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Anth. Pal. 5.189

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Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby cramberepetita » Sun Jan 08, 2017 4:34 pm

A friend and I are a bit puzzled by the first line of this short epigram (in the paraclausithyron genre) from the Anthologia Palatina, attributed to Asclepiades of Samos:

Νὺξ μακρὴ καὶ χεῖμα, μέσην δ᾽ ἐπὶ Πλειάδα δύνει·
κἀγὼ πὰρ προθύροις νίσσομαι ὑόμενος,
τρωθεὶς τῆς δολίης κείνης πόθῳ: οὐ γὰρ ἔρωτα
Κύπρις, ἀνιηρὸν δ᾽ ἐκ πυρὸς ἧκε βέλος.
(Anth. Pal. 5.189)

Specifically, the second half of the first verse. I take it that the poet wants to express that it is very late at night. I know next to nothing about astronomy though. Are the Pleiades (ἡ Πλειάς) sinking at the horizon, but still half visible? Does that indicate that it's almost morning? What exactly is the subject of δύνει; is it 'night', despite the intervening nominative χεῖμα?

I'm adding a hasty sketch of a translation for ease of reference, bracketing the problematic passage:
It's a long night, and wintry cold, and (it sinks towards the middle of the Pleiades?),
and I come and go by her front door, rain-soaked,
wounded by my desire for that unfaithful girl; Cyprus (Aphrodite)
didn't shoot love at me, but a painful arrow made of fire.


Feel free to complete with a half-verse that'll elucidate the Greek for me!
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby jeidsath » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:52 pm

I'm confused by the construction, but the (morning) setting of the Pleiades would mean that it's ploughing season (or early November).

EDIT: But it's the night that is setting, not the Pleiades. And it's setting on them when they are at middle height. The morning rising of the Pleiades was early May, and the morning setting was November, so this would be July/August. Perhaps χεῖμα refers to stormy weather rather than wintery weather. The poet is lovesick, but not fool enough to be outside and wet in the middle of winter.

"A long night and storm set upon the Pleiades at mid-position"
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby cramberepetita » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:03 am

I wonder if νύξ and χεῖμα may be the single subject together, as a sort of hendiadys.
Your view is interesting, but would the poet really use the word χεῖμα for a summer storm? I know it can mean simply 'storm', but still, when there's as little context as there is here, one is almost bound to think of winter - or is that just me? I had been looking for some translations earlier, I'll copy them below. You'll notice that all these translators seem to take it for granted that it's winter too.

The night is long, and it is winter weather, and night sets when the Pleiads are half-way up the sky. I pass and repass her door, drenched by the rain, smitten by desire of her, the deceiver. It is not love that Cypris smote me with, but a tormenting arrow red-hot from the fire. (William Roger Paton, Loeb-edition)

C’est l’hiver; les Pléiades sont au milieu de leur course; la nuit va disparaître; et moi, sous les fenêtres d’Hélène, je me promène tout ruisselant de pluie et blessé par ses charmes; car Vénus ne m’a pas mis au cœur seulement de l’amour, elle m’a décoché un trait douloureux et brûlant. (Félix Dehèque, who reads Ἑλένης instead of κείνης; 'the Pleiades are in the middle of their course; the night is going to disappear')

...c’est l’hiver, le soleil se couche au milieu des Pléiades... (a partial French translation I found elsewhere; 'it's winter, the sun sets in the middle of the Pleiades')

Lunga è la notte, nell’inverno, si volge verso la Pleiade il cielo
ed io, bagnato di pioggia, mi accosto alla sua porta,
ferito dal desiderio di quella ingannatrice: non d’amore
ma di fuoco Cipride mi scagliò un dardo tormentoso.
(from the Italian textbook Bibliothéke by Franco Ferrari et al.; 'long is the night, in winter, the sky turns towards the Pleiades')

Nox longa est & hyems: mediam mare Pleiada condit,
Cum miser infidae compluor ante fores.
Nam crux illa mea est. Non in me misit amoris
Tela, sed ignito tincta dolore Venus.
(Hugo Grotius; 'long night and winter; the sea covers half of the Pleiades')

What I find fascinating is that this astronomical reference was probably crystal clear for anyone who heard or read the poem in antiquity.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby jeidsath » Mon Jan 09, 2017 2:16 pm

In the LSJ articles, χεῖμα and χειμών are both used opposite εὐδία, or κάλλιστον ἦμαρ, or εὐήνεμος. And we have "χειμὼν ... νοτερός" from Thucydides. So I don't see that it necessarily implies cold or winter. The word could mean any storm of rain and wind.

The Loeb edition translation seems closest to my guess, giving "and night sets when the Pleiads are half-way up the sky." But that would necessarily be July-August, so I would disagree "winter weather."
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Timothée » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:53 pm

χεῖμα
I’m swaying between two minds about χεῖμα. The original meaning is of course ‘winter’, ‘winter weather’, but later it could also mean ‘storm’. The development of meaning would seem quite clear: ‘winter’ > ‘winter weather’ > ‘winter’s storm(y weather)’ > ‘storm’. Is it enough for understanding which one the poet was thinking of if we stop at the comma, half way the first line? ‘Long night and winter’ or ‘Long night and storm’? Maybe this is not enough context.

It’d be interesting to read a word study about χεῖμα. How can we generally in ancient Greek understand when there’s no reference to winter whatever? Are there for instance other key-words leading the reader’s thoughts whenever merely ‘a storm’ is meant, as also cramberepetita suggested? Translations can be dangerous, leading your thoughts and forming your opinion on your behalf, but as said they all think it’s about winter. Translators can always have read other translations, though. (As the dictionaries expressedly say, χεῖμα is poetic for χειμών.)

