Greek Nostos and English Nostalgia

Someone asked me to put together a post on nostos. Here’s what I got. I am happy to add anything someone else can find. This is far from exhaustive.

The Greek noun nostos (“homecoming”) is mostly reconstructed as a reflex of a verbal root neomai (“to come or go”) but its semantic range drifts to include ideas of salvation and rescue.

From Beekes’ Etymological Dictionary of Ancient Greek (2010)

nostos beeks

In early Greek poetry, nostos is a song that is about homecoming. On this, see Nagy 1999 [1997], 97; Murnaghan 2002, 147. Douglas Frame (1978) argues that it also means “return to light and life” whereas Anna Bonifazi adds “salvation not death”. For more on the nostoi as a tradition, see the discussion and bibliography in Barker and Christensen 2015. Gregory Nagy surveys the meaning of the term nostos in the Odyssey as return and a song of homecoming in his Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours.

In later Greek, the term retained much of this meaning but, as I will show below, it can also mean “sweetness”. The thematic and proverbial power of the poetic tradition seems to have kept this specialized meaning as primary as the language developed.

From E.A. Sophocles “Dictionary of Byzantine Greek”

nostos med

Our English word nostalgia comes from a post-classical Latin compound which has deep resonance with Greek epic, especially Odysseus. Odysseus has thematic associations with algea (neuter plural for algos, “grief, pain”). Our modern meaning of “acute longing for familiar surroundings” or “sentimental longing for a period of the past (OED online)” may draw on ancient poetic associations. A nostos is a return to the home, which is symbolically a return to the past. Ultimately, it is partly a futile wish because neither home nor person (neither the past, nor the rememberer) remain the same.

Nostalgia was originally coined by Johannes Hofer in 1688 for a pathological mental disorder, a type of mania that involved longing for the past. Some modern psychological studies still examine the phenomenon. It has been described as both parafunctional in undermining a sense of well-being and rootedness in the future (Verplanken 2012) and as a useful resource of memory which can help reinforce identity against existential threats (Routledge et al 2012 and Sedikedis and Wildschut 2016).

The ancient etymological dictionaries pretty much provide the same information as the Byzantine Suda:

Suda, Nu 500

“Nostos: The return to home. From the sweetness of a homeland. Or it comes from the giving of flavor. But also “the poets who sang the songs of Return follow Homer to the extent they are capable. It seems that not only one poet composed and wrote the homecoming of the Achaeans, but some others did too.

Νόστος: ἡ οἴκαδε ἐπάνοδος. παρὰ τὸ τῆς πατρίδος ἡδύ.

ἢ ἡ ἀνάδοσις τῆς γεύσεως. καὶ οἱ ποιηταὶ δὲ οἱ τοὺς Νόστους ὑμνήσαντες ἕπονται τῷ ῾Ομήρῳ ἐς ὅσον εἰσὶ δυνατοί. φαίνεται ὅτι οὐ μόνος εἷς εὑρισκόμενος ἔγραψε νόστον ᾿Αχαιῶν, ἀλλὰ καί τινες ἕτεροι.

Nu 501

“Homecoming: in regular use it is “sweetness”, applied to edibles. This comes from the [sweetness] of returning and coming back again home. From the sweetness of your homeland, for nothing is sweeter than your fatherland, according to Homer. From nostos in customary use we also have nostimon, which can mean “pleasant”, “sweet”. And there is a certain god, Eunostos, a divinity of the mill. The poetic term nostos comes from neô [to go], in, for example “now I am not going home.” This means “I do not return” [epanerkhomai]. There is also the form nostô, which provides the compounds palinostô, and aponostô.”

Νόστος: παρὰ τῇ συνηθείᾳ ὁ γλυκασμός, ἐπὶ τῶν ἐδεσμάτων. ὡς ἀπὸ τῆςοἴκαδε ἀνακομιδῆς καὶ ἀναστροφῆς· παρὰ τὸ τῆς πατρίδος γλυκύ. οὐδὲν γὰρ γλύκιον ἧς πατρίδος, καθ’ ῞Ομηρον. ἐκ δὲ τοῦ κατὰ τὴν συνήθειαν νόστου καὶ νόστιμον, τὸ ἡδύ. καὶ Εὔνοστος, θεός τις, φασίν, ἐπιμύλιος. ὁ δὲ ποιητικὸς  νόστος παρὰ τὸ νέω γίνεται. οἷον, νῦν δ’ ἐπεὶ οὐ νέομαι γε. ἤγουν οὐκ ἐπανέρχομαι. ἔστι δὲ καὶ ῥῆμα νοστῶ, οὗ σύνθετα παλινοστῶ καὶ ἀπονοστῶ

 

Some things cited in this post:

Barker, Elton T. E. and Christensen, Joel P. 2015. “Odysseus’s Nostos and the Odyssey’s Nostoi,” in G. Scafoglio, Studies on the Epic Cycle. Rome. 85–110.

Bonifazi, A. 2009. “Inquiring into nostos and its cognates.” American Journal of Philology 130: 481–510.

Frame, Douglas. 1978. The Myth of Return in Early Greek Epic. New Haven.

Murnaghan, Sheila. 2002. “The Trials of Telemachus: Who Was the Odyssey Meant for?” Arethusa 35: 133–153.

Nagy, Gregory. 1979. The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry. Baltimore.

