας, καίπερ πολλὰ προθυμηθεὶς, οὐκ ἔσωσεν· αὐτοὶ γὰρ σφετέρῃσιν …. ….. ἦσαν εἰς τὸν ῞Ηλιον μόνοι ἀσεβήσαντες. ἔδειξεν οὖν ὅτι τῶν συμβαινόντων τὰ μὲν παρὰ τύχην καὶ τὴν ἔξωθεν αἰτίαν, ὧν ὁ σοφὸς οὐ κύριος, τὰ δὲ παρ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ τὴν ἡμετέραν ὁρμὴν, ὧν κρατεῖν οἷός τε ὁ σπουδαῖος. καὶ θανάτου οὖν τοῦ μὲν ἔξωθεν καὶ παρὰ τὴν τύχην οὔτ’ ἐφ’ ἑαυτοῦ οὔτ’ ἐπ’ ἄλλου ὁ σπουδαῖος κύριος, τοῦ δὲ παρὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν αἰτίαν ἐκ παντὸς προνοήσεται ὁ σπουδαῖος καὶ ἐφ’ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν αὐτῷ διαφερόντων· καὶ περιγενόμενος ἐφ’ ἑαυτοῦ ἀποτακτήσει τὰ πολλὰ ἐπὶ ἄλλων, ὅταν μὴ τὴν αὐτὴν αὐτῷ τῆς φρονήσεως ἔχωσιν ἕξιν. ἀκουστέον οὖν τὸ

πολλὰ δ’ ὅγ’ ἐν πόντῳ πάθεν ἄλγεα ὃν κατὰ θυμὸν,

ἀρνύμενος ἥν τε ψυχὴν καὶ νόστον ἑταίρων

ἐν τοῖς δυνατοῖς καὶ παρ’ ἡμᾶς τοῦ θανάτου αἰτίοις,,  ἀλλ’ οὐ μέντοι τοῖς μὴ παρ’ ἡμᾶς αἰτίοις· τῶν γὰρ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν μόνων ὀρεκτικὸς ὁ σπουδαῖος, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο τῶν ἐξ ἡμῶν αἰτίων θανάτου φυλακτικὸς, ἀλλ’ οὐ τῶν ἔξωθεν κατὰ τὴν εἱμαρμένην αἰτίαν ἀποβαινόντων. οὔτε γὰρ πάντων ἁπαξαπλῶς τῶν ἔξωθεν αἴτια, οὔτε πάλιν τὸ ἐφ’ ἡμῶν πάντων κύριον, ἀλλ’ ὧν μὲν τὸ ἐφ’ ἡμῖν, ὧν δὲ κρατεῖ τὰ ἔξωθεν. καὶ τῶν θανάτων οἱ μὲν δι’ αἰτίας ἔξωθεν γίνονται, οἱ δὲ δι’ ἡμετέρας ἁμαρτίας, καὶ ἐκ τῆς ἀνοίας τῆς ἡμετέρας ἤρτηνται, ὡς οἵ γε πλεῖστοι τῶν διὰ κακίας εἰς κόλασιν ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου ἐπαγομένων ἠρτημένοι ἀπ’ αἰτίας τῆς ἐκ τῶν ἑκουσίων ἁμαρτημάτων. H.

Image result for Odysseus and sheep

Philosophers Hating Philosophers: Epicurus’ Insults

Diogenes Laertius, 10.8

“[Epicurus] used to call Nausiphanes a jellyfish who was illiterate, a cheat and a whore. He used to refer to Plato’s followers as the Dionysus-flatters; he called Aristotle a waste who, after he spent his interitance, fought as a mercenary and sold drugs. He maligned Protagoras as a bellboy, and called Protagoras Democritus’ secretary and a teacher from the sticks. He called Heraclitus mudman, Democritus Lerocritus [nonsense lord]. Antidorus he called Sannidôros [servile-gifter]. He named the Cynics “Greece’s enemies”; he called the dialecticians Destructionists and, according to him, Pyrrho was unlearned and unteachable.”

πλεύμονά τε αὐτὸν ἐκάλει καὶ ἀγράμματον καὶ ἀπατεῶνα καὶ πόρνην: τούς τε περὶ Πλάτωνα Διονυσοκόλακας καὶ αὐτὸν Πλάτωνα χρυσοῦν, καὶ Ἀριστοτέλη ἄσωτον, <ὃν> καταφαγόντα τὴν πατρῴαν οὐσίαν στρατεύεσθαι καὶ φαρμακοπωλεῖν: φορμοφόρον τε Πρωταγόραν καὶ γραφέα Δημοκρίτου καὶ ἐν κώμαις γράμματα διδάσκειν: Ἡράκλειτόν τε κυκητὴν καὶ Δημόκριτον Ληρόκριτον καὶ Ἀντίδωρον Σαννίδωρον: τούς τε Κυνικοὺς ἐχθροὺς τῆς Ἑλλάδος: καὶ τοὺς διαλεκτικοὺς πολυφθόρους, Πύρρωνα δ᾽ ἀμαθῆ καὶ ἀπαίδευτον.

