Textkit Logo

Charmides 163B ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ

Here you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Greek, and more.

Charmides 163B ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ

Postby jeidsath » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:00 pm

Οὐ μέντοι, ἔφη· οὐδέ γε τὸ ἐργάζεσθαι καὶ τὸ ποιεῖν. ἔμαθον γὰρ παρ᾿ Ἡσιόδου, ὃς ἔφη, ἔργον δ᾿ οὐδὲν εἶναι ὄνειδος. οἴει οὖν αὐτόν, εἰ τὰ τοιαῦτα ἔργα ἐκάλει καὶ ἐργάζεσθαι καὶ πράττειν, οἷα νῦν δὴ σὺ ἔλεγες, οὐδενὶ ἂν ὄνειδος φάναι εἶναι σκυτοτομοῦντι ἢ ταριχοπωλοῦντι ἢ ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ;


ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ. The Loeb gives this as "serving the stews." I thought this was an example of bowdlerization until I looked up English "stews" in the dictionary, which gives "archaic a heated public room used for hot steam baths; a brothel." Not a usage that I was familiar with.

The LSJ has "to be engaged or employed, esp. in a sedentary business" for κάθημαι I.5. Who exactly at the brothel would this describe? Whoever sits at the front desk? Or is he referring to the women installed at the brothel?

Here are the LSJ examples:

to be engaged or employed, esp. in a sedentary business, “ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ τούτῳ” Hdt.2.86; κ. ἐπὶ τῇ τραπέζῃ, of bankers, D.49.42, cf. 45.33; “ἐπ᾽ ἐργαστηρίου” Id.59.67; “ἐπὶ τοῦ . . ἰατρείου” Aeschin.1.40;
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.
User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
 
Posts: 2478
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: Charmides 163B ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:26 pm

Well, it seems to me that ἧμαι and its derivatives often have connotations of inactivity. In this particular case, certainly not sitting at the front desk. I think the women were supposed to sit there passively waiting for men to come and have their way with them. I'm not sure, though, whether the literal sense "sit" is very strong there, the basic idea is that they stay there and wait.

The same verb in the same context occurs in Herodotus 1.199:
ὁ δὲ δὴ αἴσχιστος τῶν νόμων ἐστὶ τοῖσι Βαβυλωνίοισι ὅδε: δεῖ πᾶσαν γυναῖκα ἐπιχωρίην ἱζομένην ἐς ἱρὸν Ἀφροδίτης ἅπαξ ἐν τῇ ζόῃ μιχθῆναι ἀνδρὶ ξείνῳ. πολλαὶ δὲ καὶ οὐκ ἀξιούμεναι ἀναμίσγεσθαι τῇσι ἄλλῃσι, οἷα πλούτῳ ὑπερφρονέουσαι, ἐπὶ ζευγέων ἐν καμάρῃσι ἐλάσασαι πρὸς τὸ ἱρὸν ἑστᾶσι: θεραπηίη δέ σφι ὄπισθε ἕπεται πολλή. [2] αἱ δὲ πλεῦνες ποιεῦσι ὧδε: ἐν τεμένεϊ Ἀφροδίτης κατέαται στέφανον περὶ τῇσι κεφαλῇσι ἔχουσαι θώμιγγος πολλαὶ γυναῖκες: αἳ μὲν γὰρ προσέρχονται, αἳ δὲ ἀπέρχονται. σχοινοτενέες δὲ διέξοδοι πάντα τρόπον ὁδῶν ἔχουσι διὰ τῶν γυναικῶν, δι᾽ ὧν οἱ ξεῖνοι διεξιόντες ἐκλέγονται: [3] ἔνθα ἐπεὰν ἵζηται γυνή, οὐ πρότερον ἀπαλλάσσεται ἐς τὰ οἰκία ἤ τίς οἱ ξείνων ἀργύριον ἐμβαλὼν ἐς τὰ γούνατα μιχθῇ ἔξω τοῦ ἱροῦ: ἐμβαλόντα δὲ δεῖ εἰπεῖν τοσόνδε: ‘ἐπικαλέω τοι τὴν θεὸν Μύλιττα.’ Μύλιττα δὲ καλέουσι τὴν Ἀφροδίτην Ἀσσύριοι. [4] τὸ δὲ ἀργύριον μέγαθος ἐστὶ ὅσον ὦν: οὐ γὰρ μὴ ἀπώσηται: οὐ γάρ οἱ θέμις ἐστί: γίνεται γὰρ ἱρὸν τοῦτο τὸ ἀργύριον. τῷ δὲ πρώτῳ ἐμβαλόντι ἕπεται οὐδὲ ἀποδοκιμᾷ οὐδένα. ἐπεὰν δὲ μιχθῇ, ἀποσιωσαμένη τῇ θεῷ ἀπαλλάσσεται ἐς τὰ οἰκία, καὶ τὠπὸ τούτου οὐκ οὕτω μέγα τί οἱ δώσεις ὥς μιν λάμψεαι. [5] ὅσσαι μέν νυν εἴδεός τε ἐπαμμέναι εἰσὶ καὶ μεγάθεος, ταχὺ ἀπαλλάσσονται, ὅσαι δὲ ἄμορφοι αὐτέων εἰσί, χρόνον πολλὸν προσμένουσι οὐ δυνάμεναι τὸν νόμον ἐκπλῆσαι: καὶ γὰρ τριέτεα καὶ τετραέτεα μετεξέτεραι χρόνον μένουσι. ἐνιαχῇ δὲ καὶ τῆς Κύπρου ἐστὶ παραπλήσιος τούτῳ νόμος.