δύνει
I read through the LS article δύω and failed to catch a mention of νύξ; the closest was ἥλιος. I could’ve, of course, missed it. I was thinking of inanimate plural taking verb in 3rd singular (here νὺξ καὶ χεῖμα forming the “plural”), but it may be that this is permitted only with plural neuter subjects in -α.

Do we take ἐπὶ μέσην Πλειάδα here as going with verbs of motion, the verb of motion being δύνει, so quite literally ‘sinks on to the middle-Pleiads’? The first example of this in the LS is ἐπὶ πύργον ἔϐη from the Iliad.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:58 pm

It seems to me that we shouldn't try to separate the meanings "winter season" and "storm"; for people who live in the North like me, winter means cold and snow/ice, but for the Greeks, winter was the stormy season, when sailing for instance was difficult (a weather which I associate with "autumn"). Already in Homer, χειμέριος has the meaning "stormy", and in general I think that in Homer related words all suggest winter and stormy at the same time.

Time-reckoning from the settings and risings of the stars is explained in M. L. West's indispensable edition of Hesiod's Works and Days, at the end of the book in Excursus II. Stars rise and set 4 four minutes earlier every day, so that by the end of the year they have made a full 24 hour cycle. Basically, the idea was that the time of the year when a star/constellation sets/rises was the time when it sets just before sunrise. So "at the setting of the Pleiads" is an elliptical way of saying "in the season when the Pleiads set just before dawn", which, like Joel says, means November, the beginning of the cold season; it's about season, not about the time of day. I'm pretty sure that this is the what the poet is after. The other alternative is something to the effect of "the season when the Pleiads set in the middle of the night", which means about the middle of the winter.

Now the problem is that I can't extract this meaning from μέσην δ᾽ ἐπὶ Πλειάδα δύνει. :( Grammatically, it might mean "the night (or an "implied" sun) sets when the Pleiads are half-way in their course" (that is, in the middle of winter). However, this is not in accordance with the way the Greeks usually talked about the settings and risings of the stars, as explained above. When I googled μέσην δ᾽ ἐπὶ Πλειάδα δύνει, it appears that some editor actually daggers μέσην, and I too suspect that the passage is corrupt. I don't have a solution, but this reminds me of passages like Iliad 2.413 (either as source for the corruption or as a parallel to the construction):

μὴ πρὶν ἐπ᾽ ἠέλιον δῦναι καὶ ἐπὶ κνέφας ἐλθεῖν

Walter Leaf's comment on this passage suggests that ἐπὶ in ἐπ᾽ ἠέλιον δῦναι means "upon us", which is of course impossible with μέσην δ᾽ ἐπὶ Πλειάδα δύνει, but perhaps the verbal similarity with this Iliad passage and perhaps others is somehow responsible for the corruption?

I hope someone who knows Greek better than me comes to rescue here!
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby jeidsath » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:29 pm

I too hope for someone better at Greek to help out! But here is Sappho with a similar sort of poem:

Δέδυκε μὲν ἀ σελάννα
καὶ Πληίαδες, μέσαι δὲ
νύκτες, παρὰ δ’ ἔρχετ’ ὤρα,
ἔγω δὲ μόνα κατεύδω

Following Paul's discussion, I think that Sappho must mean that the moon and Pleiades are below the horizon because of the day/season, and that it's the middle of the night in addition (not implying causality). I think that the perfect reinforces this. She is emphasizing how dark it is on this night.

Back to Anth. Pal. 5.189. After mid-November, the setting of the Pleiades is something that occurs earlier and earlier during the night the deeper we get into winter. If ἐπὶ refers not to Πλειάδα, but to μέσην, and Πλειάδα is nominative, then we have:

"The night is long and it is wintertime, and the Pleiades are setting during middle night,"

I can't find the singular nominative of Pleiades anywhere that I trust. But Πλειάδα is claimed in some places.

EDIT: Looking at usage in our texts, it appears that nominative would have to be Πλειάδες (or less likely Πλειάς sing.) I don't know the metre being used here, so I can't speak to whether that is possible.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby cramberepetita » Tue Jan 10, 2017 1:08 pm

Thank you all for the replies! Amazing how a half-verse that you may be inclined to just read across can on closer inspection turn out to be such a tough nut to crack, isn't it. I'm really curious if the words are meant to indicate a particular time of night (late at night?) or rather a season (early winter?).
One thing I'm rather sure of, though, is that Πλειάδα is acc. and μέσην agrees with it. The word for this constellation is either singular Πλειάς or plural Πλειάδες, never ἡ Πλειάδα or anything like that.
I was just now considering Paul Derouda's suggestion that the passage may be corrupt, when I made an embarrassing realization: I have been looking at my pdf (found at Loebolus no doubt) of Paton's old Loeb edition of the Greek Anthology (vol. 1) all the time, without realizing once that I actually had the completely revised edition by Michael A. Tueller (2014) on my shelves the entire time! So now I'm looking it up there, and sure enough, there are daggers surrounding the entire half-verse: †μέσην δ' ἐπὶ Πλειάδα δύνει†!

Comparing Paton's original translation (1916) with the revised text, I find:
The night is long, and it is winter weather, and night sets when the Pleiads are half-way up the sky. I pass and repass her door, drenched by the rain, smitten by desire of her, the deceiver. It is not love that Cypris smote me with, but a tormenting arrow red-hot from the fire. (William Roger Paton)

versus:

The night is long and it is winter weather, and it sets to the midst of the Pleiad – and I am pacing by her porch in the rain, wounded by desire for that treacherous woman. It was not love that Cypris hit me with, but a painful bolt made of fire. (William Roger Paton, revised by Michael A. Tueller)

Tueller's replacement of 'night sets' with 'it sets' may just indicate that he too is confused by what the subject of δύνει might be (I too had looked for 'night' as a subject in the dictionary, both LSJ and Montanari, but hadn't found anything), and this is possibly why he obelized these words. If the text really is corrupt, I guess there's not much more we can do here, but thanks everyone for chipping in!
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby cramberepetita » Tue Jan 10, 2017 2:00 pm

Some more thoughts:

First of all, I forgot to answer Jeidsath's question as to what metre this is written in: it’s in elegiac disticha, like the most part of the epigrams in the Anthology.

