de itinere primo: days 2-3

October 24, 2012

OK! The next day we went to Thermon (really cool site! I left my camera on the bus.), the Agrinion Museum, which has swag from Calydon including this very handsome head of Meleager from the heroon there:


After that we went to Stratos, which reminded me of the ruins of the giants’ city in The Silver Chair. But I didn’t take very good photos of it. We spent the night in Preveza city!

preveza city!

This brings us to the end of day 2! Although I think this shot of Preveza city is from the morning, actually. Day three we went to Nikopolis/Actium. I had never heard of Octavian’s synoikizing the neighborhood; I guess it’s just a regular thing we do now. I was so horrified when I learned in KM’s lyric seminar about what Hieron did to Catana, but now I guess I should be more blase? Well, these things are always complicated. There are many similarities and differences between Hieron, Cassander, and Octavian. No really good photos from Nikopolis and Actium, though we learned all about the dedication of the rams from Antony and Cleopatra’s ships. Very interesting!

de itinere primo: day 1

October 23, 2012


To me as I begin trip three it seems like the best possible time to begin writing about trip 1 and publishing its photos;


Day 1: Calydon (where I didn’t take good photos but there was a boar hunt there once!); Missolonghi’s garden of heroes; celebrating those, especially non-Greeks, who participated in the Greek War of Independence, in which Byron’s heart is buried. I hadn’t really thought before how patronizing Philhellenism is, and had conflicting emotions about the Western Europeans’ role in the Greek War of Independence. It seems culturally imperialist to think that the Greeks needed Europe’s enthusiasm and support; but revolutions are difficult and revolting groups always need help, right?; but there is something patronizing about how the Europeans looked at modern Greeks (as like pro temp. guardians of the culture that rightfully belonged to Western Europe). This is very well articulated in Hamilakis’ book Nation and its Ruins, which is my favorite book. Here is a photo of Byron’s statue.


We then went to Oeniadae, where there is a shipyard which I also didn’t take photos of (well, iphone photos, but the lens is broken so they’re all half blurry.) The night ended at Nafpaktos, featuring an amazing statue of Cervantes!


As well as some gorgeous views:


Nafpaktos evening; view of suspension bridge


Euripides Andromache 101-103

Hello friends, welcome back to the DPIO! Now I am in Athens, at the American School. I am part of a group of awesome, fun, brilliant people and am so happy to be here, even though I miss my friends at home a lot, too. The title of the post, however, reminds us to never let down our vigilance and be anything except cautiously pessimistic!

This post consists mostly of my notes on the Hephaestion, which I visited today, but there’s also some idle speculation on the cogency of character and mythopoetic limitations. I’ll try to limit future posts to my own thoughts and ideas, but I wanted to get the ball rolling on this one so I wrote what I had foremost on my mind.


Here is a photo of the Acropolis from the side of Likavitos (taken by my phone).

Yesterday (9/10/12) we had TB shots at 8 in the morning, orientation to the School at 10, and meetings with the directors in the afternoon. At 6 we walked up Likavitos. So beautiful, I can never get tired of it. I’m going to make a habit of going up there in my free time. It’s too windy and sunny to really get work done there, but it joins exercise and excruciating beauty better than the Runyon hike did. Professor Miles did compare Athens’ sprawl to LA’s. Despite scoffs, I take comfort in the comparison. It made me feel at home when I moved to LA, and it makes me feel a sense of continuity now that I’m back.

Today (9/11/12) we went to the Agora in the morning. Here are some notes from Professor Miles’ lecture on the Hephaestion (none of this (unless I specifically say so) is my original thoughts or research):

On the identification of the site (traditionally Theseion, where Theseus’ bones, brought by Cimon from Scyros): there are some bronze workers’ establishments around here (tenuous). Pausanias 1.14.6 says the temple of Hephaestus is above the Keramikos and near the stoa Basileios and that it has statues of Hephaestus and Athena. He’s not surprised to see them together because of Erichthonius, but then he says τὸ δὲ ἄγαλμα ὁρὼν τῆσ Ἀθηνᾶς γλαυκοὺς ἔχον τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς Λιβύων τὸν μῦθον ὄντα εὕρισκον… which suggests that the Libyans know a different myth about Athena and Hephaestus. I hope that’s what it is, because the story about Hephaestus and Athena is so gross I can’t believe anyone would dedicate a temple to something like that.

The back (West) frieze is of the Lapiths and the Centaurs, with Theseus in the center in a Harmodius and Aristogeiton pose. The East frieze is a mystery; I’d like to read some more about that. The book to read on architectural sculpture is Ridgway, Prayers and Stone (PS Did you know Pausanias never mentions frieze sculptures?). The front (East) metopes depict the labors of Heracles and the 3 eastmost metopes on each side depict the labors of Theseus. I love this kind of thing! Just like the treasury at Delphi!


Here is a photo of a metope from the north side of the Hephaestion, featuring Theseus and the Minotaur (taken by my phone).

