“A Safe Harbor for the Soul”: On Poetry and Reason

Philo, On Dreams 1.233

“Perhaps this is not sung truly, but it is wholly profitable and advantageous”

καὶ τάχα μὲν οὺκ ἀληθῶς, πάντως δὲ λυσιτελῶς καὶ συμφερόντως ᾄδεται

 

Proclus, Commentary on Plato’s Parmenides 1025.29-37

“Our soul experiences many wanderings and turns—one comes from the imagination, another emerges in the beliefs before these, and other occurs in understanding. But the life governed by the mind is free from vagrancy and this is the mystical harbor of the soul into which the poem leads Odysseus after the great wandering of his life and where we too, if we want to be saved, may find our mooring.”

Πολλαὶ οὖν αἱ πλάναι καὶ αἱ δινεύσεις τῆς ψυχῆς· ἄλλη γὰρ ἡ ἐν ταῖς φαντασίαις, ἄλλη πρὸ τούτων ἡ ἐν δόξαις, ἄλλη ἡ ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ διανοίᾳ· μόνη δὲ ἡ κατὰ νοῦν ζωὴ τὸ ἀπλανὲς ἔχει, καὶ οὗτος ὁ μυστικὸς ὅρμος τῆς ψυχῆς, εἰς ὃν καὶ ἡ ποίησις ἄγει τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα μετὰ τὴν πολλὴν πλάνην τῆς ζωῆς, καὶ ἡμεῖς, ἐὰν ἄρα σώζεσθαι θέλωμεν, μᾶλλον ἑαυτοὺς ἀνάξομεν.

 

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National Archaeological Museum, Athens 1130

Words and Deeds: The Hero is Opposed to Inaction

Homer, Iliad 1.488–492

“But he sat there raging among the swift-wayed ships,
The godly son of Peleus, swift-footed Achilles.
He was not ever going into the man-ennobling assembly,
Nor into battle, but he was eating up his dear heart
Waiting there, desiring the war-cry and battle.”

Αὐτὰρ ὃ μήνιε νηυσὶ παρήμενος ὠκυπόροισι
διογενὴς Πηλῆος υἱὸς πόδας ὠκὺς ᾿Αχιλλεύς·
οὔτέ ποτ’ εἰς ἀγορὴν πωλέσκετο κυδιάνειραν
οὔτέ ποτ’ ἐς πόλεμον, ἀλλὰ φθινύθεσκε φίλον κῆρ
αὖθι μένων, ποθέεσκε δ’ ἀϋτήν τε πτόλεμόν τε.

Schol. A ad Il. 1.488 notes that the Alexandrian editor Zenodotus athetized this entire passage.

Schol. bT ad Il. 1.490-1b

“he was no longer frequenting the man-ennobling assembly / nor into war”: he knows that these are the two virtues of men, action and speech. And he judges speech to be more important”

ex. <οὔτέ ποτ’ εἰς ἀγορὴν πωλέσκετο κυδιάνειραν /> οὔτέ ποτ’ ἐς πόλεμον: δύο οἶδεν ἀνδρῶν ἀρετάς, πρᾶξιν καὶ λόγον. προκρίνει δὲ τὸν λόγον.

Schol A ad Il. 1.492

“He was longing”: For the hero is opposed to inaction. He is especially desirous of honors for deeds.
ex. <ποθέεσκε:> ἐχθρὸς γὰρ τῆς ἀργίας ὁ ἥρως, φιλότιμος δὲ περὶ τὰς πράξεις. A

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The Iliad is Of the Body; The Odyssey is of the Mind

Pseudo-Plutarch, De Homero 31–32

“Of these poems, the Iliad features the acts of the Greeks and the Barbarians over the abduction of Helen, especially the valor demonstrated by Achilles in that war; the Odyssey details Odysseus’ return home from the Trojan War and how much he endured wandering during his nostos and how he avenged himself on those plotting against him in his home. From these summaries it is clear that the Iliad is really about the bravery of the body while the Odyssey concerns the nobility of the soul.

It is not right to fault the poet if he does not only present virtues in his poem, but includes as well weaknesses of spirit, pains, pleasures, fears and desires. For it is necessary that the poet show not just noble characters but weak ones too—without these unexpected accomplishments do not appear—from all of these it is possible that an audience will choose the better ones.”

