New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

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New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by jeidsath » Mon Sep 28, 2015 3:04 pm

Adam J. Goldwyn, Dimitra Kokkini, John Tzetzes, Allegories of the Iliad. Dumbarton Oaks medieval library, 37.
This new volume from the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library brings (on facing pages) text and English translation of a long and curious work (not represented yet in TLG) of the 12th-century polymath John Tzetzes. The editors/translators provide a short general introduction, and at the end minimal notes on the text, 35 pages of very short notes on the translation (the majority of which are cross-references to lines of the Iliad), a short bibliography, and an index of proper names.

Allegories of the Iliad, a poem in the 15-syllable πολιτικὸς στίχος (over 6600 of them!), is an odd mishmash that bears the marks of its checkered history. It is partly brief plot summary (ὑπόθεσις), partly extended paraphrase of the epic in simpler Greek, partly allegorical explanation of almost all divine and supernatural elements, and partly self- advertisement of the author. Tzetzes began the work as a commission for the empress Eirene (Bertha von Sulzbach, from Bavaria), wife of Manual I Komnenos, probably in the 1140s, but the elaborate Prolegomena (over 1200 lines) contain appeals for guidance from the dedicatee as to what exactly she wants the work to be. Apparently, she never gave a clear answer and eventually lost interest in the work (or in the author). The separate books in which Tzetzes summarizes and explains the books of the Iliad vary widely in length and content. After the long Prolegomena and a treatment of Book 1 in 375 lines, his Books 2-15 are much less ambitious (averaging only 149 lines each). Then at Book 161 it is revealed that the task has been taken up afresh for a new patron, Konstantinos Kotertzes, who was apparently willing to pay for more extensive and more learned material (the treatments of Books 16-24 average 330 lines each)....
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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by jeidsath » Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:39 pm

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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by Markos » Sun Oct 04, 2015 7:23 pm

This new volume from the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library brings (on facing pages) text and English translation of a long and curious work (not represented yet in TLG) of the 12th-century polymath John Tzetzes.
I would prefer to have Homer's Greek on the facing page, but it is good to see a modern publisher paying attention to these Byzantine paraphrases. Really what is needed are fonts more legible that what is available from older public domain editions. The Amazon price

http://www.amazon.com/Allegories-Iliad- ... +the+Iliad.

seems reasonable for a hard cover. I wonder how large the font is?

Tzetzes is of course nowhere near as literal as Gaza or even Doukas, and cannot really be called a paraphrase. But with him we do have our Homeric Hexapla:
Homer 1:20: παῖδα δ᾽ ἐμοὶ λύσαιτε φίλην, τὰ δ᾽ ἄποινα δέχεσθαι…

Psellos 1:20: τὴν προσφιλῆ δέ μοι θυγατέρα λυτρώσασθε, τὰ δὲ δῶρα δέξασθε...

Gaza: 1:20: ἐμοὶ δὲ ἀπολύσατε τὴν προσφιλῆ θυγατέρα, καὶ τὰ λύτρα δέξασθε...

Loukanis 1:20: τὴν ἐμὴν θυγατέρα, τὴν πολλά μου ποθουμένην, πρὸς ἐμὲ τὴν ἀποδῶτε, τὰ δὲ δῶρα τὰ κομίζω δέξεσθέ τα κατὰ χάριν...

Doukas 1:20: ἐμοὶ δὲ τὴν φίλην μοι παῖδα λῦσαι, δεξαμένους τὰ δῶρα ταῦτα...

Tzetzes 1:20: οὕτως ὁ Χρύσης μαντικῶς ἐστολιμένος ἦλθε σὺν δῶροις ὠνησόμενος αὑτοῦ τὴν θυγατέρα.
Here's Scribo's comment on Tzetzes from the Gaza thread:
Scribo wrote:Tzetzes is as famous a Byzantine scholar as you can get, utterly unstable, a wonderfully colourful character! Incidentally, he relied largely on memory rather than textual evidence. A seriously interesting chappy. Here is Allegoriae:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=vagS ... &q&f=false

He also wrote on "filling out" the Iliad with stories like the Judgement of Paris etc, though I don't believe he had access to the actual epic cycle at that point, so they're his own compositions in his own right.
Thanks, Joel, for finding this new edition.

