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Soft bees' wax κηρῷ μαλθακῷ - heated or natural?

Soft bees' wax κηρῷ μαλθακῷ - heated or natural?

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Tue May 29, 2018 6:20 am

Moving on to fanatic status (but not yet at sight fluency) now with my present re-reading this passage, I have this same question this time as last time I read this, so better out than in (with the question).

Longus 1.10.2 wrote:ὁ δὲ καλάμους ἐκτεμὼν λεπτοὺς καὶ τρήσας τὰς τῶν γονάτων διαφυὰς ἐπαλλήλους τε κηρῷ μαλθακῷ συναρτήσας μέχρι νυκτὸς συρίττειν ἐμελέτα


Being as they didn't have Araldite or polystyrene cement (or even plastic) to build their childhood playthings from (Ἁθύρματα δὲ ἦν αὐτοῖς ποιμενικὰ καὶ παιδικά). Besides the desire to craft and build things from small pieces I see my own facination and passion to somehow capture flight in a model plane mirrored in their desire capture a flying insect in their locust-trap (ἀκριδοθήρα). This passage says they used wax to join the little pieces together. My question is about the wax.

Is the "soft" bees' wax (κηρῷ μαλθακῷ) that they are using to join the sections of reed a natural (and sticky) state of a particular kind of wax or is it like heated by fire (or body heat by rubbing or holding)? That is to ask, is it soft or (temporarily) softened?
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(W.W., 1802)
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Re: Soft bees' wax κηρῷ μαλθακῷ - heated or natural?

Postby mwh » Wed May 30, 2018 3:09 am

Beeswax is easily softened by hand if it needs to be. It’s a suitably pastoral material for joining together the reeds of the panpipe, anticipated by Ovid at the end of his Syrinx metamorphosis (Met.1.711) and no doubt by others. The more popular Achilles Tatius has a description of the syrinx’ construction—no mention of wax there, however—where it nicely serves as a test of virginity.
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Re: Soft bees' wax κηρῷ μαλθακῷ - heated or natural?

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Wed May 30, 2018 7:29 am

mwh wrote:The more popular Achilles Tatius has a description of the syrinx’ construction—no mention of wax there, however—where it nicely serves as a test of virginity.

Achilles Tatius 8.6.3 wrote:σύγκεινται δὲ στοιχηδὸν ἄλλος ἐπ̓ ἄλλον ἡνωμένος.

Achilles Tatius 8.6.10 wrote:Συμφορήσας οὖν τὰ τετμημένα [p. 195] τῶν καλάμων ὡς μέλη τοῦ σώματος καὶ συνθεὶς εἰς ἓν σῶμα εἶχε διὰ χειρῶν τὰς τομὰς τῶν καλάμων καταφιλῶν ὡς τῆς κόρης τραύματα:

No. You're right. Neither of those two verbs give specific details about how the pipes were put together.

I read L&C 25 years ago. I remember the facination the work has with virginity, but have no recollection of this particular account.
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Re: Soft bees' wax κηρῷ μαλθακῷ - heated or natural?

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:18 am

On the topic of virgins, I think that one of the weaker sections of an entry in LSJ is the last part of στάζειν.
II.2. of dry things, as ripe fruit, drop off, A.Supp.1001 (dub. l.).

Aeschylus, Suppliant Women 998-1005 wrote:τέρειν᾽ ὀπώρα δ᾽ εὐφύλακτος οὐδαμῶς:
θῆρες δὲ κηραίνουσι καὶ βροτοί, τί μήν;
καὶ κνώδαλα πτεροῦντα καὶ πεδοστιβῆ. 1000
†καρπώματα στάζοντα κηρύσσει Κύπρις
καλωρα κωλύουσαν θωσμένειν ἐρῶ,†
καὶ παρθένων χλιδαῖσιν εὐμόρφοις ἔπι
πᾶς τις παρελθὼν ὄμματος θελκτήριον
τόξευμ᾽ ἔπεμψεν, ἱμέρου νικώμενος. 1005

I think the main idea of the metaphor is that the girl (perhaps the "(mortal) venus" - "the love goddess") being described is so noticeably ready to have her nubility plucked, that she (or by metaphor her fecundity and by context her maidenhood) is a ripe fruit bursting open, oozing and even dripping with juice. LSJ's "of dry things" quite misses the point by about 30 years.
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Re: Soft bees' wax κηρῷ μαλθακῷ - heated or natural?

Postby mwh » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:54 pm

But that passage is acknowledged to be corrupt.

Call me a romantic, or perhaps an anti-romantic, but whenever I see στάζειν what always drips into my head is the prayer to Eros in Euripides’ Hippolytus, Ερως Ερως ο κατ’ομματων σταζεις ποθον, ….
That ode is one of my favorite pieces of Greek.

We are now even more completely off topic.
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