Routledge, Clay, Wildschut Tim, Sedikides, Constantine, Juhl, Jacob, , and  Arndt, Jamie. 2012”The power of the past: Nostalgia as a meaning-making resource.” Memory, 1-9.

Sedikides, Constantine and Wildschut, Tim. 2016. ”Nostalgia: A Bittersweet Emotion that Confers Psychological Health Benefits.” The Wiley Handbook of Positive Clinical  Psychology, 126–136.

Verplanken, Bas. 2012. “When bittersweet turns sour: Adverse effects of nostalgia on habitual worriers.” European Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 285–289.

Various Meanings of Syntax

“Syntax is the death of me”

σύνταξις γὰρ ἐμοὶ καὶ θάνατον παρέχει, Palladas

Diogenes Laertius, Zeno 44

“The second topic also mentioned above as proper to dialectic is that of language. In this are also included written language and the parts of speech as well as a consideration of solecisms, barbarisms, of poetic words and ambiguities, concerning euphony and music, and, according to some, sections on definitions, divisions, and diction.”

Εἶναι δὲ τῆς διαλεκτικῆς ἴδιον τόπον καὶ τὸν προειρημένον περὶ αὐτῆς τῆς φωνῆς, ἐν ᾧ δείκνυται ἡ ἐγγράμματος φωνὴ καὶ τίνα τὰ τοῦ λόγου μέρη, καὶ περὶ σολοικισμοῦ καὶ βαρβαρισμοῦ καὶ ποιημάτων καὶ ἀμφιβολιῶν καὶ περὶ ἐμμελοῦς φωνῆς καὶ περὶ μουσικῆς καὶ περὶ ὅρων κατά τινας καὶ διαιρέσεων καὶ λέξεων.

 

Jerome, Letter 128 To Pacatula

“How can I encourage the girl who hit her laughing mother with a child’s hand to submit to her parents? Thus let our Pacatula take this letter to read it later. Meanwhile, let her learn the basic elements of language and put syllables together.”

Ut parenti subiciatur, horter, quae manu tenera ridentem verberat matrem? Itaque Pacatula nostra hoc epistulium post lectura suscipiat; interim modo litterularum elementa cognoscat, iungat syllabas.

 

Suda Sigma, 1623

“Syntax:  This is the combining of two things. It is also taking and doing necessary things. “He was not ashamed to be depriving men on expedition from all their pay [syntaxeis]”. Malkhos also writes “the soldiers went into depression because they were often deprived of their pay [syntaxeis] and cut off from their common food.” Malkhos writes again elsewhere “he honored Pamprepios famously and granted him a salary [syntaxeis]. Procopios writes “they were also criticizing because the public owed them their pay [syntaxeis] for a great amount of time.”

Σύνταξις: δευτέρων πραγμάτων ἕνωσις. καὶ τὸ λαμβάνειν καὶ ποιεῖν τὰ δέοντα. τοὺς στρατευομένους ἀποστερῶν τὰς συντάξεις ἁπάσας οὐκ ᾐσχύνετο. καὶ Μάλχος: τῶν συντάξεων στερηθέντες πολλάκις οἱ στρατιῶται καὶ παρακοπτόμενοι τῆς τροφῆς τῆς συνήθους ἐς ἀπόνοιαν ἦλθον. καὶ αὖθις Μάλχος: ὁ δὲ τὸν Παμπρέπιον λαμπρῶς τε ἐτίμησε καὶ σύνταξιν ἔδωκε. Προκόπιος: ἅμα δὲ καὶ μεμφόμενοι, ὅτι δὴ σφίσι χρόνου τὰς συντάξεις πολλοῦ τὸ δημόσιον ὦφλε.

Sigma, 1624

“Syntaxis: A summary, a history. Polybius has written “we made these things clear in previous compositions.”

Σύνταξις: ἡ συγγραφή, ἡ ἱστορία. Πολύβιος: ταῦτα ἐν ταῖς πρὸ τοῦ συντάξεσι δεδηλώκαμεν.

Sigma, 1625

Syntaxis: A proper way of saying a financial agreement. Demosthenes writes in his Phillipics: “there should be a single and identical agreement [syntaxis] for taking and doing what is needed. For he used to call each of the tax types “syntaxes”, since the Greeks took the name ‘tribute’ rather badly. So Kallistratos called it this instead. So, Hyperides says “We who once thought it right to levy, give a payment [syntax] to no one in the present”

Σύνταξις: ἀντὶ τοῦ συντεταγμένη οἴκησις. Δημοσθένης Φιλιππικοῖς: καὶ μίαν σύνταξιν εἶναι τὴν αὐτὴν τοῦ τε λαμβάνειν καὶ τοῦ ποιεῖν τὰ δέοντα. ἔλεγε δὲ ἑκάστους φόρους συντάξεις, ἐπειδὴ χαλεπῶς ἔφερον οἱ Ἕλληνες τὸ τῶν φόρων ὄνομα, Καλλιστράτου οὕτως καλέσαντος. καὶ Ὑπερίδης δέ φησι: σύνταξιν ἐν τῷ παρόντι οὐδενὶ διδόντες, ἡμεῖς δέ ποτε ἠξιώσαμεν λαβεῖν.

Hesychius

rhapsdôdia: A binding of words, or a stitching-together of words. Or, a part of a poem.”

ῥαψῳδία· ἡ σύνταξις τῶν λόγων, ἢ λόγων συῤῥαφή. ἢ μέρος ποιήματος

Zonaras

“Syntax: a uniting of two matters. Also to take and make what is necessary”

Σύνταξις. δευτέρων πραγμάτων ἕνωσις. καὶ τὸ λαμβάνειν καὶ ποιεῖν τὰ δέοντα.

