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Odyssey 6. 182-185

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Odyssey 6. 182-185

Postby huilen » Fri Mar 28, 2014 2:47 am

I can't figure out the entire sense of these verses:

οὐ μὲν γὰρ τοῦ γε κρεῖσσον καὶ ἄρειον,
ἢ ὅθ᾽ ὁμοφρονέοντε νοήμασιν οἶκον ἔχητον
ἀνὴρ ἠδὲ γυνή: πόλλ᾽ ἄλγεα δυσμενέεσσι,
χάρματα δ᾽ εὐμενέτῃσι, μάλιστα δέ τ᾽ ἔκλυον αὐτοί.


Odyseus is saying to Nausicaa that nothing is better than when a man and a woman live in good harmony. Up to there I understand everything, but then it start to turn obscure for me:

πόλλ᾽ ἄλγεα δυσμενέεσσι,
χάρματα δ᾽ εὐμενέτῃσι,


S&H's notes say that ἔστι is understood here, so I suppose that he means that when that happens (when a man and a woman live in good harmony), the consequences are good for their friends and bad for their enemies(?)

But then he says:

μάλιστα δέ τ᾽ ἔκλυον αὐτοί.


And that really I don't understand. Which is the sense of ἔκλυω here? Perseus just gives the same verse as the unique example of this use of the verb:

2. perceive generally, μάλιστα δέ τ᾽ ἔκλυον αὐτοί they themselves know [the blessing] most, Od.6.185; “κλῦθι ἰδὼν ἀΐων τε” Hes. Op.9.


Accepting this sense of ἔκλυω, I suppose that he means that specially they themselves know this (the man and the woman who live in good harmony, in opposition to their friends and enemies). But then, why is ἔκλυον in the past? :S I am puzzled with this.
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Re: Odyssey 6. 182-185

Postby Qimmik » Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:20 am

LSJ:
impf. ἔκλυον with aor. sense


This is a gnomic aorist. Smyth 1931:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Smyth+grammar+1931&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007

when a man and a woman live in good harmony, the consequences are good ("a joy") for their friends and bad ("many sources of grief") for their enemies

That's one interpretation. Odysseus is thinking of Penelope, of course. Their relationship of complete mutual harmony and understanding eventually results in πόλλ᾽ ἄλγεα to the suitors.
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Re: Odyssey 6. 182-185

Postby huilen » Fri Mar 28, 2014 1:08 pm

This is a gnomic aorist. Smyth 1931:

Oh, now I remember that I had read it in Pharr's grammar, but I had not seen it used by Homer until now, and I was all this time with the idea that in the indicative mode the tense was always denoting a difference of time.

EDIT: I have checked now Pharr's grammar and here is the gnomic aorist.

1082. The aorist is often used to express a general truth. It is then called a gnomic aorist, and is considered a primary tense, as ὅς κε θεοῖς ἐπιπείθηται, μάλα τ' ἔκλυον αὐτοῦ whoever obeys the gods, him they especially hear.


But I have not seen anything about this in S&H's grammar. He only mention a "present general" and a "past general", but I am not sure if it includes gnomic truths:

GENERAL

Present: subj., may take ἄν or κε(ν). Negative μή. Main verb is regularly pres. ind., negative οὐ.
ὅτε ἄν βούληται, ἐπὶ θάλασσαν ἔρχεται.
Whenever she wishes, she goes to the sea.

Past: opt. Negative μή. Main verb is ordinarily impf. ind. rarely aor.; negative οὐ.

ὅτε βούλοιτο, ἐπὶ θάλασσαν ἔρχετο.
Whenever she wished, she went (would go) to the sea.
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Re: Odyssey 6. 182-185

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:10 pm

μάλιστα δέ τ᾽ ἔκλυον αὐτοί.

A further cue to take this as "gnomic" aorist, which is used for "general" statements (proverbs, well known general truths etc), is this particular use of the particle τε. τε doesn't mean "and" here; this is a very particular use of the particle, which is only encountered in epic and is called "epic τε". This epic τε always introduces a digression about a permanent fact (i.e. not something that happens just once to the characters in the story).

Epic τε is usually found, I think, either 1) after a relative like οἵ τε, ἔνθα τε, ὡς τε etc., or after an other particle (like here): δέ τε, ἀλλά τε, καί τε etc. Note that the majority of τε particles are not "epic"!

