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Iliad II, 394-397

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Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Bart » Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:48 pm

Which interpretation to choose when the commentaries do not agree.

ὣς ἔφατ᾽, Ἀργεῖοι δὲ μέγ᾽ ἴαχον ὡς ὅτε κῦμα
395ἀκτῇ ἐφ᾽ ὑψηλῇ, ὅτε κινήσῃ Νότος ἐλθών,
προβλῆτι σκοπέλῳ: τὸν δ᾽ οὔ ποτε κύματα λείπει
παντοίων ἀνέμων, ὅτ᾽ ἂν ἔνθ᾽ ἢ ἔνθα γένωνται.

The problem is in the last one and a half line: τὸν δ᾽ οὔ ποτε κύματα λείπει
παντοίων ἀνέμων, ὅτ᾽ ἂν ἔνθ᾽ ἢ ἔνθα γένωνται.

Ameis and Brenner think παντοίων ἀνέμων is an 'ablatival genitive', meaning waves driven by all various winds. But if I understand Smyth correctly this is a use of the genitive mainly governed by certain verbs. As the subject of γένωνται they posit an understood ἀνέμοι. Willcock doen not offer any help on the παντοίων ἀνέμων and says κύματα is the subject of γένωνται. The Loeb seems to agree with Willcock, translating the last lines as: "against a jutting crag that is never left by the waves of all the winds that come from this side or that."

The interpretation by Willcock and the Loeb has the advantage of being simpler. But hinges on the question if κύματα ἀνέμων (meaning something like "waves of the wind" ) is acceptable Greek?
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Markos » Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:56 am

Bart wrote:Which interpretation to choose when the commentaries do not agree.

ὣς ἔφατ᾽, Ἀργεῖοι δὲ μέγ᾽ ἴαχον ὡς ὅτε κῦμα
395ἀκτῇ ἐφ᾽ ὑψηλῇ, ὅτε κινήσῃ Νότος ἐλθών,
προβλῆτι σκοπέλῳ: τὸν δ᾽ οὔ ποτε κύματα λείπει
παντοίων ἀνέμων, ὅτ᾽ ἂν ἔνθ᾽ ἢ ἔνθα γένωνται.


χαίροις, φίλε!

I for my part then go to the paraphrasers, although these never quite agree on all points either.

Psellos 396-7:...ὅντινα οὐδέποτε τὰ κύματα λείπει τῶν παντοδαπῶν ἀνέμων, ὅταν τῇδε κἀκεῖσε γένωνται.

Gaza 396-7: ὅπερ οὐδέποτε κύματα λείπει, ἃ παντοῖοι κινοῦσιν ἄνεμοι, ὅταν ἐνθένδε ἢ ἐνθένδε γένωνται.

A genitive phrase often can be converted into a relative clause with an implied verb added, and Gaza nicely does that here. This is his way of saying, or maybe, better, his way of not having to say, 'ablatival genitive.'
Willcock doen not offer any help on the παντοίων ἀνέμων and says κύματα is the subject of γένωνται.

Would not then one expect γένηται?
...the question if κύματα ἀνέμων (meaning something like "waves of the wind" ) is acceptable Greek?

πῶς γὰρ οὔ?
...when the commentaries do not agree.

They'll never agree because all meta-language commentaries, all translations, all paraphrases, step AWAY from the text and see it from a different angle. These are designed to help one see the text better, but in the final analysis they all alike betray the meaning of the text which can only be found by going back INTO the text.

But these are good questions you raise.
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Bart » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:08 am

...the question if κύματα ἀνέμων (meaning something like "waves of the wind" ) is acceptable Greek?
πῶς γὰρ οὔ?


Yes, it sounds okay to me too, but still: if it would turn out to be the only instance of κύμα referring to ἀνέμων in Homer or epic Greek, that would change things.

Also, it seems a bit confusing since κύμα is used only two lines earlier in its original 'waves of the sea' meaning. And then, as you say, there is γένωνται where you would expect γένηται instead.

