Thursday, April 19, 2018

TFBT: Liddell is Wrong about Libation(s)

“Σπονδή, drink-offering, …pl., σπονδαί a solemn treaty or truce (because solemn drink-offerings were made on concluding them,)”  Perseus Greek Word Study Tool; Middle Liddell 

I don’t think the bolded sentence above is correct.  I can find no evidence that libations were part of the truce ritual.  References listed by Liddell and Perseus are;  

·        σπονδαὶ ἄκρητοι the truce made by pouring unmixed wine, Il.

Nestor is speaking in Iliad 2 to the gathered Hellenic chieftains, “What then is to be the end of our compacts and our oaths? [340] Nay, into the fire let us cast all counsels and plans of warriors, the drink-offerings of unmixed wine, and the hand-clasps wherein we put our trust.” He appears to be speaking about compacts and oaths among themselves, not a truce with the Trojans.

·       αἱ Λακεδαιμονίων σπThe truce with them. Thuc.;

Thucydides 1.35 “If it be urged that your reception of us will be a breach of the treaty existing between you and Lacedaemon,” No mention of libations in conjunction with the treaty (truce)

Aristophanes’ “Knights” mentions drinking, not drink-offerings and not connected to the single instance of “truce”

·       δέχεσθαι Th.5.2130; 

Neither text mentions libations and treaty making.

·      τυχεῖν Xen.; (I couldn’t find.)

·      σπποιεῖσθαί τινι to make a truce with one, Hdt.1.21; 

No mention of libations in coordination with the treaty

·      πρός τινα Ar.Ach.52, 131;

Neither reference mentions libations and truce

No mention of libations in coordination with the truce

·      σπἄγειν πρός τινας Thuc. (I couldn’t find.)

None of Liddell’s references mention libations as part of a truce ritual.  I can recall neither truces nor treaties in Greek myth showing drink-offerings being part of treaties.  Liddle ll is wrong about libation(s). 

TFBT: Random Notes on Disability Studies in Homer

I present here my random notes from a CHS Online Open House | “Beautiful Bodies or Beautiful Minds: Disability Studies in Homer.” Joel Christensen

Joel Christensen came to speak to the Kosmos Society again.  He gave us much to think about!  I could only attend half of your great presentation before I had to leave for work.  I am looking forward to watching the rest of it.

I loved how he quoted Zeus (Od. 1.32-34) as his theme, namely that mortals are a bunch of hyper-morons that bring most of their troubles on themselves.  Good examples on how the quote resonances throughout The Odyssey, too.  What follows are random notes and vague thoughts loosely following the outline of the presentation.

As to the mutilation of Melanthios towards the end of the Odyssey (22.474-477) and the death of the handmaidens that followed.  Melanthios was definitely a slave and “handmaiden” is often an English translator’s euphemism for “slave”. From the perspective of a bronze-age aristocratic (and my classical) audience slaves were not entitled to the power of choice that Zeus implies above, that all mortals have.  Slaves were not entitled to lives as is demonstrated by the treatment of Odysseus’ own nanny (4.743-3 and 19.479-489)

Joel discussed at length on the Homeric idea of beauty.  Beauty implies goodness.  Any deviation, mental or physical from the theomorphic ideal (Zeus and Apollo) can be considered a disability in his study. 

Which led us promptly to Hephaestus, the lame smithy of the gods, in a story told by a blind poet.  The smithy’s disability was not a birth defect but rather when one or the other of his parents tossed him from Olympus they affectively lamed him.  One of Oedipus’ parents pierced his ankles with a pin affectively laming him.  Both Hephaestus and Oedipus accomplished great things and were considered manly.  (Hera’s second parthenogenetic fire-daemon son she did not lame and he almost destroyed the universe.  Maybe laming the perceived threat to the throne at an early age was the motivations here.)

Although Joel states that the disabled are not granted compensatory talents or senses; aged Nestor is famous for his charm and abilities as an orator, “blind” Homer is the creator of the great epic ever composed and blind Tiresias of Thebes had long-life and second sight. 