I’m much more interested in architecture that tells stories (i.e. sculpture) so I am delighted when a professor or presenter makes regular architecture tell a story. The Hephaestaion is one of the 3 best-preserved Classical temples; it was turned into a church in the 7th century, dedicated to St. George (maybe (my speculation) because Heracles and the hydra are depicted on the 2nd metope from the left on the east side of the temple?). Non-orthodox European visitors were buried there. It wasn’t really treated as a thing of interest to archeologists until the 1930s. In the 40s and 50s archaeologists had a lot of feelings about the architect of the Hephaestaion feeling competitive with Ictinus (architect of the Parthenon), so despite all kinds of evidence, every stage of the Hephaestion had to be dated after the corresponding stage of the Parthenon, to the extent that the archeologist D— postulated that the architect of the Hephaestion had put a colonnade in there in aemulatio of the Parthenon. Although there’s no evidence of a colonnade to speak of, all the maps you can find on google images include it, based solely on the exciting, slightly scandalous story Professor D— tells about the ancient certamen between the Theseum architect and Ictinus. This is what Professor Miles had to say, and I agree wholly with her. (Speaking of the Theseum, I do not completely agree with the identification of this temple with Hephaestus. I’d have to do more research before I tried to convince anyone of this, but Pausanias isn’t enough to persuade me, and the Erichthonius myth is so gross that I’m unwilling to go along with it. I think it actually is the Theseion. But we’ll think about it more later when we are better at knowing things.)


Here is a photo of the Hephestaion from the east side (taken by my phone, which takes photos that are hazy on the left side for some reason).

Those are my notes, mostly. What’s left for me is to learn the names of all the parts of a temple. Architrave? Opisthodomous? I also have to really read Susan Cole’s book because I wrote about it in my entrance essay because I so loved the bits of it I’d read. It now becomes time for me to stop admiring it from afar and take our relationship to the next level. I also have some Cicero to work on and in my private time I’m reading Andromache. I like it so far; I thought this part was particularly funny (Andromache and Therapaina):

{Αν.} οὐδ’ ἀμφὶ Πηλέως ἦλθεν ὡς ἥξοι φάτις;                                    80

{Θε.} γέρων ἐκεῖνος ὥστε σ’ ὠφελεῖν παρών.

{Αν.} καὶ μὴν ἔπεμψ’ ἐπ’ αὐτὸν οὐχ ἅπαξ μόνον.

{Θε.} μῶν οὖν δοκεῖς σου φροντίσαι τιν’ ἀγγέλων;

{Αν.} πόθεν; θέλεις οὖν ἄγγελος σύ μοι μολεῖν;

{Θε.} τί δῆτα φήσω χρόνιος οὖσ’ ἐκ δωμάτων;                                    85

{Αν.} πολλὰς ἂν εὕροις μηχανάς· γυνὴ γὰρ εἶ.

{Θε.} κίνδυνος· Ἑρμιόνη γὰρ οὐ σμικρὸν φύλαξ.

{Αν.} ὁρᾶις; ἀπαυδᾶις ἐν κακοῖς φίλοισι σοῖς.

{Θε.} οὐ δῆτα· μηδὲν τοῦτ’ ὀνειδίσηις ἐμοί.

ἀλλ’ εἶμ’, ἐπεί τοι κοὐ περίβλεπτος βίος                                                      90

δούλης γυναικός, ἤν τι καὶ πάθω κακόν.

A. Is there no word about whether Peleus is coming?

Th. He’s too old to help you if he was here!

A. But I sent a lot of messages to him.

Th. Surely you don’t think any messenger cares about you?!

A. Where am I going to get one from?

… do you want to go as my messenger?

Th. How will I explain being gone from the house for so long?

A. You’ll come up with plenty of solutions—you’re a woman!

Th. But it’s dangerous! Hermione keeps a close guard.

A. See?! You ignore your friends when they’re having a hard time!

Th. Oh fine. You won’t get to have a grudge against me for this;

I’m going, since nobody’s going to miss the life

of a slave woman, if something bad happens to me.

I mean, it’s also sad. But I love the way Andromache guilts the Therapaina into doing her dirty work for her. She comes across as so manipulative, which is kind of how she seems in the Iliad, isn’t it? Kind of guilt-tripping Hector, bringing out the baby and weeping and everything? Well, that’s one way to read it. I wonder if that’s where Euripides’ portrayal of her in this way comes from, though, whether it’s some kind of natural extension, like how Odysseus in tragedy can be seen as an extension of his epic persona.  This is a question we come back to again and again: how much of a character (/story) is mandatory and how much can it be adjusted by each author? If the characters (and their personalities) are the building blocks of a story, how much variation is allowed by 1) the characters’ personalities and 2) the shape of the story? Can we ever have a sympathetic Clytemnestra, or an Orestes who is able to resist Apollo’s compulsion? There is the variant of faithless Penelope, but that’s probably just for the sake of perverseness. Genuine variances come, for example, from epichoric traditions like Helen of Sparta or Helen in Egypt. What about Ariadne? For her on Naxos the world splits into parallel paths. In one she waits forever, in the other she’s rescued by Dionysus; in another she’s abandoned again; in another she becomes a star. Iphigenia, too, is both sacrificed and transported. Griffith’s essay “Contest and Contradiction” mentions her paradox briefly (p. 207 fn 53): “If [Artemis] actually rescues Iphigenia at the last moment (Ag. 248), the goddess (and by implication, Zeus too) is exonerated—at least in retrospect. But then of course the chain of motivations in Agamemnon would be (again, only in retrospect) disconcertingly broken. Clytaemestra has no need for vengeance….” This is what I’m interested in: how much can be changed, and how each change effects everything else in the world of myth. For example, the Medea of Apollonius’ book 4 reflects back on Euripides’ Medea and changes her forever. And so forth. Well, I should do some work now. See you later!