ὧν ἡ μὲν ᾿Ιλιὰς ἔχει τὰς ἐν ᾿Ιλίῳ πράξεις ῾Ελλήνων τε καὶ βαρβάρων διὰ τὴν ῾Ελένης ἁρπαγὴν καὶ μάλιστα τὴν ᾿Αχιλλέως ἐν τῷ πολέμῳ τούτῳ διαδειχθεῖσαν ἀλκήν, ἡ δὲ ᾿Οδύσσεια τὴν ᾿Οδυσσέως ἀνακομιδὴν εἰς τὴν πατρίδα ἀπὸ τοῦ Τρωικοῦ πολέμου καὶ ὅσα πλανώμενος ἐν τῷ νόστῳ ὑπέμεινε καὶ ὅπως τοὺς ἐπιβουλεύοντας τῷ οἴκῳ αὐτοῦ ἐτιμωρήσατο. ἐξ ὧν δῆλός ἐστι παριστὰς διὰ μὲν τῆς ᾿Ιλιάδος ἀνδρείαν σώματος, διὰ δὲ τῆς ᾿Οδυσσείας ψυχῆς γενναιότητα.

     Εἰ δὲ μὴ μόνον ἀρετὰς ἀλλὰ καὶ κακίας ψυχῆς ἐν ταῖς ποιήσεσι παρίστησι, λύπας τε καὶ χαρὰς καὶ φόβους καὶ ἐπιθυμίας, οὐ χρὴ αἰτιᾶσθαι τὸν ποιητήν· <ποιητὴν> γὰρ ὄντα δεῖ μιμεῖσθαι οὐ μόνον τὰ χρηστὰ ἤθη ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ φαῦλα (ἄνευ γὰρ τούτων παράδοξοι πράξεις  οὐ συνίστανται), ὧν ἀκούοντα ἔνεστιν αἱρεῖσθαι τὰ βελτίω.

 

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Another ancient author saw complementarity in the Homeric epics, but of a less positive kind

From (Ps.) Longinus On the Sublime, 9.11-13

“Nevertheless, all through the Odyssey, which must be examined for many reasons, Homer reveals that as great inspiration fades away, storytelling becomes the dominant attribute of old age. For it is clear in many ways that this epic was composed second. Throughout the Odyssey we find episodes modeled on scenes from the Iliad, and, by Zeus, he apportions his heroes grief and misery as if these tales were long already known. The Odyssey is nothing other than an epilogue to the Iliad:

There lies fierce Ajax; here lies Achilles
There likes Patroklos, an advisor equal to the gods,
There lies my own dear son. (Od. 3.109-111)

The cause of this fact, I imagine, is that when the Iliad was being written at the peak of his strength, Homer imbued the whole work with dramatic power and action; when he was composing the Odyssey, however, he made it more of a narrative, as appropriate for old age. For this reason, you can compare the Odyssey’s Homer to a setting sun: the magnitude remains without its power.  Since, in it, he no longer preserves the same power of the Iliad, that overwhelming consistency which never ebbs, nor the same rush of changing experiences, the variety and reality of it, packed full with things from true experience. It is as if the Ocean were to withdraw into itself, quietly watching its own measure. What remains for us is the retreating tide of Homer’s genius, his wandering in storytelling and unbelievable things. When I claim this, I am not forgetting the storms in the Odyssey and the events placed near the Kyklopes and elsewhere—I am indicating old age, but it is still Homer’s old age. And, yet, the mythical overpowers in every one of these scenes.”

δείκνυσι δ’ ὅμως διὰ τῆς ᾿Οδυσσείας (καὶ γὰρ ταῦτα πολλῶν ἕνεκα προσεπιθεωρητέον), ὅτι μεγάλης φύσεως ὑποφερομένης ἤδη ἴδιόν ἐστιν ἐν γήρᾳ τὸ φιλόμυθον. δῆλος γὰρ ἐκ πολλῶν τε ἄλλων συντεθεικὼς ταύτην δευτέραν τὴν ὑπόθεσιν, ἀτὰρ δὴ κἀκ τοῦ λείψανα τῶν ᾿Ιλιακῶν παθημάτων διὰ τῆς ᾿Οδυσσείας

ὡς ἐπεισόδιά τινα [τοῦ Τρωικοῦ πολέμου] προσεπεισφέρειν, καὶ νὴ Δί’ ἐκ τοῦ τὰς ὀλοφύρσεις καὶ τοὺς οἴκτους ὡς πάλαι που  προεγνωσμένοις τοῖς ἥρωσιν ἐνταῦθα προσαποδιδόναι. οὐ γὰρ ἀλλ’ ἢ τῆς ᾿Ιλιάδος ἐπίλογός ἐστιν ἡ ᾿Οδύσσεια·

ἔνθα μὲν Αἴας κεῖται ἀρήιος, ἔνθα δ’ ᾿Αχιλλεύς,
ἔνθα δὲ Πάτροκλος, θεόφιν μήστωρ ἀτάλαντος·
ἔνθα δ’ ἐμὸς φίλος υἱός.

ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς αὐτῆς αἰτίας, οἶμαι, τῆς μὲν ᾿Ιλιάδος γραφομένης ἐν ἀκμῇ πνεύματος ὅλον τὸ σωμάτιον δραματικὸν ὑπεστήσατο καὶ ἐναγώνιον, τῆς δὲ ᾿Οδυσσείας τὸ πλέον διηγηματικόν, ὅπερ ἴδιον γήρως. ὅθεν ἐν τῇ ᾿Οδυσσείᾳ παρεικάσαι τις ἂν καταδυομένῳ τὸν ῞Ομηρον ἡλίῳ, οὗ δίχα τῆς σφοδρότητος παραμένει τὸ μέγεθος. οὐ γὰρ ἔτι τοῖς ᾿Ιλιακοῖς ἐκείνοις ποιήμασιν ἴσον ἐνταῦθα σῴζει τὸν τόνον, οὐδ’ ἐξωμαλισμένα τὰ ὕψη καὶ ἱζήματα μηδαμοῦ λαμβάνοντα, οὐδὲ τὴν πρόχυσιν ὁμοίαν τῶν ἐπαλλήλων παθῶν, οὐδὲ τὸ ἀγχίστροφον καὶ πολιτικὸν καὶ ταῖς ἐκ τῆς

ἀληθείας φαντασίαις καταπεπυκνωμένον· ἀλλ’ οἷον ὑποχωροῦντος εἰς ἑαυτὸν᾿Ωκεανοῦ καὶ περὶ τὰ ἴδια μέτρα †ἐρημουμένου τὸ λοιπὸν φαίνονται τοῦ μεγέθους ἀμπώτιδες κἀν τοῖς μυθώδεσι καὶ ἀπίστοις πλάνος. λέγων δὲ ταῦτ’ οὐκ ἐπιλέλησμαι τῶν ἐν τῇ ᾿Οδυσσείᾳ χειμώνων καὶ τῶν περὶ τὸν Κύκλωπα καί τινων ἄλλων, ἀλλὰ γῆρας διηγοῦμαι, γῆρας δ’ ὅμως ῾Ομήρου· πλὴν ἐν ἅπασι τούτοις ἑξῆς τοῦ πρακτικοῦ κρατεῖ τὸ μυθικόν.

The Cave is the Universe and Hermes is in Your Mind: More Homeric Allegories

Metrodorus of Lampascus 48 Diels-Krantz 

Fr. 4 (=Philodemus voll. Herc. 8.3.90)

“[Metrodorus said] concerning the laws and customs among men that Agamemnon was the sky, Achilles was the sun, Helen was the earth, and Alexander was air, that Hektor was the moon and that the rest were named analogically with these. He claimed that Demeter was the liver, Dionysus the spleen, and Apollo was bile [anger].”

καὶ περὶ νόμων καὶ ἐθισμῶν τῶν παρ’ ἀνθρώποις, καὶ τὸν ᾿Αγαμέμνονα μὲν αἰθέρα
εἶναι, τὸν ᾿Αχιλλέα δ’ ἥλιον, τὴν ῾Ελένην δὲ γῆν καὶ τὸν ᾿Αλέξανδρον ἀέρα, τὸν
῞Εκτορα δὲ σελήνην καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους ἀναλόγως ὠνομάσθαι τούτοις. τῶν δὲ θεῶν
τὴν Δήμητρα μὲν ἧπαρ, τὸν Διόνυσον δὲ σπλῆνα, τὸν ᾿Απόλλω δὲ χολήν.

Fr. 6

“The Anaxagoreans interpret the mythical gods with Zeus as the mind and Athena as skill…”

ἑρμηνεύουσι δὲ οἱ ᾿Αναξαγόρειοι τοὺς μυθώδεις θεοὺς νοῦν μὲν τὸν Δία, τὴν δὲ ᾿Αθηνᾶν τέχνην

Some Allegorical Readings from the Scholia Vetera to the Odyssey (Dindorf)

Schol. E. ad Od. 1.38

“Allegorically, an uttered speech is called Hermes because of his hermeneutic nature and he is the director because he manages the soul’s thoughts and the mind’s reflections. He is Argeiphontes because he is bright and pure of murder. For he teaches, and evens out and calms the emotional part of the soul. Or, it is because he killed the dog Argos, which stands for madness and disordered thoughts. He is the one who makes the reflections of the mind appear bright and clean.