Then: the bibliography in Tueller’s revised Loeb edition led me to a commentary on Asclepiades’ epigrams by Alexander Sens (Asclepiades of Samos: Epigrams and Fragments, Oxford, 2011), which I was able to browse a bit thanks to Amazon’s ‘look inside’-feature.
As it turns out, Sens also obelizes μέσην δ’ ἐπὶ Πλειάδα δύνει, and translates:

It’s a long night, and there’s a storm, and it sets towards the Pleiad (?),
and I’m walking by the outer doors getting drenched with rain,
wounded by desire for that deceptive girl. For Cypris sent
not love but a painful bolt made of fire.

Amazon will allow to let me read *some* of the commentary, so I’ll add in brief some of Sens’s remarks regarding the first verse (from p. 287), only what's pertinent to the question here:
- νὺξ μακρή: “Probably ‘it is a long night’ rather than ’the night was long’” (he makes a reference to Od. 11.373).
- χεῖμα: “Giangrande[*] (…) takes χεῖμα as predicate of νύξ, but the resulting zeugma is awkward an the similarity to [5.167].1 ὑετὸς ἦν καὶ νὺξ argues for seeing the two nouns as parallel, and for taking the words to refer to stormy weather rather than the winter season.”
- μέσην δ’ ἐπὶ Πλειάδα δύνει: “A difficult phrase. Jacobs’s view that νύξ should be supplied as the subject of δύνει requires an awkward shift after χεῖμα (…), and although the phrase might then be taken as a learned variation of the Homeric ὀρώρει δ’ οὐρανόθεν νύξ, the meaning of μέσην… ἐπὶ Πλειάδα would remain obscure. The Pleiades,” ———

and just at this point, frustratingly, right as I’m about to reach the lines that will reveal and explain everything, Amazon won’t let me read any further!
Maybe someone else will be more fortunate? You could try by looking up the book on Amazon, and in the "look inside" window search for a couple of words from Sens's translation - if anybody feels like giving that a shot. :)

[*] Sens refers to an article on this very epigram by Giuseppe Giangrande, ‘An Epigram by Asclepiades’, that appeared in MPhL (Museum Philologicum Londinense) no. 8 (1987), pp. 95-7. Unfortunately they don’t seem to have this magazine here at Ghent University, so I can't read that either.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Jan 10, 2017 3:51 pm

I was able to collect some "crumbs" from Sens but I couldn't access the whole thing, I hope I assembled them correctly... (garbled Greek replaced by :?: )

a small group of faint starts (traditionally seven in number, though only six are visible), were for the Greeks crucial signs of the seasons. Their rising just before sunrise marked the beginning of summer, and their setting at this time marked the beginning of winter (cf. West on Hes. Op. 383-4; Gow on Theoc. 13. 25-6; Kidd on Arat. 254-67). The appearance of the Pleiades is a notable feature of winter. At E. Hel . 1489, :?: :?: means ‘during the time when the Pleiades are in mid-course', i.e. visible in the sky at night (cf. Kannicht on 1489-91; Ion 1152-3), and :?: :?: might have a similar sense here. If so, the speaker is saying that 'night is falling (i.e. ending) at the time when the Pleiad is in mid-course', that is, in midwinter ...

[...]

Hp. Epid. 1. 1 :?: :?:; Arist. HA 598b7 :?: :?:), and Giangrande accordingly suggests that :?: :?: be understood ‘in the middle of the season during which the Pleiad sets (at dawn)', i.e. at the beginning of winter. On either interpretation, the


It seems to me that there's no need to a clear distinction between "winter" and "storm" like Sens does; for the Greeks, the association between the two was close. Anyway, the fact that the Pleiads are mentioned also makes it clear that it's winter, as the Pleiads are specially associated with winter and only seen during the cold part of the year.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby jeidsath » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:25 pm

The word for this constellation is either singular Πλειάς or plural Πλειάδες, never ἡ Πλειάδα or anything like that.


Yes, after some research I've found the same. However, I still think this must be nominative in the original version. In Greek, it's heavenly bodies that are talked of as sinking. The Sun, the Moon, etc. Almost every time the Pleiades are mentioned, they are the subject of some form of δύνειν. The moon is not mentioned here, the sun is logically impossible. So it seems to me that the Pleiades must be the subject here.

And it's easy to imagine the ἔπι (not ἐπὶ) causing a shift from nominative to accusative. If πλειας were the original text, it would have worked metrically as a fifth foot spondee (these are elegiac couplets), and it saves the sense.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:48 pm

jeidsath wrote: However, I still think this must be nominative in the original version. In Greek, it's heavenly bodies that are talked of as sinking. The Sun, the Moon, etc. Almost every time the Pleiades are mentioned, they are the subject of some form of δύνειν. The moon is not mentioned here, the sun is logically impossible. So it seems to me that the Pleiades must be the subject here.

I agree that the idea of the Pleiades being the subject is attractive, but that doesn't mean it was nominitave originally. Accusatives can be subjects if the verb is in the infinitive (see my example from the Iliad), and I was actually wondering if we could emend the verb into aorist infinitive δῦναι. But we still would have to find a way to deal with μέσην.

