Diogenes Laertius 7.172

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jeidsath
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Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by jeidsath » Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:45 pm

I came across this nicely researched post that I wasn't sure I agreed with. (Warning, dirty story ahead.)

φησὶ δ᾿ ὁ Ἑκάτων ἐν ταῖς Χρείαις, εὐμόρφου μειρακίου εἰπόντος, "εἰ ὁ εἰς τὴν γαστέρα τύπτων γαστρίζει, καὶ ὁ εἰς τοὺς μηροὺς τύπτων μηρίζει," ἔφη, "σὺ μέντοι τοὺς διαμηρισμοὺς ἔχε, μειράκιον· αἱ δ᾿ ἀνάλογοι φωναὶ τὰ ἀνάλογα οὐ πάντως σημαίνουσι πράγματα."

ὁ εἰς τὴν γαστέρα τύπτων γαστρίζει = the one striking his belly "bellies" (as a verb)

ὁ εἰς τοὺς μηροὺς τύπτων μηρίζει = the one striking his thighs "thighs" (as a verb)

I have some trouble understanding the context that γαστρίζει or μηρίζει would be used in. I would assume wrestling, but why is it self-directed above?

τοὺς διαμηρισμοὺς ἔχε = Contra the post, shouldn't this be "hold your thighs apart"?

(verb implied διαμηρίζει = spread someone else's thighs. Or maybe διαμηρίζεται)

Is the punchline simply that these other words refer to wrestling (or whatever), while διαμηρισμός is sex?
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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by Paul Derouda » Fri Feb 16, 2018 11:57 pm

The point seems to be that γαστρίζειν "punch the stomach" is a real word, while μηρίζειν is a nonce word coined by the boy (the only reference in LSJ is this passage); unfortunately, μηρίζειν immediately brings διαμηρίζειν to Hecaton's mind, a word which has a very specific meaning – not "to punch the thigh", as the lad would have μηρίζειν mean, but "to do it between the things", i.e. "to have intercrural intercourse".

What is meant by "analogical sounds" is that words ending in -ίζει don't always mean the same sort of things.

τοὺς διαμηρισμοὺς ἔχε: this, I think, basically means "you keep to your business of letting others διαμηρίζειν you." Not a very nice thing to say, if I understand it correctly.

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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by Timothée » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:41 pm

I found the reference Dover, Greek Homosexuality (1989²), p. 98, for this passage. It may or may not add something (I don’t have it), though Paul did cover this quite well above, I think.

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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by jeidsath » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:30 pm

The Dover passage is quoted in the post linked at the top. And Paul’s explanation is hard for me to accept. There’s surely more to this than to say that -ιζειν verbs mean different things. The anecdote is supposed to be witty.
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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by mwh » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:56 pm

Del.
Last edited by mwh on Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by mwh » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:59 pm

As I read it, the point of the reply is to refute, in a moderately witty way, the lad’s defining the (hypothetical?) word μηρίζειν by analogy with the known word γαστρίζειν. διαμηρίζειν is not εις τους διαμηρισμοὺς τύπτειν (the philosophical-linguistic lesson being “analogous sounds don’t have analogous signification in all circumstances”). The set-up is that the lad is εὔμορφος, and the humor, such as it is, lies simply in associating such a lad with διαμηρίζειν. He should know what that means. :lol: :lol:

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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by RandyGibbons » Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:14 pm

Joel warns us of a "dirty" story, in case some of us may want to avert our eyes, but he handles it, as you all do, with admirable frankness and humor.

That we can be frank about the subject of ancient Greek homosexuality is largely due to the work cited above, Sir Kenneth Dover's Greek Homosexuality, originally published in 1978. (Significantly, this was the same year the English translation of Vol. 1 of Foucault's The History of Sexuality [French title La Volonté de Savoir] was published. Dover even got his fifteen minute of fame on the public stage - probably the last thing he wanted - when Martha Nussbaum dragged him into the landmark 1993 Colorado court case Evans v Romer.) Since the question Joel poses is a philological one, I would highly recommend to those of you unfamiliar with it Dover's treatment of Aeschines' Against Timarchus, a model philological tour de force that occupies a good chunk of the book.

On the history of the history of Greek homosexuality, though, everyone should really read Dover's two-page preface. But, this is a cultural topic that properly belongs in the 'Civilization and Culture' forum, so I'm not trying to start it here.

(Though I will sneak in this: Dover says in the preface that he had originally planned to co-author his book with the scholar George Devereux. Devereux was a nut who became a great embarrassment to Dover, as recounted by Dover in his memoir Marginal Comment. But if you want to read an intriguing thesis of Devereux's about Greek male homosexuality, try this.)

