Skatokhasm: Another Word You Know You Need

How does one say “shithole” in Ancient Greek? As with other such esoteric considerations, this takes us into the depths of metaphor and meaning. Is a “shithole” a place whence shit emerges or one in which shit properly settles to age? To be more pointed, when we say “shithole”, do we mean the rectum (so is it a synonym for “asshole”) or do we mean a receptacle too primitive and unformed to be graced with the designation ‘toilet’?

I think when the leader of what was once the free world uses the term , he probably means the second meaning–that the countries designated so are “primitive”, bereft of proper sanitation, and, as such, both filled with excrement (in his excitable mind) and a worthy place for excrement to stay. Thanks to the magic of the conceptual metaphor, of course, the “shithole” can simultaneously indicate both origin and receptacle. One reason it is terribly racist is that the people who move from one to the other or inhabit them are, by extension, excrement.

Because I process trauma and horror through ancient Greek and lexicography, I need to ‘own’ this word by putting it in Greek. I think the stronger force of this metaphor is the location of discarded shit not the organ of excretion. Ancient Greek does not have a clear parallel (and believe me, gentle reader, I looked). I would love to hear some other suggestions. I put the call on Twitter.

The best suggestion, I think, is σκατοχάσμα (skatokhasma, see below). I like it because it has clear parallels (e.g. skatophage). Also, it sounds like “shit-gasm” which is what I think happens every time a certain chief executive speaks. Weaknesses: khasma is not very productive in ancient Greek compounds and is also rather ‘epic’ in scope. In English, “hole” is dimunitive a small. Shitholes are thus additionally awful because of their insignificance.

Honorable Mentions: τὸ σκατώρυγμον (skatorugmon). this has the sense of something hastily and poorly made by people. Also, κοπροβάραθρον is, as one correspondent declared, totally “metal” and, really epic. (Also, coprophilia is something the captain of our ship might cop to). The Lexicographer Zonaras treats all three of these nouns as synonyms (“Barathron: A ditch. A depth. The maw of the earth.” Βάραθρον. ὄρυγμα· βάθος· χάσμα γῆς). For me, barathron is mythical; orugmon is man-made, and khasma is more generic and ‘natural’. I prefer it, in sum, because of its huuugeness. It is really big. And the speaker mentioned above doesn’t do anything small.

Some Instructive Compounds

κοπρόνους: “manure-minded”
κοπράγωγεω: “to collect crap”
κόπρειος: “full of crap”
κοπρολογεῖν: “to gather crap”
κοπροφαγεῖν: “to eat crap”
κοπροστόμος: “foul-mouthed”
σκατοφάγος: “shit-eater”
κόπρανα: “excrements”
κοπραγωγός: “shit-bearer”
κοπρία: “dung-heap”
κοπρίζω: “to make dung”
κοπρικός: “full of it”
κοπροθέσιον: “a place where dung is put”. ‘Shit-bucket”
κοπροδοχεῖον: “cess pool”
κοπροποιός: “dung-making”
σκατοφάγος: “shit eater”
σκαταιβάτης: “shit-walker”
σκωραμὶς: “shit pot”; cf. Ar.Lys. 371: σκωραμὶς κωμῳδική: “comedic shitpot”

Image result for medieval manuscript toilet

From Beekes:

chasm

Plouthugeia: “Wealth and Health”

Some Words:

πλουθυγίεια: “wealth and health”

πλούταξ: “a rich churl”

πλούταρχος: “master of riches”

πλουτογαθής: “delighting in riches”

πλουτοκρατέομαι: “to live in a state governed by the rich”

πλουτοκρατία: “an oligarchy of wealth

πλουτοποιός: “enriching”

πλουτοτραφής: “raised on wealth”

πλουτόχθων: “rich in things of the earth”

Image result for ancient greek wealth

Some Ideas

Xenophon, Memorabilia 4.16.12

“[Socrates] believed that kingship and tyranny were both governments but that they differed from one another. For he believed that kingship was government of a willing people and according to the laws of the city, while tyranny was when people were unwilling and against the laws, but instead according to the wishes of the ruler. Whenever leaders were selected from those who meet the standards of the law, the governement is in aristocracy. When they are chosen from those who have enough property, it is a plutocracy. When they are elected from everyone, it is a democracy.”

