Iliad 13, 441-444

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Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Bart » Sat Feb 28, 2015 8:07 pm

δούπησεν δὲ πεσών, δόρυ δʼ ἐν κραδίῃ ἐπεπήγει,
ἥ ῥά οἱ ἀσπαίρουσα καὶ οὐρίαχον πελέμιζεν
ἔγχεος·

That's just gross; straight out of a low budget splatter movie.
Idomeneus' speech to the dying Othryoneus, while dragging him to the Greek line, is particulary harsh and sarcastic too. Book 13 so far is certainly not for the faint of heart.
Tough ombre this Homer dude.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Qimmik » Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:54 pm

The Iliad is full of grotesque woundings, and some of them are anatomically impossible.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Sun Mar 01, 2015 9:10 pm

As I've never seen anyone with a spear sticking out of a heart that is still beating, I don't know whether this is realistic or not. I fear it is.

Bart, have you already read the passage where a warrior's eyes fall off? That at least is not very realistic, and definitely very much like a modern splatter movie! Some descriptions are more accurate in detail. I think it's Hector who at some stage has the acetabulum of his hip broken (called κοτύλη in Homer and cotyloid cavity even today in some medical literature).

Homer does this to keep his audience's attention. He has an endless number of ways to say "warrior A kills warrior B". I think he prefers pathos to gore, but he can't avoid the latter, since there's no war without gore.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by mwh » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:52 pm

A couple more points:

It makes a fitting climax to Idomeneus’ aristeia (echoing Diomedes’, foreshadowing Patroclus’) and a fitting lead-in to the challenge to Deiphobus. It’s not a random uber-graphic death, splatter for splatter’s sake, it’s part of the structurally modulated larger pattern.

Homer certainly doesn’t go out of his way to avoid gore, but here once again, as in that earlier passage you quoted before, there’s pathos too. The helplessly paralyzed victim is first given a backstory—a minibio and a wife, the best imaginable. Many to weep, then, but the poem must leave them behind, along with him, and continue on its inexorable way.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Bart » Mon Mar 02, 2015 6:54 am

Paul Derouda wrote: Bart, have you already read the passage where a warrior's eyes fall off?
Not yet, looking forward to it.
Don't think I heard about the cotyloid cavity before, but maybe I forgot.
Some more medicine related tidbits in book 13: 596-597 seems to offer a description of an armsling or mitella. And best of all is the curious bit of anatomy in 546-547

ἀπὸ δὲ φλέβα πᾶσαν ἔκερσεν,
ἥ τʼ ἀνὰ νῶτα θέουσα διαμπερὲς αὐχένʼ ἱκάνει·

A bloodvessel or vein that runs all along the back till it reaches the neck. There's no such thing of course.

Mmm, Homer and medicine, maybe a good idea for a short monograph (if Paul hasn't already written one).

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Mon Mar 02, 2015 1:54 pm

I confess I didn't know cotyloid cavity either, but the word pops up when you google acetabulum (the term I'd usually use and expect), e.g. in the Wikipedia article.

Someone, I suppose it was Janko (can't look up right now) has suggested that the "vein" in the back is the spinal cord, which seems very credible to me. Homer didn't know the exact function of nerves, tendons, arteries, veins - blood circulation was discovered only in the 17th century by Harvey, and νευρον/nervus actually mean tendon, as you well must know... So I suppose a continuous structure like the spinal cord might well be called "vein", especially as you probably have a lot of stuff like blood and cerebrospinal fluid oozing out if you sever it. Not to mention a very dramatic effect on the person affected, like if you severed an important vein.

I wonder what Homer's source for his information was. Humans were not dissected, so I suppose the main sources are animal anatomy and war wounds.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Bart » Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:17 pm

Interesting. Yes, the spinal cord seems a good guess.

Blood circulation was partially understood long before Harvey. The difference between veins and arteries for instance, and the function of the heart as a pump was known to Galenus and probably much earlier. What wasn't understood was the closed circuit nature of our blood circulation and the role of the lungs in oxygenating venous blood. Galenus thought that the liver somehow produced and filtered venous blood, which it does of course (the filtering I mean), but not in the way he hypothezised.