The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger once in her life. Many women who are rich and proud and disdain to mingle with the rest, drive to the temple in covered carriages drawn by teams, and stand there with a great retinue of attendants. [2] But most sit down in the sacred plot of Aphrodite, with crowns of cord on their heads; there is a great multitude of women coming and going; passages marked by line run every way through the crowd, by which the men pass and make their choice. [3] Once a woman has taken her place there, she does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap, and had intercourse with her outside the temple; but while he casts the money, he must say, “I invite you in the name of Mylitta” (that is the Assyrian name for Aphrodite). [4] It does not matter what sum the money is; the woman will never refuse, for that would be a sin, the money being by this act made sacred. So she follows the first man who casts it and rejects no one. After their intercourse, having discharged her sacred duty to the goddess, she goes away to her home; and thereafter there is no bribe however great that will get her. [5] So then the women that are fair and tall are soon free to depart, but the uncomely have long to wait because they cannot fulfill the law; for some of them remain for three years, or four. There is a custom like this in some parts of Cyprus.
User avatar
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1938
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Charmides 163B ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:32 pm

By the way, I wonder why public baths ("stews") are so often and in so many places thought of as seats of depravity. If you ever come to Finland, you should definitely go to a sauna, private or public – in this country at least it's not a euphemism for anything else, just sauna!
User avatar
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1938
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Charmides 163B ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ

Postby mwh » Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:38 pm

The women sit waiting for customers. You can see them on show in Copenhagen. LSJ οικημα gives comparable passages. τεγος “roof” is used similarly.

Edit. Above written before seeing Paul's posts. A closer Herodotean parallel would be 2.126, την θυγατερα την εωυτου κατισαντα (= καθισαντα, “seating”) επ’ οικηματος, and 121ε (censored!), same phrase with κατίσαι = καθίσαι.
As to saunas and seats of depravity, Finns are exceptional. You should try Turkey!
mwh
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 2801
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am

Re: Charmides 163B ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:06 pm

Actually, why do we invariably have the preposition ἐπί in ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος? Why not, say, ἐν?

So Turkish baths are depraved? I've been to Turkey once, but I didn't try their baths.
User avatar
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1938
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Charmides 163B ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ

Postby jeidsath » Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:48 pm

Is it a little exceptional to see an offhand reference to women in a Platonic dialogue, even in the context of trying to prove that some kinds of work aren't honorable?

In fact, looking more closely: ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημέν. Shouldn't that be ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημέν for a female prostitute?

Re: stews. The only bathhouses that I've ever heard of in the US were in San Francisco, and they didn't seem to be of Paul's description. As far as I know they were all closed a few years into the AIDS epidemic.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.
User avatar
jeidsath
Administrator
 
Posts: 2478
Joined: Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:42 pm
Location: Γαλεήπολις, Οὐισκόνσιν

Re: Charmides 163B ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:36 pm

It's true, I didn't even think about the masculine ending, because I was immediately thinking of other places where I've encountered this usage ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ (Aeschines beside Herodotus). But prostitutes can be male as well.

Re: stews, again. Actually, I now remember about an acquaintance who once told, half shocked half amused, about a Canadian making advances to him in a hotel sauna in Helsinki. Obviously, the Canadian had gotten something wrong, big time. You just don't do that in Finland, what a terrible faux pas - not in sauna, that's sacred! There are other places and times for that! According to Wikipedia there are 3 million saunas in Finland, for 5 million people. In contrast to many other people, we (my family and I) don't have a private one, but our apartment building certainly has one. When we go to sauna we prefer a public one (which are bigger and better) or a more traditional wood-heated one at the countryside, preferably by a lake to swim in. Sauna is a place to relax with your family and friends. Usually sexes are separated, except with family members (especially before children reach their teens, but not always - depends on family) and sometimes among good friends or in student parties (but no advances - sauna is sacred!). There was a film that came out a few years ago and was quite successful in Finland, which was basically about a bunch men of all ages going to sauna and talking about their life (because, the saying goes, sauna is the only place where Finnish men can talk). I haven't seen it, but here's a trailer. It's title is Miesten vuoro "Men's turn" (because men and women go to sauna in turns, but the translator has rendered it "The Steam of life", what a bore).
User avatar
Paul Derouda
Global Moderator
 
Posts: 1938
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:39 pm

Re: Charmides 163B ἐπ᾿ οἰκήματος καθημένῳ

Postby mwh » Sun Aug 12, 2018 8:50 pm

So many posts! To go back:
Paul, it’s a perfectly ordinary use of επι + gen., isn’t it, perhaps “at” rather than “in.” “To sit επ’οικηματος” was evidently the standard locution (a bit euphemistic perhaps), and επι seems apter than εν.

I tried a Turkish bath in Istanbul (as I tried a sauna on the ferry to Helsinki), and didn’t find anything “depraved” about it at all. No doubt the public baths have all been cleaned up under Erdogan, or I went to an unseedy one. By all accounts it was different in previous centuries (but mostly good for homosexual pedophiles?—the equivalent of Charmides’ wrestling school?). These days you can go Thailand (where I’ve never been, perhaps I should say).

Socrates doesn’t seem to regard a brothel as any more of a seat of depravity than a pickle-seller’s stall or a shoemaker’s, though of course he aristocratically looks down on such low-class occupations, and he never had to work a day in his life (though he did have to serve in the army). But we might remember that shoemakers (σκυτοτόμοι, leather-cutters) also make dildos (Herodas 6!).

Plato’s καθημενῳ masc. generalizes (there are other examples), to match the other participles. So far as I know it was only women; for men it would have been even more shameful.
mwh
Textkit Zealot
 
Posts: 2801
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 2:34 am


Return to Learning Greek