Beforehand: Some “Fore” Compounds for No Particular Reason

In case it might be useful, some words to go with Greek and Latin passages for treason.

προβουλεύω: “to contrive beforehand”

προβουλόπαις: “pre-plotting child”

προγάστηρ: “gut, paunch”

προγευματίζω: “to taste beforehand”

προγιγνώσκω: “to have prior knowledge”

πρόγνωσις: “foreknowledge”

προγλωσσεύω: “to speak beforehand”

προγνωστής: “one who has foreknowledge”

προδακρύω: “to weep beforehand”

πρόδηλος: “clear before”

προδιαμαρτύρομαι: “to furnish as a witness beforehand”

προδιασκευή: “prior edition”

προδιαφθείρω: “to destroy beforehand”

πρόδοτος: “betrayed”

προδουλόω: “to enslave beforehand”

προθυμία: “eagerness”

προίστωρ: “one with foreknowledge”

προκαταλήγω: “to foreclose beforehand”

προκατηγορία: “prior accusation”

προλιχνεύομαι: “to lick beforehand”

προμηθεία: “forethought”

προμιαίνω: “to defile beforehand”

προμίγνυμι: “to screw beforehand”

προξενία: “a treaty or compact between a state and a foreigner”

Speculum Humanae Salvationis, Westfalen oder Köln, um 1360. ULB Darmstadt, Hs 2505, fol. 37r

Speculum Humanae Salvationis, Westfalen oder Köln, um 1360. ULB Darmstadt, Hs 2505, fol. 37r

Idiot Words

 

From the Suda

Idiôtai: Private individuals, used in place of citizens [politai]. This is how Thucydides uses it. But in the Frogs, Aristophanes calls idiots the people who are your own—“regarding strangers and idiots. It is derived from the word idios. And so idiôtês is what they call someone who is related to you by clan; but it is also an unlearned person. And in his Wealth, Aristophanes also uses idiôtikon as that which belongs to a person privately or idion as one’s own.

᾿Ιδιῶται: ἀντὶ τοῦ πολῖται. οὕτως Θουκυδίδης. ᾿Αριστοφάνης δὲ ἐν Βατράχοις ἰδιώτας τοὺς ἰδίους λέγει· περὶ τοὺς ξένους καὶ τοὺς ἰδιώτας· κατὰ παραγωγὴν ἴδιος, ἰδιώτης. ἰδιώτης δὲ λέγεται, ὁ πρὸς γένος ἴδιος, καὶ ὁ ἀμαθής. καὶ ἐν Πλούτῳ ἴδιον τὸ ἰδιωτικόν φησιν.

Some Words

ἰδιάζω: “to live as a private person”

ἰδιασμός: “peculiarity”

ἰδιόβιος: “living by or for oneself”

ἰδιόγλωσσος: “of distinct, peculiar tongue”

ἰδιογνώμων: “private opinion”

ἰδιοθανέω: “to die in a peculiar way”

ἰδιολογία: “private conversation”

ἰδιοξενία: “private friendship”

ἰδιοπάθεια: “feeling for oneself alone”

Also from the Suda

Idiôtês: someone who is illiterate. Damaskios writes about Isidore: “of all the idiots and all the philosophers of his time he was equally tight-lipped generally and he hid his thoughts. But he poured his mind out into the shared increase of virtue and the limit of vice.

᾿Ιδιώτης: ὁ ἀγράμματος. Δαμάσκιος περὶ ᾿Ισιδώρου φησί·  πάντων τῶν καθ’ αὑτὸν ἰδιωτῶν ὁμοίως καὶ φιλοσόφων ἐχέμυθος ἐς τὰ μάλιστα καὶ κρυψίνους ἦν, ἀλλ’ εἴς γε συναύξησιν τῆς ἀρετῆς καὶ τῆς κακίας μείωσιν ὅλην ἐξεκέχυτο τὴν ψυχήν.

Some More Words

ἰδιοποιέω: “to make separately” in the middle: “to appropriate to oneself”

ἰδιόσημος: “peculiar in signification”

ἰδιόστολος: “equipt at private expense”

ἰδιοσύγκριτος: “Peculiarly composed”

ἰδιόφωνος: “with one’s own voice”

ἰδιοφυής: “of peculiar nature”

ἰδιόχειρος: “written by one’s own hand”

ἰδίωμα: “a peculiarity”

Andocides, On His Return 2

“These men must be the dumbest of all people or they are the most inimical to the state. If they believe that it is also better for their private affairs when the state does well, then they are complete fools in pursuing something opposite to their own advantage right now. If they do not believe that they share common interests with you, then they must be enemies of the state”

δεῖ γὰρ αὐτοὺς ἤτοι ἀμαθεστάτους εἶναι πάντων ἀνθρώπων, ἢ τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ δυσμενεστάτους. εἰ μέν γε νομίζουσι τῆς πόλεως εὖ πραττούσης καὶ τὰ ἴδια σφῶν αὐτῶν ἄμεινον ἂν φέρεσθαι, ἀμαθέστατοί εἰσι τὰ ἐναντία νῦν τῇ ἑαυτῶν ὠφελείᾳ σπεύδοντες· εἰ δὲ μὴ ταὐτὰ ἡγοῦνται σφίσι τε αὐτοῖς συμφέρειν καὶ τῷ ὑμετέρῳ κοινῷ, δυσμενεῖς ἂν τῇ πόλει εἶεν·