ἀλληγορικῶς δὲ ὁ προφορικὸς λόγος ῾Ερμῆς λέγεται παρὰ τὸ ἑρμηνευτικὸς εἶναι, καὶ διάκτορος ὅτι διεξάγει τὰ τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ νοῦ ἐνθυμήματα, ᾿Αργειφόντης δὲ ὡς ἀργὸς καὶ καθαρὸς φόνου. παιδεύει γὰρ καὶ ῥυθμίζει καὶ πραΰνει τὸ θυμικὸν τῆς ψυχῆς. ἢ ὅτι τὸν ῎Αργον κύνα ἀναιρεῖ, τουτέστι τὰ λυσσώδη καὶ ἄτακτα ἐνθυμήματα. καὶ παρὰ τὸ ἀργεννὰ ἤτοι καθαρὰ φαίνειν τὰ τῆς ψυχῆς ἐνθυμήματα. E.

*Heraclitus the Obscure claims that Hermes is a representation of Odysseus’ rational mind (Homeric Problems 72-73)

Schol E.M. ad Od. 4.384

“The winds and every sort of breeze”: Some allegorize Proteus as matter itself. For without matter, they claim that the creator [could not] have made everything distinct. For, although matter is never clear to us, men, trees, water and all things come from it. Eidothea, you see, is thought. Matter produces thought once it is condensed. Others allegorize Proteus as the right part of the spring when the earth first begins to make the shapes of grapes and offspring. Menelaos, since it was not the right time for sailing and he missed the spring, sailed in the wrong direction. The name Proteus is suitable for allegory.”

ἀνέμων καὶ παντελοῦς ἀπνοίας. τινὲς δὲ καὶ ἀλληγορικῶς Πρωτέα τὴν ὕλην. ἄνευ γὰρ ὕλης φασὶ τὸν δημιουργὸν πάντα τὰ ὁρώμενα **** ὕλης δὲ τῆς μὴ φαινομένης ἡμῖν, ἐξ ἧς ἄνθρωποι, δένδρα, ὕδατα καὶ πάντα τἄλλα. Εἰδοθέη γὰρ τὸ εἶδος. ὕλη γὰρ ἀποτελεῖ εἶδος κατεργασθεῖσα. ἄλλοι δὲ Πρωτέα φασὶν ἀλληγορικῶς τὸν πρὸ τοῦ ἔαρος καιρὸν, μεθ’ ὃν ἄρχεται ἡ γῆ εἴδη ποιεῖν βοτανῶν καὶ γενῶν. ὁ δὲ Μενέλαος μὴ ὄντος καιροῦ ἐπιτηδείου πρὸς τὸ πλεῖν φθάσαντος τοῦ ἔαρος ἀπέπλευσε. τὸ δὲ Πρωτέως ὄνομα εἰς τὴν ἀλληγορίαν ἐπιτήδειον. E.M.

Schol. B ad Od. 13.103

“The holy cave of the Nymphs”: Some allegorize the cave as the universe, the nymphs are souls, they are also bees and the bodies are men. The two gates are the exit of souls, and one is creation, the entry point of the soul, in which no part of the body enters, but there are only souls. They are immortal. From this they call them olive—or, because of the victorious crown, or because…which is nourishing…”

ἄντρον ἱρὸν Νυμφάων] ἀλληγορικῶς λέγει ἄντρον τὸν κόσμον, νύμφας τὰς ψυχὰς, τὰς αὐτὰς καὶ μελίσσας, καὶ ἄνδρας τὰ σώματα. δύο δὲ θύρας τὴν τῶν σωμάτων ἔξοδον, ἤτοι τὴν γένεσιν, καὶ τὴν τῶν ψυχῶν εἴσοδον, ἐν ᾗ οὐδὲν τῶν σωμάτων εἰσέρχεται, μόναι δὲ αἱ ψυχαί. ἀθάνατοι γάρ εἰσι. ὅθεν καὶ ἐλαίαν φησὶν, ἢ διὰ τὸν νικητικὸν στέφανον, ἢ διὰ τὸ … ὅ ἐστι τὴν τροφὴν … B.

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Κ᾿[α]π ε᾿φη[φ]ε: A Future Scholion on #Covfefe

In a distant future, scholars laboring over dead languages and the confluence of allusions in the CET (Corpus Electronicum Pipiatorum) make learned guesses on the possible meanings contained within a mysterious neologism #cavfefe:

Κ᾿ <ά>π ε᾿φη[φ]ε [sc. κε μὴ…τοῦτο]: “would that he had not said it”
or Κ᾿ <ά>π ε᾿φη[φ]ε = κ<αὶ> ἀπ<έ>φη<να>: “And I declared…”

Ex. The lexical item often appears with references to speakers in a position of political or intellectual authority who are making official statements regarding an immutable truth. Vide Eur. Suppl. 335-7 where Theseus speaks:

“The words that I said were right, Mother.
And I have also declared [K’apephênamên] my opinion on the matter,
Of the kinds of councils over which he tripped.”

