Atopia: Strangeness in the Scholia to the Iliad

Atopia: “Strangeness,” from a-topos, “out of place”

Hesychius

*ἄτοπα· πονηρά, αἰσχρά: “wretched, shameful”
*ἀτοπία· αἰσχρότης. πονηρία: “shamefulness, wretchedness”

Etymologicum Genuinum

“Atopon: atopon is used in place of something that is amazing or illogical”
῎Ατοπον· τὸ ἄτοπον ἀντὶ τοῦ θαυμαστοῦ ἢ ἀλόγου τάττεται

E.g. Pherekratês fr. 91

“It is strange for [her] to be [his] mother and wife”

„ὡς ἄτοπόν ἐστι μητέρ’ εἶναι καὶ γυνήν”.

In the scholia vetera (the “old scholia”) to the Iliad, commentators declare something in the poem strange or specifically “not strange” over 100 times. below are some of my favorites.

Schol. T ad. Il. 6.168

“It would be strange for those who had discovered every kind of art to be illiterate.”
ἄτοπον γὰρ τοὺς πᾶσαν τέχνην εὑρόντας οὐκ εἰδέναι γράμματα

Schol. T. ad 6.222-223

“These two lines are strange, for “I do not remember Tydeus” nevertheless means “I remember the deed.”

ἄτοποι οἱ δύο στίχοι. | τὸ δὲ Τυδέα δ’ οὐ μέμνημαι (222) ὡς „μέμνημαι τόδε ἔργον” (Ι 527). T

Schol. aBT. ad 7.466

“Ox-slaughtering”: “cow-slaughtering is not sacrificing to the gods—for it would be strange to call a sacrifice a murder—but it is to slaughter oxen in preparation for dinner.”

ex. βουφόνεον: βουφονεῖν ἐστιν οὐ τὸ θύειν θεοῖς (ἄτοπον γὰρ ἐπὶ θυσίας φόνον λέγειν), ἀλλὰ τὸ φονεύειν βοῦς εἰς δείπνου κατασκευήν. A b (BCE3E4)T

Schol. T. ad 11.407–410 ex

“It would be strange to burn the ships of the men who were present.”

ἄτοπον γὰρ ἦν παρόντων καίεσθαι τὰς ναῦς.

Schol. T. Il. 12.295-7 ex.

“For it is strange for gold to be outside.”

(296)· ἄτοπον γὰρ τὸν χρυσὸν ἔσωθεν εἶναι.

Schol. bT ad Il. 15.95

“For among men many things are strange due to drinking”

παρὰ γὰρ ἀνθρώποις πολλὰ διὰ μέθην ἄτοπα γίνεται.

Schol. T ad. Il. 16.7 ex

“It is strange that [Achilles] was weeping over a girl, but now he is calling Patroklos a little girl because he is crying over these terrible things.”

ἄτοπός ἐστιν αὐτὸς μὲν ἕνεκα παλλακίδος κλάων (cf. Α 348—57), τὸν δὲ Πάτροκλον κόρην καλῶν ἐπὶ τοιούτοις δεινοῖς δακρύοντα.

Schol. bT ad Il. 18.207b

“For [Aristarchus] claims it is strange to compare fire to smoke.”

καὶ γὰρ ἄτοπόν φησι πῦρ εἰκάζεσθαι καπνῷ.

Schol. T. ad Il. 20.40c

“He wrote “daughter of Zeus” instead of smile-loving [philomeidês]. For it would be strange to call a warring goddess smile-loving.”

φιλομειδής: γράφεται „Διὸς θυγάτηρ”· ἄτοπον γὰρ τὸ φιλομειδής ἐπὶ τῆς πολεμούσης. T

Schol. bT ad Il. 22.168

“For it is strange to mention Hektor but not Achilles.”

ἄτοπον γὰρ μεμνῆσθαι μὲν ῞Εκτορος, μή γε μὴν ᾿Αχιλλέως.

Image result for Greek vase homer strange

The Right To Criticize the King: The Iliad and Freedom of Speech

Homer, Iliad 9.32-34

“After a while, Diomedes good-at-the warcry, addressed them:
“I will fight with you first because you are being foolish, son of Atreus,
Which is right, Lord, in the assembly. So don’t get angry at all.”

ὀψὲ δὲ δὴ μετέειπε βοὴν ἀγαθὸς Διομήδης·
᾿Ατρεΐδη σοὶ πρῶτα μαχήσομαι ἀφραδέοντι,
ἣ θέμις ἐστὶν ἄναξ ἀγορῇ· σὺ δὲ μή τι χολωθῇς.

