iambic practice

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cclaudian
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iambic practice

Post by cclaudian » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:51 pm

I've been practicing my Greek verse comp by turning original passages from Greek tragedy out of English and into Greek, and i thought I might share my latest here in the hope of getting some tips on style (and doubtless some basic corrections!). I'm still at an intermediate-ish stage with the language (currently <2 years of uni tuition under my belt), but so far composition has proved a very helpful aid to learning Latin, so it seems justified for Greek too. (Also sorry if my flood of composition posts recently is too much!)

the english (from Euripides' Alcestis 779-791):
Heracles: Come here, so that you may be made wiser!
Do you know the nature of our mortal life?
I think not. How could you? But listen to me.
Death is a debt all mortals must pay,
and no man knows for certain whether he will still be living tomorrow.
The outcome of our fortune is hidden from our eyes,
and it lies beyond the scope of any teaching or craft.
So now that you have learned this from me, cheer your heart, drink,
regard this day’s life as yours but all else as Fortune’s!


my foolhardy attempt:
ἐνταῦθα χωρῇς, ὡς σοφώτερος γένῃ.
ἆρ᾽ οἶδας ἁμοῦ τὴν φυσὶν θνητοῦ βιοῦ;
οὔ μοι δοκεἶ. πῶς γὰρ ἂν; μου δέ συ κλύῃς.
χρέος τὸ θνήσκειν δεῖ λύειν πάντας βροτούς
κοὐδείς κάτοιδεν εἰ μενεῖ τὸ ζῆν ἔτι.
μοροῦ κρυφεῖσα συμφορά παρ᾽ ὀμμάτων
κοὐκ ἄν ποοῖτο κοὐ διδάσκεσθαι σθένει.
τὰ νῦν δίδαξας, πίνε, καὶ χαίρ᾽ ἐν φρεσί (<- does this break Porson's Law? would φρεσίν be better before a line break?)
νόμιζε μὲν σὸν τὸν βιὸν τῆσδ᾽ ἡμέρας
μοιρῆς δὲ τἄλλα πάντα — | × — ∪ — . (space left over to finish somehow :/ )


Euripides' much better original:
δεῦρ᾿ ἔλθ᾿, ὅπως ἂν καὶ σοφώτερος γένῃ.
τὰ θνητὰ πράγμαθ᾿ ἥντιν᾿ οἶσθ᾿ ἔχει φύσιν;
οἶμαι μὲν οὔ· πόθεν γάρ; ἀλλ᾿ ἄκουέ μου.
βροτοῖς ἅπασι κατθανεῖν ὀφείλεται,
κοὐκ ἔστι θνητῶν ὅστις ἐξεπίσταται
τὴν αὔριον μέλλουσαν εἰ βιώσεται·
τὸ τῆς τύχης γὰρ ἀφανὲς οἷ προβήσεται,
κἄστ᾿ οὐ διδακτὸν οὐδ᾿ ἁλίσκεται τέχνῃ.
ταῦτ᾿ οὖν ἀκούσας καὶ μαθὼν ἐμοῦ πάρα
εὔφραινε σαυτόν, πῖνε, τὸν καθ᾿ ἡμέραν
βίον λογίζου σόν, τὰ δ᾿ ἄλλα τῆς τύχης.

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jeidsath
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Re: iambic practice

Post by jeidsath » Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:17 pm

Wow, much better than I could do.

- μου can't start a line, I don't believe.

- χαίρ᾽ ἐν φρεσί. I would have thought this was a violation, but here is Aeschylus (though with the moveable nu): πρὸς δυσσεβείας δ᾿ ἦν ἐμοὶ τόδ᾿ ἐν φρεσίν
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

mwh
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Re: iambic practice

Post by mwh » Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:20 pm

Well, you won’t improve on Euripides and I won’t comment on your attempt beyond saying that your best line is κοὐδείς κάτοιδεν εἰ μενεῖ τὸ ζῆν ἔτι and your worst probably οὔ μοι δοκεἶ. πῶς γὰρ ἂν; μου δέ συ κλύῃς, which doesn’t come close to being metrical.