Θη. ἐμοὶ λόγοι μέν, μῆτερ, οἱ λελεγμένοι
ὀρθῶς ἔχουσ’ ἐς τόνδε κἀπεφηνάμην
γνώμην ὑφ’ οἵων ἐσφάλη βουλευμάτων.

Cf. Anth. Graec. 9.366

“Many people are worse” declared Bias of Priêne.
„Τοὺς πλέονας κακίους” δὲ Βίας ἀπέφηνε Πριηνεύς.

Cf. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Distinguished Philosophers

“[Plato] claimed that there are two origins of everything, god and matter, which he also called the mind and the cause.”

3.69 δύο δὲ τῶν πάντων ἀπέφηνεν ἀρχάς, θεὸν καὶ ὕλην, ὃν καὶ νοῦν προσαγορεύει καὶ αἴτιον.

Many contemporaries puzzled over the meaning. Proposals included scribal error (which we bar based on the lectio difficilior), a coded, but ungrammatical wish, a desire for an implement to brew a now extinct stimulant, and, as typical of those barbarous times, invocations of the occult.

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Circe’s Island Is Really about Reincarnation: An Allegorical Reading of Odyssey 10

Here is another allegorical interpretation of the Odyssey attributed to Porphyry.

from Stobaeus, i. 44. 60 

Τοῦ αὐτοῦ (sc. Πορφυρίου)·

“The things that Homer says about Kirkê contain a wonderful theory about the soul. The interpretation runs as follows:

Some have the heads, voice, head and skin of swine, but the mind remains constant as it was before. This myth is similar to the riddle about the soul presented by Pythagoras and Plato, that it is indestructible in nature and unseen but that it is not safe from harm or unchangeable. In what is called its destruction or death, it undergoes a change and then a transference into different kinds of bodies pursuing an appearance and fit according to pleasure, by similarity and practice to how it lived life. In this, each person draws a great advantage from education and philosophy, since the soul has a memory of noble things, judges the shameful harshly, and is able to overcome the unnatural pleasures. This soul can pay attention to itself, and guard that it might not accidentally become a beast because it has grown attracted to an hideously shaped, unclean body regarding virtue, a body that excites and nourishes uncultured and unreasoning nature rather than increasing and nourishing thought.

Τὰ δὲ παρ᾿ Ὁμήρῳ περὶ τῆς Κίρκης λεγόμενα θαυμαστὴν ἔχει τὴν περὶ ψυχὴν θεωρίαν. λέγεται γὰρ οὕτως,

οἱ δὲ συῶν μὲν ἔχον κεφαλὰς φωνήν τε τρίχας τε καὶ δέμας· αὐτὰρ νοῦς ἦν ἔμπεδος ὡς τὸ πάρος περ. ἔστι τοίνυν ὁ μῦθος αἴνιγμα τῶν περὶ ψυχῆς ὑπό τε Πυθαγόρου λεγομένων καὶ Πλάτωνος, ὡς ἄφθαρτος οὖσα τὴν φύσιν καὶ ἀίδιος, οὔ τι μὴν ἀπαθὴς οὐδ᾿ ἀμετάβλητος, ἐν ταῖς λεγομέναις φθοραῖς καὶ τελευταῖς μεταβολὴν ἴσχει καὶ μετακόσμησιν εἰς ἕτερα σωμάτων εἴδη, καθ᾿ ἡδονὴν διώκουσα τὸ πρόσφορον καὶ οἰκεῖον ὁμοιότητι καὶ συνηθείᾳ βίου διαίτης· ἔνθα δὴ τὸ μέγα παιδείας ἑκάστῳ καὶ φιλοσοφίας ὄφελος, ἂν μνημονεύουσα τῶν καλῶν ἡ ψυχὴ καὶ δυσχεραίνουσα τὰς αἰσχρὰς καὶ παρανόμους ἡδονὰς δύνηται κρατεῖν καὶ προσέχειν αὑτῇ καὶ φυλάττειν μὴ λάθῃ θηρίον γενομένη καὶ στέρξασα σώματος οὐκ εὐφυοῦς οὐδὲ καθαροῦ πρὸς ἀρετὴν φύσιν ἄμουσον καὶ ἄλογον καὶ τὸ ἐπιθυμοῦν καὶ θυμούμενον μᾶλλον ἢ τὸ φρόνιμον αὐξάνοντος καὶ τρέφοντος.

