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"inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

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"inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:02 pm

"inceptive μὲν" Guy Copper v4 2.69.44.1.D & E pp. 3026-3028

beginning of a drama

Aeschylus Trag., Agamemnon Line 1

{ΦΥΛΑΞ}
Θεοὺς μὲν αἰτῶ τῶνδ' ἀπαλλαγὴν πόνων,

Aeschylus Trag., Supplices Line 1


{ΧΟΡΟΣ ΔΑΝΑΙΔΩΝ}
Ζεὺς μὲν ἀφίκτωρ ἐπίδοι προφρόνως
στόλον ἡμέτερον νάιον ἀρθέντ'

Sophocles Trag., Philoctetes Line 1

{ΟΔΥΣΣΕΥΣ}
Ἀκτὴ μὲν ἥδε τῆς περιρρύτου χθονὸς
Λήμνου, βροτοῖς ἄστιπτος οὐδ' οἰκουμένη,

Aeschylus Trag., Eumenides Line 1 (μὲν ... δὲ ??)

{ΠΡΟΦΗΤΙΣ}
Πρῶτον μὲν εὐχῇ τῇδε πρεσβεύω θεῶν
τὴν πρωτόμαντιν Γαῖαν· ἐκ δὲ τῆς Θέμιν,
ἣ δὴ τὸ μητρὸς δευτέρα τόδ' ἕζετο

Sophocles Trag., Trachiniae Line 1


{ΔΗΙΑΝΕΙΡΑ}
Λόγος μέν ἐστ' ἀρχαῖος ἀνθρώπων φανεὶς
ὡς οὐκ ἂν αἰῶν' ἐκμάθοις βροτῶν, πρὶν ἂν
θάνῃ τις, οὔτ' εἰ χρηστὸς οὔτ' εἴ τῳ κακός·

beginning of a speech

Aeschylus Trag., Persae Line 353

{Αγ.} ἦρξεν μέν, ὦ δέσποινα, τοῦ παντὸς κακοῦ
φανεὶς ἀλάστωρ ἢ κακὸς δαίμων ποθέν.


Aeschylus Trag., Persae Line 599

{Βα.} φίλοι, κακῶν μὲν ὅστις ἔμπειρος κυρεῖ,
ἐπίσταται βροτοῖσιν ὡς, ὅταν κλύδων
κακῶν ἐπέλθῃ, πάντα δειμαίνειν φίλον,

Aeschylus Trag., Agamemnon Line 40

{ΧΟΡΟΣ}
δέκατον μὲν ἔτος τόδ' ἐπεὶ Πριάμῳ
μέγας ἀντίδικος,
Μενέλαος ἄναξ ἠδ' Ἀγαμέμνων,

Aeschylus Trag., Agamemnon Line 587

{Κλ.} ἀνωλόλυξα μὲν πάλαι χαρᾶς ὕπο,
ὅτ' ἦλθ' ὁ πρῶτος νύχιος ἄγγελος πυρός,
φράζων ἅλωσιν Ἰλίου τ' ἀνάστασιν.

Aeschylus Trag., Agamemnon Line 810

{ΑΓΑΜΕΜΝΩΝ}
πρῶτον μὲν Ἄργος καὶ θεοὺς ἐγχωρίους
δίκη προσειπεῖν, τοὺς ἐμοὶ μεταιτίους
νόστου δικαίων θ' ὧν ἐπραξάμην πόλιν

Aeschylus Trag., Septem contra Thebas Line 501

{Ετ.} πρῶτον μὲν Ὄγκα Παλλάς, ἥτ' ἀγχίπτολις
πύλαισι γείτων, ἀνδρὸς ἐχθαίρουσ' ὕβριν,
εἴρξει νεοσσῶν ὡς δράκοντα δύσχιμον

Sophocles Trag., Ajax Line 815

{ΑΙ.} Ὁ μὲν σφαγεὺς ἕστηκεν ᾗ τομώτατος
γένοιτ' ἄν, εἴ τῳ καὶ λογίζεσθαι σχολή,
δῶρον μὲν ἀνδρὸς Ἕκτορος ξένων ἐμοὶ

Euripides Trag., Rhesus Line 342

{Χο.} Ἀδράστεια μὲν ἁ Διὸς
παῖς εἴργοι στομάτων φθόνον·
φράσω γὰρ δὴ ὅσον μοι
ψυχᾶι προσφιλές ἐστιν εἰπεῖν.
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Re: "inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

Postby NateD26 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 5:35 pm

Is this inceptive μὲν translated or does it only serve as a marker for the beginning of a play,
speech, etc.?
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Re: "inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:33 pm

NateD26 wrote:Is this inceptive μὲν translated or does it only serve as a marker for the beginning of a play,
speech, etc.?


Hello Nate,

μὲν in a μὲν ... δὲ construction is often left untranslated. The whole notion of an "inceptive μὲν" appears to be open for discussion. I suspect there will be no trace of the "inceptive μὲν" in most translations. I don't have all of these Attic Tragedies handy but I will check what I have.