Still, More Words

ἰδιωματικός: “characteristic”

ἰδίωσις: “distinction between things”

ἰδιωτεία: “private life or business”

ἰδιωτεύω: “to be a private person”

ἰδιώτης: “a private person, an individual” 2cL “unpracticed, unskilled, ignoant, ill-informed”

ἰδιωτίζω, “to put into a common language”

ἰδιωτικός: “of or for a private person”; 2: “unprofessional, rude”

ἰδιώτις: “inconsiderable”

ἰδιωτισμός: “the way or fashion of a common person”

ἰδιωφελής: “privately profitable”

 mrw boss tells task priority GIF

Epictetus, Encheiridion, 48

“The state and character of an ‘idiot’ is this: he never expects harm or help from himself, but he always looks elsewhere. This is the state and character of a philosopher: he expects all help and harm to come from himself

These are signs of someone making progress: he blames no one; praises no one; criticizes no one; impugns no one; and says nothing about himself as if he were someone or knew something. Whenever he meets an obstacle or is held back, he takes the blame. Whenever anyone praises him, he chuckles to himself while they praise. If someone criticizes him, he offers no defense. He proceeds just like the feeble, taking care not to disturb anything he is developing before it grows firm.

He has banished every desire from himself and he has admitted to disinclination only those aspects of nature which are under our control, He applies a disinterested impulse toward all things. Should he seem to be simple or unlearned, he doesn’t care. In sum, he guards against himself as if he were an enemy conspirator.”

48. Ἰδιώτου στάσις καὶ χαρακτήρ· οὐδέποτε ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ προσδοκᾷ ὠφέλειαν ἢ βλάβην, ἀλλ᾿ ἀπὸ τῶν ἔξω. φιλοσόφου στάσις καὶ χαρακτήρ· πᾶσαν ὠφέλειαν καὶ βλάβην ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ προσδοκᾷ.

Σημεῖα προκόπτοντος· οὐδένα ψέγει, οὐδένα ἐπαινεῖ, οὐδένα μέμφεται, οὐδενὶ ἐγκαλεῖ, οὐδὲν περὶ ἑαυτοῦ λέγει ὡς ὄντος τινὸς ἢ εἰδότος τι. ὅταν ἐμποδισθῇ τι ἢ κωλυθῇ, ἑαυτῷ ἐγκαλεῖ. κἄν τις αὐτὸν ἐπαινῇ, καταγελᾷ τοῦ ἐπαινοῦντος αὐτὸς παρ᾿ ἑαυτῷ· κἂν ψέγῃ, οὐκ ἀπολογεῖται. περίεισι δὲ καθάπερ οἱ ἄρρωστοι, εὐλαβούμενός τι κινῆσαι τῶν καθισταμένων, πρὶν πῆξιν λαβεῖν.

ὄρεξιν ἅπασαν ἦρκεν ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ· τὴν δ᾿ ἔκκλισιν εἰς μόνα τὰ παρὰ φύσιν τῶν ἐφ᾿ ἡμῖν μετατέθεικεν. ὁρμῇ πρὸς ἅπαντα ἀνειμένῃ χρῆται. ἂν ἠλίθιος ἢ ἀμαθὴς δοκῇ, οὐ πεφρόντικεν. ἑνί τε λόγῳ, ὡς ἐχθρὸν ἑαυτὸν παραφυλάσσει καὶ ἐπίβουλον.

From Beekes 2010

idiot

 

 

Seasoned Words: Pliny on the Importance of Salt

Pliny the Elder, Natural Histories 31.88-89

“By Hercules, then, life can not be lived humanely without salt—it is such an essential substance that its name is transferred to powerful mental pleasures too. All the charm and the greatest humor of life along with rest from work are called salts (sales)—it rests on this more than any other.

It is also present in political offices and military service in the word salaries—which attests to its great authority among ancient speakers, just as is clear from the name of the Salarian Way by which it was agreed that salt would be carried to the Sabines. The king Ancus Marius granted a gift to the people of 6000 measures of salt and was the first to have salt pools constructed. Varro is also our expert here, indicating that the ancients used it as a condiment; and the fact that they ate sale with bread is clear from the proverb.

But a special proof still comes in sacrifices, since they can not be completed without salted meal.

ergo, Hercules, vita humanior sine sale non quit degere, adeoque necessarium elementum est uti transierit intellectus ad voluptates animi quoque nimias. sales appellantur, omnisque vitae lepos et summa hilaritas laborumque requies non alio magis vocabulo constat.

honoribus etiam militiaeque interponitur salariis inde dictis magna apud antiquos auctoritate, sicut apparet ex nomine Salariae viae, quoniam illa salem in Sabinos portari convenerat. Ancus Marcius rex salis modios v͞i͞ in congiario dedit populis et salinas primus instituit. Varro etiam pulmentarii vice usos veteres auctor est, et salem cum pane esitasse eos proverbio apparet. maxime tamen in sacris intellegitur auctoritas, quando nulla conficiuntur sine mola salsa.

Cod. Ser. n. 2644, fol. 93v: Tacuinum sanitatis: Moscus

From A Little Hill to Shameful Touching: Clitoral Etymologies

Bill Beck has a good article on Eidolon about the way ancient (and eventually Modern) etymology and “word science” manipulates the concept of the original meaning of words in order to reinforce various types of dominant cultural discourse.