A couple of clear examples from Od. 6:

(102 ff)
οἵη δ᾽ Ἄρτεμις εἶσι κατ᾽ οὔρεα ἰοχέαιρα,
ἢ κατὰ Τηΰγετον περιμήκετον ἢ Ἐρύμανθον,
τερπομένη κάπροισι καὶ ὠκείῃς ἐλάφοισι:
τῇ δέ θ᾽ ἅμα νύμφαι, κοῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο,
ἀγρονόμοι παίζουσι, γέγηθε δέ τε φρένα Λητώ:
πασάων δ᾽ ὑπὲρ ἥ γε κάρη ἔχει ἠδὲ μέτωπα,
ῥεῖά τ᾽ ἀριγνώτη πέλεται, καλαὶ δέ τε πᾶσαι:
(Gods are immortal, so this is something that will happen again and again)

(130 ff)
βῆ δ᾽ ἴμεν ὥς τε λέων ὀρεσίτροφος ἀλκὶ πεποιθώς,
ὅς τ᾽ εἶσ᾽ ὑόμενος καὶ ἀήμενος
(that's the way lions always are.)
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Re: Odyssey 6. 182-185

Postby Markos » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:26 pm

huilen wrote:
μάλιστα δέ τ᾽ ἔκλυον αὐτοί.


And that really I don't understand. Which is the sense of ἔκλυω here? Perseus just gives the same verse as the unique example of this use of the verb:

2. perceive generally, μάλιστα δέ τ᾽ ἔκλυον αὐτοί they themselves know [the blessing] most, Od.6.185; “κλῦθι ἰδὼν ἀΐων τε” Hes. Op.9.


Accepting this sense of ἔκλυω, I suppose that he means that specially they themselves know this (the man and the woman who live in good harmony, in opposition to their friends and enemies).


The addition of the αὐτοί here intensifies κλύω in such a way that this may be a type of periphrastic middle or even passive. "They themselves hear about their renown, they hear that the are heard of." Or maybe even "they are especially heard by the gods." I seem to recall that there other instances of κλύω used in this quasi-passive sense.
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Re: Odyssey 6. 182-185

Postby Qimmik » Tue Apr 01, 2014 1:30 pm

μάλιστα δέ τ᾽ ἔκλυον αὐτοί. And that really I don't understand.


You're not the only person who has been puzzled by this expression. No one really knows what this means, and different explanations have been offered. The scholia (the ancient comments preserved in some manuscripts) explained ἔκλυον as αἰσθάνονται. "They perceive it most of all themselves." Others explain it along the same lines as Markos: "they have a good reputation." One commentator understood θεοί as the subject. Other editors have argued that the text is corrupt and have proposed various guesses (conjectures) as to what the correct text might be.

This is not the only instance in the Homeric poems, or in ancient Greek literature generally, where the meaning of a passage is uncertain. It's something you have to get used to if you try to read 2000+ year old texts transmitted by manual copying until the invention of printing (and textual problems with the Homeric poems are even more complicated, because we don't know how these texts came to be written down).

You have to try your best to understand passages like this, to consider various alternative explanations, and then move on.
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Re: Odyssey 6. 182-185

Postby huilen » Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:31 pm

Thanks for the answers :)

A further cue to take this as "gnomic" aorist, which is used for "general" statements (proverbs, well known general truths etc), is this particular use of the particle τε. τε doesn't mean "and" here; this is a very particular use of the particle, which is only encountered in epic and is called "epic τε". This epic τε always introduces a digression about a permanent fact (i.e. not something that happens just once to the characters in the story).

Epic τε is usually found, I think, either 1) after a relative like οἵ τε, ἔνθα τε, ὡς τε etc., or after an other particle (like here): δέ τε, ἀλλά τε, καί τε etc. Note that the majority of τε particles are not "epic"!

A couple of clear examples from Od. 6:

(102 ff)
οἵη δ᾽ Ἄρτεμις εἶσι κατ᾽ οὔρεα ἰοχέαιρα,
ἢ κατὰ Τηΰγετον περιμήκετον ἢ Ἐρύμανθον,
τερπομένη κάπροισι καὶ ὠκείῃς ἐλάφοισι:
τῇ δέ θ᾽ ἅμα νύμφαι, κοῦραι Διὸς αἰγιόχοιο,
ἀγρονόμοι παίζουσι, γέγηθε δέ τε φρένα Λητώ:
πασάων δ᾽ ὑπὲρ ἥ γε κάρη ἔχει ἠδὲ μέτωπα,
ῥεῖά τ᾽ ἀριγνώτη πέλεται, καλαὶ δέ τε πᾶσαι:
(Gods are immortal, so this is something that will happen again and again)

It was very helpful for me that you cite that same passage, for just the other day I have been asking myself which function were accomplishing those τε particles there. (I think I had invented a reason for each τε that left me quiet). Now it has more sense, although I encounter this epic τε, the same as many other untranslatable particles, specially difficult to internalize. I suppose that I will accept it with time.

The addition of the αὐτοί here intensifies κλύω in such a way that this may be a type of periphrastic middle or even passive. "They themselves hear about their renown, they hear that the are heard of." Or maybe even "they are especially heard by the gods."

I didn't know that. So, the meaning of a verb can sometimes change periphrastically to it's middle/passive sense when there is "αὐτός"?

