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resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

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resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Thu Sep 20, 2012 12:31 pm

τί ταῦτα πενθεῖν δεῖ; παροίχεται πόνος·
παροίχεται δέ, τοῖσι μὲν τεθνηκόσιν
τὸ μήποτ' αὖθις μηδ' ἀναστῆναι μέλειν –

—but why should we bewail all this? Our labor's past; past for the dead so that they will never care even to wake to life again. H.W. Smyth

Was somewhat surprised NOT to find a reference to this text in
The Greek way of death Robert Garland (Cornell Univ Pr 1985).

Perhaps this isn't talking about resurrection at all. Not as in Paul 1Cor 15 or on Mars Hill,

Acts 17:31 καθότι ἔστησεν ἡμέραν ἐν ᾗ μέλλει κρίνειν τὴν οἰκουμένην ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ, ἐν ἀνδρὶ ᾧ ὥρισεν, πίστιν παρασχὼν πᾶσιν ἀναστήσας αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν. 32 Ἀκούσαντες δὲ ἀνάστασιν νεκρῶν οἱ μὲν ἐχλεύαζον, οἱ δὲ εἶπαν· ἀκουσόμεθά σου περὶ τούτου καὶ πάλιν.
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Re: resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:48 pm

I'm reading just those three lines out of context, so I may not see the whole picture. But I suppose this means something like "the dead are so dead that they don't want to live anymore even if they could". I suppose you should compare this to the Homeric view of afterlife as mindless shadowy ghosts (though in some parts the Odyssey is more optimistic, with Menelaus's translation to Elysium etc.).
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Re: resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:13 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:I'm reading just those three lines out of context, so I may not see the whole picture. But I suppose this means something like "the dead are so dead that they don't want to live anymore even if they could". I suppose you should compare this to the Homeric view of afterlife as mindless shadowy ghosts (though in some parts the Odyssey is more optimistic, with Menelaus's translation to Elysium etc.).


Paul,

The subject of death in the immediate context is introduced by the chorus leader in 550, answering a question:

{Κη.} πόθεν τὸ δύσφρον; τοῦτ' ἐπῆν στύγος στρατῷ;
{Χο.} πάλαι τὸ σιγᾶν φάρμακον βλάβης ἔχω.
{Κη.} καὶ πῶς; ἀπόντων κοιράνων ἔτρεις τινάς;
{Χο.} ὡς νῦν τὸ σὸν δή, καὶ θανεῖν πολλὴ χάρις. 550

H.W. Smyth
Herald
Where did this gloom of melancholy upon your spirit come from?

Chorus
Long since have I found silence an antidote to harm.

Herald
How so? Did you fear anyone when our princes were gone?

Chorus
[550] In such fear that now, in your own words, even death would be great joy.

There is a misunderstanding between the Herald and the Chorus about why the Chorus is in fear and prefers death to the future. The Herald recounts the miseries of warfare which were such that those who died wouldn't desire to return to that kind of life.

555
μόχθους γὰρ εἰ λέγοιμι καὶ δυσαυλίας,
σπαρνὰς παρήξεις καὶ κακοστρώτους – τί δ' οὐ
στένοντες, οὐ λαχόντες ἤματος μέρος;
τὰ δ' αὖτε χέρσῳ· καὶ προσῆν πλέον στύγος·
εὐναὶ γὰρ ἦσαν δηΐων πρὸς τείχεσιν,
560
ἐξ οὐρανοῦ δὲ κἀπὸ γῆς λειμωνίας
† δρόσοι κατεψάκαζον, ἔμπεδον σίνος
ἐσθημάτων, τιθέντες ἔνθηρον τρίχα.
χειμῶνα δ' εἰ λέγοι τις οἰωνοκτόνον,
οἷον παρεῖχ' ἄφερτον Ἰδαία χιών,
565
ἢ θάλπος, εὖτε πόντος ἐν μεσημβριναῖς
κοίταις ἀκύμων νηνέμοις εὕδοι πεσών –
τί ταῦτα πενθεῖν δεῖ; παροίχεται πόνος·
παροίχεται δέ, τοῖσι μὲν τεθνηκόσιν
τὸ μήποτ' αὖθις μηδ' ἀναστῆναι μέλειν –

H.W. Smyth
[555] For were I to recount our hardships and our wretched quarters, the scanty space and the sorry berths——what did we not have to complain of . . . 1Then again, ashore, there was still worse to loathe; for we had to lie down close to the enemy's walls, [560] and the drizzling from the sky and the dews from the meadows distilled upon us, working constant destruction to our clothes and filling our hair with vermin.

And if one were to tell of the wintry cold, past all enduring, when Ida's snow slew the birds; [565] or of the heat, when upon his waveless noonday couch, windless the sea sank to sleep—but why should we bewail all this? Our labor's past; past for the dead so that they will never care even to wake to life again.