Horace, Epode 11:20-22

I just liked Horace!  Just a minute ago.  I wanted to put some Latin in the title of this thing, so I looked back over the Epodes that had vexed me so all last week (and for some of the summer) and remembered this one.  I think I was cross, and I read them so quickly Wednesday, that anything nice about them slipped away amidst all the unpleasantness.  It was hard, though, to go from reading the lovely and resounding Eclogues the week before to this harsh iambic vitriol.  Although not all the poems are iambic, which brings me to a minor complaint about the otherwise decent commentary by David Mankin: it is really difficult to tell what meter a poem is in.  Well, it’s not that difficult, because you scan it, and then you know, but it would be so nice to know in advance what I’m getting in to.  Prepared, I might read differently a dactylic epode than an iambic one, or at least I’d think about it from the start.  But in my hastiness, it’s not until I’ve gone some way into the poem and wonder about the quantity of a syllable and try to scan as iambs and get completely stressed out because nowhere in the commentary does Mankin just tell me this is in dactylic hexameter/trimeter couplets.  But: the Epodes are in the past, where they will remain until about 7 weeks in the future.  Now we’re reading the Georgics!

A few years ago, when I was reading Latin with Billy a lot, there was this one afternoon after DFU when we walked all over campus as it rained a bit.  We explored the sub-sub-basement of the science library and looked at a book about geology.  We crept into a brick area that reminded me of an archaeological site.  And we had this long conversation that was probably mostly me pontificating.  I can’t remember what it was about, but I remember it was long and I felt passionately about it.  I think it was nearly certainly about language.  But since I can’t remember it makes the episode even more dreamlike, in that college atmosphere.  That reminds me of another story I wrote in college, called Castle Coumbe.  But no need for lengthy digressions.  After this conversation with Billy, we were at the coffee shop and I had an idea about a story, about someone like me (all stories start that way), reading Greek and Latin, who discovers someone’s journal, or maybe it’s a text with really involved marginalia.  And she becomes closer and closer to the author of this marginalia, who had the intention that in the future, a reader would read his, or her, text and sympathize with it to such a degree that the author would have some degree of immortality.  There was also something about the Georgics, which at the time I had never read, containing some sort of ultimate truth, Da Vinci Code style.

Anyway, aside from the Latin, I’ve had the extreme pleasure of enjoying some Herodotus recently.  I read Book 1 and part of Book 2 in English before school started, as you recall, and was so excited!  And now reading it in Greek is even more awesome.  It was difficult deciding on what I wanted to do my presentation, but though it wasn’t really well received, I am myself very interested in my idea.  Which is what counts?  I was just thinking again about Emily and her confidence, and how inspiring it is, but how far I am from having it.  Sometimes when I see names like Elaine Fantham I freeze inside, like I’ll never be anyone.  I don’t know why Fantham made me feel like that–I don’t even like what I’ve read of her very much.  And but so my presentation was about physical objects, which became interesting in Prose Sem today when Sarah was talking about how archaeologists have used Herodotus and how it’s led to some troubles, and she related this fascinating but extremely rambling story about a frieze in Anatolia somewhere that has heiroglyphs on it and Herodotus says confidently that it’s Egyptian and translates it, but now we know it’s actually Hittite or something.  Oh, her talk was pretty interesting–boring, but interesting.  I want to know more about Near Eastern mythology, migration, language.  Dear gods, please don’t make me an Indo-Europeanist!  So, it was nice when Sarah mentioned the physical in Herodotus, because it made me feel a little bit more relevant than the class’ reception of my idea had.

I really loved what my colleague Emily said about there being two levels of memory in H’s text.  At 15.1, he writes Ἄρδυος δἑ τοῦ Γύγεω μετὰ Γύγην βασιλεύσαντος μνήμην ποιήσομαι, and as I said in my presentation, using evidence from elsewhere in the early chapters to corroborate my idea, in this way Herodotus is using the word ποιήσομαι to signify both poetry/literature and physical craftsmanship, making a σῆμα.  So those are both really the ἐς ἀεὶ kind of memory.  But if you think about the pragmatics (which we’re going to do for a little while now) Herodotus uses, the anaphoric introductions of characters and stories really fits with the other, intratextual, memory.  So before you even meet Croesus at 6.1, H alludes to the man who, he knows, is αὐτὸς πρῶτον ὑπάρξαντα ἀδίκων ἔργων ἐς τοὺς Ἕλληνας (5.3), then at 6.1 H says Κροῖσος ἧν Λυδὸς μὲν γένος… and at 6.2 he gets the big οὗτος ὁ Κροῖσος…  This is what Helma Dik talks about in her book that I borrowed from Andy while he was away but have since had to return, but she addresses it as well in the book on Word Order in Tragic Diction.  The way pronouns refer back to someone of interest who’s just been introduced.  Pronouns are also interesting when the Greeks, the Medes, and the Trojans are all involved in placing blame and being peeved at 3.2–it’s hard to tell who’s who, which Alex suggested was H’s grammatical representation of the mess you can get in when you try to exchange ἴσα πρὸς ἴσα (2.1).  It has become clear to me since yesterday that I will have to talk to Alex about my MA paper, incidentally, because apparently it is about space.  Apparently, because it does not yet exist on this physical plane, alas.

I should write more about this later.  It’s pretty hard for me to talk too specifically about Herodotus when I’ve only read 24 sections of it, but it’s good exercise.  I’d write more about what I read today, but it was just rereading of Georgic 1.  Today in lecture I taught the students about adjectives vs. adverbs–an excellent distinction!  Probably I should have prepared it, however, because adverbs like “charmingly” and “alarmingly” aren’t really that common.  I guess when we get to adverb formation Wheelock will get into the semantics of the distinction.  Oh.  There was something else I wanted to say about pragmatics and Herodotus.  There’s a way to think about different kinds of speech acts in terms of the relationship between the world and the words.  So an assertion fits the words to the world, a declarative changes the world with its words, a command tries to change the world with the words, a promise changes the world in the future with the words, an emotional statement matches the words to the emotional world, etc.  So when we talk, as we do when we read Bakker, about the difference between apodeixis and epideixis, I think that apodeixis is, in his definition, a speech act that changes the world with the words, while an epideixis fits the words to the world.  So how does H’s project change the world?  Alex mentioned someone who wrote that Thucydides wrote “the war between the Athenians and the Peloponnesians” but actually wrote the war between the Athenians and the Peloponnesians, that is, there was no one war before he put narrative to it.  Well, the same is true of all history, like how that equation I dreamed about a few years ago (Δexperience/Δtime) represents life, but it doesn’t make any sense unless you plot the points on it, which is what writing does, but that the plotted points can only resemble in the most sketchy way real life, but we live as though it does.  Well, that’s an old idea that I probably shouldn’t have brought up now, but from now on I’m going to think about how Herodotus changes the world.  What a great book!

