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need to obilize A.Ag 326-329

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need to obilize A.Ag 326-329

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:19 pm

Yet another place where “there is no need to obilize”[1] .


A.Ag 326-329
οἱ μὲν γὰρ ἀμφὶ σώμασιν πεπτωκότες
ἀνδρῶν κασιγνήτων τε, καὶ † φυταλμίων
παῖδες γερόντων, † οὐκέτ' ἐξ ἐλευθέρου
δέρης ἀποιμώζουσι φιλτάτων μόρον·

a prose description might go something like this: The ground is littered with bodies of fallen Trojans after the destruction of the city. Those of the defeated who are still living and now enslaved, cry out over their dead brothers, parents, grandparents and bemoan the fate of their beloved. Certain details are ambiguous. Who is dead and who is bemoaning whom? 
What other difficulties do you see here?

[1] Raeburn-Thomas p. 106, lines 326-9.
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Re: need to obilize A.Ag 326-329

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:41 am

C. S. Bartholomew wrote:Yet another place where “there is no need to obilize”[1] .


A.Ag 326-329
οἱ μὲν γὰρ ἀμφὶ σώμασιν πεπτωκότες
ἀνδρῶν κασιγνήτων τε, καὶ † φυταλμίων
παῖδες γερόντων, † οὐκέτ' ἐξ ἐλευθέρου
δέρης ἀποιμώζουσι φιλτάτων μόρον·

a prose description might go something like this: The ground is littered with bodies of fallen Trojans after the destruction of the city. Those of the defeated who are still living and now enslaved, cry out over their dead brothers, parents, grandparents and bemoan the fate of their beloved. Certain details are ambiguous. Who is dead and who is bemoaning whom? 
What other difficulties do you see here?

[1] Raeburn-Thomas p. 106, lines 326-9.


παῖδες is a nom. plural perhaps the subject of ἀποιμώζουσι, but what about πεπτωκότες which is another nom. plural? The plural genitives ἀνδρῶν, κασιγνήτων, γερόντων, φιλτάτων are floaters (wild cards, could go anywhere) some of them are probably co-referential (share the same referent as another plural genitive). These are just late night musings, subject to revision in the morning. :)
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Re: need to obilize A.Ag 326-329

Postby Paul Derouda » Sat Nov 17, 2012 5:05 pm

Of the modern commentators, only Denniston-Page seems to have a problem with this. Raeburn-Thomas, West, Fraenkel and Sommerstein are not obelizing. I guess the problems that have been seen are at least 1) the exact meaning of φυταλμίων (apparently "progenitor"), 2) which παῖδες and why are they lamenting "the old".

According to West, "The answer is that the word [παῖδες] does not here mean 'young children', but 'their children'. ἀνδρῶν implies wives, κασιγνήτων implies sisters or brothers, but γερόντων does not itself imply a family relationship, and this has to be indicated by the addition of φυταλμίων and παῖδες."

Some commentators appear to have found it incredible that children should mourn their fathers or grandfathers, because everybody knows that the old bury the young in a war. But probably the point is that as the Trojan war was an extraordinary war, thus even the old were exterminated; just think about what happened to Priam.
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Re: need to obilize A.Ag 326-329

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:30 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:Of the modern commentators, only Denniston-Page seems to have a problem with this. Raeburn-Thomas, West, Fraenkel and Sommerstein are not obelizing. I guess the problems that have been seen are at least 1) the exact meaning of φυταλμίων (apparently "progenitor"), 2) which παῖδες and why are they lamenting "the old".

According to West, "The answer is that the word [παῖδες] does not here mean 'young children', but 'their children'. ἀνδρῶν implies wives, κασιγνήτων implies sisters or brothers, but γερόντων does not itself imply a family relationship, and this has to be indicated by the addition of φυταλμίων and παῖδες."

Some commentators appear to have found it incredible that children should mourn their fathers or grandfathers, because everybody knows that the old bury the young in a war. But probably the point is that as the Trojan war was an extraordinary war, thus even the old were exterminated; just think about what happened to Priam.


Denniston finds "impossible" all over the place. The semantic problems with children and elders clearly fall into cultural domain about which a residual level of ambiguity remains after all the discussion by the experts has been referenced. I assume that sacking a city left the residents either dead or enslaved. Nothing much to be happy about. How many millions of displaced, homeless and fatherless children were there in May of 1945? .
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Re: need to obilize A.Ag 326-329

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Nov 18, 2012 12:16 am

Thinking about the unpleasant realities of sacking a city... I assume it was part of the process to kill all the residents that didn't make suitable slaves, and I suppose old men were the first to go. In the Old Testament, as far I remember, the typical scenario is that only women were left alive (I don't remember exact references, but probably examples abound). Think about Odysseus' laconic account of his sack of Ismarus (Odyssey 9. 39-42).

Ἰλιόθεν με φέρων ἄνεμος Κικόνεσσι πέλασσεν,
Ἰσμάρῳ. ἔνθα δ᾽ ἐγὼ πόλιν ἔπραθον, ὤλεσα δ᾽ αὐτούς:
ἐκ πόλιος δ᾽ ἀλόχους καὶ κτήματα πολλὰ λαβόντες
δασσάμεθ᾽

"I sacked the city and killed them; we took their wives and a lot of booty and divided them..."

The audience of Agamemnon were part of a slaving society, they all had at least some idea where those slaves came from. And in their tradition the sack of Troy was the most important and most total of them all. I think children grieving their old fathers or grandfathers fits this ruthless scenario well.

People are quick to forget. How many times have I heard that the wars of the 20th century were somehow different from previous ones, because before that armies supposedly fought with one another and left civilians alone? Killing had become industrial and there was more dead people than ever before, that was new; nothing else. Read your Bible, folks. The idea that mourning elderly men is incredible because only young men die in a heroic war belongs to this context.
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