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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by mwh » Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:39 pm

Markos wrote: Tzetzes is of course nowhere near as literal as Gaza or even Doukas, and cannot really be called a paraphrase.
Surely Tzetzes' exuberant work is a paraphrase. It's the others that are not: they're metaphrases, word-for-word equivalents. Best compared (like the Hexapla only more so) according to their differences of time and place and purpose and sources.

Tzetzes is in verse, so it’s best to acknowledge the verse divisions.

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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by mwh » Mon Oct 12, 2015 10:47 pm

How to read the πολιτικος στιχος, the main Byzantine verse form, used by Tzetzes in the 12th cent. (“that lovable buffoon” I think Martin West called him) and still in use for folksong today.

A couple of sample verses (quoted by Markos above):
οὕτως ὁ Χρύσης μαντικῶς ἐστολιμένος ἦλθε
σὺν δώροις ὠνησόμενος αὑτοῦ τὴν θυγατέρα.

Four simple rules:-
1. Forget quantity. Using modern pronunciation works best.
2. Recognize that it’s a 8+7-syllable line. If it helps, you can pause briefly between the two parts, where the line breaks.
3. Stress the accents, especially the most important one in each part. In the 1st part, that will be either the 6th or the 8th syllable; in the 2nd part, the next-to-last. These define the structure of the line.
4. Read it fairly fast, aiming for these accents. You’ll find the meter is basically iambic (4 + 4 feet catalectic).

That’s it. After a while you get into the swing of it. Tzetzes certainly did.

οὕτως ὁ Χρύσης μαντικῶς | ἐστολιμένος ἦλθε ||
σὺν δώροις ὠνησόμενος | αὑτοῦ τὴν θυγατέρα. ||

Anyone care to record some? Scribo links to the text in Markos’ post. For the Iliad paraphrase (and then some!) start at p.67.

PS. Alternatively, forget the above rules and before diving in say:
"So dressed in garb prophetical came Chryses t(o) Agamemnon;
With gifts he came to purchase back his own poor darling daughter."
or make up your own doggerel, as Tzetzes did.

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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by mwh » Sun Oct 18, 2015 8:21 pm

No takers? It makes a change from Homer.

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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by jeidsath » Sun Oct 18, 2015 9:21 pm

I need to go back and listen to modern Greek for a while to manage this at all, but in the interests of obliging mwh, here an attempt.

I made the following transcription so that I wouldn't try to add vowel length.

hOtos ho xrYses mantikOs | estolimEnos Elthe ||
syn dOrois onesOmenos | autOU ten thugatEra. ||

Mp3

I would love to hear one of the folk songs that mwh is referring to. Is there something on YouTube somewhere?
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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by mwh » Mon Oct 19, 2015 2:57 am

Not to be political or anything …:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtMzdqldcKg

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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by jeidsath » Mon Oct 19, 2015 3:57 pm

The comments in that thread were impassioned. I like the song a great deal. There's something about it -- I can't say what -- that makes me think of Muddy Waters.

I thought that in the second half of each line they were prolonging it to more beats, but I count out 15 each time.
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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by mwh » Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:36 am

All the pro-Greek camp needed to do was adduce Tzetzes—or would that make it Turkish? :D

What the performers do, if I’m hearing it correctly, is extend the (stressed) penult of each line. The klarino sets up the rhythm at the outset. So we get a basically uniform beat throughout the piece, with stress on the even syllables—a rising rhythm, modified at the end to give a falling close.

Swapping out stress for quantity, this corresponds exactly to the iambic tetrameter familiar from Old Comedy.
E.g. Aristoph. Frogs 905-970, Dionysus setting up the great contest between Euripides & Aeschylus:
ἀλλ’ ὡς τάχιστα χρὴ λέγειν· οὕτω δ’ ὅπως ἐρεῖτον,
αστεῖα καὶ μήτ’ εικόνας μήθ’ οἷ’ ὰν άλλος είποι. κτλ.
Empty time is often postulated at the end of each line (hence “catalectic,” “stopping short”), but I wonder whether in fact this modern Greek folk practice, elongating the penultimate syllable and running straight on to the next verse without pause, better reflects the ancient rhythm?