Now I’m going to my chairs to write my Master’s paper.  Maybe!

Herodotus 93.4: “And that’s all I have to say on the subject of dedications.”

Lately mostly I’ve been reading my Linguistics textbook (morphology!), exhausting myself over Pindar’s Pythian 4, and gasping about Herodotus.  Oh, he is so good.  So great.  We could just read nothing else!  He’s got every element of every field I care about.  And I like Thucydides very much, but his presentation is not so fun-filled as Herodotus’.  I see Thucydides sort of vaguely, like he’s this coldish academic, ordering things (the term is anachronistic, of course, but Thucydides verges on it) scientifically, only occasionally getting drawn into the passion of the narrative he’s laying out.  This is where I love him, not the bits about human nature or real politik or any political theory, but the stories that Bakkar talks about, the cinematic (anachronistic) elements: the siege of Plataea, the Sicilian expedition.  I love the beginning, I love the way characterization develops through speeches.  But Herodotus!  His stories are desultory in a very delightful way: you’ll meet someone who’s the son of someone, and paragraphs later you’ll meet the father and hear his drama.  You’ll be hanging with Croesus in Sardis, and suddenly you’re among the Lacedaimonians, commiserating their losses.  Stories develop like this, something’s really exciting!  But we’ll get to that later.  And you’ve almost forgotten it was coming up, then it does.   Like how he foreshadows Gyges’ crime being retributed upon the 5th generation, saying that they all forgot it at the time.  But then, the oracle tells Croesus that his realm fell because of δόλῳ γυναικηίῳ, and you remember what Herodotus said, pages ago.  This is why I love narratology and hope to learn about it soon.

I’ve also been trying to learn about semiotics.  I had a dream that Emily told me to read Kant and the Platypus, but it was the night after Andy and I had talked about it.  I also thought I was going mad (I’ve had “Creep” by Radiohead going through my brain ceaselessly), but it seems to have subsided.  For now!  This short post is dedicated to Andy and the linguists.

Choephori 372-4

I love this part of the kommos, when the chorus, annoyed with the Atreid kids and their whiny, “but who’s going to retribute my father’s death?  is Zeus going to send someone?”, snaps at them “those [note ταῦτα, distal deixis in comparison to Electra’s τῶνδε in the previous line, referring to the present sufferings] things you’re saying are greater than gold, better than a great and hyperborean fate.  Because that’s all you can do [sc. talk].”  And then everyone gets all worked up and finally Electra says, fine, I am demanding just recompense for unjustice (δίκαν δ᾽ἐξ ἀδίκων ἀπαιτῶ, 398), but the chorus says, shouldn’t you rather ask for more than recompense? (προσαιτεῖν, 401), but Orestes, that batty kid, is talking like Cassandra (πόποι δᾶ Cho. 405=Ag. 1072) and still looking for someone to come save him.  It’s so great, I don’t even want to write about it, I just want to gush about it, like when at 333-4 Electra says “a tomb-adjacent lamentation composed of two children, you see, groans you up” (δὶπαις (sic) τοί σ᾽ἐπιτύμβιος / θρῆνος ἀναστενάζει).  Gods, only Aeschylus can pack words together like that, burdening them beyond capacity!  He makes me wonder what we can actually know, scientifically, about language, if a great poet can come along and break words, compound words, exercise words so beautifully.  Also, I never noticed til now that the first syllable of what should be δἰπαις has a grave printed instead of what must be an acute.  I’ll check Garvie on this tomorrow.  Shocking!  Mr. Page is usually so diligent (& that’s not all Denniston told me!).

This exceedingly strange thing happened to me yesterday: I checked out from the library the introductory textbook they use in Linguistics classes here and began to read.  The epigraph of the first chapter was from Lewis Thomas’ The Lives of a Cell, which I’d never heard of before.  Well, later that evening, I was sitting in my chair, reading Lorrie Moore’s Self Help and the epigraph to the story “How to Go” (really chilling, wounding story about suicide) was also from Lewis Thomas’ The Lives of a Cell.  So many strange coincidences have been happening lately; it’s a pleasant past-time to speculate upon them.  I also read a hundred or so lines of Eumenides yesterday, but not yet enough to have much to write about.

Today, besides reading a little Choephori (it felt great!  I was thinking about it really hard as I rode my bicycle up the hills, so I was mad and sweating for it by the time I got to my office) and some more of the Linguistics textbook (it’s at one moment difficult, because how specifically can we really talk about tongue placement in vowel pronunciation, and the next fantastically settling, like learning the answer to a question you used to think couldn’t even be asked.  This is how I feel about pragmatics, too, but I haven’t been reading much about that lately, having finished Fillmore’s Lectures on Deixis (it got even more ridiculously sexist: in the penultimate paragraph, he introduces a situation in which he complements a woman for having lovely legs and she responds, “thank you,” to which he should not say “you’re welcome.”).  I’ll get back to it soon.), I read an article by Bakker which turned out to have been the article I was supposed to have read instead of the one I read on Tuesday.  Mario had said I should find an article about Thucydides and ἐπίδειξις, but he actually meant Herodotus and ἀπόδειξις.