Incidentally, Heracles’ little disquisition on mortality, strongly marked off by ἀλλ᾿ ἄκουέ μου (better ἄκου’ ἐμοῦ) at one end and ταῦτ᾿ οὖν ἀκούσας καὶ μαθὼν ἐμοῦ πάρα at the other, has a very striking feature in its uniformity of line endings:

βροτοῖς ἅπασι κατθανεῖν ὀφείλεται,
κοὐκ ἔστι θνητῶν ὅστις ἐξεπίσταται
τὴν αὔριον μέλλουσαν εἰ βιώσεται·
τὸ τῆς τύχης γὰρ ἀφανὲς οἷ προβήσεται,
κἄστ᾿ οὐ διδακτὸν οὐδ᾿ ἁλίσκεται τέχνῃ.

This can’t be an accident. In fact I fancy that the last line should end not οὐδ᾿ ἁλίσκεται τέχνῃ but οὐδε τέχνῃ ἁλίσκεται, with the last two words slurred together (he is drunk, after all) and successfully achieving the triumphant close to the set of five.

cclaudian
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Re: iambic practice

Post by cclaudian » Thu Apr 18, 2019 4:41 am

mwh wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:20 pm

βροτοῖς ἅπασι κατθανεῖν ὀφείλεται,
κοὐκ ἔστι θνητῶν ὅστις ἐξεπίσταται
τὴν αὔριον μέλλουσαν εἰ βιώσεται·
τὸ τῆς τύχης γὰρ ἀφανὲς οἷ προβήσεται,
κἄστ᾿ οὐ διδακτὸν οὐδ᾿ ἁλίσκεται τέχνῃ.

This can’t be an accident. In fact I fancy that the last line should end not οὐδ᾿ ἁλίσκεται τέχνῃ but οὐδε τέχνῃ ἁλίσκεται, with the last two words slurred together (he is drunk, after all) and successfully achieving the triumphant close to the set of five.
That's an interesting observation. Do long vowels elide/slur like this often in (drunk) iambic verses (besides μὴ οὐ) or is this a very unusual exception? And is it more permissible in the Alcestis because of the piece's generic resemblance to satyr plays?

You wouldn't happen to work on textual criticism yourself?

nate.a
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Re: iambic practice

Post by nate.a » Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:39 am

mwh wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:20 pm

This can’t be an accident. In fact I fancy that the last line should end not οὐδ᾿ ἁλίσκεται τέχνῃ but οὐδε τέχνῃ ἁλίσκεται, with the last two words slurred together (he is drunk, after all) and successfully achieving the triumphant close to the set of five.
For reference, L. P. E. Parker (2007). Euripides: Alcestis, OUP, p. 208 writes:
these lines provided a valuable quarry for the maxim-hunters of later antiquity. I find no parallel, even approximate, in Euripides for this run of four rhyming lines. All four final words have the same accentuation. There is only one small divergence from perfect rhyming: -αται (instead of -εται) at 783. Rhyming as verse-end, like verbal repetition is carefully controlled in Euripides. In this play, pairs of lines rhyme... Runs of more than two such lines are very rare indeed.... These examples... show how easy rhyming is with Greek inflexions, so that its comparative absence is more the significant. Here, then, some special effect must be taking precedence over elegant versification. Is repetitiveness of sound being used to highlight the flatness of the ideas?

Callisper
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Re: iambic practice

Post by Callisper » Sun May 12, 2019 7:07 pm

mwh wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:20 pm
In fact I fancy that the last line should end not οὐδ᾿ ἁλίσκεται τέχνῃ but οὐδε τέχνῃ ἁλίσκεται, with the last two words slurred together (he is drunk, after all) and successfully achieving the triumphant close to the set of five.
Like cclaudian I'd quite like to know whether such metrical license could be confidently paralleled, to your knowledge, in the tragedians?

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