"They perceive it most of all themselves." Others explain it along the same lines as Markos: "they have a good reputation." One commentator understood θεοί as the subject. Other editors have argued that the text is corrupt and have proposed various guesses (conjectures) as to what the correct text might be.

This is a good summary, I think I can live with these explanations :)

Just a guess, may be I am completely wrong: could the alternative meaning of κλύω ("to know") come from it's middle sense? "to hear one self" -> "to know"?
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Re: Odyssey 6. 182-185

Postby Qimmik » Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:59 pm

In tragedy, κλύω means "to be famous". See LSJ III:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Dklu%2Fw

In the Homeric poems, however, there's no other instance of this meaning. It's unusual for verb to that's active in form to have both an active and a middle/passive meaning. Somehow, I don't feel this is quite like ἀλείφω in the other thread. I think κλύω covers two semantically distinct concepts that are related by the idea of "hearing."

κλύω is related to the noun κλέος, which means "rumor" or "fame," and the verbal adjective κλυτός means "famous."

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Dkle%2Fos

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Dkluto%2Fs

κλέος is an Indo-European word, and it's well-known that the phrase κλέος ἄφθιτον has a nearly exact Vedic counterpart, which is one of the bases for believing that both the Greek epic (and other archaic Greek poetry) and the Rg Veda continue a common Indo-European tradition of oral poetry. (Like everthing else, these ideas, first proposed in the mid-19th, century are still controversial.) κλέος is an important word in the ideology of the Homeric poems--it's what Homeric heros win through their deeds, and it's conferred specifically by the song of the ἀοιδός. (Paul and Scribo will probably attack me for spreading some of Greg Nagy's ideas here, but I think there is something to this.) The middle/passive sense of κλύω probably means "to have κλέος."

Perhaps there's something in the irrecoverable pre-history of the verb κλύω, related to its association with κλέος, that would explain its unusual active and middle/passive meanings. But these are just random thoughts.
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Re: Odyssey 6. 182-185

Postby Scribo » Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:25 pm

No you're right, it's a lexically charged phrase with a well established back-story. The Vedic equivalent is "sravas aksitam" and means the same thing, with very clear derivation. I think it was first found by Adelbert Kuhn in the 1880's. Problems arise when people call it a formula, its not in the strict sense. It's one of those marked phrases and we find lot's of other correspondences in Sanskrit to Homeric here (e.g maha sravas = large fame).

The origins of the word are clearly in to hear, hence Sanskrit sravati (verb) or nouns like sruta/i (heard, given in recitation). Greek has this sense too (kluthi moi!) so I think it obvious the sense is "fame...as heard, as spread through song". The Sanskrit epic Mahabharata gas a scene where a character (Yayati?) falls to earth because bards no longer sing his klewos (well. sravas).

So yeah, that sounds very sensible to me.
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Re: Odyssey 6. 182-185

Postby Markos » Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:21 am

Qimmik wrote:The middle/passive sense of κλύω probably means "to have κλέος."
Perhaps there's something in the irrecoverable pre-history of the verb κλύω, related to its association with κλέος, that would explain its unusual active and middle/passive meanings. But these are just random thoughts.

I agree with this, and what Scribo says about the Vedic connection is worth thinking about, but note that ἀκούω can also have this unusual feature of an apparent passive meaning with an active form.
LSJ:
III. after Hom., serving as Pass. to λέγειν, hear oneself called, be called, like Lat. audire, “εἴπερ ὄρθ᾽ ἀκούεις, Ζεῦ” S.OT903 (cf. A.Ag. 161); freq. with εὖ and κακῶς, κακῶς ἀ. ὑπό τινος to be ill spoken of by one;

But I am not entirely convinced that μάλιστα δέ τ᾽ ἔκλυον αὐτοί. in Od 6:185 is BEST understood as a passive.
huilen wrote:Just a guess, may be I am completely wrong: could the alternative meaning of κλύω ("to know") come from it's middle sense? "to hear one self" -> "to know"?

Sure, that makes as much sense as anything in what is admittedly a crux for which no one solution is entirely satisfactory.
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Re: Odyssey 6. 182-185

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed Apr 02, 2014 4:31 pm

Markos wrote:I agree with this, and what Scribo says about the Vedic connection is worth thinking about, but note that ἀκούω can also have this unusual feature of an apparent passive meaning with an active form.

Garvie's commentary on books VI-VIII seems to think that this interpretation, that κλύω is a passive of λέγω here, is the most likely one, though he mentions other possibilities. He also compares with the similar εὖ κλύω and εὖ ἀκούω in tragedy ("to have good reputation").

Qimmik wrote: (Paul and Scribo will probably attack me for spreading some of Greg Nagy's ideas here, but I think there is something to this.)

Not at all, though I don't agree with his ideas on the textualisation and transmission of Homer. But because of those ideas he ranks very low in my reading list -- perhaps, indeed, partly undeservedly.
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