Philoctetes, questions.

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Bart
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Philoctetes, questions.

Post by Bart » Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:42 pm

I have a couple of questions about the prologue of Sophocles' Philoctetes.

-line 4:
Ἀχιλλέως παῖ Νεοπτόλεμε, τὸν Μηλιᾶ

According to Schein (Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics) Νεοπτόλεμε is scanned: heavy-light-light-light, so the first two syllables of the name are pronounced as one (synizesis) and the last two syllables constitute resolution of the normally heavy syllable in this position. Two questions:

-how do you pronounce 'Νεο' as one syllable? Something like 'Njo' perhaps?
-couldn't the first two syllables also be seen as resolution?


line 86-87:
ἐγὼ μὲν οὓς ἂν τῶν λόγων ἀλγῶ κλύων,
Λαερτίου παῖ, τούσδε καὶ πράσσειν στυγῶ:

Son of Laërtius, things which it distresses me to hear spoken of are things which I hate to do.

What is ἂν doing here? Does it go with κλύων (something like 'in case I'm hearing').


line 130-131

οὗ δῆτα, τέκνον, ποικίλως αὐδωμένου
δέχου τὰ συμφέροντα τῶν ἀεὶ λόγων.

Schein has: from whom, my child, as he speaks out craftily, receive what is advantageous in his words spoken from time to time.

ἀεὶ = from time to time? I couldn't find this use in the LSJ. It seems strange.


First thoughts: Odysseus is in great shape in this prologue, coaxing and bullying young Neoptolemus into acceptance of his plan. Best line so far: δίκαιοι δ᾽ αὖθις ἐκφανούμεθα.

Hylander
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Re: Philoctetes, questions.

Post by Hylander » Sun Dec 02, 2018 11:33 pm

line 4: Νεοπτ- can't be resolved into two short syllable because the syllable -οπτ- is long/heavy. Accommodating proper names often requires metrical license. Synizesis is a license that's fairly frequent in such situations. Pronounce it by articulating -εο- quickly.

86-7: οὓς ἂν introduces a "general" relative clause, similar to a present general condition. "Whatever words I feel pain hearing" or something like "whenever I feel pain hearing words" or 'whenever I hear words that cause me pain . . . "

130-1: Hugh Lloyd-Jones (Loeb) has: "As he tells a cunning tale, my son, do you get what advantage you can from whatever words [are spoken]." The brackets are mine. He apparently takes ἀεὶ as generalizing τῶν . . . λόγων. I guess Schein's interpretation is based on the same underlying idea, but Lloyd-Jones' translation seems better to me, at least.

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Re: Philoctetes, questions.

Post by mwh » Mon Dec 03, 2018 12:06 am

Just to add a little.

Ἀχιλλέως παῖ Νεοπτόλεμε, τὸν Μηλιᾶ
Νεο- must have been slurred to produce a long vowel, probably something like νου-, cf. e.g. νουμηνία, or φιλεοντα>φιλουντα. Neoptolemus is not an easy name to fit into iambics! and Sophocles does it only when it’s absolutely necessary—here and a bit later when Neopt. introduces himself to Philoctetes.

ἐγὼ μὲν οὓς ἂν τῶν λόγων ἀλγῶ κλύων,
Λαερτίου παῖ, τούσδε καὶ πράσσειν στυγῶ;
Just to be clear, the αν (short α) goes with αλγῶ , which is subjunctive, making this a regular indefinite clause.

οὗ δῆτα, τέκνον, ποικίλως αὐδωμένου
δέχου τὰ συμφέροντα τῶν ἀεὶ λόγων.
This use of αει is fairly common both in prose and verse but is not easy to translate. It conveys a sense of a succession. LSJ does give examples, e.g. ὁ αιει βασιλευς, the king at the time, whoever happens to be king; there’s a succession of kings.
jeidsath recently posted a famous bit of Xenophon (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=68690) that includes οἱ ἀεὶ ἐπιόντες ἔθεον δρόμῳ ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀεὶ βοῶντας καὶ πολλῷ μείζων ἐγίγνετο ἡ βοὴ, where οἱ ἀεὶ ἐπιόντες means those who were coming on one after another, different individuals but a steady stream of them, and ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀεὶ βοῶντας complementarily means those who were shouting, one lot after another, so that ever more were shouting.
Here Neopt. is being told to pick up on the advantageous bits in the various things that Phil. will successively say.

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Re: Philoctetes, questions.

Post by Bart » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:09 am

Ta!

-Νεοπτόλεμε: yes, clear
-ἐγὼ μὲν οὓς ἂν τῶν λόγων ἀλγῶ κλύων: off course, a general relative clause. I'm affraid I didn't notice the fact that ἀλγῶ is a subjunctive: not good.
-δέχου τὰ συμφέροντα τῶν ἀεὶ λόγων: the example from Xenophon helps a lot.

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Re: Philoctetes, questions.

Post by Bart » Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:36 pm

Two questions about meter:

-line 135: τί χρὴ τί χρή με, δέσποτ᾽, ἐν ξένᾳ ξένον
Schein scans the first four syllables as u-u-u- (u = light, -= heavy). But shouldn't τί be heavy, since it is followed by to consonants?

-I thought that strophe and antistrophe were perfect metrical copies of each other, but (very) minor differences seem to be allowed: is that correct?