Schol. T ad Il. 9.32b ex

[“I will fight with you first”] “It is clear that he is also criticizing the rest of the Greeks because they are consenting to the retreat through their silence. For he says the fight in opposition to the speech.”

ex. σοὶ πρῶτα μαχήσομαι: δῆλον ὡς καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις μέμφεται ὡς συναινοῦσι τῇ φυγῇ διὰ τοῦ σιωπᾶν. μάχην δέ φησι τὴν ἐναντίωσιν τοῦ λόγου. T

Schol. A ad Il. 9.33b ex

[“which is right in the assembly, lord”] This is the custom, in a democracy. It is established in the agora because it is the custom to speak with freedom of speech [parrêsia] in the assembly.

D | Nic. ἣ θέμις <ἐστίν, ἄναξ, ἀγορῇ>: ὡς νόμος ἐστὶν—ἐν δημοκρατίᾳ. | ἐπὶ δὲ τὸ ἀγορῇ στικτέον, ὡς νόμος ἐστὶν ἐκκλησίας μετὰ παρρησίας λέγειν.

Schol. bT ad Il. 9.33 ex

[“don’t get angry at all”] this is an anticipatory warning, since he is about to criticize him more severely than he has been reproached at anytime, [alleging that it is right] to speak against kings during assemblies. He asks him to set anger aside because he believes it is right to accept advantageous truth and he is clarifying the purpose of what is said—that it is not to insult.

ex. ἣ θέμις ἐστίν, ἄναξ, <ἀγορῇ· σὺ δὲ μή τι χολωθῇς>: προδιόρθωσις, ἐπειδὴ σφοδρότερον αὐτοῦ μέλλει καθάπτεσθαι ὡς ἐφιεμένου μὴ ἄλλοτε, ἐν δὲ ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις ἀντιλέγειν τοῖς βασιλεῦσιν. προπαραιτεῖται δὲ τὴν ὀργήν, ἀξιῶν δέξασθαι τὴν πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον ἀλήθειαν καὶ δηλῶν ὡς τοῖς εἰρημένοις, οὐκ αὐτῷ ἀπέχθεται

Image result for ancient greek political assembly
Painting of Perikles by Philipp von Foltz

Breakfast of Champions (NSFW)?

This is probably not safe for work.

Aristophanes, Wealth 295

“You’re following with your dicks out; and you will eat breakfast [like] goats”

ἕπεσθ’ ἀπεψωλημένοι· τράγοι δ’ ἀκρατιεῖσθε.

From the Suda

“You will breakfast”: Aristophanes in Wealth has “You will breakfast like goats”. This means you will breakfast with an exposed penis: you will do wild things like goats, since after sex, goats lick the penis. [So this means] you will lick the end of a dick like a goat.”

Ἀκρατιεῖσθε: Ἀριστοφάνης Πλούτῳ: τράγοι δ’ ἀκρατιεῖσθε. τουτέστιν ἀπεψωλημένοι ἀκρατιεῖσθε: ἀντὶ τοῦ ὡς τράγοι ἀκρατῆ πράξετε, ἐπεὶ μετὰ τὴν συνουσίαν οἱ τράγοι λείχουσι τὸ αἰδοῖον. τὸ ἄκρον λείξετε ὡς τράγοι.

The scholia to this passage have a few different interpretations:
Scholia ad. Arist. Plut.

“[They used to thing it means] “You are licking your balls like goats”. Clearly, this means: you are licking genitals.”

ἤγουν δίκην τράγων τοὺς ὄρχεις λείχετε. P. λείχετε τὰ αἰδοῖα δηλονότι. Br.

Scholia recentiora Tzetzae

“akratieisthe” stands in for “you would eat”. For akratismos means eating first thing in the morning. Or, “you will do wild things”, since after intercourse, goats lick their own genitals.”

τὸ δ’ “ἀκρατιεῖσθε” ἀντὶ τοῦ “φάγοιτε”· ἀκρατισμὸς γὰρ λέγεται τὸ πρωϊνὸν φαγεῖν. ἢ “ἀκρατῆ πράσσετε”, ἐπειδὴ μετὰ συνουσίαν οἱ τράγοι λείχουσι τὰ αἰδοῖα ἑαυτῶν.

Image result for Ancient Greek goat

How Many Angels on the Head of a Pin? How Many Oarsmen on Achilles’ Ships?

