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Tempus edax rerum

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Tempus edax rerum

Postby jeidsath » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:00 am

I was interested in Notörious Ben's question about Tempus edax rerum over on the Greek poetry forum. Is Ovid really channelling Simonides?

jeidsath wrote:Here is Ovid:

Tempus edax rerum, tuque, invidiosa vetustas,
omnia destruitis, vitiataque dentibus aevi
paulatim lenta consumitis omnia morte.


And here is the translation of Maximus Planudes in the 13th century (not really ancient Greek, and I've removed the line breaks, because I think it might be prose, but can't really tell):

Ὦ χρόνε πανδαμάτορ, καὶ σύ, φθονερὸν γῆρας, ὡς ἅπαντα καθαιρεῖτε, καὶ πάντα, τοῖς ὀδοῦσι λυμαινόμενα τοῦ αἰῶνος, κατὰ μικρὸν μέλανι θανάτῳ ἐξαναλίσκετε!


The equivalent of "Tempus edax rerum" here is "Ὦ χρόνε πανδαμάτορ." The Latin means something like "O Time, devourer of all things." The Greek means "O Time, all-subduer."

This Greek epithet of time is very old. Here is Simonides (5th/6th century B.C.):

"ὁ πανδαμάτωρ ἀμαυρώσει χρόνος"

Maybe others can comment on whether Ovid is in fact translating Simonides here.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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Re: Tempus edax rerum

Postby Barry Hofstetter » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:39 am

It's a common thought, and Ovid might have been inspired by Simonides, but it doesn't appear to me to be a direct translation. This put me in mind of Tolkien:

This thing all things devours,
Birds, beasts, trees, and flowers.
Gnaws iron bites steel,
Grinds hard stones to meal,
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down

Was Tolkien in turn channeling Ovid?
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Tempus edax rerum

Postby jeidsath » Mon Nov 20, 2017 1:58 pm

I thought of the Tolkien line too, but it’s a commonplace. If you look up “all things devours” in Google Books, you’ll see a number of entries referring to time, pre-dating Tolkien. I do suspect that Ovid is the source for whatever English poet first used the line.

The “white horses on a red hill” riddle is an old nursery rhyme. I don’t know the source of the other riddles.
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Re: Tempus edax rerum

Postby Markos » Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:25 pm

jeidsath wrote:...it’s a commonplace.

Compare the Bagavad Gita 11:32:

ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ πανδαμάτωρ (πανολέτωρ, παγχάλεπος, πάνδεινος) χρόνος, ἔφη ὁ Κρισνᾶς, ἕτοιμος ἐνταῦθα ἀνελεῖν πᾶσαν πνοήν.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=64125&p=187712&hilit=gita#p187712

A more literal translation of the Sanskrit might be:

χρόνος γέγονα, ὁ τοὺς κόσμους λύων.
οὐ μανθάνω γράφειν, ἀλλὰ γράφω τοῦ μαθεῖν.
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