I hadn't thought about checking Gaza, although it is on my shelf. I didn't use it till now. Maybe I should.
Last edited by Bart on Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:38 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Markos » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:17 am

Bart wrote:I hadn't thought about checking Gaza, although it is on my shelf. I didn't use it till now. Maybe I should.


I never leave home(r) without it. :mrgreen:
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:55 am

Bart wrote:And then, as you say, there is γένωνται where you would expect γένηται instead.

I think that both interpretations are possible, either κύματα or an understood ἀνέμοι can taken as the subject. By searching parallels elsewhere etc., it's probably possible to maintain that one of them is more likely than the other, but we can't be sure. I don't have access to my trusty Chantraine right now, but I think there are a lot of exceptions to the rule "neuter plural takes singular verb" rule in Homer - in this case, the emphasis is in the multitude of waves, which I think is enough to warrant a plural verb.
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:53 am

I found a parallel for κύματα παντοίων ἀνέμων. So yes, it is regular. I addition to this, you of have many instances of θύελλα, ἀέλλη etc. with the genitive ἀνέμων.

Od. 13.96ff.:
Φόρκυνος δέ τίς ἐστι λιμήν, ἁλίοιο γέροντος,
ἐν δήμῳ Ἰθάκης· δύο δὲ προβλῆτες ἐν αὐτῷ
ἀκταὶ ἀπορρῶγες, λιμένος πότι πεπτηυῖαι,
αἵ τ’ ἀνέμων σκεπόωσι δυσαήων μέγα κῦμα
ἔκτοθεν· ἔντοσθεν δέ τ’ ἄνευ δεσμοῖο μένουσι (100)
νῆες ἐΰσσελμοι, ὅτ’ ἂν ὅρμου μέτρον ἵκωνται
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Bart » Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:23 am

Thanks. For simplicity's sake I'll go with Willcock then (κύματα as the subject of γένωνται), keeping in mind of course that both readings are possible.

After an in my view idiotic plan, explained in a very confusing first speech to the army, Agememnon pulls himself together when speaking to his men a second time (εὖ μέν τις δόρυ θηξάσθω, εὖ δ᾽ ἀσπίδα θέσθω, etcetera): strong and powerful oratory indeed. Wide-ruling Agamemnon strikes back!
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Qimmik » Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:09 pm

Since you're not going to publish a translation or a commentary of your own, you don't need to choose between two alternative interpretations (which may well go back to antiquity itself)--you just need to note that two alternatives are possible. Here it doesn't make a big difference anyway--you get the picture even if it isn't clear exactly how the words fit together.

There are many places in the Homeric poems where the meaning is unclear and alternative interpretations are possible. Don't spend too much time pondering questions like this or you'll never get through the Iliad.

People were already trying to figure out explanations for difficult and obscure passages in the Homeric poems by the 6th century BCE.
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Bart » Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:56 pm

Qimmik wrote: There are many places in the Homeric poems where the meaning is unclear and alternative interpretations are possible. Don't spend too much time pondering questions like this or you'll never get through the Iliad.


I'll try :)
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Qimmik » Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:40 pm

I should have written:

"There are many places in the Homeric poems--as in most other ancient Greek texts--where the meaning is unclear and alternative interpretations are possible. Don't spend too much time pondering questions like this (unless the ambiguity makes a substantial difference) or you'll never get through the Iliad.
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:41 pm

I mostly agree with Qimmik, although I think sometimes even questions that are trivial by themselves can be generally instructive. Like here, the discussion of the semantics of 'ablatival genitive' and of the agreement of verbs with neuter plural nouns.

Bart, I suppose you are soon reaching the catalogue of ships. Good luck! (You were talking about learning parts of book I by heart - but why not learn the catalogue of ships? Then we can call you insane even by Textkit standards! :) ) More seriously, I've read that in antiquity some teachers made their pupils learn the catalogue of ships, since they thought it taught Greek geography or something.
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Bart » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:51 pm

Paul Derouda wrote: Then we can call you insane even by Textkit standards!