I suppose the singular nominative of Pleiades in pleiada you found belongs to modern Greek...
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby jeidsath » Tue Jan 10, 2017 5:31 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:I agree that the idea of the Pleiades being the subject is attractive, but that doesn't mean it was nominitave originally. Accusatives can be subjects if the verb is in the infinitive (see my example from the Iliad), and I was actually wondering if we could emend the verb into aorist infinitive δῦναι. But we still would have to find a way to deal with μέσην.


You could use χειμερινη to replace χεῖμα, but I'm afraid that you'll have to explain to me how to justify the infinitive. In the Iliad line, you had "μή."

Νὺξ μακρὴ καὶ χειμερινή, ἐπὶ Πλειάδα δῦναι

Paul Derouda wrote:I suppose the singular nominative of Pleiades in pleiada you found belongs to modern Greek...


Yes. Although I could also imagine a poet confusing the poetical form πλειαδα with a neuter plural, given the nature of the constellation. See also the Hephaestionis Enchiridion reference from the LSJ, "οὓς Πλειάδα ἐκάλεσαν διὰ τὸ λαμπροὺς εἶναι ἐν τῇ τραγικῇ ὡς τὰ ἄστρα τῆς Πλειάδος."
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:11 pm

What I had in mind is a construction like Od 1.422

οἱ δ᾽ εἰς ὀρχηστύν τε καὶ ἱμερόεσσαν ἀοιδὴν
τρεψάμενοι τέρποντο, μένον δ᾽ ἐπὶ ἕσπερον ἐλθεῖν.

μένεις δ᾽ ἐπὶ Πλειάδα δῦναι isn't very elegant (why would "you" wait for the setting of the Pleiades), even if palaeographically μένεις might probably be quite easily corrupted from μέσην. But my idea was that maybe there's a verb we could supply for μέσην.

Probably there's no easy solution, or otherwise the editors would have attempted something instead of just daggering.

However, come to think about it, this epigram is obviously influenced by Od 1.422, it's very similar, isn't it? It's also possible that whoever corrupted was influenced by this verse.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby cramberepetita » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:20 pm

Can I just say first how delighted I am to find this group of people willing to join in discussions such as these, and offering such interesting suggestions!
Thank you, Paul Derouda, for supplying some more text from Sens’s commentary. If ever I manage to lay my hand on the complete text, which may yet hold more relevant information, I will be sure to add it here (unfortunately the book’s price is rather prohibitive, and at my university the book is supposedly available, but in reality nowhere to be found; the database lists it as a specific order by/for one particular professor, who probably keeps it in his office or at home).
Jeidsath, may I ask what you mean by “the ἔπι (not ἐπὶ) causing a shift from nominative to accusative?" I’m not really clear on this. You're saying that the Pleiads should be the subject, but the preposition (with accent as if in anastrophe?) puts it in the accusative anyway?
Also, I looked up the line you quote (οὓς Πλειάδα ἐκάλεσαν διὰ τὸ λαμπροὺς εἶναι ἐν τῇ τραγικῇ ὡς τὰ ἄστρα τῆς Πλειάδος) and found it to be from Georgius Choeroboscus’ commentary on Hephaestio of Alexandria. Apparently it refers to a circle of tragic poets in the day of Ptolemy Philadelphus being nicknamed the ‘Pleiad’, either because they were so brilliant, as the grammarian himself suggests, or maybe because there were seven of them, as Evina Sistakou suggests in her book ‘Tragic Failures’ (which I found on Google Books by looking up the Greek quote). Either way, Πλειάδα seems to me to be acc.sg.f. there; I don’t think it ever occurs as a n.pl.
Paul Derouda, I have to say I don't see much similarity between Od. 1.421f and the epigram; more so with the Sappho fragment (fr. 52 Bergk = fr. 74 Reinach) jeidsath mentioned, which had also crossed my mind. But of course it can’t be exluded that a construction with μένω was used here before some monk dozed off on the job.

So anyway, I dropped by the university today, and found some more interesting tidbits.

In Hugo Stadtmueller's Teubner edition (in which this epigram is 5.188 rather than 189) I found some suggestions in the critical apparatus: one Mähly (probably Jacob Achilles Mähly, 19th century Swiss scholar) apparently suggested reading either Νὺξ μακρὴ καὶ χεῖμα μέσον περὶ Πλειάδα δῦσαν or Νὺξ μακρὴ καῖ χεῖμα μέσον, Πλειὰς δ’ ἐπέδυνε. Pretty clever suggestions, I think, though of course we can't prove either of them is correct. In both of them, he changes μεσήν to μεσόν, to make it go with χεῖμα. In the first he takes both nouns together as a double subject, and puts the verb in the plural. In the second he supposes an ellipsis of ἐστίν, and makes the Pleiads subject of the next verb, along the lines of what several people here suggested.

The editor of this Teubner edition adds, in the critical apparatus, regarding δύνει: ‘fort[asse] θύνει vel θύει: cf. Hes. Th. 621’.
He made a small mistake there in the reference, which ought to point not at the Theogony, but line 621 of the Works and Days, where we find:
Εἰ δέ σε ναυτιλίης δυσπεμφέλου ἵμερος αἱρεῖ·
εὖτ’ ἂν Πληϊάδες σθένος ὄβριμον Ὠρίωνος
φεύγουσαι πίπτωσιν ἐς ἠεροειδέα πόντον,
δὴ τότε παντοίων ἀνέμων θυίουσιν ἀῆται· (618-21)
Glenn Most’s Loeb edition prints θυίουσιν here, but the manuscripts have θύουσιν, and I’ve often seen this verb, meaning ‘rage’, spelled θύω, even though it has nothing to do with that other θύω ‘sacrifice’. A scribal error where δύ(ν)ω is confused with θύ(ι)ω doesn't seem far-fetched at all.
By the way, Most translates these lines:
‘But if desire for storm-tossed seafaring seize you: when the Pleaiades, fleeing Orion’s mighty strength, fall into the murky sea, at that time* blasts of all sorts of winds rage’ (his note: * in November).
Despite misgivings, Stadtmueller’s Teubner does not obelize the second half of the first verse.