The beginning of the article develops its argument in the following way, although I’ve somewhat simplified it.  1. ἱστορίη is possibly derived from the same root as οἶδα, so there’s an element of autopsy involved in the pursuit.  2. There’s actually no autopsy involved, but actually ἱστορίη is what you learn from ἀκουή.  3. It’s not so much ἀκουή as learned γνώμη that results in ἰστορίη.  4. Maybe ἱστορίη / ἵστωρ is derived from ἵζομαι, because the rough breathing is difficult to reconcile with the digamma of ὄιδα.  However, the transformation from -δζ- to -στ- is equally untenable.  But 5. It doesn’t matter which word it derived from because Herodotus would have had both in his mind (yes on point a., irrelevant on point b.).  Sometimes Bakker’s arguments are just so ambivalent, with a drift that reminds me of the ocean.  It’s pleasant not to have to choose.  Of course, he does get to a point and it’s good, and it deserves more discussion, that ἱστορίη, in its pursuit for the αἰτιοi of the διαφορή, uncovers conflicting λόγοι and creates a semantic διαφορή.  From there he moves to the difference between apodeixis and epideixis, and how some scholars conflate them but actually their usages are very distinct: epideixis shows something that preexisted but was also unasked for or unexpected (I don’t think these two connotations correlate).  ἐπιδείκνυμι is the verb used when Candaules’ wife tells Gyges to kill her husband for “showing me off naked.”  Whereas, apodeixis refers to something a. demonstrated as proof or response to a request and b. that did not exist before, so it is simultaneously a creation and a revelation.  Again, there’s something in the two definitions that I can’t quite connect.  He ends by discussing the deictic pronoun ἧδε, modifying the ἱστοριή, and makes my favorite kind of argument, about the book being a σῆμα.  Actually, he doesn’t end there; he goes on to talk about Thucydides’ antagonist engagement with Herodotus; but it was such a nice article otherwise that I’ll ignore that part.

Georgics 1.176-7 (I can offer you many lessons from the ancients, unless you run away, or you think it’s gross to learn about these tender concerns.)

I know that by choosing to title this entry in Latin I will have irked my brother, but the sad truth is that I’ve read no Greek today, to speak of.  Over the past week I read some Greek–annotating a few hundred lines of Choephori, reading the bits of Ajax that Ajax says with Emily at the vegan bar–but I don’t want to write about Choephori quite yet, and I neglected to bring my Sophocles home from the office.  I’d like to write about Sophocles soon, definitely.  But generally you would not be accusing me falsely if you were to suggest that I have not been reading nearly enough Greek and Latin lately.

So today at school I acquired a few more articles to read, the Elata-Alster article we read for Agamemnon class, called “The King’s Double Bind,” which I remember Emily scoffing at because the article’s thesis is that “Chalchas’ prophetic utterance… manifests the paradoxical structure of a formally undecidable proposition and is, as such, a meaningless statement” (Arethusa 18 (1985):23).  But actually I think I was persuaded by the argument, and I liked it very much, but I can’t remember it any more.  I feel, although this could be my argument rather than hers, that the circular paradox of the prophecy (tenor and vehicle mixed, cause/effect relationship reversed, sign and interpretation confused) represents the unbearable impossibility (the meaning of this word that I intend here is that used when you throw your hands into the air and say “this is impossible!” with despair) of communication with the gods, of living with the concept/structure/fact of gods.

As you might have noticed, all the books on Pragmatics that I’ve been reading have made me ultra-concerned about my language use.  I would like to be as accurate as possible in communication, but sometimes I can’t remember or don’t know the right word for what specifically I want to talk about, usually in discussions of literary theory, a field in which precision is both requisite and recondite.  So this has led me to think about jargon, about how a meaning becomes agreed-upon, how a concept is funneled into a term that had previously no such association with said concept.  An example of this are the words “tenor” and “vehicle” used to describe the parts of a metaphor.  Other times, a word is invented, such as “joissance,” or becomes a different part of speech, like how the adjective “signified” became the noun “signified.”  And when I have thoughts like this, I am vexed! because it is so hard to think through these things, to summon examples and make hypotheses, to experiment with language, but I know everything I’m thinking about right now is just incredibly obvious to anyone who’s read anything about literary theory.  I don’t mean that I am lazy (though you can think that), that I don’t want to think about these things myself, I just mean it is inefficient.  If each person is expected to reinvent, sola, the thoughts of previous generations, nothing would ever get done.  But on the other hand, I’m afraid if I learn too much theory I’ll get sucked into a school (of theory), and think homogeneously, and never have new ideas.  O the narrow path we tread / when we desire to be well-read / but also read before we’re dead! (sorry)

