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Descriptio Sanctæ Sophiæ

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Descriptio Sanctæ Sophiæ

Postby anphph » Fri Feb 12, 2016 6:48 am

Hello everyone,

So I'm reading the Descriptio Sanctæ Sophiæ by Paulus Silentiarius. Most of it is quite straightforward, but I noted down a passage early on which I got stuck. Do you think you could help me?

He's talking to Justinian, about how he's a great guy and loved by God etc, and then he says the following. The line I'm having trouble with is the one in bold. Thanks!

αἰτεῖς δὲ σαυτόν, ἡνίκα τῶν ἐγκλημάτων
τὸ μέγεθος οὐ δίδωσι τῶν δεήσεων
ἑτέρους κατάρχειν · καὶ γὰρ οὐκ ἐᾷς ποτὲ
ἄλλου γενέσθαι τὸν ἔλεόν σου τὸν πάνυ.
ἐξ ὧν δὲ δρῶμεν οὐχ ὁσίων τολμημάτων
ἔχεις ἀφορμἀς τῆς ἄνω παρρησίας.
(48-53)
Last edited by anphph on Fri Feb 12, 2016 3:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Descriptio Sanctæ Sophiæ

Postby seneca2008 » Fri Feb 12, 2016 12:13 pm

Would "τολμημάτων" make it easier rather than "πολμημάτων" ?
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Re: Descriptio Sanctæ Sophiæ

Postby anphph » Fri Feb 12, 2016 3:30 pm

Actually that's a typo in my transcription. I've been reading τολμημάτων all along (and still not getting it). Sorry for leading you in the wrong direction, it's fixed now.
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Re: Descriptio Sanctæ Sophiæ

Postby Hylander » Fri Feb 12, 2016 3:43 pm

I'm not sure I understand this completely, but I think ὧν is the direct object of δρῶμεν, having been "attracted" into the genitive by its antecedent οὐχ ὁσίων τολμημάτων.

See Smyth 2522 ff.:

2522. Attraction.—A relative pronoun is often attracted from its proper case into the case of its antecedent, especially from the accusative into the genitive or dative. A demonstrative pronoun to whose case the relative is attracted, is usually omitted if unemphatic. Cp. “Vengeance is his, or whose he sole appoints:” Milton.

a. Genitive.—ἄξιοι τῆς ἐλευθερία_ς ἧς (for ἣν) ““κέκτησθε” worthy of the freedom which you possess” X. A. 1.7.3, πρὸ τῶν κακῶν ὧν (for ἃ) ““οἶδα” instead of the evils which I know” P. A. 29b, ἀφ᾽ ὧν (for τούτων ἃ) ““ἴστε” from what you know” D. 19.216, Μήδων ὅσων (for ὅσους) ἑώρα_κα . . . ὁ ἐμὸς πάππος κάλλιστος my grandfather is the handsomest of all the Medes I have seen X. C. 1.3.2, μὴ ὑποκειμένων οἵων δεῖ θεμελίων (for τοιούτων οἷα δεῖ ὑποκεῖσθαι) if the foundations were not as they ought to be X. Eq. 1.2.

b. Dative.—φοβοίμην ἂν τῷ ἡγεμόνι ᾧ (for δ̀ν) ““δοίη ἕπεσθαι” I should fear to follow the leader whom he might give” X. A. 1.3.17, ἐπαινῶ σε ἐφ᾽ οἷς (for ἐπὶ τούτοις ἃ) λέγεις I commend you for what you say 3. 1. 45, οἷς (for τούτοις ἃ) ““ηὐτυχήκεσαν ἐν Λεύκτροις οὐ μετρίως ἐκέχρηντο” they had not used with moderation the success they gained at Leuctra” D. 18.18.


http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Smyth+grammar+2522&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007

Does this help make sense? I'm not sure what τῆς ἄνω παρρησίας refers to.
Last edited by Hylander on Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Descriptio Sanctæ Sophiæ

Postby anphph » Fri Feb 12, 2016 4:18 pm

Thank you Hylander. I still couldn't get it, until I found a Latin translation which, assuming it is right, probably solves the issue. It reads:

ex tot vero quæ perpetramus nefandis ausis,
habes, o imperator, clementiæ occasiones.

I think that παρρησία meaning clemency (! that's a sense I'd never encountered) was what led me off in the wrong way: I thought he meant his own "license in speaking", probably for daring to say things better left unsaid (the beauty of the place, the majesty of the emperor etc), and not the emperor's.

So the line in a more straightforward sense would be

ἐξ (τῶν) οὐχ ὁσίων τολμημάτων ἃ δρῶμεν
ἔχεις etc

(The) impure deeds that we commit
give you an excuse to exercise your clemency


I think that solves it. Thanks everyone.
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Re: Descriptio Sanctæ Sophiæ

Postby Hylander » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:09 pm

I guess the idea of παρρησία here is "freedom or license to decline to punish."
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Re: Descriptio Sanctæ Sophiæ

Postby anphph » Fri Feb 12, 2016 9:53 pm

That makes perfect sense. Quite amazing the stretch from its original meaning (and even the one implied in the etymology of the word itself).

Funnily enough just a few lines down we have, concerning Theodora,

ταῦτα τὴν ψυχὴν ποεῖ
τῆς βασιλίδος, κράτιστε, τῆς εὐδαίμονος,
τῆς πανταρίστης, τῆς καλῆς καὶ πανσόφου,
ἔχειν ὑπὲρ σοῦ πρὸς θεὸν παρρησίαν.

where παρρησία seems much closer to its standard meaning (probably meaning something like intercession, i.e., freedom to speak freely to God in Your favour).
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Re: Descriptio Sanctæ Sophiæ

Postby Hylander » Fri Feb 12, 2016 11:18 pm

In Theodora's case παρρησίαν must undoubtedly mean "licentiousness". Let's see. Hmm. Her soul has licentiousness above you, i.e., beyond your control, against God.

Maybe that's reading more into the Greek than is actually there.
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