I need your help in preparing talking points for a symposium (in the Ancient sense) next week. Hour 25 is hosting a Book Club on Pandora on Tuesday, August 30 at 11 a.m.EDT. We are all reading Hesiod in translation and the Attican (Greek) Study Group is translating the pertinent passages. If you don’t know the story of Pandora, she was the Eve of Greek mythology. You know how Eve had that poisoned apple? Pandora dowry included a box full of evils, ills and ailments for mankind.
I was assigned a few lines of her story to translate from Ancient Greek. They included the pseudonym “᾿Αργεϊφόντης”.
πάντα δέ οἱ χροῒ κόσμον ἐφήρμοσε Παλλὰς ᾿Αθήνη.
ἐν δ' ἄρα οἱ στήθεσσι διάκτορος …..
Easy enough; "Argeiphontes" is a name for the god Hermes, universally translated as ‘Argus-slayer’. Argus was a giant guarding a cow. Hermes lulled him to sleep and killed him. Famous story.
Meanwhile, I am reading M.L. West's translation of Hesiod. West translates Argeiphontes as "dog-killer". Okay, I know that is a big difference and a little odd. Keep in mind that Odysseus named his guard-dog Argus.
I would dismiss this, except for a problem I have with the gifts the gods give Pandora.
"he (Zeus) ordered Hephaistos, renowned all over, to shape some wet clay as soon as possible, and to put into it a human voice and strength, and to make it look like the immortal goddesses, with the beautiful and lovely appearance of a virgin. And he ordered Athena to teach her own craft to her, weaving a very intricate web. And he ordered Aphrodite to shed golden charm over her head; also harsh longing, and anxieties that eat away at the limbs. And he ordered Hermes, the messenger and Argos-killer, to put inside her an intent that is doglike and a temperament that is stealthy." (Work&Days 60ff trans. by Gregory Nagy)
So here is the problem I see in the above. The Olympian craftsman Hephaestus makes a woman. Athena, the goddess of weaving makes her a gown. (Elsewhere the Graces give her, well grace and Peitho, goddess of persuasion, makes her persuasive.) Aphrodite, goddess of Love gives her the attributes of love. See the pattern here? Next the god that guides the dead and slew a giant; gives her doggishness and sly temperate. How does that fit? Shouldn't Hermes be giving her the skill to be a travel agent and a giant-killer? I hate to say this but dog-slayer fits the pattern better.
My solution is this. It’s a pun! Famously Argus was guarding a cow. So a guard dog, like Odysseus', is an "argus", every guard dog becomes an "argus", hence killing Argus is killing a dog. So, M.L. West could be be right
Does this makes sense?