I've made a note of the Cambridge commentary by Janko (are those the yellow and green ones?) for future use. For the moment I'll stick to Ameis.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Bart » Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:23 pm

Paul Derouda wrote: I wonder what Homer's source for his information was. Humans were not dissected, so I suppose the main sources are animal anatomy and war wounds.
And pure conjecture perhaps. Wasn't it Aristotle who famously claimed that men have more teeth than women?

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Qimmik » Mon Mar 02, 2015 4:06 pm

the Cambridge commentary by Janko (are those the yellow and green ones?)
No, it's a six-volume commentary published by Cambridge on the entire Iliad, written by a variety of authors.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:47 pm

Bart wrote:Interesting. Yes, the spinal cord seems a good guess.

Blood circulation was partially understood long before Harvey. The difference between veins and arteries for instance, and the function of the heart as a pump was known to Galenus and probably much earlier. What wasn't understood was the closed circuit nature of our blood circulation and the role of the lungs in oxygenating venous blood. Galenus thought that the liver somehow produced and filtered venous blood, which it does of course (the filtering I mean), but not in the way he hypothezised.
Yes, you're right, the ancient must have known something about blood circulation. Of course, Homer probably knew only a fraction of what Galenus knew. Still, I suppose people must have understood from very early on that an artery is something quite disctinct - put your finger on one, and you feel the heartbeat; slash a large one, and blood spurts out not as continuous stream but in bursts. Veins are more more abstract. Look up φλέψ in LSJ, and you'll see that it means a number of different elongated structures, including (guess what!) membrum virile! (Is there a single page in LSJ without a Latin euphemism?)

Btw, I checked, it was from Janko I read about φλέψ being the spinal cord. He has nice a discussion of the different interpretations of the passage.

Another interesting thing I remember reading from Janko (though I don't think it's his idea originally) is that φρένες means lungs, not the midriff. Again, I find it very plausible. Before that, I'd always wondered why Homer was so obsessed with the midriff...

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Bart » Wed Mar 04, 2015 9:22 am

Paul Derouda wrote: Another interesting thing I remember reading from Janko (though I don't think it's his idea originally) is that φρένες means lungs, not the midriff. Again, I find it very plausible. Before that, I'd always wondered why Homer was so obsessed with the midriff...
In that case, why is he so obsessed with the lungs?

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Niedzielski » Wed Mar 04, 2015 7:42 pm

Lmao

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by jeidsath » Thu Mar 05, 2015 1:01 am

In Epidemiae book 2 at least the φρένες can only be the diaphragm: Φρένες δὲ προσπεφύκασι τῷ ἥπατι, ἃς οὐ ῥηΐδιον χωρίσαι.
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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Thu Mar 05, 2015 6:56 pm

My guess is that later medical writers took up an opaque poetic word and turned it into a technical term. That's just a guess though.

Anyway, my point with the "obsession" with the diaphragm was that unlike the the lungs the diaphragm is not an obvious anatomic structure to a layman, and it's strange that it should be so important. For that reason it's strange, as Janko (p. 379-380) argues, that the Iliadic heroes seem to be repeatedly hit in the diaphragm, but apparently only once in the lungs (4.528). Also he argues that the diaphragm, a taut muscle ("ἃς οὐ ῥηΐδιον χωρίσαι"), is not likely to get drawn out of the wound with the spear, as in 16.504:

ὣς ἄρα μιν εἰπόντα τέλος θανάτοιο κάλυψεν
ὀφθαλμοὺς ῥῖνάς θ᾽: ὃ δὲ λὰξ ἐν στήθεσι βαίνων
ἐκ χροὸς ἕλκε δόρυ, προτὶ δὲ φρένες αὐτῷ ἕποντο:
τοῖο δ᾽ ἅμα ψυχήν τε καὶ ἔγχεος ἐξέρυσ᾽ αἰχμήν.