Here is another example, the history of the word clitoris. I have arranged the examples in roughly chronological order.

Hesychius

“Kleitoris: the over-covering skin [lit. of hypodoris?] of a woman’s genitals. From where we get the word kleitoriazein, which means to rub or touch [as in to masturbate].”

κλειτορίς· τοῦ γυναικείου αἰδοίου ἡ ὑποδορίς, ἔνθεν καὶ τὸ κλειτοριάζειν τὸ ψηλαφᾶν

Etymologicum Magnum

Klitorion:… it also means a woman’s genitals. From this we also find the verb klitoriazein which means “touching shamefully”

Σημαίνει δὲ καὶ τὸ αἰδοῖον τῆς γυναικός· ὅθεν καὶ κλιτοριάζειν λέγεται τὸ αἰσχρῶς ἅπτεσθαι.

Suda, mu 1462

Murton: “myrtle berry” The form of the female genitalia in the middle of which is the clitoris. From this we get the word kleitorizesthai which means to touch oneself licentiously. The lip is the hupodoris and the sides the myrtle-lips

Μύρτον: τὸ σχῆμα τοῦ γυναικείου αἰδοίου, οὗ τὸ μεταξὺ κλειτορίς. ἀφ’ οὗ τὸ ἀκολάστως ἕπεσθαι κλειτορίζεσθαι. τὸ δὲ χεῖλος ὑποδορίς, τὸ δὲ σύμπτωμα μυρτοχείλη.

Note in the following and the former the difference between the active and middle  voices

Michael Apostolios

Klitoriazein: applied to pedarasts. Or for those who are licentious towards women [or “to licentious behavior for women”?]

Κλιτοριάζειν: ἐπὶ τῶν παιδεραστῶν· ἢ ἐπὶ τῶν γυναιξὶν ἀκολάστων.

kleitoris

The LSJ is a little bashful about this:

kleitoris lsj

 

Tawdry Tuesday: Proctological Proverb Edition

Arsenius, 34a1

“May you fall into Hades’ asshole”: [a curse]: may you die.

῞Αιδου πρωκτῷ περιπέσῃς: ἤγουν τελευτήσῃς.

Note: Even though Ancient Greek prôktos can merely mean “rear end” (as in butt), it most often means ‘anus’ in comedy and insults. Also, I wanted to use something profane and given the British/American divide on arse/ass, I decided just to go with “asshole” because it is funnier.

Diogenianus (v.1 e cod. Marz. 2.42)

“I wish you’d fall into Hades’ asshole”: this is clear

῞Αιδου πρωκτῷ περιπέσοις: δῆλον.

Diogenianus (v.2 e cod. Vindob. 133, 1.97 )

“I wish you’d fall into Hades’ asshole”: Used for cursing someone

Αἵδου πρωκτῷ περιπέσοις: ἐπὶ τῶν καταρωμένων τινί.

Diogenianus, 3.58

“The asshole survives the bath” [or, “Ass surpasses the bath”]. Whenever someone is not able to wash himself, but his bowels still assail him. This is a proverb used for things done uselessly.

Πρωκτὸς λουτροῦ περιγίνεται: ὅταν τις μὴ δύνηται ἀπονίψασθαι, ἀλλ’ ἡ κοιλία αὐτῷ ἐπιφέρηται. λέγεται ἡ παροιμία ἐπὶ τῶν ἀνωφελῶς πραττομένων.

Michael Apostolius, 14.78

“The asshole survives the bath”: This proverb is used for things done uselessly and done for show. For people with thick asses and potbellies are not able to wash themselves off easily.”

Πρωκτὸς λουτροῦ περιγίνεται: ἐπὶ τῶν ἀνωφελῶν καὶ εἰκῇ πραττομένων ἐλέγετο· οἱ γὰρ παχύπρωκτοι καὶ προγάστορες οὐ δύνανται ἑαυτοὺς ἀπονίψασθαι εὐπετῶς.

Zenobius, Vulg. 1.52

“It was cured by Akesias”: this is a proverb for when things are healed for the worse. Aristotle provides the proverb in tetrameters: “Akesias healed his asshole.”

Ἀκεσίας ἰάσατο· ἐπὶ τῶν ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον ἰωμένων. ὅλην δὲ Ἀριστοφάνης ἐν τετραμέτροις τὴν παροιμίαν ἐκφέρει, λέγων· Ἀκεσίας τὸν πρωκτὸν ἰάσατο.

Suda, s.v. Ἀφευθεὶς

“Singed around the asshole:” Aristophanes has this instead of being “all burned up”

Ἀφευθεὶς τὸν πρωκτόν: Ἀριστοφάνης ἀντὶ τοῦ φλογισθείς.

Balneum Tripergulae – particolare da miniatura del Codice Angelico del “De Balneis Puteolanis� di Pietro da Eboli.

Bonus: Suda on defecation (And there is more of this)

Apopatêma: this is the same as ‘dung’ Eupolis has in his Golden Age: “What is that man? Shit of a fox.” And Kratinus has in Runaway Slaves: I knocked Kerkyon out at dawn when I found him shitting in the vegetables.” We also find the participle apopatêsomenoi (“they are about to shit”) which means they are going to evacuate the feces from their bodies. But patos also means path.

