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Ο ΚΥΚΛΟΣ ΠΥΡΟΣ

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Ο ΚΥΚΛΟΣ ΠΥΡΟΣ

Postby LSorenson » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:07 pm

ἔρως περικαής ὤν
ποιεῖ κύκλον πυρός·
ἡδοναῖς χαριζόμενος
ἔπεσον εἰς κύκλον πυρός.

ἔμπιπτον εἰς πύρινον κύκλον
κάτω καταδύνων
ἦγον φλόγας ἀνωτέρω
καύσεται καύσεται
ὁ κύκλος πυρός
ὁ κύκλος πυρός

τὸ ἐρᾶσθαι ὡς ἡδύ
συμπλεξάντων ἀλλήλοις·
ὡς παῖς συνηψάμην σοῖ
κατεφλέχθην δὲ δεινῷ πυρί

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It7107ELQvY
ὁ ἀοιδὸς τούτου τοῦ μελίσματος ἦν ὁ Ἰωάνης Χρήματα
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Re: Ο ΚΥΚΛΟΣ ΠΥΡΟΣ

Postby Grochojad » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:44 pm

Very nice, the song was really fun to listen to with AG text, and I love your "ὁ Ἰωάνης Χρήματα" :D

I'm just wondering, doesn't the ring "καίει"?
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Re: Ο ΚΥΚΛΟΣ ΠΥΡΟΣ

Postby LSorenson » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:58 am

The song is ambiguous:

It burns, burns, burns,
the ring of fire.


= it causes pain / it hurts
= it burns (me)
= it is a live burning fire, and keeps on going.

I did not think I could get the idea of burn=pain without using the middle.

I thought of some other lines. These were other choices for the last three lines of the chorus

κ' ἐκάην πεφλεγμένος
κύκλῳ πυρίνῳ
κύκλῳ πυρίνῳ

πάσχω καταπεφλεγμένος
κύκλῳ πυρίνῳ
κύκλῳ πυρίνῳ

καιόμενόν ἐμὲ καίει
ὁ κύκλος πυρός
ὁ κύκλος πυρός

καῦσαι καῦσαι καῦσαι
τῷ κύκλῳ πυρός
τῷ κύκλῳ πυρός

Some options for burn are as follows. Most are also used for love, but mostly in the passive.
καίω
φλέγω
καταφλέγω
πυρῶ
καύσω
πίμπρημι
πρήθω
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Re: Ο ΚΥΚΛΟΣ ΠΥΡΟΣ

Postby Markos » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:58 pm

εὔγε! Very well done. I recognized the song sometime between the first and second line, even without the Mexican horns!

ἡδοναῖς χαριζόμενος


Plato Sym 182 uses the middle of this verb in the sense of grant sexual favors. As Cash's song is full of sexual double entendres, this is a good choice.

ἔπεσον εἰς κύκλον πυρός.

ἔμπιπτον εἰς πύρινον κύκλον


I take it this is a typo for ἐνέπιπτον? I like the shift in aspect, it just feels right.

κάτω καταδύνων
ἦγον φλόγας ἀνωτέρω
καύσεται καύσεται


What's going on with the tenses here? Why the future καύσεται? καυσοῦται, from καυσόω, would be a true middle which you say you want. Both the original and your version make me think of Orpheus going down to the underworld to lead up his beloved. "I went down, down, down..."

τὸ ἐρᾶσθαι ὡς ἡδύ
συμπλεξάντων ἀλλήλοις·


The omission of the pronoun (presumably ἡμῶν) from the genitive absolute is a nice poetic touch. You find this a lot in Attic tragedy.

ὡς παῖς συνηψάμην σοῖ


In that ἅπτω in the active means primarily "kindle, set a fire," and in the m/p means primarily means "touch," this word reinforces Cash's central metaphor. ὡς νήπιος would also work here.

The song is ambiguous:

It burns, burns, burns,
the ring of fire.



It sure is. All good poetry is ambiguous. One of the instructive things about translating songs into Ancient Greek is that one comes to embrace ambiguity. One has to decide whether to reproduce or clarify the ambiguity. Often you will make the Greek MORE ambiguous to heighten the art. It makes one less inclined to try to remove ambiguity through the over-use of metalanguage analysis. One tries to feel what the artists felt and how Greek can be used to produce similar feelings.
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Re: Ο ΚΥΚΛΟΣ ΠΥΡΟΣ

Postby LSorenson » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:16 am

Here is a note I got from a long-time now retired classics professor....

Louis, I've always been loath to respond to these versions of songs and hymns that you clearly find very enjoyable and useful, while I can't help but be rather skeptical and dubious about it. I do think that I recognized the Johnny Cash source at once. Your words are clear -- but I just can't help myself. -- the whole business of converting lyrics into ancient Greek is something I find very troubling. I just think that, to the extent that the original text is really gripping or appealing, the harder it is to carry over the tone into another language -- I think that you have to know both languages very, very well.

