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x-rated ψογιστής

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x-rated ψογιστής

Postby Archimedes » Tue Jul 01, 2014 11:17 pm

Although LSJ gives the meaning of ψογιστής as "fault-finder," its occurrence in an astrological list of licentious characteristics has one commentator suggesting that it also might be some kind of lewd slang predicated upon the resemblance of the letter psi to a vulva. In the list, it follows λείκτης, whose LSJ definition is "cunnilingus," their proximity suggesting a connection in meaning.

The text is found in the Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, vol. 8, part 4, page 196, line 6: http://www.hellenisticastrology.com/ccag/CCAG8Part4.pdf

Any suggestions as to an alternate meaning of ψογιστής? Thanks.
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby mwh » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:40 am

The suggestion sounds most implausible, unless this use of ψ is known, and even then .... The word ψογιστάς must mean something like what it ordinarily does. But it does seem very much out of place in the context. Has corruption been suggested? Texts such as these are usually full of corruption.

I'm wondering if the word should be ψωλιστάς. Unattested (at least, not in LSJ), as is the verb on which it would be formed, but that doesn't look exceptional in this environment, and it would be suitably lewd. There's an obscene schoolboy "invitation" on an Oxyrhynchus papyrus featuring a crude drawing of a ψωλος (so labelled) to add to the other attested occurrences. The corruption is paleographically very easy. Omicron is often written for omega, and labda and gamma are often confused.

How about it?
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby Archimedes » Wed Jul 02, 2014 7:50 am

Great! This is just the kind of stuff I was looking for. I kind of had a hunch that ψογιστής might have been a corruption of something else.

Anyone else have any other suggestions?
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby mwh » Wed Jul 02, 2014 5:14 pm

I must correct myself: it’s not ψωλος but ψωλη that’s written on the papyrus. I really must improve my knowledge of sexual vocabulary.
The text of the “Indecent Proposal,” as translated by its editor (the Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, no less), reads:
“Apion and Epimas say to their very dear Epaphroditus: If you let us bugger you and it’s OK with you, we shall stop thrashing you — if you let us bugger you. Keep well! Keep well!”
The illustrative drawing is labelled ψωλη και φικις (“prick and bum”).
It’s POxy. 3070; you can see an image on the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Online site (just enter 3070).

As for the astrological text, I see there’s a critical apparatus, from which it emerges (if I’m reading it correctly) that the only manuscript to include this bit actually has λύπτας καὶ ψωγηστάς, editorially emended to λείκτας καὶ ψωγιστάς, where I’d accept λείκτας but propose ψωλιστας. (The accent should presumably be paroxytone.) The editor himself notes “sunt fellatores et cinaedi” (p.197.7-8 app.crit.) but it’s not clear how he gets from ψογιστας to cinaedi! A ψωλίστης would be the active partner.

A passage a few lines later (p.197.9) gives what I take to be confirmation—that's really why I'm writing this follow-up post. There the printed text reads ψογιζομένους ἢ καὶ ἐπὶ ξένης διὰ γυναῖκα ἢ μετὰ γυναικὸς καὶ ἐν θαλάσσῃ δεινὰ ὑπομένοντας. That too is only in one manuscript (the same one as presents the earler phrase—they’ll be additions to the main text by the same guy?), and seems pretty well unintelligible. The manuscript actually has ψωγιζωμένους (and ξένοις not ξένης). This I take to represent ψωλιζομένους, i.e. the verb which I said was unattested, on which the noun ψωγιστης would be formed. I assume ψωλίζω means (in more polite language) to penetrate with a penis.

I’m not quite sure what the phrase as a whole is meant to mean. “being prick-penetrated, either with strangers [accepting the manuscript’s ξενοις] on account of a woman [a dominatrix?], or with a woman and submitting to dreadful things in sea(?!—should ἐν θαλάσσῃ be ἐν θαλάμῳ, in the bedroom?)"? (So a gay gang-bang, and anal sex from a dominatrix. x-rated is right.)

Might be worth searching for other hidden occurrences of these words. They'd have delighted David Bain.

Any views, anyone?
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby daivid » Wed Jul 02, 2014 6:56 pm

mwh wrote:I must correct myself: it’s not ψωλος but ψωλη that’s written on the papyrus. I really must improve my knowledge of sexual vocabulary.
The text of the “Indecent Proposal,” as translated by its editor (the Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, no less), reads:
“Apion and Epimas say to their very dear Epaphroditus: If you let us bugger you and it’s OK with you, we shall stop thrashing you — if you let us bugger you. Keep well! Keep well!”
The illustrative drawing is labelled ψωλη και φικις (“prick and bum”).
It’s POxy. 3070; you can see an image on the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Online site (just enter 3070).