Aristophanes writes “No one sacrifices the old way any more or even enters the temple except for the more than ten thousand who want to shit. So, apopatos is really the voiding of the bowels. Aristophanes also says about Kleonymous: “He went off to shit after he got he army and shat for ten months in the golden mountains? For how long was he closing his asshole? A whole turn of the moon?”

Ἀποπάτημα: αὐτὸ τὸ σκύβαλον. Εὔπολις Χρυσῷ γένει: τί γάρ ἐστ’ ἐκεῖνος; ἀποπάτημ’ ἀλώπεκος. Κρατῖνος Δραπέτισι: τὸν Κερκύονά τε ἕωθεν ἀποπατοῦντ’ ἐπὶ τοῖς λαχάνοις εὑρὼν ἀπέπνιξα. καὶ Ἀποπατησόμενοι, τὴν κόπρον κενώσοντες. πάτος δὲ ἡ ὁδός. Ἀριστοφάνης: οὐδεὶς θύει τοπαράπαν οὐδ’ εἰσέρχεται, πλὴν ἀποπατησόμενοί γε πλεῖν ἢ μύριοι. Ἀπόπατος γὰρ ἡ κένωσις τῆς γαστρός. καὶ Ἀριστοφάνης περὶ Κλεωνύμου φησίν: εἰς ἀπόπατον ᾤχετο στρατιὰν λαβὼν κἄχεζεν ὀκτὼ μῆνας ἐπὶ χρυσῶν ὄρων. πόσου δὲ τὸν πρωκτὸν χρόνου ξυνήγαγε; τῇ πανσελήνῳ.

From Henderson’s Maculate Muse

proktos

“I Defecated Because of Fear”

I was just recently thinking of our ongoing skatokhasm and the sheer variety of excremental words in ancient Greek. I happened to look up my favorite Greek word from graduate school and stumbled upon what must be the most charming entry in the Suda.

Suda, Epsilon 92 [referring to Aristophanes, Frogs 479]

“I shat myself”: I defecated because of some fear. I pooped. Aristophanes says this in the Frogs. He is calling the god to help.”

᾿Εγκέχοδα: ἀπεπάτησα διὰ φόβον τινά, ἔχεσον. ᾿Αριστοφάνης Βατράχοις. κάλει θεὸν εἰς βοήθειαν.

Principal parts: χέζω, χεσοῦμαι, ἔχεσα, κέχοδα, κέχεσμαι….

Strattis, fr. 1.3

“If he will not have the leisure to shit,
Nor to visit a profligate man’s home, nor if he meets
Anyone, to talk to them at all…”

Εἰ μηδὲ χέσαι γ’ αὐτῷ σχολὴ γενήσεται,
μηδ’ εἰς ἀσωτεῖον τραπέσθαι, μηδ’ ἐάν
αὐτῷ ξυναντᾷ τις, λαλῆσαι μηδενί.

Image result for medieval manuscript defecation

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Aristophanes, Clouds, 391

“When I shit, it’s like thunder: pa-pa-pa-papp-AKS!

χὤταν χέζω, κομιδῇ βροντᾷ “παπαπαππάξ,”

 

My kids like this song. Thanks to Aristophanes, I can now think of it diffrently

 

 

Fools and Dances of Nebulous Names

Accius, Principles for Playwrights

From Nonius
“Perperos: uneducated, fools, basic, uncultured, liars. In his pragmatics, Accius uses perperos to describe common people. That same poet writes:
Poets are often abused because of this rather than their own mistake:
Your mind’s extreme gullibility or its sheer simplicity.”

‘Perperos,’ indoctos, stultos, rudis, insulsos, mendaces. Accius Pragmaticis—describere in theatro perperos popularis.
Idem eodem—
et eo plectuntur poetae quam suo vitio saepius
ductabilitate animi nimia vestra aut perperitudine.

From Gellius

“The Sicinnium was once a type of ancient dance. The poet Lucius Accius once used this term in his Principles and says that they were called “satyr-shakers of nebulous name”. I think he uses the word “nebulous because it was uncertain why anyone said “sicinnium”.

Gellius, XX, 3: ‘Sicinnium’ . . . genus veteris saltationis fuit. Posuit hoc verbum L. Accius poeta in Pragmaticis appellarique ait—
sicinnistas nebuloso nomine;
credo propterea nebuloso quod sicinnium cur diceretur obscurum esset.

Related image

Roman Bacchanal Dance

The Odyssey Within the Epic: Allegory and the Making of Meaning

In response to yesterday’s anecdote about the absurdity of the Odyssey a reminder: generations of readers believed that the epic is a crypto-text conveying many deeper meanings.

Heraclitus, Homeric Problems 70

“Generally, then, if one wants to examine it carefully, you will find Odysseus’ wandering to be an allegory. Homer has positioned Odysseus as some kind of an instrument of every kind of virtue and he has used him to philosophize, since he hated the wickedness which governs human life.

The land of the Lotus-eaters, a farm of exotic temptation, represents the temptation of pleasure through which Odysseus sailed in perfect control. He snuffs out the savage anger of each of us with the advice from his words as if cauterizing it. This anger is named the Cyclops, the one who steals away [hypoklôpôn] our faculties of reason.

What of this—does it not seem that Odysseus who ‘overcame the winds’ was the first to anticipate fair sailing through his knowledge of the stars? And he was superior to Kirkê’s drugs because he discovered a cure for addictive delicacies thanks to his deep wisdom.

