Tuesday, July 3, 2018

TFBT: The Glory of Your Time-hallowed Honor

"Oceanus addresses the chained Titan Prometheus “Now the whole earth cries aloud in lamentation . . . lament the greatness of the glory of your time-hallowed honor, the honor that was yours and your brothers’.” (Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 407-410) 
What was so great about the Iapetides?  Hesiod lists, stout-hearted Atlas, glorious Menoetius, sly Prometheus and scatter-brained Epimetheus.  The last brother’s   epithet is not great, glorious or honoring.  Let’s see what we know about them; 

  • Atlas was leader of the revolting Titans.  (Hyginus, Fabulae 150)  Apparently he “discovered” or invented astronomy (Suidas). Atsma says, “He personified the quality of endurance (atlaô).”
  • Menoitios was outrageous (hybristes), and far-seeing Zeus struck him with a lurid thunderbolt and sent him down to Erebos (Erebus) because of his mad presumption and exceeding pride." (Hesiod, Theogony)  Atsma suggests that Menoitios’ duties in the Underworld was herding Hades cattle.
  • Prometheus famously created man, stole fire and betrayed Atlas during the Titanomachy. Apparently he also discovered scholarly philosophy. (Suida)
  • Epimetheus wed Pandora as we all know.  He discovered music according to Suida;  Aesop gives him credit for creating animals. 

To better understand Prometheus and his brother, we need to better understand their father Iapetus and his own brothers.  Atsma says of the previous generation of Titans

“Iapetus and his three brothers (Hyperion, Coios, and Crius) probably represent the four pillars of the cosmos which are described in Near-Eastern cosmogonies holding heaven and earth apart. Iapetos himself would have been the pillar of the west, a position later held by his son Atlas.”  

Atsma figures a primordial cosmology with the four named brothers above on the cardinal points, Cronus in the center and Oceanus circling outside this world.  My own assumption that the replacement of Iapetus by Atlas next to the mountains named for him, corresponds to Prometheus bound to the Causcas’ in a position just made for the fallen Hyperion.   Astma says “Koios' alternate name, Polos (of the northern pole), suggests he was the Titan of the pillar of the north.” Which of the Iapetides in the following generation took his roll I cannot say.

Friday, June 29, 2018

TFBT: Blessed Olympus

I recently was reading my Loeb edition of the Homeric Hymns by M.L. West.  Specifically, the HH to Demeter.  These books are great resources. The Ancient Greek is on the left, English on the right.  So, I try reading a few lines of the Greek and then check my attempt by looking to the right at the English.   It surprises me how much more Greek I know than I thought I know.  Anyway, I glanced at the phrase; “μακρὸν Ὄλυμπον”.  

I thought I knew what it meant. Glanced at West’s translation “long Olympus”   What?  Long?  But there it is at the Greek Word Study Tool; μακρός / long.  Something like “blessed Olympus” would seem more appropriate.  LSJ lists in addition some of the more common English words used for translations; high, vast, remote…

So that should be the end of it right?  But the phrase “blessed Olympus” really seemed familiar.  I searched for it in the Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours Source Book  and in the massive collection of on-line texts at www.theoi.com Nothing!  Obviously, I am confusing the Ancient Greek word μακρὸν with μακάρων / blessed, happy.   So that should be the end of it right?  But I am still thinking I read “blessed Olympus”
So after searching Gutenberg.org, Google Books and Google Scholar I found several examples where “μακρὸν Ὄλυμπον” was indeed translated at “blessed Olympus”.  What follows is those examples with bibliography to follow.  First in Greek from Perseus and then, the “blessed Olympus” text. 
Iliad 5.395-399. 

“He went to the palace of Zeus, on blessed Olympus, with a grieving heart.”  (Blakely, 2015)

Iliad 1.400-404

 “Juno, Neptune and Pallas Minerva wished to bind him in chains.  But you O Goddess, interposing, freed him from his bonds by quickly calling to the blessed Olympus, him of the hundred hand.” (A Graduate of the University of Oxford, 1821)

“Speedily summoning to lofty and blessed Olympus; - Him who gods Briareos call” (Richard F. Biedermann, 1901)

Iliad 24.465

 “Thus having spoken, Hermes went away to blessed Olympus and Priam leapt to the ground off his horses”   (David Gravolet, 2016)

Iliad 2.48-49 

The goddess Dawn approached blessed Olympus disclosing light to Zeus and the other immortals.   (Blakely, 2015)


Perseus Digital Library, Gregory R. Crane, Editor in Chief, Tufts University.