Βασιλείαν δὲ καὶ τυραννίδα ἀρχὰς μὲν ἀμφοτέρας ἡγεῖτο εἶναι, διαφέρειν δὲ ἀλλήλων ἐνόμιζε. τὴν μὲν γὰρ ἑκόντων τε τῶν ἀνθρώπων καὶ κατὰ νόμους τῶν πόλεων ἀρχὴν βασιλείαν ἡγεῖτο, τὴν δὲ ἀκόντων τε καὶ μὴ κατὰ νόμους, ἀλλ᾿ ὅπως ὁ ἄρχων βούλοιτο, τυραννίδα. καὶ ὅπου μὲν ἐκ τῶν τὰ νόμιμα ἐπιτελούντων αἱ ἀρχαὶ καθίστανται, ταύτην μὲν τὴν πολιτείαν ἀριστοκρατίαν ἐνόμιζεν εἶναι, ὅπου δ᾿ ἐκ τιμημάτων, πλουτοκρατίαν, ὅπου δ᾿ ἐκ πάντων, δημοκρατίαν.

Sallust, Second Letter to Caesar 4

“Greed, however, is a feral beast, huge and not to be tolerated—wherever it wanders, it lays waste to cities, fields, places of worship and homes. It mixes up the human and the divine. No armies or walls can stand up to it when it pierces with its force. It despoils all portals of repute, shame, children, country and parents.”

Ceterum avaritia belua fera, immanis, intoleranda est; quo intendit, oppida, agros, fana atque domos vastat, divina cum humanis permiscet, neque exercitus neque moenia obstant, quo minus vi sua penetret; fama, pudicitia, liberis, patria atque parentibus cunctos mortalis spoliat

Dicta Catonis, 32

“Greed always loves lies, theft, and rape.”

Semper avarus amat mendacia furta rapinas

(Pseudo-)Aristotle, On Virtues and Vices

“There are three types of injustice: impiety, greed and arrogance. Impiety is offense against the gods and powers or even to those who have died, parents and country, Greed is taken what is against contracts, what is under dispute despite what one deserves. Arrogance is what makes people pursue pleasures for themselves while heaping reproach upon others.”

Ἀδικίας δέ ἐστιν εἴδη τρία, ἀσέβεια πλεονεξία ὕβρις. ἀσέβεια μὲν ἡ περὶ θεοὺς πλημμέλεια καὶ περὶ δαίμονας, ἢ περὶ τοὺς κατοιχομένους καὶ περὶ γονεῖς καὶ πατρίδα· πλεονεξία δὲ ἡ περὶ τὰ συμβόλαια, παρὰ τὴν ἀξίαν αἱρουμένη τὸ διάφορον· ὕβρις δὲ καθ᾿ ἣν τὰς ἡδονὰς αὑτοῖς παρασκευάζουσιν εἰς ὄνειδος ἄγοντες ἑτέρους,

Hard To Stomach: Some Useful Words This Afternoon

A proverb

“A fat stomach does not bear a subtle mind”

Γαστὴρ παχεῖα λεπτὸν οὐ τίκτει νόον.  (Arsenius, 5.22a1)

Od. 18.54-56

“Friends, it is in no way good for an old man
In the clutches of sorrow to fight a younger man.
But my no-good stomach compels me, that I might fall beneath his blows.”

“ὦ φίλοι, οὔ πως ἔστι νεωτέρῳ ἀνδρὶ μάχεσθαι
ἄνδρα γέροντα δύῃ ἀρημένον· ἀλλά με γαστὴρ
ὀτρύνει κακοεργός, ἵνα πληγῇσι δαμείω.

γαστήρ, ἡ: “stomach”

γαστραία: A type of turnip

γαστρίδουλος: “slave to one’s stomach”

γαστρίον: “sausage”

γαστρίζω: “to punch someone in the belly”

γραστριμαργία: “gluttony”

γαστροβαρής: “stomach-heavy”, i.e. “heavy with child”

γαστροκνημία: lit. “shin-stomach”, so “calf”

γαστρολογία: An almanac for gourmands, so “foodie-book”

γαστρομαντεύομαι: “to divine by the stomach”

γαστροπίων: “a fat-bellied fellow”

γαστρορραφία: “sewing a stomach wound”

γαστρόρροια: “diarrhea”

γαστροτόμος: “stomach cutting”

Image result for ancient greek comic vase

γαστροχάρυβδις: “having a gaping maw of a belly”

γαστρόχειρ: lit. “stomach-hand”, so “living by hand” or “hand to mouth”

γαστρώδης: “pot pellied”

Some Phage Compounds to Get You in the Holiday Mood

Very soon we will be eating too much for like a month straight. This is the start of occasional posts for the duration on feasting, over-indulgence, and, of course, drinking.