And his intelligence extends even to Hades so that nothing in the underworld might go unexplored. Who listens to the Sirens and learns a diverse history of all time? Charybdis is an obvious name for luxury and endless drinking. Homer has allegorized manifold shamelessness in Skylla, which is why she would logically have a belt of dogs, guardians for her rapacity, daring, and pugnacity. The cattle of the sun are about controlling your eating—for he would not even allow starvation to be a compulsion to do injustice.

These stories were told mythically for their audiences, if someone delves into the allegorized wisdom, it will be the most useful to those who apprehend it.”

Καθόλου δὲ τὴν ᾿Οδυσσέως πλάνην, εἴ τις ἀκριβῶς ἐθέλει σκοπεῖν, ἠλληγορημένην εὑρήσει·

 πάσης γὰρ ἀρετῆς καθάπερ ὄργανόν τι τὸν ᾿Οδυσσέα παραστησάμενος ἑαυτῷ διὰ τοῦτο πεφιλοσόφηκεν, ἐπειδὴ τὰς ἐκνεμομένας τὸν ἀνθρώπινον βίον ἤχθηρε κακίας.

 ῾Ηδονὴν μέν γε, τὸ Λωτοφάγον χωρίον, ξένης γεωργὸν ἀπολαύσεως, ἣν ᾿Οδυσσεὺς ἐγκρατῶς παρέπλευσεν·  τὸν δ’ ἄγριον ἑκάστου θυμὸν ὡσπερεὶ καυτηρίῳ τῇ παραινέσει τῶν λόγων ἐπήρωσε.  Κύκλωψ δὲ οὗτος ὠνόμασται, ὁ τοὺς λογισμοὺς ὑποκλωπῶν.

     Τί δ’; οὐχὶ πρῶτος εὔδιον πλοῦν δι’ ἐπιστήμης ἀστρονόμου τεκμηράμενος ἔδοξεν ἀνέμους δεδωκέναι; Φαρμάκων τε τῶν παρὰ Κίρκης γέγονε κρείττων, ὑπὸ πολλῆς σοφίας πεμμάτων ἐπεισάκτων κακῶν λύσιν εὑρόμενος.

     ῾Η δὲ φρόνησις ἕως ῞Αιδου καταβέβηκεν, ἵνα μηδὲ τῶν νέρθεν ἀδιερεύνητον ᾖ.  Τίς δὲ Σειρήνων ἀκούει, τὰς πολυπείρους ἱστορίας παντὸς αἰῶνος ἐκμαθών;  Καὶ Χάρυβδις μὲν ἡ δάπανος ἀσωτία καὶ περὶ πότους ἄπληστος  εὐλόγως ὠνόμασται·  Σκύλλαν δὲ τὴν πολύμορφον ἀναίδειαν ἠλληγόρησε, διὸ δὴ κύνας οὐκ ἀλόγως ὑπέζωσται προτομαῖς ἁρπαγῇ, τόλμῃ καὶ πλεονεξίᾳ πεφραγμέναις·

 αἱ δ’ ἡλίου βόες ἐγκράτεια γαστρός εἰσιν, εἰ μηδὲ λιμὸν ἔσχεν ἀδικίας ἀνάγκην.

     ῝Α δὴ μυθικῶς μέν ἐστιν εἰρημένα περὶ τοὺς ἀκούοντας, εἰ δ’ ἐπὶ τὴν ἠλληγορημένην σοφίαν καταβέβηκεν, ὠφελιμώτατα τοῖς μιμουμένοις γενήσεται.

From Porphyry’s essay, On the Cave of the Nymphs 35

“In Plato, the water, the sea and the storm are material matter. For this reason, I think, Homer named the harbor “Phorkus’” (“and this is the harbor of Phorkus”) after the sea-god whose daughter, Thoôsa, he genealogized in the first book of the Odyssey. The Kyklôps is her son whose eye Odysseus blinded. [Homer named the harbor thus] so that right before his home [Odysseus] would receive a reminder of his mistakes. For this reason, the location under the olive tree is also fitting for Odysseus as a suppliant of the god who might win over his native deity through suppliancy.

For it would not be easy for one who has blinded [the spirit] and rushed to quell his energy to escape this life of the senses; no, the rage of the sea and the material gods pursues anyone who has dared these things. It is right first to appease these gods with sacrifices, the labors of a beggar, and endurance followed by battling through sufferings, deploying spells and enchantments and changing oneself through them in every way in order that, once he has been stripped of the rags he might restore everything. And thus one may not escape from his toils, but when he has emerged from the sea altogether that his thoughts are so untouched of the sea and material matters, that he believes that an oar is a winnowing fan because of his total inexperience of the tools and affairs of the sea.”

πόντος δὲ καὶ θάλασσα καὶ κλύδων καὶ παρὰ Πλάτωνι ἡ ὑλικὴ σύστασις. διὰ τοῦτ’, οἶμαι, καὶ τοῦ Φόρκυνος ἐπωνόμασε τὸν λιμένα·

                    ‘Φόρκυνος δέ τίς ἐστι λιμήν,’