The other articles I got today were Martin’s “Telemachus and the Last Hero Song” (Colby Quarterly 29 (1993): 222-240), which might cajole me finally to read Bloom, and Bakker’s “Contract and Design: Thucydides’ Writing” (Brill’s Companion to Thucydides, (2006): 109-129), in which Bakker argues that the word συγγράφειν refers to contracts, especially architectural contracts.  It’s pretty interesting, bringing in evidence from inscriptions and medical writing and thoroughly grounded in the text (as always, with our Bakker).  He responds to Loraux’s 1986 article “Thucydide a écrit la guerre du Péloponnèse” (Métis 1:139-61) in which she says that when Thucydides says he ξυνέγραψε the Peloponnesian war, despite being the subject of the sentence, “the subject effaces himself, neutralizing the act of writing, and the historian’s research, into the verb’s direct object, which is the war itself.  The syntax of the sentence is one of pure transitivity” (Bakker (111), summarizing Loraux).  This is not a sentiment I understand.  I know all the words in these sentences, I believe I know what they connote, but I do not understand how what Bakker / Loraux describe being done is accomplished.  But I’m going to get a book about functional Pragmatics (when I googled “pure transitivity,” a book on Pragmatics showed up!) and see how that makes me feel.  I loved it when Bakker started talking about deixis, as in the process of a political treaty (or a contract, or Thucydides’ book) which involves 1) συγγραφή, writing up the agreed-upon terms, 2)  δεῖξις, showing the contract to the community involved, and 3) σύνθεσις (this is my connotation-free (! since 2003!) term for the abstract of what is called in the treaties τὰ ξυγκείμενα, since τίθημι is the active of κεῖμαι), “the treaty, enacted and ratified, is ‘holding together’ as a solid structure” (124).  He also notes, which I find fascinating, that in contract inscriptions, “the building project typically begins its life as a συγγραφή, and ends it in the act of ἀπόδειξις” (127): it is rewarding to contemplate in these terms the difference between Herodotus’ and Thucydides’ projects.  In the end Bakker argues that Thucydides’ book is not complete in its writing, because, like the architectural contract, the συγγραφή specifies an ἔργον upon its completion, and that it requires a subsequent deixis (he notes the significance of the word σκοπεῖν, common in Thucydides’ book and also found in inscriptions of public decree, a statement of public record that anyone who wants to may see the decree (τῷ βουλομένῳ σκοπεῖν (121)), which is sufficiently convincing for me that deixis and σκοπεῖν are connected), and finally that it does not have established meaning (is not τὰ ξυγκείμενα) until it is read by a reader of the future generations who can use the paradigm Thucydides writes about (for he writes “not so much the events themselves as the events in themselves, the events reduced to their essence” (119), that is, not The War but War As War) to understand her or his own situation.

Well, I don’t know about this.  The argument that Thucydides’ book is a contract because it uses contractual vocabulary is interesting, but certainly not exclusive.  And the difference between an architectural contract or a city decree is that they are declarative speech acts, coming from a speaker privileged to change the world with his words (as the pragmatics say), and Thucydides is not, he is only putting it in order.  Think about it like this: the sentence “Thucydides gathered and wrote the war of the Peloponnesians and the Athenians, how they made war with one another, starting straight away at its beginning and expecting it to be great and the most worthy of those that came before, etc.” is not a declaration, like “the war has (hereby) begun” spoken by the general or someone who has the authority to start a war, but is rather a statement, like “the war has begun” spoken by a chagrined bystander.  I am not sure why Bakker has a problem with τὸν πὀλεμον being the direct object of ξυνέγραψε, either, since to me it seems obvious that “τὸν πόλεμον τῶν Πελοποννησίων καὶ Ἀθηναίων” is just the title of the book, since when ancient people talked about books they use their titles (they’re not titles, as we think of them, but descriptions, usually sort of vague: τὰ περὶ something, or τὰ [πράγματα τὰ] τοῦ somebody) as objects like we do (“did you leave your Phaedrus in there?” would be something like τὸν Φαῖδρον σου), declining the article and the noun (which I think is interesting, that the title isn’t always in the nominative).  Also when subsequently Thucydides talks about his book he calls it a συγγραφή, as Bakker notes.  So that solution is neat and doesn’t require dubious argumentation.  But: it’s less exciting and sexy, which is why Bakker is Bakker, and I am not a world famous classicist.  Heu.

I was going to write about Georgic 1, of which I read about 100 lines today, but I’m so tired (I’ve been writing for almost 2 hours!  I also made soup.) and I am far from finished with it.  I think it’s great, though: it’s really powerful, but also playful.  It only seems a little bit false, unlike the Eclogues.  Maybe because he’s not talking about Caesar all the damn time.


“That day spoke fate to poor me, and from it began the worst winter of transformed love.”  Heroides 5.33-4.

I think soon I’m going to get interested in weather metaphors.  I’ve been reading Zeitlin’s article about ritual sacrifice in the Oresteia (I know! it’s taking forever!) and she talks briefly about wind and weather (because god forbid she leave out any detail about anything even marginally relevant)(sorry).  I have a tingle of curiosity, maybe because we were reading bucolic poetry recently.  This Heroid is from Oenone to Paris.  I think this story is really beautiful and strange, as I mentioned earlier.  I haven’t read much of this poem, but I really don’t think there’s a significant stylistic difference between this and the Sappho epistula.  Anyway, seasons.  Start looking out for them.

So all I’ve been doing lately is a combination of pragmatics and nothing.  I’ve read about 300 lines of Ajax, 50 lines of the Oenone epistula, “The Lion in the House” by Bernard Knox, and a lot of Fillmore’s Lectures on Deixis.  Last night, Andy and Christian and I read some Odyssey, but it’s the same amount I read with Carl recently so I don’t have anything new to say about it, really.  Just that after having read some of de Jong’s commentary, it’s much more pleasant to read.  I’ve been thinking about narratology, what it is, how helpful I think it will be to me.  And I can’t help but conclude that it’s helpful to everyone!  Why would you not care about themes, development, movement, and so forth?  But, amidst all the reading I’ve been enjoying, I’ve begun to have this small suspicion lately that’s been troubling me: why don’t I care about feminist theory anymore?  I came here with feminism rampant, it was what I cared about the most, and that hasn’t changed.  But here’s the thing that happened: yesterday, I went to the library to pick up a book from ILL.  But instead of my book about prepositions, within the paper jacket of the book I’d requested the library had placed a book called The G Spot, about sexuality.  It was chilling: on top of the worries I’d already had, I had then to return this book (which a year ago I would have devoured) and request that my book about prepositions be found for me.