Telegony, fr. 1

“He consumed the endless meat and sweet wine greedily”

ἤσθιεν ἁρπαλέως κρέα τ’ ἄσπετα καὶ μέθυ ἡδύ.

fish vase

Some phage compounds and their explanations.

Adêphagia: “Endless-eating”: This means insatiable. We also find the adjective adêphagos (“eating constantly”), polyphagos (“eating everything”) and gastrimargos (gourmand).
᾿Αδηφαγία: ἡ ἀπληστία. καὶ ᾿Αδηφάγος, ἀθρόως ἐσθίων, πολυφάγος, γαστρίμαργος. ᾿

Αἰγοφάγος· aigophagos, “goat-eater”. An epithet of Hera in Sparta

αὐτοφάγος: autophagos, “self-feeder” (not someone who eats himself)

βουφάγος: bouphagos, “cow-eater”

κοπροφάγος: koprophagos, “dung-eater”

Σκατοφάγος: skatophagos, “dung-eater”. For this, Hesychius comments “but skatophagos is especially mean” (᾿Αλλὰ σκατοφάγος ἐστι καὶ λίαν πικρός). Why? Skatos is the genitive of skôr (σκῶρ), which has a closer resonance with human excrement.

ὀψοφάγος: opsophagos, “delicacy eater”, i.e. foodie

λαθροφάγος: lathrophagos “secret-eater” (eating in secret)

θυμβροφάγος: thumbrofagos, “eating the herb savory”, a metaphor for having a bitter expression. Compare to δριμυφάγος “bitter-eating”, cf. the expression, “leaves a bad taste in the mouth”

ἰχθυοφάγος, ikhthuophagos, “fish-eater”. This is an insult, the Suda explains that Theôros was maligned as a “seducer, fish-eater, and rogue” (ὡς μοιχὸς καὶ ἰχθυοφάγος καὶ πονηρός). Fish-eating seems to be an indication of a dedication to luxury and excess.

Καπροφάγος: kaprophagos, “boar-eater”, an epithet of Artemis in Samos

καταφαγᾶς: kataphagas, “one who eats bent over”, i.e. birds and gourmands

κραδοφάγος: kradophagos, “twig-eater”, a derogatory epithet for a country-dweller

συκοφάγος: sukophagos, “fig eater,” a derogatory epithet for a country-dweller

ἰσχαδοφάγος: iskhadophagos, “fig-eater”, a derogatory epithet for a country-dweller

κριοφάγος: kriophagos, “fat-eater”, an epithet for a god receiving a sacrifice

Λωτοφάγος: lôtophagos, “lotus-eater”

μικροφάγος: mikrophagos, “small-eater”, someone who doesn’t eat much

παμφάγος: pamphagos, “all-eater”, someone who eats everything

ταυροφάγος: tauorophagos, “bull-eater”, an epithet of Dionysus

A Typology of Fear, In Anticipation of Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner. In what is becoming an annual tradition, we are going to post Greek and Roman passages in the spirit of the season. Over the next few weeks you can expect vampires, brain-eaters and a lot of werewolves. But first, fear. (Going well with Seneca’s ruminations on the fear of death.)

Stobaeus 2.7.10c [=Diogenes Laertius 7.113]

“Hesitation is fear of future action. Agony is fear of failure and otherwise fear of worse outcomes. Shock is fear of an uncustomary surprise. Shame is fear of a bad reputation. A ruckus is fear pressing down with sound. Divine fright is fear of gods or divine power. Terror is fear of a terrible thing. A fright is fear that comes from a story.”