Andrew Gow and Denys Page, in their 1965 edition and commentary of the Anthology, already did obelize, however. And in the commentary they discuss the problematic half line at some length, they too calling it ‘a very obscure phrase’. I was going to quote only the most interesting bits, but ended up copying the entire entry, so if anyone is still hanging in there, here it is (with minor additions and notes by me for clarity and ease of reading and simply because I like to follow up on these leads far beyond the point where they cease to be of any interest to anyone):

“[Friedrich] Jacobs supposed the subject of the verb to be νύξ, nox ad occasum vergit, and added Vergilias in media cursus sui parte collocatas significare videtur. Voluit poëta simul noctis horam et anni tempus indicare(*). But apart from the difficulty of going back to νύξ for a subject, this interpretation of μέσην is hardly credible, and for νὺξ δύνει the only parallel we can supply is the converse ὀρώρει δ’ οὐρανόθεν νύξ(**) (Od. 5.294, al[ibi]; see [A.S.F.] Gow on Theocr[itus] 13.10(***)). [Alfons] Hecker wrote μέσον, and translated media hiems condit (ἐπιδύνει) Pleiadem(****), referring to the setting of the constellation in late autumn (see below), but ἐπιδύνω is not elsewhere transitive, and the setting of the Pleiads regularly marks the beginning, not the end, of winter. [Jean François] Boissonade supposed the subject to be ἥλιος, but we are no more able than he to supply a parallel for the ellipse of this noun.
Boissonade cited Hygin[us] [De] Astr[onomia] 2.21(*****) and might have added other passages from minor Greek calendar-makers (see [John] Lydus de Ostentis pp. 350, 357 Wachsmuth(******)), who also record the matutinal setting of the Pleiads at the end of October or beginning of November as the beginning of winter (see [William] Smith Dict[ionary of Greek and Roman] Ant[iquities] 1.227), to which, if νύξ can be the subject of δύνει, the phrase might refer. Ἐπί c[um] acc[usativo] when temporal should mean towards or about, and ἐπὶ μέσην Πλειάδα might mean about the time when the middle of the constellation is setting, midway in the setting of the Pleiads, but the Pleiads form so small a group of stars that one would not expect such a distinction to be drawn.
We should expect the phrase to denote the time of year, but do not see how such sense can be reasonably extracted from it without drastic alteration. If the author had written Κύων δ’ ἐπὶ Πλειάδι δύνει, the (cosmical or matutinal) setting of Sirius is now following that of the Pleiads, i.e. we have passed from the beginning to the end of November (see Smith Dict. Ant. 1.230), the sense would be very satisfactory; but the suggestion has no transcriptional probability, and we mention it only exempli gratia in default of a better.”

(*) 'Night draws to its setting' (i.e. begins to set); and 'This seems to mean that the Pleiads are placed in the middle of their course. The poet wanted to indicate the hour of the night and the time of year at the same time.' (my translations)
(**) Also Od. 9.69 and 12.315 (but nowhere in the Iliad). Translated in the current Loeb edition by Augustus Taber Murray, revised by George E. Dimock: 'and down from heaven night came rushing' (with ὄρωρα from ὄρνυμαι).
(***) Theocritus 13.10: χωρὶς δ' οὐδέποκ' ἦς, οὔτ' εἰ μέσον ἆμαρ ὄροιτο, translated in Neil Hopkinson's new Loeb edition: 'He was never apart from him - neither as midday came on,' (etc.). Andrew Gow in his commentary discusses the use of ὄρνυμαι for the coming of nightfall and daybreak, and strangely also noon, but none of this is relevant to the issue at hand.
(****) The middle of winter hides the Pleiads. (my translation)
(*****) Pseudo-Hyginus, last line of Poeticon Astronomicon 2.21: Eas stellas nostri Vergilias appellaverunt quod post ver exoriuntur et hae quidem ampliorem ceteris habent honorem, quod in earum signo exoriente aestas significatur, occidente autem hiems ostenditur, quod aliis non est traditum signis. (Translation by Mary Grant: 'Our writers call these stars Vergiliae, because they rise after spring. They have still greater honour than the others, too, because their rising is a sign of summer, their setting of winter - a thing is not true of the other constellations.')
(******) Curtius Wachsmuth's 1897 edition of John the Lydian's De Ostentis and excerpts from other authors about the calendar is full of unexciting lines like Clodius Tuscus's 'τῇ πρὸ θ’ καλενδῶν δύονται αἱ πλειάδες' ('The Pleiads set on the 24th of October') and Columella's ‘VI Id. s[upra] s[criptas] Vergiliae mane occidunt; significat tempestatem; hiemat' (’On the 8th of that month (i.e. November) the Pleiads set at dawn; this means storm; it's wintry').
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Hylander » Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:55 am

I'm late to the party, and I don't have anything to add on the Greek--the upshot is that the heliacal setting of the Pleiades marks the onset of winter, even if the Greek is somewhat obscure--but beginning Tuesday or Wednesday, 1/17-18, when the moon will be rising late in the evening, it would be a good time to go out and take a look at the Pleiades in the early evening with binoculars. A dazzling sight, even modest binoculars! Perseus and fiery red Aldebaran will be spectacular to the naked eye, too.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:19 pm

cramberepetita wrote:Paul Derouda, I have to say I don't see much similarity between Od. 1.421f and the epigram; more so with the Sappho fragment (fr. 52 Bergk = fr. 74 Reinach) jeidsath mentioned, which had also crossed my mind. But of course it can’t be exluded that a construction with μένω was used here before some monk dozed off on the job.