Someone else somewhere else has argued that φρένες is a more generic term meaning just "internal organs of the thoracic cavity", a bit like English "innards" and "viscera" mean "internal organs of the abdominal cavity". Personally I prefer "lungs", which is what you'd probably use in translation anyway, in lack of a better term.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Bart » Thu Mar 05, 2015 8:11 pm

I looked under φρήν in Chantraine's Dictionnaire Etymologique Grec. Nothing new there: he discusses briefly the possibilities (diaphragm, lungs, pericard, a group of organs in the upper part of the body), but doesn't commit himself. Pericard is strange though.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Bart » Thu Mar 05, 2015 8:25 pm

Vaguely related: Homer makes it to the pages of the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery
http://www.cardiothoracicsurgery.org/content/5/1/114

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by mwh » Thu Mar 05, 2015 8:41 pm

Wherever precisely we're to imagine the φρενες as being located in Homer (not in the head, for sure), they're where thinking takes place.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:00 pm

What I really wonder is what are the implications of this line, περὶ especially...

Od. 9.363 αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ Κύκλωπα περὶ φρένας ἤλυθεν οἶνος

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:17 pm

Anyway, although I have by no means gone systematically through anything, I think there's some logic: φρένες, the lungs, is inhabitated by "breaths of life", θυμός and ψυχή – whatever the distinction between the latter two; I suppose θυμός is a sort of "hot breath", passion and impulsivity, while ψυχή is "cold", something that remains even after death and goes to Hades. κῆρ and κραδίη are the heart, of course, and I wonder what is its exact role in this system.

But these are just casual thoughts...

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by mwh » Thu Mar 05, 2015 10:52 pm

What I really wonder is what are the implications of this line, περὶ especially...

Od. 9.363 αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ Κύκλωπα περὶ φρένας ἤλυθεν οἶνος
You’re wondering whether the wine circulates inside or outside the φρενες? Inside, I expect, but who can tell and does it matter? The significant thing is that the wine going around his φρενες affects his ability to think clearly, just as φρενες-deprived Glaucus is incapable of thinking clearly. That was the point I was making, that it’s thinking that the φρενες relate to (and maybe other mental/emotional activities too). I’d be more interested in exploring their assigned function(s) than in trying to fix their precise physiological identification. Where and what they are has little bearing on what they do.

As your follow-up post suggests, it’s hard to make sense of the φρενες in isolation from the θυμος, πραπιδες, νοος, κηρ, etc., and they need treating as part of an organizational system, coherent or otherwise.
The ψυχη is particularly interesting, of course, and falls quite outside of this system. It's requisite for life and consciousness, but there’s no activity associated with it during life, nor does it have any location (not in the φρενες, or am I mistaken?—hinc illae lacrimae); it has no role at all, except to leave at the end, leaving behind a σωμα, a νεκρος available for dishonoring or honoring but nothing else. Accordingly it can be used as a metonym for a person’s life, which none of the others can, and also unlike the others it can enjoy (or rather not enjoy) a continuing post-mortem existence.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by jeidsath » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:29 am

The Oxford Classical Dictionary (Second Edition) has the following entry on SOUL. Pardon any typos.
Apart from philosophic doctrines concerning the soul, there are traces in vocabulary and usage of comparatively primitive ideas surviving in both Greece and Italy. Savages not infrequently believe that a man has several souls (e.g. Frazer, GB iii. 27, 80); now in Greek, notably in Homer, there are several words which mean something like 'soul' and seem to refer to parts of a man having different functions. Ψυχή, to judge by its etymology, means the breath-soul, which corresponds to the unsubstantial nature of departed ψυχαί as phantoms, εἴδωλα (Od. 11. 51, cf. 83; Il. 23. 104). Such phantoms have no φρένες, midriff and the parts adjacent, vitals; to give them more than a faint semblance of life they need to drink blood. It seems not improbable that the θυμός, the 'hot' or 'reeking' part, is the blood-soul; to kill is to take away the θυμός, to save the θυμός is to save life (Il. 22. 68 and often; Od. 11. 105). In Latin the evidence is less strong, partly no doubt because early documents are lacking; anima and animus correspond rather to later, philosophical uses respectively of ψυχή and θυμός than to the above meanings. But we may note the existence of umbra in the sense of ghost, suggesting belief in a shadow-soul; cf. Lucretius; insistence (4. 364 ff.) on the true nature of shadows. See, further, AFTER-LIFE, GENIUS, PSYCHE.