“Once the soul is translated, that which is fated and nature, which Empedocles named the divine force that “wraps us in a foreign robe of flesh”, also re-fits the soul.  Homer has named this circular journey and return of rebirth Kirkê, the child of the sun because the sun binds every destruction to birth and every birth in turn to destruction, always weaving them together. The Island Aiaia is also that place allotted to receive one who dies—where the souls first arrive as they wander, and suffer alienation as they mourn and they do not know which way is west nor “where the sun which brings mortals light comes upon the earth”. As they long for their habits of pleasure—their shared life in the flesh and their way of life with the flesh—they provide the draught with its character again: it is the drink where birth is mixed and stirs together what is truly immortal and mortal, the thoughts and sufferings, the ethereal and the earthbound. The souls are enchanted and weakened by the pleasures that will lead them back to birth again. At this time, souls require great luck and great wisdom in order to avoid pursuing their worst aspects or passions and dedicate themselves to a cursed and beastly life”.

Αὐτῆς γὰρ τῆς μετακοσμήσεως εἱμαρμένη καὶ φύσις ὑπὸ Ἐμπεδοκλέους δαίμων ἀνηγόρευται “σαρκῶν ἀλλογνῶτι περιστέλλουσα χιτῶνι”καὶ μεταμπίσχουσα τὰς ψυχάς, Ὅμηρος δὲ τὴν ἐν κύκλῳ περίοδον καὶ περιφορὰν παλιγγενεσίας Κίρκην προσηγόρευκεν, Ἡλίου παῖδα τοῦ πᾶσαν φθορὰν γενέσει καὶ γένεσιν αὖ πάλιν φθορᾷ συνάπτοντος ἀεὶ καὶ συνείροντος. Αἰαίη δὲ νῆσος ἡ δεχομένη τὸν ἀποθνήσκοντα μοῖρα καὶ χώρα τοῦ περιέχοντος, εἰς ἣν ἐμπεσοῦσαι πρῶτον αἱ ψυχαὶ πλανῶνται καὶ ξενοπαθοῦσι καὶ ὀλοφύρονται καὶ οὐκ ἴσασιν ὅπῃ ζόφος “οὐδ᾿ ὅπῃ ἠέλιος φαεσίμβροτος εἶσ᾿ ὑπὸ γαῖαν” ποθοῦσαι δὲ καθ᾿ ἡδονὰς τὴν συνήθη καὶ σύντροφον ἐν σαρκὶ καὶ μετὰ σαρκὸς δίαιταν ἐμπίπτουσιν αὖθις εἰς τὸν κυκεῶνα, τῆς γενέσεως μιγνύσης εἰς ταὐτὸ καὶ κυκώσης ὡς ἀληθῶς ἀίδια καὶ θνητὰ καὶ φρόνιμα καὶ παθητὰ καὶ ὀλύμπια καὶ γηγενῆ, θελγόμεναι καὶ μαλασσόμεναι ταῖς ἀγούσαις αὖθις ἐπὶ τὴν γένεσιν ἡδοναῖς, ἐν ᾧ δὴ μάλιστα πολλῆς μὲν εὐτυχίας αἱ ψυχαὶ δέονται πολλῆς δὲ σωφροσύνης, ὅπως μὴ τοῖς κακίστοις ἐπισπόμεναι καὶ συνενδοῦσαι μέρεσιν ἢ πάθεσιν αὑτῶν κακοδαίμονα καὶ θηριώδη βίον ἀμείψωσιν.

For it is right that it is called and considered a crossroad in the underworld around which the parts of the soul split: the rational, the emotional, and the desirous. Each of these produces a force or an inducement to the life appropriate to itself. This is no longer myth or poetry but truth and a story of nature. In this transformation and rebirth, when the aspect of desire overpowers and takes control, [Homer] is claiming that because of the dominance of pleasure and gluttony, they transform into the bodies of donkeys and pigs and receive unclean lives on the ground. The interpretation runs as follows. Whenever a soul has an emotional component that has grown completely savage because of harsh rivalries or murderous savagery developing from some disagreement or vendetta, that soul finds a second birth which is full of bitterness and angry thoughts and falls into the shape of a wolf or a lion, embracing this body as if it were a tool of vengeance for his controlling passion. For this reason, one must keep clean when near death as if for a religious rite and restrain from every kind of base pleasure, put every harsh emotion to bed, and to withdraw from the body by suppressing envies, enmities, and rages down deep. This “Hermes of the golden-staff” happens to be that very reasoning which indicates clearly the good and either wholly restrains or saves it from the deadly draught should it drink—it preserves the soul in a human life and character for as long a time as is possible.”