Joel talks of a Phaeancian prince (Book 8) who mocks Odysseus and says he is too old to participate in the games.  I have always thought of the prince’s comments as just a ploy to get the recently weeping Odysseus to come outside and play.  As the description of Thersites, I always thought that was just Homer over-drawing the bad guy, so we would know. 

Finally, if we agree that the Greeks marginalized disabled people, is that true of the gods too?  The sky is full of winged gods and daemons.  The sea full of gods with fishy body parts.  Hera breast-feeds or befriends many of the monsters in Greek myth.   (Monsters,  by my definition, being immortal or mortal beings that are asymmetric or do not meet the theomorphic ideal.)   
Were the alternately-able gods better treated by their peers than the dis-abled mortals by theirs?  And if Hephaestus, Oedipus, Nestor, Homer and Tiresias can live happy successful lives, is Thersites a hyper-moron for what happens to him? 


Friday, April 6, 2018

TFBT: Marpessus and Aidoneus

Over at the Kosmos Society, today the Attican study was translating Pausanias 10.12.4

Even to-day there remain on Trojan Ida the ruins of the city Marpessus, with some sixty inhabitants. All the land around Marpessus is reddish and terribly parched, so that the light and porous nature of Ida in this place is in my opinion the reason why the river Aidoneus sinks into the ground, rises to sink once more, finally disappearing altogether beneath the earth. Marpessus is two hundred and forty stades distant from Alexandria in the Troad. (Alexandria Troas, not the one in Egypt)

I found it confusing because I had never heard of the city of Marpessus or the River Aidoneus.  Apparently, Homer didn’t know of them either, nor Walter Leaf because I just finished ready his famous geographical study of “Troy”.

 The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, lists Mermessus as an alternative spelling for Marpessus. 

Mermessus (Μερμησσός or Μυρμισσός), a town in Troas or Mysia, belonging to the territory of Lampsacus, was celebrated in antiquity as the native place of a sibyl (Steph. B. sub voce Paus. 10.12.2; Lactant. 1.6, 12, where it is called Marmessus; Suid. s. v.); but its exact site is unknown.

Hence Pausanias comment two paragraphs later; “However, death came upon (the Sybil)  in the Troad, and her tomb is in the grove of the Sminthian (Apollo)”  Of her and the area Pausanias also says;

she states that her mother was an immortal, one of the nymphs of Ida, while her father was a human. These are the verses:—“I am by birth half mortal, half divine; An immortal nymph was my mother, my father an eater of corn; On my mother's side of Idaean birth, but my fatherland was red Marpessus, sacred to the Mother (Cybele), and the river Aidoneus.” Pausanias 10.12.3


As to the River Aidoneus, I can find no reference to such a river or its god.  “Aidoneus” was another name for Hades.  And that is the only reference I can find to the name,  other than some lame late rationalized version of the Theseus/Pirithous in Hell myth.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

TFBT: The Song of Achilles


I met a woman on a jet somewhere during the last three weeks. She told me that Achilles was gay. I said, I don’t think so thinking of,

“But Achilles slept in an inner room, and beside him [665] the daughter of Phorbas lovely Diomede, whom he had carried off from Lesbos. Patroklos lay on the other side of the room, and with him fair-waisted Iphis whom radiant Achilles had given him when he took Skyros the city of Enyeus.” Iliad 9

She was real excited about a book her book club had picked out; “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller. She was sure that Achilles had a lover named…
“Patroclus” I suggested.
 She talked about his mother named…
“Thetis.” I suggested. I filled in a few more items she couldn’t recall.
She asked how I knew so much and I explained about HeroesX. She couldn’t believe I had been studying The Iliad since the 4th grade. Nor could she believe we had a long conversation without talking politics. So I agreed to read her book and correspond with her. I will let you know how often I am yelling at the pages.

 So, I was all set to hate this book. Rather I am enjoying the authoress’ attempt to flesh out the tales we only know the outlines of. 

What I don’t enjoy is the jarring anachronisms; “changeling” a concept unknown in Greek myth; making “a sign against evil” again not a classical concept; a ”favor-currying noble”- I doubt if any bronze age warriors were brushing French centaurs; rabbit-warrens; the phrase “a stone in my shoe” used by someone several centuries before shoes; same with the phrase “a trick of low mummers”; and coins.  Was yew wood around in Ancient Greece?