I’ve concluded, (a poorly formatted outline follows), that a) I do care but nothing I’ve read lately in Greek or Latin has interested me in terms of feminism.  Which argument is 1) bullshit in essense, because a good theory should be applicable, at least in part, to any text, right? and 2) completely untrue because (a) Electra is a fascinating character, (b) I’ve thought a lot about Athena being referred to by the narrator as female, by Telemachus as male, and (c) I’ve been reading the Heroides, which is utterly rich in terms of constructions of femininity.  Then I concluded that b) I do not care about social history.  To which I responded that 1) I can’t possibly know if I care because I know almost nothing about it, and 2) I don’t think there’s any field of inquiry that’s unhelpful, even if only in part.  So then c) I just haven’t read enough feminist theory to be able to come up with interesting ideas on my own.  To which 1) I’d read scarcely anything about grammar when I decided I wanted desperately to write about it, but 2) it’s true that I haven’t read enough.  So either (a) I should read more, such as the article about feminist theory and reception that Brian mentioned this evening, or (b) I should figure out why I haven’t read it.  From which point we return to the original inquiry.  And thence point d) there’s a reason external to me that I haven’t read more feminist theory, which could be 1) because there haven’t been any classes offered specifically in it, to which (a) see c.1, or 2) because somebody’s intimidated me from it, to which (a) when have I ever let anyone influence my intellectual pursuits? and (b) there have been a lot of professors who have supported me in it, also.  But, fortunately, I’ve resolved my anxiety to some degree by thinking about sexism in scholarship in what I hope will be a productive way.

But first: a digression.  Is it possible that Aeschylus, like a blogger in grad school, used ambiguous language specifically so that he wouldn’t get shit for what he was saying?  At the beginning of the Agamemnon, as you remember, the watchman says ὡς ἑκὼν ἐγὼ / μαθοῦσιν αὐδῶ κοὐ μαθοῦσι λήθομαι. (38-9).  In the 30s, a couple scholars wrote that he was referring to mystery cults here, but people talk like this all the time.  If you’re in a mixed social situation, like on Brian’s porch a couple weeks ago, you can say things that mean one thing to some people, but something significantly different to others.  What I’m saying right now is neither new nor interesting, but it is sort of comforting.  I like the pursuit of meaning, especially because of its ultimate inefficacy.  I mean, you ask because you want to know, but you have to accept that you’ll never know.  And that seems healthy.

Anyway, Charles Fillmore delivered his Lectures on Deixis in 1971.  In the reprinting of 1997, he writes in the introduction, “I even tried to update pronominal reference, and to repopulate the world of my examples in ways that reflected a more current gender awareness, but I have never been able to deal easily with the grammatical consequences of such monstrosities as “(s)he” or “his/her”.  But I confess to being more than a little surprised at my own practice, just twenty-five years ago” (2).  I am not sure I understand this statement.  What does he mean by “I confess to being more than a little surprised…”?  Is he surprised at how sexist he was?  That is what I assume he means.  But he seems to be no less sexist now, as the following argument demonstrates.

The word “even” at the beginning of the paragraph quoted refers to his earlier apology for not updating the lectures in terms of subsequent scholarship: “I made a few half-hearted attempts to re-do the lectures in at least this respect, but in the end I gave up” (1).  The latter statement is even more confusing.  Why would a scholar say something like “half-hearted”?  Surely he should suggest that he cared about updating the lectures, even though time constraints prevented him from doing so.  And then he “gave up”.   And so the later statement about pronouns, in light of the earlier copout, seems utterly diminished: he “gave up” on fixing the scholarly details, which should be of utmost importance, so to demonstrate how necessary it was to publish an only slightly updated edition, he refers to what (the pragmatics of the sentence suggest) is a somewhat unreasonable pandering to “political correctness” (read for “current gender awareness”).  Here’s my view of the situation, simplified.

Proposition 1: It is important to publish books that are up-to-date with current scholarship.
Excuse 1: I tried, but gave up.
Proposition 2: Current gender awareness requires equal usage of feminine and masculine pronouns.
Excuse 2: I even tried that.

To me it seems that this use of “even” is a response to the suggestion “at least you could have,” as in the following example.

Proposition 1: It is important that you clean the house.
Excuse 1: I tried, but gave up.
Proposition 2: Well, at least you could have cleaned the kitchen!
Proposition 2. I even tried that.

These examples, my attempt to be more scientifical, like the books I’ve been reading, are not the only reason, however, for me to think that Fillmore is really sexist.  In all the examples that do involve feminine pronouns, the female seems always to be in some subordinate role, either working for a man, dating a man, or being “about yea high.”  But, on the other hand, I like this book, I’ve learned a lot from it, and I find Fillmore’s style clear and pleasant.  So while I can criticize the book for being sexist, everyone already knows that academic writing from the 70s is sexist, and everyone already knows that some people are still sexist.  So that doesn’t seem very productive to me.  But there is one thing he says on the subject of female pronouns that I think is productive to think about.  On page 10, note 8, Fillmore writes “These lectures were written at a time when the pronoun “he” was used as a general third-person pronoun.  Or maybe it would be more accurate to say they were written at a time when we usually peopled our illustrations with males.”  This really made me curious, whether there was a difference between examples wherein the “standard” or “abstract” masculine pronoun are used and those in which masculine and feminine pronouns are used in turn.  What follows is what now occurs to me, and I can’t claim its universality because I haven’t surveyed other people about it.  Consider the following examples:

1. Tara went to her room.
2. She went to her room.
3. He went to his room.
4. One goes to one’s room.
5. X goes to x’s room.