Scholia T ad Homer Iliad 16.170

“Achilles, dear to Zeus, had fifty ships which he led to Troy. In each of the ships there were fifty companions at the benches.” How, people ask, is it that the Poet who typically augments Achilles elsewhere, diminishes him in this passage? Is it because there is no excellence in numbers?

Aristarchus, however, says that there are fifty rowers [only] because of the phrase “on the benches”, meaning sailors as support crew. Dionysus, still, claims that the greatest number of rowers possible was 120 and that most ships had between these two numbers, so that the average amount was 86 men.”

πεντήκοντ᾽ ἦσαν νῆες θοαί, ἧισιν ᾽Αχιλλεὺς ἐς Τροίην ἡγεῖτο διίφιλος· ἐν δὲ ἑκάστηι πεντήκοντ᾽ ἔσαν ἄνδρες ἐπὶ κληῖσιν ἑταῖροι] πῶς, φασίν, ἐν ἅπασιν αὔξων ᾽Αχιλλέα τούτωι μειοῖ; τινὲς μὲν οὖν, ὅτι οὐκ ἐν πλήθει ἡ ἀρετή … ᾽Αρίσταρχος δέ φησιν ν̄ ἐρέτας εἶναι διὰ τὸ ῾ἐπὶ κληῖσιν᾽ ἢ ναύτας πρὸς ὑπηρεσίαν. Διονύσιος δὲ τὸν μέγιστον ἀριθμὸν ρ̄κ̄ τιμᾶι, τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν ἐν τῶι μεταξὺ τούτων ἄγεσθαι, ὡς φθάνειν πάσας ἀπὸ π̄ε̄ ἀνδρῶν.

Ah, another case study of that “morbus Graecorum”

Seneca, De Brevitate Vitae 13

“It would be annoying to list all the people who spent their lives pursuing board games, ball games, or sunbathing. Men whose pleasures are so busy are not at leisure. For example, no one will be surprised that those occupied by useless literary studies work strenuously—and there is great band of these in Rome now too.

This sickness used to just afflict the Greeks, to discover the number of oarsmen Odysseus possessed, whether the Iliad was written before the Odyssey, whether the poems belong to the same author, and other matters like this which, if you keep them to yourself, cannot please your private mind; but if you publish them, you seem less learned than annoying.”

Persequi singulos longum est, quorum aut latrunculi aut pila aut excoquendi in sole corporis cura consumpsere vitam. Non sunt otiosi, quorum voluptates multum negotii habent. Nam de illis nemo dubitabit, quin operose nihil agant, qui litterarum inutilium studiis detinentur, quae iam apud Romanos quoque magna manus est. Graecorum iste morbus fuit quaerere, quem numerum Ulixes remigum habuisset, prior scripta esset Ilias an Odyssia, praeterea an eiusdem essent auctoris, alia deinceps huius notae, quae sive contineas, nihil tacitam conscientiam iuvant sive proferas, non doctior videaris sed molestior.

Lenormant Relief, c. 410 BCE

Paris and Menelaos Go to an Oracle (Together)

Schol bT Ad Il. 5.64 ex

“Since he had learned none of the prophecies from the gods. For they report that the Spartans were hard-pressed by a famine and asked the god for the reason. The oracle responded that they should propitiate the gods of the Teucrians, Khimaireus and Lukos. So, then Menelaos left for Troy to complete the tasks he was assigned and after he spent some time with Alexandros he went with him for the purpose of asking the gods about the creation of children.

Alexandros also asked about how he might kidnap Helen. The oracle responded to them: ‘Why do two kings, one Trojan and one Greek / why do you come to my temple with completely different intentions. / One of you seeks to discover the birth of a horse / but the other…..; What are you devising now, Zeus?’ When they failed to understand these things, they returned. This is why the poet says “he did not understand the prophecies of the gods.”

ἐπεὶ οὔτι θεῶν ἐκ θέσφατα ᾔδη: Λακεδαιμονίους φασὶ λιμῷ πιεζομένους τὸ αἴτιον ἀνακρίνειν τὸν θεόν. τὸν δὲ εἰπεῖν ἐξιλάσκεσθαι τοὺς Τεύκρων δαίμονας, Χιμαιρέα τε καὶ Λύκον. τὸν δὲ Μενέλαον ἀπελθόντα εἰς ῎Ιλιον ἐπιτελεῖν τὰ προσταχθέντα καὶ συμμίξαντα ᾿Αλεξάνδρῳ ἅμα αὐτῷ ἀπιέναι εἰς †θεοὺς† ἐρησόμενον περὶ παίδων γονῆς· ἐρωτᾶν δὲ καὶ ᾿Αλέξανδρον, ὅπως ἂν ἁρπάσοι τὴν ῾Ελένην. τὸν δὲ θεὸν εἰπεῖν  „Τίπτε δύω βασιλῆες,