I was a bit unclear and perhaps I got too excited as well. What I meant is that the half-verses μέσην δ᾽ ἐπὶ Πλειάδα δύνει and μένον δ᾽ ἐπὶ ἕσπερον ἐλθεῖν are similar. First of all, they are metrically identical, and μένον δ᾽ ἐπὶ and μένον δ᾽ ἐπὶ are verbally quite similar. Also, the verb δύω is quite commonly used about the sun in Homer, and "the sun sinking" is virtually synonymous with "evening coming upon [us]" (ἐπὶ ἕσπερον ἐλθεῖν); so, while "the Pleiades are sinking" and "the sun is sinking/evening is coming" are quite distinct ideas, I suggest that they are close "by association". This is what I meant with similarity between the two half-verses.

Hylander wrote:I'm late to the party, and I don't have anything to add on the Greek--the upshot is that the heliacal setting of the Pleiades marks the onset of winter, even if the Greek is somewhat obscure--but beginning Tuesday or Wednesday, 1/17-18, when the moon will be rising late in the evening, it would be a good time to go out and take a look at the Pleiades in the early evening with binoculars. A dazzling sight, even modest binoculars! Perseus and fiery red Aldebaran will be spectacular to the naked eye, too.

It's cloudy and drizzling, and even if it weren't, Helsinki is probably the most light-polluted place I know. I spent Christmas in southern France a few kilometers from Marseille, and I was surprised how starry the sky can be. Should have taken a look at the stars back then!
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Timothée » Sat Feb 11, 2017 1:28 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Helsinki is probably the most light-polluted place I know. I spent Christmas in southern France a few kilometers from Marseille, and I was surprised how starry the sky can be. Should have taken a look at the stars back then!

I find this hard to believe. Take a look at this map, and also this. All the cities in the world have this undeniably bad and sad problem.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:34 pm

I only speak from my own experience; I'm always surprised at how bright the stars are near Marseille. I'm sure the problem is much worse in the real metropoles of the world like Paris, London, Moscow, Beijing etc., but I have so little experience of them that I can't say.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Timothée » Sun Feb 12, 2017 2:49 pm

The difference cannot be much between the outskirts of Marseille and the outskirts of Helsinki, unless for the benefit of Helsinki—can it? I have no clear scientific information, though, beside those linked maps. The city centres will be a thing of their own, of course.

Paul Derouda wrote:in the real metropoles of the world

Metropoleis, surely! (Sorry for the OT.) It’s funny, though, how much the English language likes the plural of the original language, from formulae, matrices, genera, corpora, Cyclopes, and phalanges to Poltergeister, châteaux, criteria, miasmata, and cherubim, to name only a few. Taleban by the way is Persian plural of the very common Arabic word طالب (ṭālib) ‘student’, which in Arabic has the broken plural طلاب (ṭullāb). Quite interesting, ¿no?
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Hylander » Sun Feb 12, 2017 4:21 pm

It’s funny, though, how much the English language likes the plural of the original language, from formulae, matrices, genera, corpora, Cyclopes, and phalanges to Poltergeister, châteaux, criteria, miasmata, and cherubim, to name only a few.


Formulas, genuses, corpuses are all perfectly acceptable, and poltergeists, phalanxes and miasmas are standard. Cyclops is so rarely used in the plural that as a native speaker I'm not sure how to pluralize it. The problem is the final -ps. Cherubs is also standard in the sense of cute toddlers--cherubim is used in religious contexts and maybe in the sense of putti. Criteria is often used as a singular (and even plural criterias occurs), though that's considered substandard. I think German is more likely to preserve Greek and Latin plurals than English.

However, Greek words in -sis often have English plurals in -es: hypothesis/hypotheses; hypothesises is unacceptable.

Metropolises is the English plural of metropolis.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:00 pm

No matter how kind you are, German kids are always Kinder.

I hadn't noticed that metropole and metropolis are two different words.

I suppose Pleiades can be difficult to remember even for a native...
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby jeidsath » Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:28 pm

Recently I stumbled in conversation because my brain was confused about the plural of octopus (octopuses, not octopodes or octopi). Before studying Greek it would not have been a problem. How's that for the idea that classical languages benefit your command of your mother tongue?

I grew up in New Mexico where there were plenty of opportunities to get away from the city lights.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby mwh » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:53 am

And I came here for enlightenment on the epigram. Never mind.

Metropolises? Really? Keeping the accent on the 2nd syllable? Hypothesises would be no more awkward.

I’ve never encountered (and would never use) criteria as singular, but evidently it’s gone the way of data.

Plural of apparatus? I say apparatuses, pluralizing in English fashion, but I could count on being criticized for that, just as I’ve been criticized for codexes (and Cyclopses). I think I’ve heard apparati, which is barbaric but unobjectionable in principle, like octopi.

Pleiades is normally pronounced with the –es long as in hypotheses and so on. I pedantically keep it short however, as with all such formations, I can’t help it. Incidentally there’s nothing morphologically untoward about πλειαδα. It’s perfectly regular. The singular is common in post-classical Greek, referring to the constellation as a single entity. Of course they started out as plural. Hesiod genealogizes them as daughters of Atlas, and Aratus counts them, seven sisters.