That is the general idea behind the conclusion drawn in

τοῖσι μὲν τεθνηκόσιν
τὸ μήποτ' αὖθις μηδ' ἀναστῆναι μέλειν –

so that they will never care even to wake to life again.
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Re: resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:40 pm

Denn. Page reorder the next lines, placing 573-574 in front of 570-572, see the notes.

573-574 Two easy lines, no syntax or lexical anomalies here.

ἡμῖν δὲ τοῖς λοιποῖσιν Ἀργείων στρατοῦ
νικᾷ τὸ κέρδος, πῆμα δ' οὐκ ἀντιρρέπει·

a real kluge translation by Smyth, probably sounded better 100 years ago.

For us, the remnant of the Argive host,
the gain has the advantage
and the loss does not bear down the scale;

Fagles

For us, the remains of the Greek contingents,
the good wins out, no pain can tip the scales

Christopher Collard

... while for us remnants of the Argive army our gain prevails and the anguish does not outweigh it.

Here Collard is superior both in accuracy and natural idiom in the target language. Fagles “contingents” a stuffy word not used on the street and “the good wins out” is an inaccurate rendering of νικᾷ τὸ κέρδος.

I must admit that I find Aeschylus’ attitude toward war unacceptable. I picture him as apologist for the Vietnam conflict and the endless middle east war. Perhaps I am jumping to the conclusion that Aeschylus is speaking in the voice of the herald. I don't claim to have any direct knowledge of Aeschylus' attitude toward war.
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Re: resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:11 pm

Maybe the fact that Aeschulys' epitaph mentions his martial exploits with the Persians but not his being a playwright tells us something of his attitude toward war?
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Re: resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:22 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Maybe the fact that Aeschulys' epitaph mentions his martial exploits with the Persians but not his being a playwright tells us something of his attitude toward war?


Thanks Paul,

I wasn't aware of that.

The lines that follow (out of sequence 573,575-576) show a ramping up of the belligerence factor in the Herald's speech, boasting in the sun light, saying good by to all the misfortunes (of the fallen troops); moving from one level of hubris to another as the speech rolls on ...

καὶ πολλὰ χαίρειν ξυμφοραῖς καταξιῶ.
573
ἡμῖν δὲ τοῖς λοιποῖσιν Ἀργείων στρατοῦ
νικᾷ τὸ κέρδος, πῆμα δ' οὐκ ἀντιρρέπει·
575
ὡς κομπάσαι τῷδ' εἰκὸς ἡλίου φάει
ὑπὲρ θαλάσσης καὶ χθονὸς ποτωμένοις·

Fagles includes what looks like an allusion to Robert Graves "good-bye to all that" (l. 565 in Fagels).
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Re: resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Dec 10, 2012 10:28 pm

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:τί ταῦτα πενθεῖν δεῖ; παροίχεται πόνος·
παροίχεται δέ, τοῖσι μὲν τεθνηκόσιν
τὸ μήποτ' αὖθις μηδ' ἀναστῆναι μέλειν –

—but why should we bewail all this? Our labor's past; past for the dead so that they will never care even to wake to life again. H.W. Smyth

Was somewhat surprised NOT to find a reference to this text in
The Greek way of death Robert Garland (Cornell Univ Pr 1985).

Perhaps this isn't talking about resurrection at all.

Having now read the whole text until here, I'm even more convinced that ἀναστῆναι here is not 'resurrection'; we shouldn't be thinking about afterlife in Christian-like terms. I think even Smyth's 'wake to life again' is introducing nuances that are not in the text. I think ἀναστῆναι here just means getting up in the morning. We are meant see the dead as mindless, flitting ghosts who don't care about waking up in the morning or any other worries of daily life. "For us the work's done, but hey, those who died won't ever worry about even waking up again".

I'm not saying this is idea, that the dead don't care about being dead, is necessarily what Aeschylus or other Greeks really thought about death. But it's a convenient poetic device, because it increases pathos, it makes the contrast between living and being dead stronger. This a very a "Iliadic" conception of death. In the Odyssey, this co-exists with less gloomy ideas of afterlife, which seems to prove that this is more a poetic device than real belief, unless you believe in multiple authorship in all those passages.
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Re: resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:32 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:
C. S. Bartholomew wrote:τί ταῦτα πενθεῖν δεῖ; παροίχεται πόνος·
παροίχεται δέ, τοῖσι μὲν τεθνηκόσιν
τὸ μήποτ' αὖθις μηδ' ἀναστῆναι μέλειν –

—but why should we bewail all this? Our labor's past; past for the dead so that they will never care even to wake to life again. H.W. Smyth

Was somewhat surprised NOT to find a reference to this text in
The Greek way of death Robert Garland (Cornell Univ Pr 1985).