The Iliad, Homer, Translated by Ralph Blakely, New York 2015  Amazon says of Blakely that he “is proficient in six languages (German, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin and Greek). He has been an organist-choirmaster and a private investor, and currently serves on the board of directors at the Carolina Art Association/Gibbes Museum of Art.”  Apparently he is a longtime downtown Charleston resident

Iliad Handout Lines 1453 to 1530 Translated and Annotated by David Gravolet 2016    Gravolet appears to have written myriad study guides over the years and just graduated from a Jesuit High School with a perfect ACT score.

 Iliad Alpha, done into English hexameters, by Richard F. Biedermann ... [and other] members of class one of the graduating class of 1901 of the De Witt Clinton high school.   Ed. by Frances Elizabeth Holmant Flint.

The Iliad of Homer translated in English Prose as literally as the different idioms of the Greek and English languages will allow; with Explanatory Notes by a Graduate of the University of Oxford.  Printed for Munda and Slatter and G &W. B. Whitaker, Ave-Maria-Lane, London 1821,   Women could not attend lectures or taken examinations at Oxford until the late 1870s so it doubtful that is a pseudonym for a woman.  In his commentaries on published translations of the Iliad Johnston suggests Henry Francis Cary (1772-1844) as the author and then promptly dismisses the notion.

Other possible sources to check out for Blessed Olympus

Monday, June 25, 2018

TFBT: Notes on Callimachus’ Hymn to Athena

The Battle of the Lawless Giants

Never did Athena wash her mighty arms before she drave the dust from the flanks of her horses – not even when, her armour all defiled with filth, she returned from the battle of the lawless Giants; but far first she loosed from the care her horses’ necks, and in the springs of Oceanus washed the flecks of sweat and from their mouths that champed the bit cleansed the clotted foam. “ 5-12

It seems to me that off-handed references to the Gigantomachy are rare.  Argeiphontes Hermes (Hom. Il. ii 103) and Pallas Athena (Apollodorus i. 6. § 2) get epithets for slaying “giants”, but I don’t recall any such accolades to giant-slayers during the little mentioned war, even Heracles, responsible for the gigantic deaths, got no honors.  Hmm.  

Lustral Water

“Today, ye water-carriers, dip not your pitchers – today, O Argos, drink ye from the fountains and not from the river” 45-46

Is the above prohibition on river water in ritual always true?  Or is this a general prohibition? Like the Alaskan proverb for not eating clams in months that have an “r” in them.

The Laws of Cronus

The children of Cronus are often referred to as Cronides or sometimes Cronion (Κρονίδης, Κρονίων). The patronym is used Either collectively as “children of-“ or individually as “son of -“ Cronus.  The reference is most frequently made of Zeus. So in the text here Callimachus is retelling the blinding of Teiresias when he catches sight of Athena (and his mother!) skinny dipping.  Athena states that it is divine law that requires this punishment for looking upon her nakedness.  (Acteon was torn apart and eaten by his own dogs for the same crime!). Pallas Athena says;

But, who is “Κρόνιοι”? Is this the genitive (possessive form) of Cronus? And these are his laws? Or is Cronioi the genitive of the son of Cronus? Hence Zeus’ Law.  Various translators translate it differently and the dictionaries at Perseus don’t seem to support the latter.   If this law (and others discussed at the end of Hippolytus, like avoiding Death and not crying over mortals) were Cronus’ and not Zeus’ that might explain why they are immutable. 

Heiress of Zeus

“So she spake and bowed her head; and that word is fulfilled over which Pallas bows; since to Athena only among his daughters hath Zeus granted that she should win all things that belong to her sire, “ 131-133

Athena brags in a Euripides’ Eumenides “I alone of the gods know the keys to the house where his thunderbolt is sealed.”  and I recall a story of her using one, but can’t find.