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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by mwh » Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:36 pm

And before that there was his taboo-breaking edition of Aristophanes’ Clouds in 1968. I was a hard-to-please undergraduate at the time and remember thinking “This is what a commentary should be.” (I later sought his opinion on a reattribution of one verse in the play, which to my infinite delight he accepted.) His Greek Homosexuality was indeed ground-breaking—in the gay community it was often assumed he was gay himself, which he most decidedly was not—but studies of human sexuality have come a long way in the last 40 years and Dover’s work has come in for some heavy criticism. He was not pleased that it was his best-known work, overshadowing his penetrating (oops) studies in ancient Greek language and literature. And his Greek Popular Morality is much more wide-ranging.

Speaking of lads, though, I’m reminded that “lad” was a favorite of Housman's (someone who never quite came out of the closet), and a favorite of mine is his exquisite

Oh lad, what is it, lad, that drips
wet from your neck on mine?
What is it falling on my lips,
my lad, that tastes of brine?

Oh like enough 'tis blood, my dear,
for when the knife has slit
the throat across from ear to ear
'twill bleed because of it.

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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by RandyGibbons » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:36 pm

Dover’s work has come in for some heavy criticism
Naturally! Though I'm not sure which specific work(s) you have in mind. If you mean James Davidson's The Greeks and Greek Love (pretentious subtitle: A Bold New Exploration of the Ancient World), I have to say I have a visceral dislike for Davidson and for his writing. (By contrast, my favorite contemporary writer on the subject is David Halperin.)

Of course the real thing that has changed bigly in the last 40 years is maybe not the scholarship, but the culture (Stonewall Inn, 1969 - Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015. Undoubtedly some of the lads at Stonewall were reading Dover's Clouds, hot off the press, before the cops came busting in :D.)

Love that Houseman!

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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by jeidsath » Wed Feb 21, 2018 9:47 pm

It would be unfair to use "the lads I used to love" in LXI or similar lines against him. But I wouldn't mind a whole thread quoting from A Shropshire Lad.

Has anyone ever argued that, if it did nothing else, classical education made people better poets and authors? I remember Evelyn Waugh saying in an interview that education in his day was entirely centered around making better prose stylists.

But to continue in thread-appropriate references, the father from Brideshead Revisited, who clandestinely read Greek and Latin at the dinner table, and made fun of his son's guests by pretending that they had travelled from foreign countries, is a favorite of mine.
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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by Hylander » Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:30 pm

Housman claimed that Classical Greek and Roman poetry had little influence on his own lyrics. He claimed that Heinrich Heine was his most important influence. Personally, I don't think that's entirely true. I think that ancient epigram was a significant source. But Heine was too. Heine probably had something to do with Housman's mastery of the ballad form. And Heine had much in common with ancient epigram: the poignant punch-line, and maybe Heine absorbed that, at least in part, from ancient epigram too. Odi et amo could have been written by Heine.

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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by Paul Derouda » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:38 pm

RandyGibbons wrote:(Though I will sneak in this: Dover says in the preface that he had originally planned to co-author his book with the scholar George Devereux. Devereux was a nut who became a great embarrassment to Dover, as recounted by Dover in his memoir Marginal Comment. But if you want to read an intriguing thesis of Devereux's about Greek male homosexuality, try this.)
I read Devereux's article (or as much as I could). What a nut indeed! Apparently he was also a psychiatrist, but many nuts are. How much the world has changed in 50 years! I wonder if there's a single sentence in the article that would be accepted in an academic journal today. "Genuine perversion has its roots in early childhood", hmm. But if someone were to rewrite that, downplaying Sigmund Freud a bit while paying attention at the same time to the fact that homosexuality is no longer considered a criminal offense or a disease (or even a "perversion", a term Devereux seems very fond of), there are some interesting ideas there. But I suppose that Dover already did that rewriting.

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Re: Diogenes Laertius 7.172

Post by RandyGibbons » Tue Feb 27, 2018 3:42 pm

Yes, something of a nut case!, though a man with a rather fascinating background and set of accomplishments (Wikipedia).

As far as I know, his explanation** of the "Greek Miracle" never gained any traction, certainly not among classicists. (I know absolutely nothing about psychiatry.) To read this particular piece today, yes, you definitely have to get past his use of the term "perversion" (and Dover, as recounted in his memoir, could not get past the crudity of Devereux's real-life prejudice). But I have to confess I was intrigued - I'll even say impressed - by the originality of his thesis and perhaps more so by his staggeringly self-confident (yes, you could say arrogant) exposition of it, supported by an undeniably detailed grasp of Greek literature, history, and culture. But I pass it on mostly as a hoot.

** Which is: The indubitably impressive 'Greek Miracle' was an unmiraculous, psychiatrically and sociologically quite explicable socialization of the adolescent's creative potentialities, even in adult life, which the Greeks happened to effect, for some unknown reason, by utilizing and prolonging the adolescent's 'homosexual' potentiality (the "undifferentiated pubertal sexuality" that is Devereux's premise). After this culturally unique prolongation, most of the eromenoi eventually self-identified as "normal" heterosexuals, hence Greek homosexuality was not a "perversion" (which he defines in psychiatric terms).

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