ὁ μὲν Τρώων, ὁ δ’ ᾿Αχαιῶν, / οὐκέθ’ ὁμὰ φρονέοντες ἐμὸν ποτὶ νηὸν ἔβητε, / ἤτοι ὁ μὲν γενεὴν ἵππου διζήμενος εὑρεῖν, / αὐτὰρ ὁ [……….]; τί νυ μήσεαι, ὦ μάκαρ ὦ Ζεῦ;”

τοὺς δὲ μὴ νοήσαντας ὑποστρέψαι. τοῦτο οὖν λέγει ὁ ποιητὴς ἐπεὶ οὔτι θεῶν ἐκ θέσφατα ᾔδη.

Image result for Menelaus and Paris
Duel of Menelaos and Paris Vase

Moon-People Or People Before the Moon?

I am still not quite sure what to make of this fragment. So, here it is.

Theodoros of Samothrace, fr. 2 (BNJ 62 f2) = Schol. ad Ap. Rhodes 4.264

“The Arcadians who are supposed to have lived before even the moon…”

᾽Αρκάδες οἳ καὶ πρόσθε σεληναίης ὑδέονται ζώειν]

“The Arcadians seem to have been born before the moon was, as Eudoxos also claims in his Global Tour. Theodôros reports in his 22nd book that the moon came into view before Herakles’ war with the giants. Aristias the Khian in his Foundations and Dionysian the Khalkidean in the first book of his Foundations report that the Selêntians [moon-people] are Arkadian ethnically.”

οἱ ᾽Αρκάδες δοκοῦσι πρὸ τῆς σελήνης γεγονέναι, ὡς καὶ Εὐδοξος ἐν Γῆς Περιόδωι. Θεόδωρος δὲ ἐν κ̄β̄ ὀλίγωι πρότερόν φησι τοῦ πρὸς τοὺς Γίγαντας πολέμου Ηρακλέους τὴν σελήνην φανῆναι. καὶ ᾽Αριστίας ὁ Χῖος ἐν ταῖς Κτίσεσι καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ Χαλκιδεὺς ἐν ᾱ Κτίσεων καὶ ἔθνος φασὶν ᾽Αρκαδίας Σεληνίτας εἶναι.

 

Image | Attic red figure vase painting
Selene, the Moon

Scholarship and Superfluous Detail

Ah, pedantry. I may have had some thoughts about it….

Artemon of Pergamon (New Jacoby: BNJ 569 F 3 [=Schol. on Pind., Pyth. 1, inscr. a])

“Golden Lyre”: The poem has been written for Hieron; Pindar allegedly said this according to the historian Artemon because Hieron promised him a golden lyre. But these kinds of things are full of superfluous detail”

Χρυσέα φόρμιγξ] γέγραπται μὲν ὁ ἐπίνικος ῾Ιέρωνι, λέγεται δὲ ὁ Πίνδαρος οὕτως ἐπιβεβλῆσθαι κατὰ ᾽Αρτέμωνα τὸν ἱστορικόν, ὅτι δὴ αὐτῶι ὁ ῾Ιέρων χρυσῆν ὑπέσχετο κιθάραν . τὰ δὲ τοιαῦτα περιεργίας πεπλήρωται.

From LSJ 1902

περιεργαζόμαι, “to take more pains than enough about a thing, to waste one’s labor” 2. “to be a busybody”

περιεργία: “over-exactness” II. “officiousness” III. “curious arts”

περίεργος: “careful overmuch” II. “done with especial care”; “overwrought, too elaborate, superfluous”

περιεργοπένητες: “poor scholars”

Suda, Kappa 504

Kataglôttismata: “tonguing-down”: all sorts of kisses. Fabrications. All kinds of massages with sweet oils. Also, superfluous words. Or the “tonguing-down” is a rather excessive kiss. Or, it is flattery”

Καταγλωττίσματα: περίεργα φιλήματα. καταπλάσματα, παντοῖαι μυραλοιφίαι, ἢ περιλαλήματα. ἢ εἶδος φιλήματος περιεργότερον τὸ καταγλώττισμα: ἢ κολάκευμα.

Breviary of Renaud de Bar, France, 1302-1303: http://www.lazerhorse.org/2015/05/17/medieval-art-weird-manuscript/