Wouldn’t that be nice?

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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by jeidsath » Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:22 pm

mwh wrote:I wonder whether in fact this modern Greek folk practice, elongating the penultimate syllable and running straight on to the next verse without pause, better reflects the ancient rhythm?
I find something like this to be likely, and folk practice can be very old. Japanese haiku (the quantity-based poetry of a mora-based language) pads its lines to an 8-8-8 meter when read aloud:

http://japanese.stackexchange.com/quest ... read-aloud

And listen here:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 11B4DA63E0

Anything outside of 4 or 8 beats "feels wrong," apparently. But the 5-7-5 rule of haiku is the most rigid syllabic rule in the world.

I had been assuming that the ultima was the stretched syllable in Greek poetry (either the vowel, or the nasal consonant). But the penult is an interesting place for it. The vowel there is already anceps as far as proparoxytone words are concerned.

EDIT: From the comments in one of the above links, the Japanese use Nippon for cheering rather than Nihon -- the first being the rare, formal term for Japan.
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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by mwh » Wed Oct 21, 2015 11:27 pm

I don’t get the point about proparoxytones (quite a number of misapprehensions here, I think), but if any syllable is stretched in catalectic verses it surely has to be the penult, not the ult. There are many parallels in many languages. In the case of Greek it will go back to older Indo-European. I’d guess the penult had 3 morae instead of the normal 2, leaving one for the final syllable and no empty time before the next verse. But regularizing metrical units is a dodgy business.

Thanks for the haiku analogy (5-7-5 syllables > 8-8-8 rhythm), much more extreme however. (Incidentally, I once had an English haiku of mine read on NPR! My nanomoment of fame. Of course haiku work only in Japanese, I realise that. This was a one-off.)
Catalexis may be something of a misnomer—a syllable-counting metricians’ term that may not represent the rhythmical reality.

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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by jeidsath » Thu Oct 22, 2015 3:02 pm

The proparoxytone point wasn't exactly thought out. All I meant was that a word can be proparoxytone whether the penult has a long vowel or a short. A long ultima, however, forces the accent to the penult.

In other words, the accentual pattern of the language can withstand some stretching in the penult position. Not to three morae, generally -- which is what I meant by not completely thought out.
mwh wrote:...it surely has to be the penult, not the ult.
Could you expand on this please? It follows naturally from the folk song example -- and it feels right to me -- but the haikus seem to stretch the ultima.

Do you think syllable-stretching could be related to Homeric caesura?
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Re: New Iliad paraphrase (Tzetzes)

Post by mwh » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:27 pm

jeidsath wrote: the accentual pattern of the language can withstand some stretching in the penult position.
I understand what you mean, but I think it’s muddled. The accentual pattern of paroxytones is what it is, regardless of whether the penult is long or short. As you say, it’s the quantity of the ultima that counts. There’s no stretching. Shorts are short and longs are long. It’s a binary system. Shorts cannot be long. But longs may be superlong in particular circumstances. Consider so-called “syncopated” iambics, for example.
mwh wrote:...it surely has to be the penult, not the ult.
Could you expand on this please?
It has to be right, because that’s where the long vowel is. But of course I may be wrong to moot the possibility of trisemic penult in catalectic iambics instead of vacant time at end. Cf. e.g. (Trigger Warning!) A captain bold of Halifax, who lived in county quarters: https://books.google.com/books?id=oSLVA ... 22&f=false
— In fact, I belatedly realize, I must be wrong, precisely because the ultima, like all verse-ending vowels, can be long! (Likewise in Latin, of course: see the link above.) Stupid, stupid. So I withdraw the suggestion, and apologize for wasting your time. Still, the final vowel can’t be prolonged either, because it can be short.
Do you think syllable-stretching could be related to Homeric caesura?
No I don’t. Why ever would anyone think so? The movement of the hexameter is continuous, the caesura the result of other factors.

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