So back to the epigram. It’s a paraklausithuron. It was a dark and stormy night, and our poor lover-boy is mooching about in the rain complaining about being shut out—same as in opening scene of Menander’s Misoumenos and a multitude of epigrams. I doubt the author had any clear idea of what he meant by μεσην δ’επι πλειαδα δυνει, which seems an impossibly muddled phrase. None of the proposed emendations has any plausibility. It shouldn’t be primarily a seasonal marker (despite the long night and the χειμα and e.g. Ovid Amores 1.9.15f. quis nisi vel miles vel amans et frigora noctis | et denso mixtas perferet imbre nives?) but ought to refer somehow to the passage of the night, cf. e.g. the recurrent tempora noctis eunt in Ovid’s paraclausithuron Am.1.6. But for all its seeming specificity it’s quite incoherent. The inept closing conceit about Kypris not shooting Eros is in its way even worse. I wouldn’t waste time worrying about it.

Incidentally, that soppy δεδυκε μεν poem is certainly not by Sappho. I doubt that it’s even hellenistic.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Timothée » Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:35 pm

Thank you. Apparently the case of the plural is very convoluted. OED gives oc'topodes and octopuses, Cyc'lopes but also Cyclopses (and variant sg. Cyclop), plural apparatus as rare alongside the more common apparatuses, has no entry criteria but only criterion, whereunder are the plural criteria and criterions, the latter deemed as less common. It only has codices, but formulae & formulas as equal, only seraphim (this being the main entry instead of seraph), and I don’t understand what’s its take on metropolis’s plural.

Persian plurals will be another good example along with the English and German ones. Persian has great many Arabic loan-words, and it has adopted many Arabic plurals, as well. But I would say that e.g. ketabha ‘books’ is much more common than Arabic kotob. I think that more educated people are more liable to use more of those Arabic plurals than so-called everyday people.

Finally, OED has Pleiad : Pleiads, but states that Pleiades is more common, and gives the diphthong -ei- a German-style pronunciation, i.e. like ply instead of play which I as a non-native would have used.

mwh wrote:Incidentally, that soppy δεδυκε μεν poem is certainly not by Sappho. I doubt that it’s even hellenistic.

I find this fascinating. I don’t have Lobel and Page’s PLF at hand, but if I remember correctly it does include this famous Δέδυκε poem. Could you please clarify your reasoning? Wasn’t the poem attributed to Sappho already in the Classical antiquity?
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby mwh » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:20 pm

It’s quoted by Hephaestion (2nd-century metrician) for its meter, in a context that seems to imply it’s an “Aeolian” i.e. Lesbian composition (like others that he quotes first), but that’s probably based only on its dialect, and over-educated people were writing epigrams in Aeolic (as well as in Doric) in the hellenistic and imperial ages, showing off their literary dialectal mastery. Julia Balbilla, a member of the emperor Hadrian’s entourage, graffitoed some on the colossus of Memnon at Luxor during Hadrian’s ill-fated Egyptian tour. The attribution to Sappho was made in the Renaissance, but it was decisively rejected by Wilamowitz and I don’t think either Lobel or Page deigns even to mention it. It seems nothing like Sappho to me, and the more Sappho we get the less it looks like her.

But the attribution is slow to die.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby jeidsath » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:33 am

Here is the original Wilamowitz rejection (see the footnote).

übrigens ist es eine sünde, das reizende volkslied der Sappho zuzuschreiben. überliefert ist es nicht, und wenn das gedicht unter ihren werken gestanden haben sollte, so würde das nichts verschlagen. dies mädchen harrt bei offener kammertür auf den geliebten: das soll Sappho sein?


"By the way, it's a sin to attribute this pretty folk song to Sappho."

It was first attributed to Sappho by Arsenius (1465-1535) in a marginal note about his father's collection of proverbial material. Arsenius describes the collection ὥσπερ ἐν πολυανθεῖ λειμῶνι γενόμενος, ἄλλο τι ἐξ ἄλλου δρεψάμενος.

But here is A. E. Housman:

The weeping Pleiads wester,
And the moon is under seas;
From bourn to bourn of midnight
Far sighs the rainy breeze:

It sighs from a lost country
To a land I have not known;
The weeping Pleiads wester,
And I lie down alone.


Imagine what fits that will give people in a 1000 years!
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:29 pm

mwh wrote:I doubt the author had any clear idea of what he meant by μεσην δ’επι πλειαδα δυνει, which seems an impossibly muddled phrase. None of the proposed emendations has any plausibility. It shouldn’t be primarily a seasonal marker (despite the long night and the χειμα and e.g. Ovid Amores 1.9.15f. quis nisi vel miles vel amans et frigora noctis | et denso mixtas perferet imbre nives?) but ought to refer somehow to the passage of the night, cf. e.g. the recurrent tempora noctis eunt in Ovid’s paraclausithuron Am.1.6. But for all its seeming specificity it’s quite incoherent. The inept closing conceit about Kypris not shooting Eros is in its way even worse. I wouldn’t waste time worrying about it.

I can accept all that (though I don't understand the Latin parallels), except for the part about the Pleiades not being a seasonal marker. Surely the Pleiades are the winter constellation par excellence, visible only during the colder half of the year. Not that the author necessarily had anything very specific in mind with μεσην δ’επι πλειαδα δυνει meant (I proposed earlier that it was somehow related to the Odyssean half-line μένον δ᾽ ἐπὶ ἕσπερον ἐλθεῖν).
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby Timothée » Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:56 pm

Thank you, mwh — and thanks, Joel, really well and rapidly found. This is all immensely interesting. Will Page’s Sappho and Alcaeus (1959²) still be recommendable and worth reading as an introduction on this subject, or is it dated? We have, of course, a few new finds published this century.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby mwh » Wed Feb 15, 2017 4:59 am

I’d be most surprised if Housman thought the original was by Sappho, though you can understand how it would have appealed to him. No-one would call his adaptation a pretty folk song.