Rose in Actes du congrès international d'histoire des religions tenu a(?) Paris en octobre 1923 (1925), ii. 138 ff.; and for some criticism of these views as too rigid, Nilsson, GGR i². 192 ff.; B. Snell, The Discovery of the Mind (E.T. 1953), ch. 1; W. Jaeger, Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers (1947), ch. 5; R. B. Onions, The Origins of European Thought (1955), 93 ff.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by mwh » Fri Mar 06, 2015 3:59 am

Haven't checked, but I expect the 4th edition is very different from this.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Niedzielski » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:00 am

I've been trying to hunt the source down, I think it's Aristophanes, but the theory goes phrenes and phallos share the root phl/phr, so the expression is akin to the english "he thought with his balls", whereas the Greeks in their estimation of man as a being higher than animal instinctively ascribed the expression to a similar part of the body, where the breasts and the protruding neck and head find a resemblance to the phallos, and particularly the ability of both to inlfate, hence the association with no particular body part but the general area... and it's relationship to wine? Funny theory but lends itself well to the idea of a Greek who's interest is in restraint and in the relationship between the lungs and will as something between what can and cannot be controlled. The intepretive implications regarding Glaucos become amusing...

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Niedzielski » Fri Mar 06, 2015 6:32 am

And in 16.504 it's not certain that a piece of the body actually follows with the spear; I take the line following as epexegetic, not unfitting given that Sarpedon certainly takes his time dying.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Bart » Fri Mar 06, 2015 9:03 am

mwh wrote: The ψυχη is particularly interesting, of course, and falls quite outside of this system. It's requisite for life and consciousness, but there’s no activity associated with it during life, nor does it have any location (not in the φρενες, or am I mistaken?—hinc illae lacrimae); it has no role at all, except to leave at the end, leaving behind a σωμα, a νεκρος available for dishonoring or honoring but nothing else. Accordingly it can be used as a metonym for a person’s life, which none of the others can, and also unlike the others it can enjoy (or rather not enjoy) a continuing post-mortem existence.
The ψυχη of course is mentioned in the first verses of the Iliad:

,ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε, ​
πολλὰς δ᾽ ἰφθίμους ψυχὰς Ἄϊδι προΐαψεν ​
ἡρώων, αὐτοὺς δὲ ἑλώρια τεῦχε κύνεσσιν ​
οἰωνοῖσί τε πᾶσι,

I'm probably reading too much into these lines, but does the use of the words ψυχὰς as opposed to αὐτοὺς give us a glimpse of the metaphysics underpinning the Homeric world? The hero dies and his 'soul' goes to Hades but the most important part, the body itself ('αὐτοὺς' themselves) remains here to be a possible prey for animals of every kind. This is far removed from the Platonic and Christian view of the soul as the carrier of personhood and the dead body as a mere carcass. It might also be a reason why the maltreatment of a corpse was seen as such a bad thing.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:09 pm

Bart, I think the beginning of the Iliad is straight to the point and you're not reading anything too much into it. Of course, the Iliad poet's strict opposition between the "self" and the "psyche" may exaggerated (compared to what people generally thought there and then) for poetic reasons, as goes it in the same vein as the common Iliadic idea that death is final and heroic fame is the only possible immortality.
mwh wrote:You’re wondering whether the wine circulates inside or outside the φρενες? Inside, I expect, but who can tell and does it matter? The significant thing is that the wine going around his φρενες affects his ability to think clearly, just as φρενες-deprived Glaucus is incapable of thinking clearly. That was the point I was making, that it’s thinking that the φρενες relate to (and maybe other mental/emotional activities too). I’d be more interested in exploring their assigned function(s) than in trying to fix their precise physiological identification. Where and what they are has little bearing on what they do.