 

ἡ γὰρ λεγομένη καὶ νομιζομένη τῶν ἐν Ἅιδου τρίοδος ἐνταῦθά που τέτακται περὶ τὰ τῆς ψυχῆς σχιζομένη μέρη, τὸ λογιστικὸν καὶ θυμοειδὲς καὶ ἐπιθυμητικόν, ὧν ἕκαστον ἀρχὴν ἐξ αὑτοῦ καὶ ῥοπὴν ἐπὶ τὸν οἰκεῖον βίον ἐνδίδωσι. καὶ οὐκέτι ταῦτα μῦθος οὐδὲ ποίησις ἀλλ᾿ ἀλήθεια καὶ φυσικὸς λόγος. ὧν μὲν γὰρ ἐν τῇ μεταβολῇ καὶ γενέσει τὸ ἐπιθυμητικὸν ἐξανθοῦν ἐπικρατεῖ καὶ δυναστεύει, τούτοις εἰς ὀνώδη καὶ ὑώδη σώματα καὶ βίους θολεροὺς καὶ ἀκαθάρτους ὑπὸ φιληδονίας καὶ γαστριμαργίας φησὶ γίνεσθαι τὴν μεταβολήν. ὅταν δὲ φιλονεικίαις σκληραῖς καὶ φονικαῖς ὠμότησιν ἔκ τινος διαφορᾶς ἢ δυσμενείας ἐξηγριωμένον ἔχουσα παντάπασιν ἡ ψυχὴ τὸ θυμοειδὲς εἰς δευτέραν γένεσιν ἀφίκηται, πλήρης οὖσα προσφάτου πικρίας καὶ βαρυφροσύνης ἔρριψεν ἑαυτὴν εἰς λύκου φύσιν ἢ λέοντος, ὥσπερ ὄργανον ἀμυντικὸν τὸ σῶμα τῷ κρατοῦντι προσιεμένη πάθει καὶ περιαρμόσασα. διὸ δεῖ μάλιστα περὶ τὸν θάνατον ὥσπερ ἐν τελετῇ καθαρεύοντα παντὸς ἀπέχειν πάθους φαύλου τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ πᾶσαν ἐπιθυμίαν χαλεπὴν κοιμήσαντα καὶ φθόνους καὶ δυσμενείας καὶ ὀργὰς ἀπωτάτω τιθέμενον τοῦ φρονοῦντος ἐκβαίνειν τοῦ σώματος. οὗτος ὁ χρυσόρραπις Ἑρμῆς ἀληθῶς ὁ λόγος ἐντυγχάνων καὶ δεικνύων ἐναργῶς τὸ καλὸν ἢ παντάπασιν εἴργει καὶ ἀπέχει τοῦ κυκεῶνος, ἢ πιοῦσαν2 ἐν ἀνθρωπίνῳ βίῳ καὶ ἤθει διαφυλάσσει πλεῖστον χρόνον, ὡς ἀνυστόν ἐστι.

 

Circe & Odysseus | Pseudo-Chalcidian back figure vase painting

 

 

Here’s a Problem, Now I’ll Solve it: aporía and lúsis in the Scholia

In Greek scholia—collections of ancient scholars’ comments on ancient texts, often included in the margins of medieval manscripts—shorthand for ‘problem’ (textual or interpretive difficulty) and ‘solution’ are aporía (ἀπορία) and lúsis (λύσις). Sometimes the terms are used verbally (participles or main clause verbs indicating that interpreters are “at a loss” or “providing a solution). Sometimes they show up in nominative form, like text-boxes in a modern textbook. The example below illustrates how this seemingly simple formula acts as an index for the possibility of multiple responses to an interpretive problem.

Scholia to the Odyssey 3.332

Od.3.332 “Come, cut the tongues and fill up the wine…”

ἀλλ’ ἄγε τάμνετε μὲν γλώσσας, κεράασθε δὲ οἶνον,

 “Problem: Why were they cutting off tongues for the gods? Solution: Some claim that the tongue is the strongest of the limbs; others say that it is necessary to safeguard whatever is said at symposia. This is where we get the proverb, “I hate the drinking buddy who doesn’t forget”.

᾿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.

“Here Telemachus seems speechless to Menelaos. It was the custom among the Greeks to cut the tongues from sacrifices and to burn them for their gods.

ἵνα ἄλαλος φανῇ ὁ Τηλέμαχος τῷ Μενελάῳ. ἔθος ἦν τοῖς ῞Ελλησι τὰς γλώσσας τῶν ἱερείων ἀποτέμνειν καὶ καίειν τοῖς θεοῖς αὐτῶν. E.