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Greek to Make a Man Puke

“The false quantities made by scholars would furnish a curious list. When Joshua Barnes desired his wife to devote her fortune to the publication of his edition of Homer, and at last persuaded her to do so by assuring her that the Iliad was written by Solomon, in the joy of his heart he composed some Greek hexameters. One of these he began with εὐπρᾰγίης which Bentley said was ‘ enough to make a man spew.’ (Ribbeck lately complained that Madvig’s emendations of the Latin dramatists had the like effect on him, nauseam adferunt.)”

Hugh E.P. Platt, A Last Ramble in the Classics (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1906), pp. 153-154

To Hell With Grammarians!

The following poems are taken from the Greek Anthology.  Both provide interesting possible origins for the phrase “bookworm”. A google search for the origin of the term is rather disappointing and points to book-eating species. But what if the species were named for scholars?

Philippos, 11.321

“Grammarians, children of hateful Blame, thorn-worms
Book-monsters, whelps of Zenodotus,
Soldiers of Kallimakhos, a man you project like a shield
But do not spare from your tongue,
Hunters of grievous conjunctions who take pleasure
In min or sphin* and in asking if the Cyclops kept dogs,
May you wear out your lives, wretches, muttering over the abuse
Of others. Come sink your arrow in me!”

Γραμματικοὶ Μώμου στυγίου τέκνα, σῆτες ἀκανθῶν,
τελχῖνες βίβλων, Ζηνοδότου σκύλακες,
Καλλιμάχου στρατιῶται, ὃν ὡς ὅπλον ἐκτανύσαντες,
οὐδ’ αὐτοῦ κείνου γλῶσσαν ἀποστρέφετε,
συνδέσμων λυγρῶν θηρήτορες, οἷς τὸ „μὶν” ἢ „σφὶν”
εὔαδε καὶ ζητεῖν, εἰ κύνας εἶχε Κύκλωψ,
τρίβοισθ’ εἰς αἰῶνα κατατρύζοντες ἀλιτροὶ
ἄλλων· ἐς δ’ ἡμᾶς ἰὸν ἀποσβέσατε.

Antiphanes, 11.322

“Useless race of grammarians, digging at the roots of
Someone else’s poetry, luckless worms who walk on thorns,
Perverters of great art, boasting over your Erinna*,
Bitter, parched watchdogs of Kallimakhos,
Rebukes to poets, death’s shade to children learning,
Go to hell, you fleas that secretly bite eloquent men.”

Γραμματικῶν περίεργα γένη, ῥιζωρύχα μούσης
ἀλλοτρίης, ἀτυχεῖς σῆτες ἀκανθοβάται,
τῶν μεγάλων κηλῖδες, ἐπ’ ᾿Ηρίννῃ δὲ κομῶντες,
πικροὶ καὶ ξηροὶ Καλλιμάχου πρόκυνες,
ποιητῶν λῶβαι, παισὶ σκότος ἀρχομένοισιν,
ἔρροιτ’, εὐφώνων λαθροδάκναι κόριες.

*An Alexandrian poet.

 

Philippus, 11.347

“Goodbye, men whose eyes have wandered over the universe,
And you thorn-counting worms of Aristarchus.
What’s it to me to examine which paths the Sun takes
Or whose son Proteus was or who was Pygmalion?
I would know as many works whose texts are clean. But let
The dark inquiry rot away the Mega-Kallimakheis!”

Χαίροιθ’, οἱ περὶ κόσμον ἀεὶ πεπλανηκότες ὄμμα
οἵ τ’ ἀπ’ ᾿Αριστάρχου σῆτες ἀκανθολόγοι.
ποῖ γὰρ ἐμοὶ ζητεῖν, τίνας ἔδραμεν ῞Ηλιος οἴμους
καὶ τίνος ἦν Πρωτεὺς καὶ τίς ὁ Πυγμαλίων;
γινώσκοιμ’, ὅσα λευκὸν ἔχει στίχον· ἡ δὲ μέλαινα
ἱστορίη τήκοι τοὺς Περικαλλιμάχους.

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