As your follow-up post suggests, it’s hard to make sense of the φρενες in isolation from the θυμος, πραπιδες, νοος, κηρ, etc., and they need treating as part of an organizational system, coherent or otherwise.
I'm increasingly inclined to think that there's some sort of anatomical and physiological conception behind all this, however incoherent it might be. Sometimes it's operative (e.g. Od. 5.458 ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε δή ῥ᾽ ἄμπνυτο καὶ ἐς φρένα θυμὸς ἀγέρθη), sometimes it's just a turn of phrase. Anyway, I would say that the physiological identification can definitely help to understand the assigned function, as I think this example shows. (With the Cyclops episode I was thinking that maybe the choice of preposition is a clue, but I think you're right it's not a good one.)
The ψυχη is particularly interesting, of course, and falls quite outside of this system. It's requisite for life and consciousness, but there’s no activity associated with it during life, nor does it have any location (not in the φρενες, or am I mistaken?—hinc illae lacrimae); it has no role at all, except to leave at the end, leaving behind a σωμα, a νεκρος available for dishonoring or honoring but nothing else. Accordingly it can be used as a metonym for a person’s life, which none of the others can, and also unlike the others it can enjoy (or rather not enjoy) a continuing post-mortem existence.
I think you're right, ψυχή has no particular activity during a person's life and I don't think it's generally associated with the φρενες. However, I don't think conceptions of this sort are generally entirely consistent. In the passage the ψυχή is dragged out of the body along with the spear tip; if indeed the wound is pulmonary, isn't it a quite striking image, if ψυχή is a sort life breath? This doesn't need to be a consistent "conception of the soul", just an ad hoc image.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Fri Mar 06, 2015 4:21 pm

mwh wrote:Haven't checked, but I expect the 4th edition is very different from this.
So have all the savages been civilized? The white man's burden is not what it was in the good old days...

But apart of the unfortunate word choice, I don't find the article so bad.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by mwh » Fri Mar 06, 2015 5:36 pm

Psyche & spear-point—a zeugma to take one’s breath away.

Striking indeed, but the psyche is the same as always I think, it’s just that this is the most important death till Patroclus’ own. But I don’t think we have any serious disagreement. Sorry I don’t have time to engage properly just now.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by jeidsath » Sun Mar 08, 2015 7:47 pm

In support of the lungs (Il. 5.40 and 5.56):
πρώτῳ γὰρ στρεφθέντι μεταφρένῳ ἐν δόρυ πῆξεν
ὤμων μεσσηγύς, διὰ δὲ στήθεσφιν ἔλασσε

πρόσθεν ἕθεν φεύγοντα μετάφρενον οὔτασε δουρὶ
ὤμων μεσσηγύς, διὰ δὲ στήθεσφιν ἔλασσεν.
Right between the shoulders. And both are deathblows.
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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by mwh » Sun Mar 08, 2015 8:25 pm

Niedzielski: If you want to bring balls into it, you might do better with μήδεα. In an appendix to his 1974 book on IE meter, apropos of the famous κλεος αφθιτον, Nagy purported to finally make sense of ἄφθιτα μήδεα εἰδώς: “Zeus must have unfailing genitals and unfailing knowledge.”

ὣς ἄρα μιν εἰπόντα τέλος θανάτοιο κάλυψεν
ὀφθαλμοὺς ῥῖνάς θ᾽: ὃ δὲ λὰξ ἐν στήθεσι βαίνων
ἐκ χροὸς εἷλκε δόρυ, προτὶ δὲ φρένες αὐτῷ ἕποντο:
τοῖο δ᾽ ἅμα ψυχήν τε καὶ ἔγχεος ἐξέρυσ᾽ αἰχμήν.
16.502-5
Cf. 481 αλλ’ εβαλ’ ενθ’ αρα τε φρενες ερχαται αμφ αδινον κηρ.

Aristarchus favored εχοντο over εποντο in 504, and it is attractive. Either way, the φρενες appear to be physical, as you’d expect. (And 505 is not so much “epexegetic” as the culminating once-and-for-all act; 504 has imperfects.)

The ψυχη on the other hand I don’t see as having any connection with the φρενες. Sure, In this extraordinarily graphic image it’s uniquely(?) described as being dragged out, along with the spear-head, but it didn’t really need to be. The death itself would be enough to release it; its departure coincides with the moment of death, is coterminous with it. Just as everywhere else, it has no bodily location, it just represents or reifies the vital principle. (That may be a better way of describing it than as a metonym for a person’s life as I described it above.)

ψυχαι are projectiles in the proem (προιαψεν), hurled by a μῆνις. It's a comparable dramatic image. The “strong” souls there is an exceptional transference from the living heroes themselves. Souls have no strength. αυτους too is somewhat anomalous, when it’s just their lifeless bodies. Only the dead have σωματα. The Christian view is not all that different; the dead body is just that, but Christians and Homeric heroes, among others, alike go on treating it as if it still has personhood. (Here lies Fred, not Fred’s carcass.) Few would toss their deceased grandmother into the garbage.