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Re: Philoctetes, questions.

Post by Aetos » Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:50 pm

There's a rule where if the 2nd consonant is a liquid (ρ), then the preceding vowel can be short or long, as required by the verse. Our resident metricians will be able to give you a much more detailed explanation.
Here's Smyth:
145. A stop with a liquid after a short vowel need not make the preceding syllable long by position. A syllable containing a short vowel before a stop and a liquid is common (either short or long). When short, such syllables are said to have weak position.

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Re: Philoctetes, questions.

Post by Hylander » Sat Dec 08, 2018 5:31 pm

shouldn't τί be heavy, since it is followed by two consonants?
Mute (π, τ, κ, φ, θ, χ) + liquid (λ, ρ, sometimes μ, ν) clusters are sometimes but not always treated as making the preceding syllable heavy/long even if it contains a short vowel.. Really the underlying issue is whether the syllable in question is open (ending in a vowel) or closed (ending in a consonant).

A mute when followed by a liquid is sometimes treated as:

-- articulated with the preceding vowel, creating a closed, or heavy/long syllable even if the vowel is short, or

-- articulated with the following liquid, leaving the preceding syllable open and therefore light/short if the vowel is short.

In this regard, ancient Greek was articulated into syllables without regard to word-boundaries, a little like French liaison (les arbres articuated in speech as lé zarb).

In the case of 135, τί χρὴ could be articulate either as τίχ-ρὴ with τίχ heavy/long, or as τί-χρὴ, with τί light/short. But the second τί must be treated as light/short, because this verse is iambic trimeter. The first τί is analyzed by Schein as light/short by analogy and also to respond with the corresponding verse in the antistrophe: μέλον πάλαι μέλημά μοι λέγεις, ἄναξ, (150). Arguably, however, the metrical slot of the first τί could be analyzed as anceps (either long or short, represented by x) in the iambic metron (x _ υ _) but there is no need here to do so.
I thought that strophe and antistrophe were perfect metrical copies of each other, but (very) minor differences seem to be allowed: is that correct?
Some slots may be anceps (for example, an "Aeolic basis," i.e., the first two slots in "Aeolic" metra such as glyconics and pherecratics), so that a short/light syllable might respond to a long/heavy syllable, and sometimes a long/heavy slot may be resolved, with responsion to between a heavy/long syllable and two light/short syllables. Also, of course, the last syllable of a colon was always treated as heavy/long, regardless of the actual quantity of the syllable.

Other instances of non-responsion are often textually suspect. The principles of Greek metrics, especially the meters of choral lyric, were not understood during the Byzantine era -- in fact, not really until the early 19th century, and even after that, our understanding has been evolving. Many instances of textual corruption could not be diagnosed as such by copyists and editors until relatively recently. In the 13th century some Byzantine scholars had an imperfect grasp of the subject, but it sometimes led them to perpetrate further textual errors.

I hope this isn't too confusing, but metrical discussions usually are, at least to me.

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Re: Philoctetes, questions.

Post by Bart » Sun Dec 09, 2018 9:50 am

Thanks for taking the time to spell this out so lucidly.

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Re: Philoctetes, questions.

Post by Bart » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:12 pm

First chorus: a very active chorus so to say, almost another dramatis persona and used with great effect to prepare the audience for the first appearance of Philoctetes.

I found Neoptolemus' reply in lines 191-200 interesting.

οὐδὲν τούτων θαυμαστὸν ἐμοί:
θεῖα γάρ, εἴπερ κἀγώ τι φρονῶ,
καὶ τὰ παθήματα κεῖνα πρὸς αὐτὸν
τῆς ὠμόφρονος Χρύσης ἐπέβη,
καὶ νῦν ἃ πονεῖ δίχα κηδεμόνων,
οὐκ ἔσθ᾽ ὡς οὐ θεῶν του μελέτῃ
τοῦ μὴ πρότερον τόνδ᾽ ἐπὶ Τροίᾳ
τεῖναι τὰ θεῶν ἀμάχητα βέλη,
πρὶν ὅδ᾽ ἐξήκοι χρόνος, ᾧ λέγεται
χρῆναί σφ᾽ ὑπὸ τῶνδε δαμῆναι.

This comes in response to two beautiful strophes of the chorus, who crank up the emotional intensity significantly in singing about their pity for Philoctetes. Neoptolemus answers this rather glibly, or so it seems to me, saying that this course of events doesn't surprise him. Some godess inflicted this suffering on P. and anyway things only come to pass according to some divine timetable. It's interesting to compare this to Odysseus’ view stated in the prologue about how P.'s current condition came about. Odysseus doesn't refer to the gods, but only mentions a disease and the fact that he himself was orderd by his superiors to drop P. off at Lemnos. Both accounts seem self-serving in their own way.

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Re: Philoctetes, questions.

Post by Hylander » Sun Dec 09, 2018 3:02 pm

Neoptolemus is reminding the audience of the back-story of Philoctetes' wound. P. unwittingly stumbled into the sacred place of the nymph Chryse on the island of Chryse, and it was she who caused a serpent to bite him. Or something like that. And there was a prophecy that Troy could not be taken until Philoctetes' return. I'm not sure that Neoptolemus' words are necessarily self-serving here, although they may be insensitive to Philoctetes' pain.

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