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Agamemnon 104-6

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Agamemnon 104-6

Postby anphph » Tue Jan 16, 2018 11:11 pm

Agamemnon 104-106
κύριός εἰμι θροεῖν ὅδιον κράτος αἴσιον ἀνδρῶν
ἐκτελέων · ἔτι γὰρ θεόθεν καταπνείει
Πειθώ, †μολπὰν ἀλκὰν† σύμφυτος αἰών.

So Page's OCT. The apparatus reads

106 μολπᾶν (M ac); fort. μολπᾶι δ' ἀλκᾶν

I am reading along David Raeburn and Oliver Thomas' commentary, and concerning this line they open by saying upfront: "Read πειθώ [acc.], μολπᾶν ἀλκάν". Now, this reading μολπᾶν not only seems to make perfectly good sense, but also it was already known to Page, so what's with the (for me) incomprehensible μολπὰν ἀλκὰν? Even if he'd want to keep the obeli, there must be another layer of problems that cause him to prefer printing this strange reading. I must be missing something. What's going on, what does it have going for it?
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Re: Agamemnon 104-6

Postby Hylander » Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:59 am

OK, I've chased this down.

μολπὰν ἀλκὰν is the reading of the manuscripts, except that in the manuscript conventionally designated by the siglum M, μολπᾶν was corrected to μολπὰν ("ac" stands for ante correcturam, "before correction").

As you note (and everyone else does, too), μολπὰν ἀλκὰν makes no sense.

Page has marked these words with daggers/obeli to indicate that the text as found in the manuscripts is unsound but, in his view, there is no clear fix. In his apparatus, Page suggests μολπᾶι δ' ἀλκᾶν (fort. stands for fortasse, "maybe").

In the Denniston & Page edition of the Agamemnon, the explanation offered for this conjecture is "'and my time of life (αἰών) is naturally adapted to (σύμφυτος) a song of valorous deeds (ἀλκαἰ, as in Pind. Nem. 7. 12, Bacchylides 11. 126, E. Rhes. 933)." The commentary goes on to explain σύμφυτος: "'congenital' passes easily into the sense 'congenial', 'naturally adapted to'," citing Plato Laws 844b, Aristotle de anima 420a4.

Everyone else I've looked at -- Fraenkel, West (Teubner) and Sommerstein (Loeb) -- adopt μολπᾶν ἀλκάν without daggers, presumably on the authority of the pre-correction reading of M. M (for "Mediceus") is the oldest and most important ms. of Aeschylus (West: longe vetustissimus atque optimus). It dates from the 10th century and is in the Laurentian Library in Florence.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Agamemnon 104-6

Postby anphph » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:01 am

It does help a lot, thank you. It explains what's going on in the Greek.

What's still puzzling is why Page would change a valid reading into an invalid one. If I am understanding it correctly, when he saw the manuscript correction in the M, he infered from it that the scribe somehow knew (by access to other manuscripts, a feel for the language, memory, etc) that the traditional reading was wrong. Even though his correction of μολπᾶν into μολπὰν was incorrect, that's still a reliable witness that the reading we have is suspect, and that μολπὰν, even if wrong, was still closer to the "correct" reading that this scribe remembered or was aiming for.

On the other hand, against Page, the remaining editors are less keen to trust this particular scribe's instincts, and have no problem treating the passage as insuspect.

Do you think this is a fair assessment of the process?
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Re: Agamemnon 104-6

Postby Hylander » Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:29 pm

Perhaps the answer is that even with the reading μολπᾶν ἀλκάν, the sentence is somewhat odd, and Page didn't feel that reading was more plausible than his own conjecture.

West and Sommerstein set μολπᾶν ἀλκάν (oxytone) off by commas. Sommerstein's translation: "for the age that was born with me still inspires me divinely with persuasion, the singer's prowess . . . " The apposition of ἀλκάν to πειθώ is strange and awkward.

Fraenkel doesn't set μολπᾶν ἀλκὰν (barytone) off. His translation: "for still from the gods the age that has grown with me breathes down upon me persuasiveness of song to be my warlike strength . . . " He treats μολπᾶν as depending on πειθώ. Again, ἀλκὰν is in apposition to πειθώ.

So there are two somewhat different interpretations of μολπᾶν ἀλκαν, both of which seem somewhat awkward, even though some marginal sense can be made of them. And σύμφυτος αἰών compounds the awkwardness and strangeness. What does that have to do with the underlying idea? It can be explained, of course, but it still leaves me (at least) wondering. So both of these solutions, if plausible, are not entirely satisfactory, or at least Page apparently didn't find them so.

Page probably felt that σύμφυτος requires a dative. σύμφυτος with what?

But I can't say I find Page's conjecture wholly satisfying, either. However, he uses daggers to indicate his uncertainty about the text, and he offers his conjecture as a possibility, not a certainty, whereas the other editors apparently feel confident that their readings are correct.

We shouldn't fall into the error of assuming that a ms. reading that presents difficulties of interpretation should necessarily be preferred to a conjecture, just as we shouldn't automatically assume that a difficulty in the text requires conjectural emendation. It's a matter of editorial judgment in each case, and reasonable minds can differ. It's also relevant that the textual traditions of Greek drama in general, and that of Aeschylus in particular, are in a deplorable state of disrepair.

Page knew Greek as well as anyone, and he had a very acute intellect, though maybe his self-confidence sometimes led him astray.
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Re: Agamemnon 104-6

Postby anphph » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:05 pm

Hylander wrote:The apposition of ἀλκάν to πειθώ is strange and awkward.


You're right about this. I think I normalized too quickly the reading of the commentary, which prevented me from noticing the awkwardness of the whole thing.

For the record, this is what David Raeburn and Oliver Thomas' commentary says:

Read πειθώ [acc.], μολπᾶν ἀ λκάν: ‘For still by divine favour the life born with me breathes over me persuasion, the vigour of song.’ The σύμφυτος αἰών is the life which continues in a person from infancy through to old age. The elders lack the physical ἀλκή (‘power’, esp. defensive) to fight in war, but their singing has the metaphorical ἀ λκή to ‘win over’ listeners.
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