We can't go back-projecting pseudo-Hippocratic or later descriptions of body organs onto Homer.

The physical or quasi-physical system of organs in Homer does seem to be fairly consistent. The φρενες/φρην are in the στηθεα/στηθος (the chest area), with the μεταφρενον definitionally behind them. Then it gets more interesting. The θυμος is apparently in the φρενες, and the κηρ aka κραδιη too?, and both of them share the same function? The θυμος is much the most dynamic, though, and occasionally performs actions, and its possessor sometimes has to suppress it. This is where Homeric psychology comes in—internal conflict, as in decision-making. And how does it all map onto rational vs. emotional? Here too we have to beware of anachronism in the terms and concepts we use.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Niedzielski » Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:42 pm

Mwh, i assumed it was l.481 that prompted Aristarchus to make a case for exonto, but you have to admit that his authority is highly questionable. It is suggestive but without comparative examples the issue i feel remains doubtful. Do you know of anywhere else where the phrHn is described as a physical organ? Or kHr?

On the other hand the use of imperfects is a fair point I looked over; it is wrong to suggest the line is epexegetic but even so it adds no decisive weight to the idea that something solid (midriff or lungs, but i can more readily accept some kind of fluid) came out with the spear. Im not insisting the matter either way but i have reservations.

On the matter of balls, i didnt necessarily want to bring them in for shock value or novelity but it doesnt seem inappropriate and also because i suspect this inquiry is pitifully pedantic, but i will look into the mHdea matter at some point and thank you for pointing it out.

My apologies for font, Im without a computer for a while.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:08 pm

mwh wrote:ὣς ἄρα μιν εἰπόντα τέλος θανάτοιο κάλυψεν
ὀφθαλμοὺς ῥῖνάς θ᾽: ὃ δὲ λὰξ ἐν στήθεσι βαίνων
ἐκ χροὸς εἷλκε δόρυ, προτὶ δὲ φρένες αὐτῷ ἕποντο:
τοῖο δ᾽ ἅμα ψυχήν τε καὶ ἔγχεος ἐξέρυσ᾽ αἰχμήν.
16.502-5
Cf. 481 αλλ’ εβαλ’ ενθ’ αρα τε φρενες ερχαται αμφ αδινον κηρ.

Aristarchus favored εχοντο over εποντο in 504, and it is attractive. Either way, the φρενες appear to be physical, as you’d expect. (And 505 is not so much “epexegetic” as the culminating once-and-for-all act; 504 has imperfects.)
Anyway, I suppose If we want look at this realistically, the lungs probably come along with the spear only for some distance before retracting back to the thoracic cavity once the spear tip is detached, as they're still attached to the bronchi (but not to the thoracic cavity, as the lungs are not attached to the surrounding pleural membrane, and that's what permits them to move). I think εποντο imperfect is perfectly in line with this. Not that I have anything against εχοντο, but it allows for more room for interpretation as far as the anatomy goes, so I wouldn't make much conclusions based on it.
The ψυχη on the other hand I don’t see as having any connection with the φρενες. Sure, In this extraordinarily graphic image it’s uniquely(?) described as being dragged out, along with the spear-head, but it didn’t really need to be. The death itself would be enough to release it; its departure coincides with the moment of death, is coterminous with it. Just as everywhere else, it has no bodily location, it just represents or reifies the vital principle. (That may be a better way of describing it than as a metonym for a person’s life as I described it above.)
Well, if we prefer to be cautious, I could just say that the image is simply that the spear makes a deadly hole that allows the ψυχή to escape. But I don't disagree with you.
We can't go back-projecting pseudo-Hippocratic or later descriptions of body organs onto Homer.

