ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟ? ΔΑΙΜΟ?Α ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

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ethopoeia
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ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟ? ΔΑΙΜΟ?Α ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

Post by ethopoeia » Tue May 22, 2007 7:09 pm

ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟ? ΔΑΙΜΟ?Α ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

I'd like to challenge the members of this forum to provide an exact translation for Jim Morrison's enigmatic epitaph at the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris-XX.

The short sentence in the bronze gravestone was written by his father, US Navy Admiral George S. Morrison. It accounts for a remarkable command of the Greek language and, unlike some dilettantes claim, it is written in a grammatically perfect Greek.

Some particularly oddball translations have pictured a demoniacal reference ("the one who fights his own demons", "he caused his own demons", "down with his own demons", "burnt by his demons") or overtly Satanic ("with the devil himself", "the devil within himself", etc.), surely due to a literal translation of the Greek δαιμων by its false friends 'demon' or 'devil', as used in modern English or post-Classical Greek.

Some better translations have managed to grasp the ancient meaning of the term relating it to 'spirit' ("to the divine spirit within himself", "the geniality in his mind", "true to his own spirit"), as used by Socrates or Plato, yet I believe they fail to convey the actual meaning intended by Jim's father with the idiomatic collocation κατα followed by the noun δαιμονα in accusative.

What is the exact translation of the sentence κατα τον δαιμονα εαυτου?

Last edited by ethopoeia on Wed May 23, 2007 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Kasper » Tue May 22, 2007 10:50 pm

Perhaps the genius of this phrase is the exact ambiguity you describe?
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Re: ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟ? ΔΑΙΜΟ?Α ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

Post by Bert » Tue May 22, 2007 11:18 pm



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Post by annis » Tue May 22, 2007 11:24 pm

By the grace of his own god.

?
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;

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ethopoeia
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Post by ethopoeia » Wed May 23, 2007 10:28 pm

Yes, the mystery lies indeed in the term δαιμων. More concretely, in the meaning of the collocation κατα + δαιμονα (accusative).

Wikipedia gives as the exact translation "true to his own spirit", which is a nice, yet wrong translation. The most faithful interpretation I've found is "in accordance with his daemon", which successfully translates κατα as "according to", yet fails to unearth the meaning of δαιμων intended by Admiral Morrison.

The solution to the enigma must be the actual meaning of δαιμων preceded by κατα. Any idea? :)
Last edited by ethopoeia on Thu May 24, 2007 11:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by chad » Wed May 23, 2007 11:34 pm

when i first heard about this inscription i wondered if, in addition to its literal meaning, it was an allusion to how the ancient grks used to write RIP, i.e. καταχθονίοις θεοῖς (abbrev ΚΘ) on gravestones I've seen in museums, i think that's the wording they used from memory, or maybe it was the other way round, ie ΘΚ...

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Post by ThomasGR » Thu May 24, 2007 5:39 am

The best translations would be “faithful to his own spirit? or (better?) “guided by his own spirit?. It’s more correct to use daemon, if daemon didn’t have other associations in our modern world. Such poetical stances are most difficult to translate from one language to another, either if it’s English or Greek. It puzzled me also the correct meaning of this sentence and what would be the best translation. I made my own search and the story goes that in the fourth century AD there was a philosophical school that claimed that with the birth of a person he got assigned a unique “daemon? to guide him through his life and be his guard. You could live a happy life only if you “subdue? yourself to your daemon completely.

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Post by perispomenon » Thu May 24, 2007 6:47 am

ethopoeia wrote:actual meaning of δαιμων preceded by κατα.
In Homer daimonie can sometimes mean a self-willed person.

But I wouldn't dare say that 'will' or 'wish' is the actual meaning of δαιμων.

Found this in Middel Liddell: "kata daimona, nearly"

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Post by ThomasGR » Thu May 24, 2007 7:08 am

the complete phrase is "π?αττειν κατα τον δαιμονα εαυτου". I've read the story of neoplatonic school somewhere but cannot find it anymore.

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Post by ethopoeia » Thu May 24, 2007 12:25 pm



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Re: ΚΑΤΑ ΤΟ? ΔΑΙΜΟ?Α ΕΑΥΤΟΥ

Post by perispomenon » Fri May 25, 2007 6:10 am

ethopoeia wrote:Some better translations have managed to grasp the ancient meaning of the term relating it to 'spirit' ("to the divine spirit within himself", "the geniality in his mind", "true to his own spirit"), as used by Socrates or Plato, yet I believe they fail to convey the actual meaning intended by Jim's father with the idiomatic collocation κατα followed by the noun δαιμονα in accusative
Somehow the way you posed your question, I thought you had inside information on what his father intended and that you wanted to test us :-)

After reading ThomasGR's posts, I think 'true to his own spirit' is a fine translation. What's your reason for thinking it should be something else?

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ethopoeia
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Post by ethopoeia » Sat May 26, 2007 9:20 am



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Post by perispomenon » Sat May 26, 2007 10:13 am

ethopoeia wrote:And, just like Venus means "Love" in Ovid, I'm convinced that δαιμων means something very different here. ThomasGR has mentioned Neoplatonism (?)
I found this where there is also a listing of ancient references.

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Post by Arvid » Sun May 27, 2007 3:04 am

My knowledge of the Syntax of (at least Postclassical) Greek doesn't really qualify me to have an opinion on this issue, but here's the impression it makes on me, anyway:

Remember that by the time the later Greek philosophical schools were arising, nobody believed any more in the Three Fates, pulling the wool of your life from the skein and spinning it into a thread and then clipping it with shears. Instead, a lot of them believed that you were born with your own Guardian δαιμον (probably suggested by Socrates' δαιμον he said guided him throughout his life) that would figuratively whisper advice in your Inner Ear. I think they were divided over whether it was possible for a person to ignore this advice or act against it, though.

Couldn't a possible translation of π?αττειν κατα τον δαιμονα εαυτου be something like: (Awkwardly phrased by necessity) "It all worked out as his (inborn) δαιμον decreed?" This only sounds fatalistic if you regard the person and his δαιμον as two separate entities; if you consider them to have been born together as parts of a corporate whole, a better translation might be: "He did it his way."
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Post by ThomasGR » Sat Jun 02, 2007 9:25 am

ethopoeia, after such a long period of silence, I thnk, it's time to reveal us what that old Greek-Spanish dictionary has to tell. Don't keep me more under this spell.

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Post by ethopoeia » Thu Jun 07, 2007 12:58 am

Excuse me guys, I've been off for some important appointments. Besides, you know us Spaniards, we always enjoy teasing and keeping that aura of mystery... :)

According to my Diccionario Griego-Español Pabón S. de Urbina (1967) κατα δαιμονα = según el destino, "according to destiny" (since everyone is assigned an immutable daemon at birth that will guide him/her for a lifetime).

I believe this is consistent with π?αττειν κατα τον δαιμονα εαυτου, the Greek concept of αναγκη and the teachings of the Stoic school, which must have been particularly cherished by war hero, high-rank officer Admiral Morrison. What do you think?

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