greek elegiac couplets

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cclaudian
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greek elegiac couplets

Post by cclaudian » Tue Jul 23, 2019 8:35 pm

Anyone know of any verse composition manuals for greek elegiac couplets? there seem to be plenty for iambics (sidgwick, rouse, etc.) but none at all for greek lyric and elegiacs.

also, have i made any major errors in the following translation of Hardy's in 'tenebris I' - i'm afraid i'm still very much a greek novice atm!

χεῖμα πάρεστιν, ἐμοὶ δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστι τὸ πένθος ἐρήμῳ
αὖτε μολεῖν· οὐδεὶς δὶς βίον ἐξέλιπεν.
φύλλα πέφευγ᾽ ἄνθων· ἀλλ᾽ ὡς τόδ᾽ ἅπαξ ἐκέρησεν,
ἥδε θέα με κακῶς οὔκετι δρᾶν δύναται.
πτηνὰ φόβῳ κάμνει· κρύμῳ δ᾽ ἐμὴ οὐκ ἀπολείται
γηραλέα ῥώμη καὶ προφυγοῦσα πάλαι.
φαία πέπηγε χλόη. φιλίᾳ δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστι πέπηχθαι,
ᾧ φίλοι οὐκ εἴσιν νῦν τε καὶ ὡς πρότερον.
ἄν δὲ θύελλα κακοῖ. δύναται δ᾽ οὐκ αὖτις ἐκεῖνον
τῆτες ἐρῶς ἀδικεῖν ᾧ κέαρ οὔτι κυρεῖ.
εἷμα μέλαν νύκτος. θανατὸς δ᾽ οὐ τόνδε φόβησει
ὅστε μένει χρῄζων ἔλπιδος, οὔδ᾽ ἀπόρει.

mwh
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Re: greek elegiac couplets

Post by mwh » Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:50 pm

An impressive effort. I’m not at all comfortable writing elegiacs myself, I’m not sure why, they should be easy enough but they always want to come out as hexameters—as I read through the Hardy what floated into my head for the closing “Waits in unhope” was μένει ἐλπίδος ἐκτός! (which I guess could be modified to ελπιδος εκτος αει).
Not that I’m comfortable with hexameters either, and it’s a long long time since I indulged in composition or translation. I don’t know of any manuals. Does William Annis offer anything useful?
So I’ll just venture a few cursory comments.
— Maybe ψυχος χειματος ηκει, εμοι δ’ ουκ αλγος ερημω αυτε φερειν for the beginning? not necessarily better than yours.
— οὐδεὶς δὶς βίον ἐξέλιπεν good!
— I don’t much care for ἀλλ᾽ ὡς τόδ᾽ ἅπαξ ἐκέρησεν (and I was thrown by ἐκέρησεν)
— γηραλέα ῥώμη καὶ προφυγοῦσα πάλαι. I don’t really like how you’ve tackled this but it’s difficult. Are καὶ and participle intelligible here? (ἀπολείται bad accent)
— φαία πέπηγε χλόη. φιλίᾳ δ᾽ οὐκ ἔστι πέπηχθαι. You get points for the conceit, but does it really work? (πέπηχθαι accent wrong, and φαία, though I had to check that; acceptable form?)
— ᾧ φίλοι οὐκ εἴσιν νῦν τε καὶ ὡς πρότερον. Why τε καὶ? I don’t think this will do.
— ἄν δὲ θύελλα κακοῖ. What is ἄν? Syncopated ανα in tmesis??
— Some of your vocab and dialect would be more at home in Attic iambics than in elegiacs. (τῆτες, κυρεῖ?) — Self-referential τόνδε good but Attic? (and doesn’t comport well with ἐκεῖνον above)
— ἐρῶς accent. And νύκτος. And θανατὸς. And ἔλπιδος, and οὔδ᾽ ἀπόρει. Wrong accents don’t affect the verse, but they are jarring, and make an easy target for people much less adept at Greek than you are, so it’s worth getting them right. :)

Admirable though this is, I think you might do well to tackle something simpler next time. It’s one thing to avoid errors, another to produce something that reads like Greek, and frankly, without the English I don’t think I’d have been able to understand much of this. Greek elegiacs tend to be more straightforward than Hardy!

