Wednesday, January 25, 2017

TFBT: Painful Wisdom

I wondered if the word kerdos (crafty) was used in conjunction with the mighty Aphrodite.  I thought I recalled the word crafty in The Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite.  Instead I found it in these two text; Orphic Hymn 55 and the Rape of Helen. Firstly;

Heav'nly, illustrious, laughter-loving queen,
Sea-born, night-loving, of an awful mien;
Crafty, from whom necessity first came,

Οὐρανία, πολύυμνε, φιλομμειδὴς Ἀφροδίτη,
ποντογενής, γενέτειρα θεά, φιλοπάννυχε, σεμνή,
νυκτερία ζεύκτειρα, δολοπλόκε μῆτερ Ἀνάγκης

The above from Orphic Hymn 55 to Aphrodite translated by Thomas Taylor, 1792-1824.[i] No kerdos here, but rather “crafty” is a translation of; δολοπλόκε  (δολο-πλόκος , ον  “weaving wiles”.   Perseus found five other attestations by various late authors.  Secondly,

"Kypris of crafty counsels unfolded her snood and undid the fragrant clasp of her hair and wreathed with gold her locks, with gold her flowing tresses."

Κύπρις μὲν δολόμητις ἀναπτύξασα καλύπτρην
λαὶ περόνην θυόεντα  διαστήσασα κομάων
χρυσῷ μὲν πλοκάμους, χρυσῷ δ᾽ ἐστέψατο χαίτην.

The above from Colluthus’ Rape of Helen,   A. W. Mair, Ed. [ii]   The reference to “crafty” here is δολόμητις  (δολο-μήτης , ου, ,) crafty of counsel, wily. Ten attestations in Perseus, mostly by Homer, mostly referring to Aegisthus.  (That’s not good!)[iii]

So, rather than kerdos we have δολο-πλόκος ; weaving wiles and δολο-μήτης; crafty of counsel.  I wondered about the prefix “δολο”.  Being familiar with the English word, “dolor”; pain.  I wondered if “δολοπλόκος” was also braiding your step-daughter so tight she cried.  So I looked it up in Liddell and Scott.[iv]  They list doloeis as the root of the prefix, meaning subtle, wily.  Wisdom is a common translation for μήτης. Which leaves πλόκος meaning lock of hair.

[iii] (Hom. Il. 1.531; meeting of Thetis and Zeus; Hom. Od. 1.300,  Od. 3.198, 3.250, 3.308 Aegisthus;  Od. 11.442  either Cassandra or Clymnestra:  HH 4 405, Hermes)
[iv] Yes, I actually got out my ancient hardcopy and a magnifying glass.

1 comment:

  1. In the exodus of Aeschylus' Suppliants (1036), the Chorus calls Aphrodite "aiolometis", "of cunning wiles". By this time, they may be already planning to marry their cousins only to murder them in the first suitable moment.