Louis MacNiece translates the opening of Agamemnon

"The gods it is I ask to release me from this watch... "

I think this illustrates the difficulty of rendering μὲν in English. We end up with an awkward, unnatural expression "The gods it is" where "it is" provides a little underlining of "the gods." Much better to say "I ask the gods ..." or something similar.

Robert Browning renders Agamemnon 810:

Ἀγαμέμνων

810
πρῶτον μὲν Ἄργος καὶ θεοὺς ἐγχωρίους
δίκη προσειπεῖν, τοὺς ἐμοὶ μεταιτίους

AGAMEMNON.
First, indeed, Argos, and the gods, the local,
'T is right addressing -- those with me the partners


where "indeed" is the gloss for μὲν.

H. W. Smyth has:

Agamemnon
[810] Argos first, as is right and proper, I greet, and her local gods


I would venture that μὲν in the beginning of a speech or drama is not doing anything unusual. It provides a little pause for dramatic effect at the beginning of a speech where the speaker attempts to attract the attention of his audience and get them listening before proceeding. Watch a few speeches of politicians and note where they pause.
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Re: "inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

Postby NateD26 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:15 pm

Thanks, Stirling.

I must say I really do not understand Robert Browning's rendering of Agamemnon 810.
The English rendering seems so unnecessarily convoluted.
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Re: "inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:00 pm

Denniston's Greek Particles has 2 pages on inceptive μέν. I'm quoting here the bits I found most interesting.

"There are signs of a tendency, at least in certain authors, to open a work, or part of a work, with μὲν, with or without an expressed or implied antithesis, perhaps in order to mitigate the harshness of the inevitable asyndeton." He goes on to argue that of the dramatists Aeschylus has a particular tendency for this. I'm not sure what he means with "inevitable asyndeton" here.

"In early oratory the tendency to open with μὲν is clearly marked."

"The mock speeches in Aristophanes, modelled on the style of the assembly of the law-courts, almost always begin with μὲν. [...] It is difficult to resist the impression that the budding speaker, at the turn of the fifth and fourth centuries, was recommended, as a kind of stylistic convention, to start off with a μὲν, and to trust more or less to luck that he would find an aswer to it, and not care greatly if he did not"
Last edited by Paul Derouda on Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: "inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:07 pm

NateD26 wrote:Thanks, Stirling.

I must say I really do not understand Robert Browning's rendering of Agamemnon 810.
The English rendering seems so unnecessarily convoluted.


Nate,

I agree. But Browning was a poet so perhaps he is doing something "creative" that doesn't quite come across in the 21st century.
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Re: "inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:12 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Denniston's Greek Particles has 2 pages on inceptive μέν. I'm quoting here the bits in found most interesting.



Thanks Paul,

I'm not sure what he means with "inevitable asyndeton" here.


Not sure either. A speech or narrative always has an opening line. Hard to fathom why that would be considered "inevitable asyndeton."

"In early oratory the tendency to open with μὲν is clearly marked."


Here, the work "marked" is NOT being used as a linguistics term. I assume he means something like noteworthy.
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Re: "inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

Postby Paul Derouda » Sat Sep 29, 2012 7:12 am

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:Here, the work "marked" is NOT being used as a linguistics term. I assume he means something like noteworthy.

You're right to clarify, by quoting only partly I was obscuring the context a bit.
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Re: "inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:04 am

NateD26 wrote:
I must say I really do not understand Robert Browning's rendering of Agamemnon 810.
The English rendering seems so unnecessarily convoluted.


Nate,

RE: Browning's Agamemnon
"... beyond question one of the worst translations ever made." Edith Hamilton, Three Greek Plays W.W. Norton 1937, page 10.
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Re: "inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

Postby NateD26 » Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:19 pm

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:
NateD26 wrote:
I must say I really do not understand Robert Browning's rendering of Agamemnon 810.
The English rendering seems so unnecessarily convoluted.


Nate,

RE: Browning's Agamemnon
"... beyond question one of the worst translations ever made." Edith Hamilton, Three Greek Plays W.W. Norton 1937, page 10.

I'm glad to hear it wasn't just me. :D
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Re: "inceptive μὲν" Aeschylus Agamemnon Line 1

Postby Markos » Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:47 pm

I agree that this is an inceptive μέν, but it is also possible that the contrastive δέ is finally picked up in line 20:

Line 1: On the one hand, I pray to the gods... (θεοὺς μὲν αἰτῶ...)
Line 8: …and now I am watching for the signal… (καὶ νῦν φυλάσσω...τὸ σύμβολον...)
Line 20: …but now, on the other hand, may there be a happy release from pains… (νῦν δ’ εὐτυχὴς γένοιτ’ ἀπαλλαγὴ πόνων...)

This would mean, of course, that when the watcher says the opening words he already knows about the signal fire. But that’s the whole point of the play, everyone—audience, actors, characters--knows on some level what is going to happen.

The pains are just getting started.
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