ἐναλίου θεοῦ, οὗ δὴ καὶ θυγατέρα ἐν ἀρχῇ τῆς ᾿Οδυσσείας τὴν Θόωσαν ἐγενεαλόγησεν, ἀφ’ ἧς ὁ Κύκλωψ, ὃν ὀφθαλμοῦ ᾿Οδυσσεὺς ἀλάωσεν, ἵνα καὶ ἄχρι τῆς πατρίδος ὑπῇ τι τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων μνημόσυνον. ἔνθεν αὐτῷ καὶ ἡ ὑπὸ τὴν ἐλαίαν καθέδρα οἰκεία ὡς ἱκέτῃ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ὑπὸ τὴν ἱκετηρίαν ἀπομειλισσομένῳ τὸν γενέθλιον δαίμονα. οὐ γὰρ ἦν ἁπλῶς τῆς αἰσθητικῆς ταύτης ἀπαλλαγῆναι ζωῆς τυφλώσαντα αὐτὴν καὶ καταργῆσαι συντόμως σπουδάσαντα, ἀλλ’ εἵπετο τῷ

ταῦτα τολμήσαντι μῆνις ἁλίων καὶ ὑλικῶν θεῶν, οὓς χρὴ πρότερον ἀπομειλίξασθαι θυσίαις τε καὶ πτωχοῦ πόνοις καὶ καρτερίαις, ποτὲ μὲν διαμαχόμενον τοῖς πάθεσι, ποτὲ δὲ γοητεύοντα καὶ ἀπατῶντα καὶ παντοίως πρὸς αὐτὰ μεταβαλλόμενον, ἵνα γυμνωθεὶς τῶν ῥακέων καθέλῃ πάντα καὶ οὐδ’ οὕτως ἀπαλλαγῇ τῶν πόνων, ἀλλ’ ὅταν παντελῶς ἔξαλος γένηται καὶ ἐν ψυχαῖς ἀπείροις θαλασσίων καὶ ἐνύλων ἔργων, ὡς πτύον εἶναι ἡγεῖσθαι τὴν κώπην διὰ τὴν τῶν ἐναλίων ὀργάνων καὶ ἔργων παντελῆ ἀπειρίαν.

Robert Lamberton 1986, 131 [Homer the Theologian]: “The bungling, dimwitted, sensual giant of book 9 is, then, a projection into the myth of the life of the senses—specifically Odysseus’ own life in this physical universe. The blinding of Polyphemus is a metaphor for suicide…The cyclops becomes a part of Odysseus—a part he wants desperately to escape—but his ineptitude in handling his escape at that early point in his career involves him in an arduous spiritual journey.”

 

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. EM 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 V ad Od. 5.1

“Tithonos is the son of Laomedon, Priam’s brother. He is a husband of Dawn [Eos]. Endumiôn is said to have married Selenê and Tithonos, the Day. The allegory works like this. Endumiôn is concerned with hunting man, and he goes to bed at night, but not so much at day because he is occupying his time with hunting affairs. Tithonos is appropriate for those interested in the stars and who take to bed at day but stay awake at night because they are occupying themselves with the stars.”

Τιθωνοῖο] Τιθωνὸς Λαομέδοντος παῖς, Πριάμου ἀδελφὸς, ᾿Ηοῦς ἀνήρ. ὁ ᾿Ενδυμίων λέγεται συνευνᾶσθαι τῇ Σελήνῃ καὶ ὁ Τιθωνὸς τῇ ῾Ημέρᾳ. ἀλληγορεῖται δὲ οὕτως. ὁ ᾿Ενδυμίων εἰς ἄνδρα κυνηγέτην, καὶ τῇ μὲν νυκτὶ κοιμώμενον, τῇ δὲ ἡμέρᾳ οὐδὲ ποσῶς, διὰ τὸ ἠσχολῆσθαι περὶ τὰ κυνηγέσια· ὁ δὲ Τιθωνὸς εἰς ἀστρονόμον καὶ τῇ μὲν ἡμέρᾳ κοιμώμενον, τῇ δὲ νυκτὶ ἐπαγρυπνοῦντα, διὰ τὸ ἠσχολῆσθαι περὶ τὰ ἄστρα. V.

Schol. HQV ad Od. 10.6

There are other interpretations. Some allegorize Aiolos as the year and his children as the twelve months. Some say that he that he paid special attention, because he was knowledgeable of astrology, of when the sun was blowing in the west in the bull position. Some winds blow sometimes and then move against themselves, as many do….

῎Αλλως. τινὲς ἀλληγοροῦντες Αἴολον μὲν λέγουσι τὸν ἐνιαυτὸν, δώδεκα δὲ παῖδας τοὺς μῆνας. τινὲς δὲ ὅτι παρετήρησεν, ἀστρολογίας ἔμπειρος ὢν, ἡλίου ὄντος ἐν ταύρῳ ζέφυρον πνεῦσαι. οἱ δὲ ἄνεμοι πνέουσιν ἐνίοτε καὶ καθ’ ἑαυτοὺς, ὡς καὶ πολλοί· καὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς δίχα βασιλικοῦ προστασσόμενοι προστάγματος. H.Q.V.

Quintilian 8.6.44

“Allegory, which we translate into Latin as inversion, either communicates different things in words or meaning or something completely contrary. The first type emerges from continued metaphor as in “Ship, new waves will return you to this sea—What can you do? Make bravely for the harbor!” And that whole passage in which the ship stands for the state, the waves and storms stand for civil war and he makes the harbor stand for peace and agreement.”

[44] allegoria, quam inversionem interpretantur, aut aliud verbis aliud sensu ostendit aut etiam interim contrarium. prius fit genus plerumque continuatis translationibus, ut

O navis, referent id mare te novi
fluctus; o quid agis? fortiter occupa
portum,

totusque ille Horatii locus, quo navem pro re publica, fluctus et tempestates pro bellis civilibus, portum pro pace atque concordia dicit.

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