The physical or quasi-physical system of organs in Homer does seem to be fairly consistent. The φρενες/φρην are in the στηθεα/στηθος (the chest area), with the μεταφρενον definitionally behind them. Then it gets more interesting. The θυμος is apparently in the φρενες, and the κηρ aka κραδιη too?, and both of them share the same function? The θυμος is much the most dynamic, though, and occasionally performs actions, and its possessor sometimes has to suppress it. This is where Homeric psychology comes in—internal conflict, as in decision-making. And how does it all map onto rational vs. emotional? Here too we have to beware of anachronism in the terms and concepts we use.
I think it's important that the system must be pretty simple. That's probably the strongest point against the interpretation φρένες = diaphragm; I simply don't understand how savages (pardon me :) ) could have given so much importance to such an inconspicuous and unimpressive membrane-like structure. Even worse is "pericardium" (I suppose the theory arose from 16.481). For me, 16.481 is very strong support for the lungs: it just describes the obvious anatomic reality. If you remove the internal organs, whether you're performing a modern autopsy or gutting an animal, it doesn't matter, you typically take them all out en bloc, and in that block the lungs literally surround the heart; you have to cut them apart to proceed, and that will be obvious to anyone who has ever done it. (The lungs also line the liver [Od. 9.301 ὅθι φρένες ἧπαρ ἔχουσι], if we ignore the diaphragm, which, like I said, doesn't look like much to the layman). Check my first google hit with "gut an animal" http://www.m4040.com/Survival/Skills/Hu ... utting.htm. I suppose Homer's notion of anatomy must have been pretty much similar; note that no mention is made of the diaphragm, because the layman doesn't care about the diaphragm any more now than he did over two millennia ago.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:29 pm

So much for the anatomy... But θυμός doesn't appear to be a part of anatomy unlike the rest (let's forget about ψυχή for now). I don't think θυμός is an organ, I think it's some sort of breath, something that flows and comes and goes and must be regained if a person looses consciousness or is exhausted. It's often connected with impulses and passions. I don't know how well Homer understood breathing but it's somehow connected with that. I wonder if it's also connected with the other sensations in the thorax area, like the heart beating strongly – does anyone remember a passage where θυμός is connected with the heart?

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Niedzielski » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:31 pm

Paul, evidently you have a better understanding of anatomy than i do, but i also have a realistic concern. I understand the poet writes the thing as if it was a lucid dream, but on reflection this bothers me: can the wound you describe be consistent with a man speaking as long and as loud through the din of battle? For surely Glaucus isnt near him, otherwise Patroclus would have to deal with him.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:38 pm

I'm not sure what you're exactly referring to, but I suppose what you're asking is whether someone with a spear in his lungs can speak – I would say definitely not! I think Janko calls that, or a similar passage, "a poetic license".

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by mwh » Mon Mar 09, 2015 3:29 am

Realism is quite beside the point, except insofar as once they’re dead they can speak no longer. Till then, even if fatally wounded, they say just as much as the poem needs. This is Homeric poetics, aesthetics even. Homer's only concession to realism is to present the lethal strike as one which does not prevent speech. Think of Patroclus’ own death scene at the end of the book (820f., 829—gotta love that σχεδον), and even more blatantly Hector’s in 22 (324ff.—esp. 328f., where the motivation is explicit!). And the more significant the death, the more verbal exchanges you have between killer and killed.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Niedzielski » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:31 am

So the lungs followed with the spear?

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Niedzielski » Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:41 am

For in that case I propose to refine Homeric aesthetics as follows: when concessions to realism must be made, they may exaggerate the thing conceded, as it is said of lies that are more believable when they are more absurd.

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Niedzielski » Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:29 am

Having just translated up to Hector's death scene, i will add another note to Homeric aesthetics. It is to be noticed that realism isnt just ignored for the sake of plot, but the poet accounts for facts by exaggerating them, as the poet emphasizes with the complete line "the throat, where destruction of psyche cometh most speedily".

On this principle I think that not only can the translation of lungs be admitted for frenes but also that Aristarchus' exonto can be rejected with confidence (who also co-incidentally misread luakinhs, on which matter I stand with Munro taking it as a partitive genitive).

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Re: Iliad 13, 441-444

Post by Paul Derouda » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:01 pm

Hmm, I'm not sure I follow you're argument. Anyway, what I meant was that εποντο is clearly evidence against the interpretation φρενες = diaphragm (as argued by Janko), but εχοντο isn't in contradiction with either φρενες = diaphragm or φρενες = lungs.

It's difficult to say how realistic this wound is. Luckily I have never seen war, not to mention thoracic spear wounds. Certainly this seems like a realistic touch, something you just don't come up with. It reminds me how as a kid I went fishing with my dad and how sometimes the hook poked the fish's eye out of its socket. The sort of thing you remember years later even if you see them only once – Homer is a master in making use of them.

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