Were Philoctetes and Heracles best friends? Miller seems ignorant of the fact that Patroclus and Achilles were related. Odysseus’ scar is way bigger than according to Homer.

Proteus was NOT Thetis’ father. Her father was Nereus and the difference is sort of a big thing.  Nor did Thetis have a reputation for hating mortals or cruelity. 

A goat was not sacrificed during the Oath of Tyndareus; 

Pausanias [3.20.9] Further on is what is called the Tomb of Horse. For Tyndareus, having sacrificed a horse here, administered an oath to the suitors of Helen, making them stand upon the pieces of the horse. The oath was to defend Helen and him who might be chosen to marry her if ever they should be wronged. When he had sworn the suitors he buried the horse here. 

Patroclus was too young to swear an oath according to the rules of that society. 

I like the description of Peleus as “excelling all his peers in piety”.  I like the quote “This was more of the gods than I had ever seen in my life.” And a voice like the “grinding of rocks in the surf.”

The authoress over-eroticizes Ancient Greek boyhood as many other modern authors do. Homer makes no mention of such behavior. In addition, as a former boy and father of a couple, I can say that Miller’s depiction of little boys’ thought processes does not ring true.  That said, Patroclus saying at 13 years old (page 59) “I did not like the sprawling length of my new limbs.” does sound very familiar to concerns I had in my youth. By page 62, the book was getting a little too gay for my taste; teenage boys making out on the beach is not something I needed to see in my minds-eye.  I don’t think I am the demographic the authoress is trying to reach.

As aside I should mention that “homosexuality” for the Ancient Greeks meant something totally different than what we think it is.  For them homosexuality was between a mature man and a boy.  I researched homosexuality among the Olympian gods once, ends up Ares, Hephaestus and Hades were the only strictly heterosexual gods on Olympus. The goddesses Athena, Artemis and Hestia always remained virgins. Which might explain the behavior of the other Olympian males!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

TFBT; Seers What I Know So Far

Seers What  I Know So Far

Over that the Kosmos Society we have spoken of “seers”much lately.  In English the noun indicates a person who “sees” things the rest of us can’t; that is the second-sight.  I will have to check the Greek but such people sees hear and know things the the rest of us mere mortals are clueless about.    I have just started reviewing Maicar’s list of seers, but here is what I have so far

For the sake of conversation I have divided the Ancient Greek seers into five arbitrary groups.

Successful. Seers whose skills  helped them to live life successfully like Polyidus and Melampus. Polyidus was the seer of Minos’ cattle and son fame.  Melampus was the first mortal seer and ancestor of many more including Polyidus. I will have to look at the genealogy tables to see if living a safe and happy life as a seer means descent from Melampus.

Truth Tellers Who Suffered the Consequences. Seers ho announced the truth and were consequently cursed by men or gods. Laocoon along with his sons was devoured by a sea monster for his troubles.  No one believed Cassandra she and her children were killed along with Agamemnon.  And Chalchas who was threatened harshly.  (John the Baptist lost his head.)

Turncoats. Seers who saw the handwriting on the wall and switched sides betraying their families.  Chalchas,  Helenus and maybe Prometheus 

Immortals. Those seer attaining divine honors after death; Amphiaras and Aristaeus, so far

False Prophets. Seers who actually didn’t have the second sight.  Like Tireasia. Really?   If you had eyes at all and psychic ability wouldn’t you notice some family resemblance in Oedipus?

  A quick review suggest that the only special knowledge he ever displayed was saying that one of the royal family had to leap from the walls to save the city during the War of the Seven AgainstThebes.  .Really?  That is such a literary cliche as to be only noticeable by it’s absence. The unique fact that it was A son of the royal house, just indicates that Creon had already marries off or flung all his daughters from the walls already.

Comments ?