And I'll wear it like a badge of honour.
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Scribo » Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:02 pm

Oi don't mock the catalogues, one of the best bits in the poem. I'll fight ya.

Also, see: http://ships.lib.virginia.edu/neatline-editions/271
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Qimmik » Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:39 pm

Thanks, Scribo! The linked map is neat. It should make the Catalogue much more interesting.

When I saw UVa, I immediately recognized the hand of Jenny Strauss Clay, who has written a guide to the topography of the Iliad that is really useful in following the action of battle books, Homer's Trojan Theater: Space, Vision and Memory in the Iliad, and there is also a wonderful interactive site related to the book that allows you to follow the action:

http://www.homerstrojantheater.org/

You can probably use the site without purchasing the book, which advances the thesis that whoever composed the Iliad had a very precise mental plan of the Trojan topography, which s/he used to narrate the action. It certainly suggests authorship of most of the poem by a single individual. But the book is well worth it.
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:11 pm

Nah, don't get me wrong. I sure think the catalogue of ships is one of the most interesting bits of the Iliad, in its own way. But it's also quite daunting when you approach it for the first time, when you're just through book one and you're impatient to get to some sex and violence (ok, you'll have to wait long for the sex part) -- and don't want read a few hundred pages of commentary on ancient Greek geography and ethnography. Just sort of trying to cheer up Bart. ;)

Anyway, I admit I haven't really properly studied the catalogue myself, yet. It's one of those "when I'll have the time" things.

Bart -- after all, it looks like you have to come up with something more eccentric than learning the catalogue of ships by heart, if you want to be called insane around here! Homerist, autoflagellist, is there a difference?
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Qimmik » Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:15 pm

The intriguing question about the Catalogue is to what extent, if at all, it has preserved information about Mycenean Greece. Denys Page (History and the Homeric Iliad) argued that it was actually a Mycenean "muster roll" for the Trojan War, transmitted orally down through the Dark Age to the Archaic Period of the eighth or seventh century, when the Homeric poems are believed to have been composed. I doubt anyone would agree with that today, but the Catalogue does seem to mention sites that were insignificant in the Archaic Period but had substantial Mycenaean remains, as well as sites that could no longer be securely identified later in antiquity, and may incorporate some memory of Greece in Mycenaean times. There's a nice summary of these issues in Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalogue_of_Ships

If you have access to a reference library, you might want to take a look at the books cited by Wikipedia, as well as Hope Simpson & Lazenby, The Catalogue of the Ships in Homer's Iliad (Oxford 1970).
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Scribo » Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:40 pm

Bah that crazy orality, ethnography etc is what I used to do and it was glorious as Artemis' ti..well you get the idea. I think the best book I've ever read on the ships would be Visser's. I think the best way to think of it is a mixture. It will retain some generic Mycenaean memories mixed with more recent ones, built up over time. Though the amount of idiots who want to take it prima facie as "bronze age" is bloody staggering.

My major love for the episode though isn't the academic corpus built around it, its the poetry. Just look at it. I mean really look at the rhythm and the way the sounds form in the mouth/ear you know? Fantastic. I once had a friend declare he'd happily have had this lost for more Euripides. I can't even slightly relate.
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Re: Iliad II, 394-397

Postby Qimmik » Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:08 pm

My major love for the episode though isn't the academic corpus built around it, its the poetry. Just look at it. I mean really look at the rhythm and the way the sounds form in the mouth/ear you know? Fantastic. I once had a friend declare he'd happily have had this lost for more Euripides. I can't even slightly relate.


I couldn't agree with you more. I would gladly give up three plays of Euripides, all of Pindar and the Trachiniae for two or three more sonorous Catalogue entries. I might be willing to throw in a few of the shorter fragments of Sappho, if that would tip the scale.
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