In this instance, I think it's obvious that the language describes intense sexual passion in terms of what can only be called a "classical" association of passion with the sensation of burning and the "classical" rhyme of "fire" and "desire." That becomes clearest from your usage of καταφλέγομαι. Yet I wasn't quite sure about the linkage of that last line with ὡς παῖς συνηψάμην σοῖ: it looked like συνάπτομαι was being used partly in a sense of "ignite" and partly in the sense joining -- but I don't see that in LSJ. Then I wonder about συμπλεξάντων ἀλλήλοις -- is that a genitive absolute; wouldn't it work better grammatically as ἐρασταῖς ὡς ἡδυ (γλυκύ?) ἀλλήλοις συμπεπλεχθαι. I think the problem that bothers me mosthere is ἡδοναῖς χαριζόμενος in the second line -- it really doesn't approach the sense of "bound by wild desire." Rather what's needed is soemthing like πόθῳ μαινόμενος. After playing around with it a bit, I came up with this for the opening sequence:

῎Ερως φλογιστικος
πυρὸς ποιεῖ κύκλον·
πόθῳ μαινόμενος
εἰς πυρὸς κύκλον αὐτὸς ἐπήδησα.

I really feel helpless and uncomfortable commenting on this. I'm reminded of a story Nietzsche once told about philologists being like art critics who are cannot enjoy great paintings because all they see is all the inconcinnities and grammatical infelicities and blemishes.. I'm not much of a philologist, but I don't have much confidence in my aesthetic judgments. For me, it's all I can do to read and study masterpieces of ancient Greek; I just don't feel comfortable or competent to write it to do anything more than express very simple notions.

Nevertheless I applaud your devotion to and satisfaction in this kind of project.
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Re: Ο ΚΥΚΛΟΣ ΠΥΡΟΣ

Postby Markos » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:09 pm

Here’s my own version, which draws heavily from yours.

πυρεῦς ὁ Ἔρως, ἕλιξ καυστική.
δοῦλος τῷ Ἔρωτι, ἔπεσον.
εἰς ἕλικα ἔπεσον πυράνην.
κατέβην τῆς φλογὸς ἀναβαινούσης.
καταπεφλεγμένος εἰμι τῷ τοῦ πυρός κύκλῳ.

καλὸς ὁ Ἕρως ἡμὶν τοῖς καλοῖς.
ἠράσθην σου, νήπιος!
τὸ δὲ πῦρ ὑπερέφλεγε.

πάντας καίει ἡ περικαὴς ἕλιξ...

Love is a burning thing
And it makes a fiery ring.
Bound by wild desire, I fell into a ring of fire.

I fell into a burning ring of fire.
I went down, down, down and the flames went higher.
And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire
The ring of fire.

The taste of love is sweet.
When hearts like ours meet.
I fell for you like a child.
Oh, but the fire went wild.

And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire
The ring of fire,
The ring of fire,
The ring of fire.

The retired classics professor wrote:
the whole business of converting lyrics into ancient Greek is something I find very troubling. I just think that, to the extent that the original text is really gripping or appealing, the harder it is to carry over the tone into another language -- I think that you have to know both languages very, very well.


I certainly agree that converting these lyrics into Ancient Greek is difficult and to do it well you have to know Greek well. But I would argue that one will never know Greek well until one tries to write it, and that being forced to come up with Greek sentences that represent complex and subtle ideas is a great way to learn the language. One has to start somewhere. I know that you have gotten better at this over the years, as have I. Certain purists will never like this sort of thing, but all I can say is that I would never have learned Ancient Greek to the extent that I have without doing stuff like this. Again and again, when I write a line in Greek, later on I will read something in real Greek that is similar to what I wrote. Often this causes me to reevaluate what I had written, and in this way I come to have a deeper understanding of the language.

Yet I wasn't quite sure about the linkage of that last line with ὡς παῖς συνηψάμην σοῖ: it looked like συνάπτομαι was being used partly in a sense of "ignite" and partly in the sense joining -- but I don't see that in LSJ.


Well, as I already told you before reading this retired professor's criticism, I understood right away what you meant here. LSJ is great, and I use it all the time to check usage, but Ancient Greek is a living language. There has to be some freedom to create new usages that are not NECESSARILY attested in the extent sources. Aeschylus did not always check LSJ before using a word and we don't need to either.

After playing around with it a bit, I came up with this for the opening sequence:

῎Ερως φλογιστικος
πυρὸς ποιεῖ κύκλον·
πόθῳ μαινόμενος
εἰς πυρὸς κύκλον αὐτὸς ἐπήδησα.


Very nice! Maybe you should convince this guy to come out of retirement!

ερρωσο!
I am writing in Ancient Greek not because I know Greek well, but because I hope that it will improve my fluency in reading. I got the idea for this from Adrianus over on the Latin forum here at Textkit.
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