Saturday, March 17, 2018

TFBT: more Notes on Troy

It is noteworthy that there should be no mention whatever of the Amazons at this point of the Cata- logue. They are known to Homer as invaders of Phrygia in Priam's young days (iZ. iii. 189). The VI THE ALLIES AND THE WAR 293 omission is, however, entirely consonant with the consistent avoidance of anything mythical in the whole Catalogue ; the poet seems to have set himself to give nothing but dry facts and names, with a studious avoidance of the marvellous and legendary.  (Footnote; At all events they were women soldiers and therefore mythical to Homer.). Walter Leaf Troy. No centaurs or Colchians.   
It is in this that the significance of the Iliad and the Odyssey alike is to be found. Greece was destined to spread not only to the east, but to the west. The conditions of advance in the two directions were different, but both have been recorded in the two poems. (Troy, Walter Troy)

Chryses appeals to Apollo “god of the silver bow , that standest over Chryse and holy Killa and rulest Tenedos” (Iliad 1.37-8)   Leaf suggests this represents a region “a welcome and defensible haven to the dispossed and disinherited “. Adding “In classical times this would beyond a doubt be held to indicate an “amphictyonic” confederacy for political purposes. “ Walter Leaf, Troy

You got to read about the The Great Foray in Troy by Walter Leaf pages 243-252. 

Sent from my iPad

TFBT: Lunt

The Heroic Athlete in Ancient Greece, DAVID J. LUNT†
Departments of History and Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies The Pennsylvania State University

Lunt sees an effort by historic champions to attain heroic honors.

“Plutarch, in his Life of Thesesus, speculated that Theseus’ era had produced a race of beings that far surpassed normal human athletic abilities such as bodily strength and swiftness of foot.”

“Kurke has argued that victory, especially prominent victory in a major festival or contest, brought kudos to the victor. This word, often translated as “praise” or “renown,” carried additional meaning for the ancient Greeks. As understood traditionally, the pos- sessor of kudos enjoyed “special power bestowed by a god that makes a hero invincible.”

“The kudos of victory elevated human athletes to a liminal status between mortals and gods, “

“Nearly two hundred years later, during the fourth-century B.C. campaigns of Alexander of Macedon, an Athenian athlete named Dioxippos defeated a fully armed Macedonian soldier in single combat. The Macedonian, named Koragos, must have had a little too much to drink at the raucous banquet where he challenged Dioxippos, a renowned athlete and a boxing champion in one of the Crown Games.27 On the day of the duel, Koragos arrived decked out in fine armor and weapons. Dioxippos, on the other hand, came naked, his body oiled, wearing a garland, and carrying only a club. Appearing as a victo- rious athlete and armed as Herakles, Dioxippos easily defeated the well-armed Macedonian. The Olympic champion relied on his athleticism, avoiding Koragos’ javelin throw, shat- tering his lance with a blow from the club, and wrestling him to the ground as the Macedonian reached for his sword. In accordance with the myths surrounding Herakles and his manifold duels and contests, Dioxippos treated this encounter as a contest in which he, the Heraklean athlete, vanquished the better armed (and not entirely Greek) enemy.”  I am reminded of the 10,000 singing the Paean (The Victory Song) as they entered battles i the Persian Civil War.  In each case the Persian forces opposing them ran!

“Polydamas, a pankratiast, won a crown at the Olympic games of 408 B.C. His ex- ploits, surely exaggerated, reportedly included pulling the hoof from a struggling bull and stopping a moving chariot by grabbing on and digging his heels into the ground. Further- more, in some sort of agonistic duel, he simultaneously fought and defeated three mem- bers of the elite bodyguard of the Persian King in the court of Darius II. Without exagger- ating the connections to mythic precedent, this one-against-three battle certainly evokes echoes of Herakles’ combat with the triple-bodied Geryon. Both the Persians and the monstrous Geryon represented fantastic, non-Greek forces, and the triplicate enemy sug- gests a convenient parallel.”

“Out of ambitious envy of Achilles,” 

“many respects, the use of poetic meter represented the language of the gods. The Greeks delivered divine communications, such as pronouncements from the Delphic oracle, in dactylic hexam- eter. According to Plato, the Muses spoke to poets in verse, and the poets acted merely as vehicles for conveying the divine words.”