Perhaps this isn't talking about resurrection at all.

Having now read the whole text until here, I'm even more convinced that ἀναστῆναι here is not 'resurrection'; we shouldn't be thinking about afterlife in Christian-like terms. I think even Smyth's 'wake to life again' is introducing nuances that are not in the text. I think ἀναστῆναι here just means getting up in the morning. We are meant see the dead as mindless, flitting ghosts who don't care about waking up in the morning or any other worries of daily life. "For us the work's done, but hey, those who died won't ever worry about even waking up again".

I'm not saying this is idea, that the dead don't care about being dead, is necessarily what Aeschylus or other Greeks really thought about death. But it's a convenient poetic device, because it increases pathos, it makes the contrast between living and being dead stronger. This a very a "Iliadic" conception of death. In the Odyssey, this co-exists with less gloomy ideas of afterlife, which seems to prove that this is more a poetic device than real belief, unless you believe in multiple authorship in all those passages.


Paul,

Denniston uses the phrase "return to the world above" which is one sense used in the Gospels where Jesus raises several people from the dead and they return to a normal life in the world above. This of course is not what ἀναστῆναι means in the NT regarding the eschaton, about which there is considerable disagreement, see Murray J. Harris Raised Immortal.
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Re: resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:25 pm

Actually, I found out West seems to support my interpretation of ἀναστῆναι. He glosses 'Goodbye to all that, it's all over - for the dead, so much so that they don't ever again have to think about getting up to face the new day, while for the rest of us what we've won outweighs the suffering.' He accepts the transposition of 573-574 to follow 569 (like above), but he also posits a lacuna after 572 and 576; but I don't think this has any bearing on our problem.

I'm faintly aware that there is an ongoing debate as to the meaning of ἀναστῆναι in the NT. I don't know enough about that to comment upon. Passionating subject for sure - maybe too passionating, I suspect one that could easily lead to a flame war even on this site (just look at the discussion 'definition of "pais"' on the Koine Greek forum). Anyway, it has been on my "stuff I'm going to learn more about some day" list for some time. So thanks for the reference ;)
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Re: resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:08 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Actually, I found out West seems to support my interpretation of ἀναστῆναι. He glosses 'Goodbye to all that, it's all over - for the dead, so much so that they don't ever again have to think about getting up to face the new day, while for the rest of us what we've won outweighs the suffering.' He accepts the transposition of 573-574 to follow 569 (like above), but he also posits a lacuna after 572 and 576; but I don't think this has any bearing on our problem.


I'm faintly aware that there is an ongoing debate as to the meaning of ἀναστῆναι in the NT. I don't know enough about that to comment upon. Passionating subject for sure - maybe too passionating, I suspect one that could easily lead to a flame war even on this site (just look at the discussion 'definition of "pais"' on the Koine Greek forum). Anyway, it has been on my "stuff I'm going to learn more about some day" list for some time. So thanks for the reference ;)


West is alluding to Robert Graves work "Goodbye to all that ... " for what ever reason. The notion that "it's all over - for the dead" was a theme of the generation of literary expatriates living in Paris in the decade after WWI. I haven't read Graves recently.

The semantic ambiguity of the word group ἀναστή- is played out in the discussion between Jesus and Martha in John 11[1]. John was a master of polysemy which provides fuel for numerous debates among students of the Greek NT. There was a lot of that happening in the 1990's on b-greek, no so much now.

[1]
21 εἶπεν οὖν ἡ Μάρθα πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν· κύριε, εἰ ἦς ὧδε οὐκ ἂν ἀπέθανεν ὁ ἀδελφός μου· 22 [ἀλλὰ] καὶ νῦν οἶδα ὅτι ὅσα ἂν αἰτήσῃ τὸν θεὸν δώσει σοι ὁ θεός. 23 λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἀναστήσεται ὁ ἀδελφός σου. 24 λέγει αὐτῷ ἡ Μάρθα· οἶδα ὅτι ἀναστήσεται ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ. 25 εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή· ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ κἂν ἀποθάνῃ ζήσεται, 26 καὶ πᾶς ὁ ζῶν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. πιστεύεις τοῦτο; 27 λέγει αὐτῷ· ναὶ κύριε, ἐγὼ πεπίστευκα ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἐρχόμενος.
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Re: resurrection? Aeschylus Agamemnon 569

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Dec 12, 2012 12:41 pm

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:West is alluding to Robert Graves work "Goodbye to all that ... " for what ever reason. The notion that "it's all over - for the dead" was a theme of the generation of literary expatriates living in Paris in the decade after WWI. I haven't read Graves recently.

Thanks, I didn't get that allusion. I suppose it's just a parallel between two post-war situations. That's typical West, little jokes like this are part of the way he makes his texts so pleasant to read.
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