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Re: greek elegiac couplets

Post by jeidsath » Sun Jul 28, 2019 3:38 am

mwh wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:50 pm
It’s one thing to avoid errors, another to produce something that reads like Greek, and frankly, without the English I don’t think I’d have been able to understand much of this.
I read the Greek a few times until I understood it, and felt that it might have been more straight-foward than the Hardy. Here's what I got before reading the English:

Winter is here. But it's not possible for the sorrow of loneliness to come to me again. No one lets go of life twice. The petals have fallen from the flowers, but they are cropped that way just once. That goddess can no longer do me evil. The bird labors in fear, but my old strength will not be destroyed by chill, being fled even long ago. The dark grass is frozen, but it's not possible to be fixed in affection, to one who does not now have friends has he did before. The storm destroys all about, but love is not able to harm that one again this year whom the heart no longer reaches. The cloak of night is black, but death will not strike fear in him who waits in want of hope, nor is he at a loss.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

cclaudian
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Re: greek elegiac couplets

Post by cclaudian » Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:33 pm

mwh wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:50 pm

Admirable though this is, I think you might do well to tackle something simpler next time. It’s one thing to avoid errors, another to produce something that reads like Greek, and frankly, without the English I don’t think I’d have been able to understand much of this. Greek elegiacs tend to be more straightforward than Hardy!
Thanks enormously for the pointers, mwh! Hardy is clearly a little beyond my powers, and in fact I probably need to read a great deal more Greek before I get started on elegiac verse composition at all. The absence of any handbook for them doesn't help (although you're right in saying that Annis has a hints and helps document). Unlike for Latin elegy (where Ovid is the established model for modern versifiers) I can't really see a stand-out Greek elegiac poet fit for imitation (maybe Theognis I suppose? the Greek Anthology?).
I read the Greek a few times until I understood it, and felt that it might have been more straight-foward than the Hardy. Here's what I got before reading the English:
Thank you for reading through it, Jeidsath!

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Re: greek elegiac couplets

Post by mwh » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:34 pm

As with Latin, the conventions get tightened up over time. There’s no obvious model. To supplement Theognidea (instructive but tiresome) I’d suggest at least Mimnermus and Simonides, and Solon, and Hellenistic poets such as Callimachus (Hymn 5 and the original of Catullus 66, a great cross-language comparison).
You can consult books on Greek metre (West’s is the best), but I’d say the most important thing is to thoroughly soak yourself in elegiacs, elegiacs of all kinds.

(And Joel, you misunderstood more of claudian's offering than you realize. And to attempt to translate into English prose an attempt to translate an English poem into Greek verse is hardly a helpful exercise.)

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FlatAssembler
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Re: greek elegiac couplets

Post by FlatAssembler » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:45 am

I just can't imagine writing poetry in a classical language. Allow me to ask a few questions.
cclaudian wrote:Anyone know of any verse composition manuals for greek elegiac couplets?
What's your native language? Is it Greek? I mean, ancient Greek is easy to learn only if you speak Greek, right?
mwh wrote:as I read through the Hardy what floated into my head for the closing “Waits in unhope” was μένει ἐλπίδος ἐκτός!
So, you are saying you can think in Ancient Greek, much like you can think in English?
I mean, I can think only in Croatian and, though not as easily, in English. Translating prose between Croatian and English sometimes doesn't require effort, but sometimes it requires significant effort even if I understand the sentence in one of the two languages, because I can't immediately recall the words, or come up with a way to paraphrase it. I find it very hard to translate poetry, whenever I try to, I feel like much of the meaning, if not even the basic message, has been lost.

cclaudian
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Re: greek elegiac couplets

Post by cclaudian » Tue Jul 30, 2019 9:55 am

FlatAssembler wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:45 am
I just can't imagine writing poetry in a classical language. Allow me to ask a few questions.
cclaudian wrote:Anyone know of any verse composition manuals for greek elegiac couplets?
What's your native language? Is it Greek? I mean, ancient Greek is easy to learn only if you speak Greek, right?
mwh wrote:as I read through the Hardy what floated into my head for the closing “Waits in unhope” was μένει ἐλπίδος ἐκτός!
So, you are saying you can think in Ancient Greek, much like you can think in English?
I mean, I can think only in Croatian and, though not as easily, in English. Translating prose between Croatian and English sometimes doesn't require effort, but sometimes it requires significant effort even if I understand the sentence in one of the two languages, because I can't immediately recall the words, or come up with a way to paraphrase it. I find it very hard to translate poetry, whenever I try to, I feel like much of the meaning, if not even the basic message, has been lost.
My native tongue is English, but I've been writing away in Latin for many years, and in Greek for two. Consequently Latin comes a lot easier, as i hope is evident from the following couplets!

venit hiems; verum viduo mihi bruma dolorem
non iterum referet: nil bis obire potest.
flore fugit folium; sed quod semel accidit, illa
non iam me species angere dura potest.
labuntur volucres; priscum non robur omittam
[deest unus versus]
congelat omne nemus. nequeunt concrescere amici
frigore, cui desunt nunc, velut ante, sui.
[desunt aliquot versus]

Still a work in progress, as the brackets suggest (or perhaps it's only awaiting an ambitious conjecture-er).

As for Greek, I'm sure it's easier for a native modern speaker to learn, but I'm promised we monolingual English speakers can do it too

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