ἠέλιον φεύγοντ’, ὦ χειματίδη, σε θεῶμαι μοῖραν ἀμύνεσθαι δάκρυσι μυδαλεήν μαψιδίως· ἦ γὰρ κατὰ νῦν Ἀίδαο δόμονδε δύσεαι οὐλοδαής, ἠὲ, ἄνερ χιόνος, τυτθόν περ καθύπερθε τετηγμένος ἤματι τῷδε 5 ἠελίοιο φάει αὔριον ἀποθανῇ; 1 ἠέλιος is Homeric for ἥλιος ‘sun’—χειματίδης lit. ‘winter-son,’ an epithet for a snowman, with the same suffix as Κρονίδης (= Zeus, … Continue reading Some couplets on a moribund snowman I passed on a walk yesterday
Ἀμφὶ Ποσειδάωνα, μέγαν θεόν, ἄρχομ᾽ ἀείδειν, γαίης κινητῆρα καὶ ἀτρυγέτοιο θαλάσσης, πόντιον, ὅσθ᾽ Ἑλικῶνα καὶ εὐρείας ἔχει Αἰγάς. διχθά τοι, Ἐννοσίγαιε, θεοὶ τιμὴν ἐδάσαντο, ἵππων τε δμητῆρ᾽ ἔμεναι σωτῆρά τε νηῶν. 5 χαῖρε, Ποσείδαον γαιήοχε, κυανοχαῖτα, καί, μάκαρ, εὐμενὲς ἦτορ ἔχων πλώουσιν ἄρηγε. 1 ἀμφὶ Ποσειδάωνα: poems in the Homeric tradition like to begin by … Continue reading To Poseidon (Homeric Hymn XXII)
People of all walks of life in Ancient Greek civilization(s) were fond of predicting the future by any means necessary. Sometimes this was a structured, purposeful process where a knowledgeable seer would set up an experiment, as it were, and use animal entrails or the flights of birds or random lines of literature. But sometimes … Continue reading An ominous sneeze (Od. 17.534–547)
Many Indo-European languages exhibit a word for 'human being' that is built off of PIE *dʰéɡ́ʰom- 'earth, ground.' Celtic *gdonyo- (Irish duine 'person,' Welsh dyn 'man') < *dʰɡ́ʰom-yo- Germanic *guman- 'man' (Old English guma 'man,' English [bride]groom; Old High German gomo 'man,' German [Bräuti]gam) < *dʰɡ́ʰm̥-mon- Latin homō, -minis 'person' < *dʰɡ́ʰm-on- (whence also hūmānus) Phrygian ζεμελως 'man … Continue reading An ancient word for ‘earthling’?
As the defining characteristic of this creature is its single eye, for a long time it was taken for granted that cyclops—Greek κύκλωψ—was an old compound meaning 'round-eye': *kʷékʷl-h3ōkʷ-s = *kʷékʷlo- + *h3ōkʷ- *kʷékʷlo- 'circle, ring' (cf. κύκλος; English wheel) *h3ōkʷ- 'face, eye' (cf. ὄψομαι 'see (fut.)') In more recent years another, perhaps better, etymology … Continue reading Etymology: cyclops
A curious idiom that shows up a number of times in both the Iliad and the Odyssey means literally "take the ground with one's teeth"; figuratively, it means "die." The idiom bite the dust, or something like it, is found in a handful of modern European languages: Dutch: in het zand/gras bijten 'bite into the … Continue reading Another “One Bites the Dust”
I stumbled across this line in the Iliad that I think is noteworthy from a poetic perspective. Agamemnon is making a list of all the gifts (mostly furniture and servants) he will offer Achilles to entice him to return to the battlefront, and concludes it thus: "τὰς μέν οἱ δώσω, μετὰ δ᾽ ἔσσεται ἣν τότ᾽ ἀπηύρων … Continue reading A Rhyming Line in Iliad 9