κύανέον in St. Jerome

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YIt
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κύανέον in St. Jerome

Post by YIt »

Hi,

I am currently working on a passage in St. Jerome's commentary to Ezekiel where he writes the following (transl. from Scheck's recent edition, p. 155):

but when they washed their feet and cleansed them from all defilement, they are shod in ὑακίνθινις or ιανθινις, each of which pertains to the colors ἀέρίον and κύανέον, so that they are caught up to meet the Lord in the air (Thess 4,17) and hasten to the heavenly kingdom


A number of points:

1. He seems to be purposefully giving the color terms in Greek (I've double-checked this in the ancient, important manuscripts). Any clue why? Perhaps these words (i.e. ὑακίνθινις and ιανθινις) were not common at the time (at least as garment colors), and Jerome borrowed the identification from some other literary, presumably Greek, source? The second word however, is attested somewhat.

2. Jerome seems to be drawing a connection between the color (ἀέρίον and κύανέον) and the fact that " they are caught up to meet the Lord in the air". This works well for the first color term. How does the second one, κύανέον, fit into the metaphor? Perhaps the referent is the sky? (Do we find contemporaneous usage of this color term in reference to the sky?)

3. The color of ιανθινις is undoubtedly violet (there are sources in which ὑακίνθινις is this color too). How does this fit in with the statement that it "pertains to the colors ἀέρίον and κύανέον"? Perhaps this is more of a metaphorical connection than an accurate color definition? Or maybe κύανέον retained additional meanings in Jerome's time, besides for blue?

Any ideas and help are greatly appreciated!
Last edited by YIt on Wed Dec 07, 2022 2:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jeidsath
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Re: κύανέον in St. Jerome

Post by jeidsath »

That looks a lot like he's got a section of Philo in front of him that I saw recently. Does Jerome use him for a source? @phalakros probably knows.
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Re: κύανέον in St. Jerome

Post by phalakros »

YIt wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 4:33 am
but when they washed their feet and cleansed them from all defilement, they are shod in ὑακίνθινις or ιανθινις, each of which pertains to the colors ἀέρίον and κύανέον, so that they are caught up to meet the Lord in the air (Thess 4,17) and hasten to the heavenly kingdom

I’m only familiar with this passage of Jerome secondhand, from David Runia’s Philo in Early Christian Literature. It would help to have the Latin. A few thoughts:

-The Greek probably should be ὑακίνθινος (dark blue) and ἰάνθινος (violet). And κυάνεον (accent). The translation as you quote it is garbled.

-The scriptural source text is LXX Exod. 28. ὑάκινθος is used as part of the elaborate description of the robe.

-The idea is that the dark blue (ὑάκινθος) on the high priest’s robe represents the air since “air is dark.” Dark air is a Stoic theory, going back at least to Chrysippus. Jerome’s κυάνεον probably refers to darkness.

-This symbolic interpretation goes back to Philo (it shows up in his Life of Moses, Special Laws 1, and Questions and Answers on Exodus 2) or his source(s). Jerome probably used Philo’s allegorical interpretation of the priestly robes. It was widely used in patristic exegesis (eg Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Moses, who politely disagrees with the dark blue=dark air interpretation). Jerome talks about Philo a number of times.

-A similar interpretation appears in Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 3. In Josephus the ὑάκινθος of the robe represents the axis of the celestial sphere (πόλος), not the air, but he does use ὑάκινθος=air to interpret the dark blue material used for the tabernacle curtains, as does Philo. From what I remember, Jerome also used Josephus as a source.

-I’m not sure what Jerome is up to with ἰάνθινος (violet). It looks like he’s specifying what he means by ὑακίνθινος. Note that color words in Ancient Greek are notoriously hard to pin down.

I'm sorry I can't be of more help with Jerome. Good luck!

YIt
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Re: κύανέον in St. Jerome

Post by YIt »

Thank you @jeidsath for your help and @phalakros for your invaluable comments! They are really helpful.

Here is the Latin (I posted it here):
cum autem loti fuerint pedes et omni sorde purgati, calceantur ὑακίνθινις <pellibus> siue ιανθινις quod utrumque ἀέρον et κύανέον coloris est ut rapiantur in occursum Domini in aerem, et ad caelestia regna festinent
(The passage is from Jerome's commentary to Ezek. 16:10. The bracketed word appears only in some manuscripts and I assume is a later addition. All of the manuscripts that I checked spell it Υακίνθινις).

I'd really appreciate it if you can correct the translation. It is especially important for me to know where the translator got "pertains" (as if to say that this is not an exact color definition, rather that the items "have to do with" these colors) from, and if the word "utrumque" is referring to "ὑακίνθινις siue ιανθινις" or to "ἀέρον et κύανέον".

I forgot to mention it in my first post, but Jerome does refer to Philo's usage of ὑακίνθινις earlier in this passage, so he is probably taking ἀέρον from there too. But κύανέον is not mentioned by Philo in connection to either ὑακίνθινις or ιανθινις, and I have found no one who equates ιανθινις with ἀέρον or κύανέον.

Jerome opens the passage citing Aquila and Theodotion who replace ὑακίνθινις with ἰάνθινος (they, and Symmachus, do this at Exodus 25:5 too). This is presumably to differentiate the Hebrew תחש from תכלת, mentioned also in these verses, which is generally translated ὑακίνθος. (Latin "ianthina" is known from Pliny and others as a violet-dyed garment.)
Therefore, I would assume that ὑακίνθινις and ιανθινις are not the same color, which makes Jerome's equation all the more strange. Perhaps the original color of ὑακίνθινις or ιανθινις was unknown in his times?

Another point that I am grappling with is the singular "coloris" (which in Scheck's translation is pluralized); does this demonstrate that only κύανέον, and not ἀέρον, is used here as a color?

One last point, I am aware that κύανέον means simply "dark" in earlier Greek (as Irwin demonstrated in ch. 3 of his Colour Terms In Greek Poetry), but by Jerome's time the word had already come to mean blue. Is there evidence that the original meaning (dark) was retained?

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Re: κύανέον in St. Jerome

Post by jeidsath »

I had seen all of these in Philo (and the Josephus one) when I searched for αηρ, etc. for the other thread recently.

It strikes me that Jerome is trying to make exactly Philo's point, but for some reason is muddying the color to include purple, and saying this color range still represents the sky, which is itself a bit of a range. (Temple Judaism is long gone, but is he thinking of purple-wearing priests of some sort?)
"Here stuck the great stupid boys, who for the life of them could never master the accidence..."

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