     ῎Οκνος δὲ φόβος μελλούσης ἐνεργείας· ἀγωνία δὲ φόβος διαπτώσεως καὶ ἑτέρως φόβος ἥττης· ἔκπληξις δὲ φόβος ἐξ ἀσυνήθους φαντασίας· αἰσχύνη δὲ φόβος ἀδοξίας· θόρυβος δὲ φόβος μετὰ φωνῆς κατεπείγων· δει-σιδαιμονία δὲ φόβος θεῶν ἢ δαιμόνων· δέος δὲ φόβος δεινοῦ· δεῖμα δὲ φόβος ἐκ λόγου.

Suda

“Fear: flight or cowardice. Fear is expecting evil. These emotions are categorized as fear: terror, hesitation, shame, shock, commotion, anxiety. Terror is fear that brings dread. Hesitation is fear about future action. Shame is fear about a bad reputation. Shock is fear from an unusual thing. Commotion is fear from a striking sound. Anxiety is fear of an uncertain matter.”

Φόβος: φυγή. καὶ ἡ δειλία. Φόβος δέ ἐστι προσδοκία κακοῦ. εἰς δὲ τὸν φόβον ἀνάγεται ταῦτα· δεῖμα, ὄκνος, αἰσχύνη, ἔκπληξις, θόρυβος, ἀγωνία. δεῖμα μὲν οὖν ἐστι φόβος δέος ἐμποιῶν, ὄκνος δὲ φόβος μελλούσης ἐνεργείας, αἰσχύνη δὲ φόβος ἀδοξίας, ἔκπληξις δὲ φόβος ἐκ φαντασίας ἀσυνήθους πράγματος, θόρυβος δὲ φόβος μετὰ κατεπείξεως φωνῆς· ἀγωνία δὲ φόβος ἀδήλου πράγματος.

Image result for Ancient Greek monster vase

Tawdry Tuesday: Suetonius and His Defamatory Words

Antiquity has bequeathed to us On Defamatory Words and Where they Come from (ΠΕΡΙ ΒΛΑΣΦΗΜΙΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΠΟΘΕΝ ΕΚΑΣΤΗ) attributed to Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus. Yes, that Suetonius. It seems rather fragmentary, but it produces some gems. A large section include insults about women, but here’s a nice one for a man:

nôthouros: I guess is one who has a bastard ‘tail’ for intercourse. For they use this in respect to male genitals. The kind of man described this way is also called impotent [astutos] and his household is called impotent. For example in Xenarkhos, “the impotent house of the Pelopides”. And there is also “fruitless” [akarpos] and “childless” [agonos] “the house perishes because it experiences the flaccid fates of its masters”.

Νώθουρος, <ἤγουν ὁ νωθὴν ἔχων τὴν οὐρὰν ἐν τῷ συγγίνεσθαι·οὕτω γὰρ ἔλεγον τὸ κατ’ ἄνδρας αἰδοῖον. ῾Ο δὲ τοιοῦτος ἀνὴρ καὶ ἄστυτος ἐλέγετο, καθὰ καὶ οἶκος ἄστυτος>—<οἷον παρὰ Ξενάρχῳ (fr. 1 Kock)·«Πελοπιδῶν ἄστυτος οἶκος», ἤγουν ἄκαρπος, ἄγονος, καί (id. ibid.)· «φθίνει δόμος ἀστύτοισι δεσποτῶν κεχρημένος τύχαις«>—

Astutus, literally “without an erection”. I covered this last week….

Hesychius agrees with the definition

Nôthouros: one who is incapable of having intercourse. Or a donkey.

νώθουρος· ὁ ἀδύνατος συγγίνεσθαι (Com. ad. 1367). ἢ ὄνος

note: συγγιγνώσκω means “agree with”: συγγίγνομαι can mean “talk with” or “communicate with” but also to “have sex with”. Don’t confuse them.

LSJ is just too precious on this:

nothouros

I think that nôthouros might be the equivalent of “limp-dick”, although I would like to suggest “fake-dick” or “counterfeit-cock” vel sim. (but that comes from a fake etymology with the short vowel omicron for “bastard” (νόθος). This, of course, is impossible. Tell me, Beekes:

etymnoth

Image result for Ancient Greek Sculpture penis

 

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

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

Euripides, Helen 483–499

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

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

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

Image result for Ancient Greek Menelaus

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