“There is another way of interpreting it. For they used to dedicate the tongues to Hermes as an overseer of speech. And when they were about to recline, they used to sacrifice showing their tongues because, once the day had passed, it was no longer right to chatter on, but it was the time for sleeping through the night after dining. There is also the explanation that it was not right on the following day to speak in reminding each other of the things that were sung at the symposium: one must be quiet about these things. This is why some wise person said “I hate the drinking buddy who doesn’t forget.”

There is another explanation, that it is not right for people to reveal the mysteries and those things proper to the gods to the uninitiated and private citizens. And this is why the tongue is the most noble part of the sacrifice, and why they used to dedicate the tongue to the gods. For this reason, someone said to some wise man “What is better from all the parts of the sacrifice?” And he responded, “The tongue”. And then he asked, “What is worse?” And he responded again, “The tongue because it may be used in divine hymns and speeches of praise, but also in blasphemy, insults, and mockery.”

῎Αλλως. τετραχῶς λέγεται. τὰς γλώσσας γὰρ τῷ ῾Ερμῇ ἀνετίθουν ὡς ἐφόρῳ τοῦ λόγου. καὶ ὅτε ἔμελλον κοιμηθῆναι, ἔθυον γλώσσας δεικνύντες ὅτι τῆς ἡμέρας παρελθούσης οὐ χρὴ ἔτι λαλεῖν, ἀλλὰ  καιρὸν ποιεῖσθαι ὕπνου μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι τὴν νύκτα, καὶ ὅτι τὰ ἐν συμποσίῳ ᾀδόμενα οὐ χρὴ τῇ ἐπαύριον ἐν τῷ μεμνῆσθαι ἐκείνων λέγειν πρὸς ἄλλους, ἀλλὰ σιωπᾶν ταῦτα. διὸ καί τις σοφὸς “μισῶ μνάμονα συμπόταν.” καὶ ὅτι τὰ μυστικὰ καὶ θεοῖς ἁρμόζοντα οὐ χρὴ πρὸς τοὺς ἀμυήτους καὶ ἰδιώτας λέγειν ἀνθρώπους. καὶ ὅτι τὸ κάλλιστον τοῦ ἱερείου ἡ γλῶσσα, τὸ δὲ κάλλιστον τοῖς θεοῖς ἀνετίθουν. διὸ καί τις εἶπε πρός τινα σοφὸν, τί κρεῖττον ἐκ τῶν μερῶν ὅλων τοῦ ἱερείου; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν, ἡ γλῶσσα. καὶ αὖθις, τί χεῖρον; καὶ ἔφη πάλιν τὴν γλῶσσαν, ὡς ποτὲ μὲν ὕμνοις θείοις καὶ ἀγαθοῖς λόγοις χρωμένην, ποτὲ δὲ βλασφήμοις καὶ ὕβρεσι καὶ λοιδορίαις. E.

“There is another approach, an allegorical one, that cutting [tamnete] the tongue is used instead of teaching [paideute] people how not to speak badly. Or, you need to sharpen them for praising the gods. It is right to reign them in before going to sleep. And Antipater claims that it is right that those who are going to bed stop using their tongues. But Porphyry says that they are talking about the gods as witnesses. In the same way that they pour libations from the containers listening to the sounds of the gods for omens, they used to throw their tongues around and listen for omens from the things that were said to the gods. Some say that they dedicated the tongues to the gods of the earth, cleansing themselves through this sacrifice of their blasphemous utterances and acts of slander.”

῎Αλλως. ἀλληγορικῶς, τάμνετε, ἀντὶ τοῦ παιδεύετε τὰς γλώσσας ὥστε μὴ κακολογεῖν. ἢ παραθήγετε εἰς τὸ τοὺς θεοὺς ὑμνεῖν. πρὸ γὰρ τοῦ κοιμηθῆναι δεῖ ψάλλειν. ᾿Αντίπατρος δὲ ὅτι χρὴ αὐτὴν παύειν πρὸς κοίτην ἰόντας. Πορφύριος δὲ, ὡς ἐπὶ μαρτύρων τῶν θεῶν διελέγοντο. ὥσπερ κατὰ τὸ οὖς τῶν ἐκπωμάτων ἔσπενδον ὀττευόμενοι τὰς ἀκοὰς τῶν θεῶν, οὕτω καὶ τὰς γλώσσας ἔβαλλον ὀττευόμενοι τὰ ῥηθέντα πρὸς θεούς. οἱ δὲ ὅτι τοῖς χθονίοις τὰς γλώσσας ἀπήρχοντο, τοὺς βλασφήμους λόγους καὶ τὰς λοιδορίας ἐξ αὐτῶν διὰ τούτων ἐκκαθαίροντες. E.

 

ICE