@Paul D. OK, Pleiads point to nasty weather, the off-season, it’s hard to know just what was in the epigrammatist’s head. Shut-out lovers (exclusus amator is the Latin term) can complain of winter weather as compounding their ill-treatment, as the Latin I quoted acknowledged. “Who but either a soldier or a lover will put up with the cold of night and snows mixed with heavy rain?” (a combination known as “wintry mix” in this part of the world). The refrain from the actual paraklausithuron, tempora noctis eunt, lit. the times of night are going, will mean something like the night is passing, i.e. I’ve been out here for ages, please please let me in before dawn comes. Also hard to know if that Odyssey phrase played any significant part. I doubt it myself despite the elements in common.

@Timothée. Page’s S&A dated? And how! For the larger fragments his texts and linguistic commentaries retain some authority, but he and Wilamowitz both in their different ways were obsessed with Sappho’s moral character, now recognized as a non-issue. And as you say we've now acquired considerably more, against all expectation. Two people I think worth reading on Sappho are Margaret Williamson and André Lardinois. She's still a highly controversial figure.

I’m checking out for a while. But I’ll check back in now and again, just to show I’m still here.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby jeidsath » Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:49 am

mwh's comment that the Pleiades are not functioning as a seasonal marker, and Housman's poem have given me a new theory about AP5.189. I feel that it is coherent, and I hope convincing to everyone (unlikely as that may be):

1. In addition to functioning as the seasonal marker mentioned above, the Pleiades travel the sky like a nighttime sun (hence Housman's "westering"). Like the sun, they sink at the end of their course.

2. In fact, it is highly probable that the subject for the verb δύνει is the Pleiades. They are commonly used with the verb, and no other noun in the sentence could fit.

3. Therefore ἐπὶ does not govern Pleiades, even as an accusative subject to an infinitive.

4. There is no sense from μέσην modifying the Pleiades. It must be doing something else.

5. There is no possible accusative/infinitive construction, and no way to fit either nominative πλειαδες or nominative πλειας in metrically. I think that the author thought must have run into πλειαδα has a poetic equivalent for πλειαδας, and assumed (understandably given the nature of the constellation) that this rare poetic term was a neuter noun.

6. μεσην επι == μέσην ἔπι == ἐπὶ μέσην == ἐπὶ μέσην ἀμφοτέρων. It the middle of the night and storm.

7. Therefore, given (5) and (6), the line needs only an accent change: Νὺξ μακρὴ καὶ χεῖμα, μέσην δ᾽ ἔπι Πλειάδα δύνει. And the translation is: "A long night and storm, in their middle sink the Pleiades." (The Pleiades are on their way towards sinking, not really pinpointing a time of night.)

8. Note that the second line runs parallel (subject + prepositional phrase + verb of motion): κἀγὼ πὰρ προθύροις νίσσομαι ὑόμενος. "And I, to her doorstep come rained upon." This parallel nicely motivates the initial κἀγὼ.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby mwh » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:19 pm

No, not convincing to everyone. Not convincing to anyone, I would hope. Fantastic reasoning. Πλειαδα nominative?!
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby jeidsath » Thu Feb 16, 2017 11:12 pm

As usual, I didn't actually have much hope, but I did have some evidence for my idea of Πλειάδα confusion: Hephaestion's Enchiridion and scholia can't seem to decide whether Πλειας is a normal noun or a collective feminine singular when referring to the τραγῳδοί.

Using the Teubner here:

30, 21 οὓς Πλειάδα ἐκάλεσαν διὰ τὸ λαμπροὺς εἶναι ἐν τῇ τραγικῇ ὡς τὰ ἄστρα τῆς Πλειάδος
(K: οὓς Πλειάδας ἐκάλεσαν διὰ τὸ λαμπροὺς εἶναι ἐν τῇ τραγικῇ ὡς τὰ ἄστρα τὰς Πλειάδας)

140, 9: ἑπτὰ γὰρ ἐλέγοντο εἶναι τραγῳδοί· διὸ καὶ πλειὰς ὠνομάσθησαν, ὧν εἷς ἐστιν οὗτος ὁ Φίλικος· ἐπὶ Πτολεμαίου δὲ γεγόνασιν οὗτοι ἄριστοι τραγικοί· εἰσὶ δὲ οὗτοι· Ὅμηρος νεώτερος, Σωσίθεος, Λυκόφρων, Ἀλέξανδρος, Φίλικος, Διονυσιάδης

279, 6: ἑπτὰ ἄριστοι γεγόνασι τραγικοί, οὗς Πλειάδας ἐκάλεσαν διὰ τὸ λαμπροὺς εἶναι ἐν τῇ τραγικῇ ὥσπερ ἄστρα τὰ ἐν τῇ Πλειάδι

387, 9: εἷς τῆς ἐπὶ Πλειάδος


A collective singular feminine is a strange thing to me. Why would we even have "διὸ καὶ πλειὰς ὠνομάσθησαν" when there is the perfectly good, and more common, plural form? I could especially see a context like 30, 21 causing confusion.
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Re: Anth. Pal. 5.189

Postby mwh » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:47 am

There’s really nothing strange about it. In archaic times the constellation was called the Πλειάδες (epic form Πληιάδες), plural, seven stars in total, then later (from 5th cent. on) it could alternatively be called the Πλειάς (acc.Πλειάδα), singular for a single constellation, as I said earlier. Aristotle for instance regularly uses the singular as you can see from LSJ. The –άς gen.-άδος formation is perfectly regular, there's no way πλειάδα could ever be nominative. Seven illustrious tragedians in the mid-3rd cent. BC were collectively nicknamed the Πλειάς—just as Hephaestion says.
(In the 3rd quote Πλειαδας must be in error for Πλειαδα, as the latter part of it confirms. The 4th is unintelligible.)
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