These fragments are tantalizing in that without the context it is difficult to know what one is dealing with. Taken at face value it looks like quite vicious bullying but could also have been written in jest. I did look at the papyrus. Reading the Greek from it was however quite beyond me. Do you have the reconstructed Greek text?
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby mwh » Wed Jul 02, 2014 10:21 pm

Well, papyri are habitually tantalizing, but this one less than most, since it’s complete. There’s no context beyond what the papyrus itself provides, and it’s unique (except for toilet graffiti and such). If you really want I could transcribe the Greek for you, but I provided the relevant bit. I only adduced it to add a piece of evidence to the emendation I proposed in response to Archimedes’ query, and if you want to discuss its non-linguistic aspects you might start a new thread? A transcript and commentary are in P.Oxy. vol. 42, or if you work at it you should be able to read it on the papyrus image yourself with the help of the translation. “Bugger” is πυγισαι (clear in line 5, slightly misspelled in line eight). If you’re interested in contemporary life in Oxyrhynchus (and elsewhere in Roman Egypt) I highly recommend Parsons’ City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish.
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby daivid » Wed Jul 02, 2014 11:20 pm

mwh wrote:Well, papyri are habitually tantalizing, but this one less than most, since it’s complete. There’s no context beyond what the papyrus itself provides, and it’s unique (except for toilet graffiti and such). If you really want I could transcribe the Greek for you, but I provided the relevant bit. I only adduced it to add a piece of evidence to the emendation I proposed in response to Archimedes’ query, and if you want to discuss its non-linguistic aspects you might start a new thread? A transcript and commentary are in P.Oxy. vol. 42, or if you work at it you should be able to read it on the papyrus image yourself with the help of the translation. “Bugger” is πυγισαι (clear in line 5, slightly misspelled in line eight).

I may well have a chance to check out the transcription tomorrow but for me to work it out from the image is still quite impossible.

mwh wrote: If you’re interested in contemporary life in Oxyrhynchus (and elsewhere in Roman Egypt) I highly recommend Parsons’ City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish.

Thanks for the recommendation.
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby Archimedes » Thu Jul 03, 2014 1:00 am

Here's a link to an online transcription of the Oxyrhynchus text:

http://papyri.info/ddbdp/p.oxy;42;3070
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby Qimmik » Thu Jul 03, 2014 1:14 am

Interesting (from a purely philological point of view, of course). It looks like the mergers of ι, οι, υ, ἠ and εί have already occurred.

I was looking without success for omicron kappa in the original, but it turns out he wrote καλῶς.
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby mwh » Thu Jul 03, 2014 1:55 am

Yes, phonetic spellings in papyri are invaluable for tracking sound changes. They constitute a substantial body of primary data.

Or would that be omega kappa? (concealed in καλως, of course)

But I’m wishing I hadn’t mentioned the papyrus. Our target text is the one Archimedes asked about, which seems very interesting to me, quite aside from its being as dispiriting as all astrological texts are (except perhaps the Babylonian and Assyrian) but not without entertainment value. They took this stuff very seriously.
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby Qimmik » Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:22 am

"as dispiriting as all astrological texts are (except perhaps the Babylonian and Assyrian) but not without entertainment value. They took this stuff very seriously."

In the past, even into the Renaissance, it was astrology that drove, and financed, efforts to understand celestial mechanics. The fixed stars were important for agriculture (e.g., Hesiod) and navigation, but planetary motion had no practical use except for those who took astrology seriously--particularly kings and emperors who controlled valuable resources. It wasn't out of scientific curiosity that Rudolph II underwrote Tycho Brahe's extravagant enterprise to collect the most precise planetary observations possible, with the most sophisticated and expensive equipment then available. And even Kepler, who took over from Tycho and eventually managed to correctly explain planetary motion in mathematical terms, sometimes cast horoscopes to pay the bills (he was actually very successful at this). It was the rationalistic, scientific spirit of the seventeenth century that began to discredit astrology among thinking people. In antiquity, Ptolemy's amazing achievement--a theory that predicted planetary motion more or less correctly within the standards of observational accuracy then available--was entirely motivated by astrological concerns. So astrology provided the impetus and basis for science.

What is dispiriting to me is that people today still take astrology seriously.

Tu ne quaesieris--scire nefas--quem mihi quem tibi
finem di dederint, Leuconoe, nec Babylonios
temptaris numeros.
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby mwh » Fri Jul 04, 2014 11:39 pm

Will I never learn not to make thread-diverting asides?
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby Qimmik » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:54 am

"Will I never learn not to make thread-diverting asides?"

I hope not. Thread-diverting though they may be, they're always thought-provoking.
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby Archimedes » Fri Aug 08, 2014 6:47 am

Archimedes wrote:The text is found in the Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Graecorum, vol. 8, part 4, page 196, line 6: http://www.hellenisticastrology.com/ccag/CCAG8Part4.pdf


Am I correct in assuming the footnote at the bottom of page 196 appears to attribute this section to Teucer of Babylon? (My Latin isn't that good.)
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby Qimmik » Fri Aug 08, 2014 11:54 am

The footnote states that this section was drawn from Teucer of Babylon by Antiochus or Rhetorius (apparently two names for the same person). There is what looks like a citation to a ms. of Antiochus in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Parisinus 2506.
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby Archimedes » Sat Aug 09, 2014 6:55 am

Qimmik wrote:The footnote states that this section was drawn from Teucer of Babylon by Antiochus or Rhetorius (apparently two names for the same person). There is what looks like a citation to a ms. of Antiochus in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Parisinus 2506.


So the whole paragraph no. 68 is from Teucer? I also noticed in the footnote a reference to line 17 on page 198. Any idea what that's all about? Thanks again!
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Re: x-rated ψογιστής

Postby Qimmik » Sat Aug 09, 2014 3:08 pm

I don't think it necessarily means that the paragraph itself is from Teucer--just that the information was taken from there. The reference to p. 198 seems to mean that the quoted words (which appear on p. 198, l. 17) are an indication that Teucer was the origin of the material footnoted on p. 196.
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