When I read the first three examples, I imagine a person, and when I read 5, I imagine a generalization.  4 is ambiguous, because it could be an indirect command (read “it is appropriate now for you to go to your room”) or a generalization like 5.  But 20 or 30 years ago, I think people would have read 3 as as general as 5.  It is likely that some people, like Fillmore, still do, but I think the serious impact of the inclusion of feminine pronouns has been the de-universalization of the example.  And this leads me to the matter of interest.  What is the difference between populating your examples with abstracts and populating them with individuals?  At first, I didn’t think it mattered much (the phrases “he opened his book and began to read” and “she opened her book and began to read” both result in someone reading), but then I began to wonder, especially because of how Fillmore casts women in subordinate roles.  If we’re talking, as we are, about pragmatics, a necessary part of that is social interaction.  And often, women interact differently from men.  So when Fillmore says “we populated our illustrations with males,” he’s not talking about the abstract, or the universal.  He’s actually talking about males: the examples were about them because the examples were for them.  And so now I wonder if using female pronouns has made pragmatics (and whatever other field of study a scholar is engaged in) more about females.  I haven’t read anything, however, to suggest that this is the case.  I’m sure there’s a subset of pragmatics that takes into account gender theory: And I want to get to know that subset!

So that’s how I got my feminism back.  The initial data I introduced led me in this direction tonight, but it could have taken me in any number of directions.  Actually, on reflection, I think now I’d say something completely different about the difference between “even” and “at least.”  And I have more to say about “such monstrosities as ‘(s)he’ or ‘his/her’.”  But in this (particular) preliminary analysis, the combination of data and environment led to these questions, to these conclusions, to these suggestions for further inquiry, but for someone else they could result in utterly dissimilar conclusions.  And that is exciting.

More Greek and Latin soon!  Please don’t tell Brent I was speculating again!

Ajax 125-6

Among the reasons I haven’t been around much is the fact that I’ve been learning about pragmatics, and it’s embarrassing for me to talk about something I don’t know about yet.  But it’s really been affecting many life, inasmuch as I notice style in texts and communication more than I had before.  It’s interesting, because things about which I’ve sort of absentmindedly speculated in the past are now scienced out for me in really clear and meaningful ways.  I have some trouble with the application of pragmatics to poetry, still.  An article I’m reading by this fellow Slings, and also Dik’s books, make me wonder about what poetry is and can tell us about communication.  You’ll notice that choral passages are rarely used as examples of the pragmatics of Greek utterances, while dialogue is.  But iambs are poetry, too, and shouldn’t be expected to represent spoken Greek.  Then you have to wonder whether we can talk about ‘spoken Greek’ at all, since we really don’t have it (it’s not Plato).  I mean, we can extrapolate what we know about crosscultural language-use practices and the version of Greek represented by all the texts to try to recreate ‘spoken Greek,’ but it’s still just a recreation with no actual control sample with which to compare it.  (Well, it bothers me to ask these kinds of questions, at least publicly, because I know someone else has asked them before and answered them, and if I just was patient, and read more, I would know the answer.)  Anyway, Slings keeps telling me “we can assume,” and I’m just not ready for that.

I haven’t been reading too much Greek and Latin, since I’ve been learning about Pragmatics.  I read the Epode about garlic, which was pretty funny, and interesting because it referred to Medea and Deianeira.  It also reminded me of Eclogue 2, which has a woman mixing garlic and herbs that is metapoetic for the floral garlanding that is the poem.  I was going to write about it but then I found out Goldhill wrote an article (which I haven’t read yet, though I have the book out) on the poem and I figured it was hopeless.  I finished the selections of the Aitia that are in the Hellenistic Anthology, about Acontius and Cydippe, so I’d like to read the double Herois about them.  Callimachus: I’m not sure.  I just don’t understand the aesthetic; but I do really like digressions, and when he started talking about the ancient geographer Xenomedes I was thrilled.  So when he drifts through the story, desultorily like, not stopping to describe what one would assume should be the important parts of the plot, I think we have to wonder why he emphasizes the bits of the story that seem like minutia.  But I don’t like wondering alone anymore.  It’s far more productive to wonder with someone.  You’d think, on that model, that a seminar would be the best environment for wondering, but that’s often not the case.  There are principles of quality and of quantity to take into consideration.  For example, one good person to wonder with is of far greater value than even ten fellow-wonderers of lesser value.  I am not sure how one commodifies a study companion.  I am not sure if one should; in fact, one probably should avoid attaching value to people.  Anyway, I also started reading Ajax, which is where the heading of this post came from.  Sophocles is so sad and beautiful.  I haven’t gotten very far, but I hope to finish it next week.  I also thought it was really cute when Odysseus gasps, “τί δρᾷς, Ἀθάνα;” and she tells him not to be such a baby.  They have such a great relationship!

What I’ve done mostly today is transcribe my great-uncle’s war correspondence, because I have a large stack of letters to finish before school starts.  I typed a month’s worth of letters from the parents to Uncle Merle, chronologically backwards.  So first I get the mother’s letter about Christmas, who was there, what they ate, etc., then the father’s account of same, then the sister’s account of same (there was a character in attendance whose name was spelled 4 different ways! (Stokky, Staake, Stoky, and Stokke)).  This sequence was followed by a post-Christmas round by the same players of the same events now adumbrated which were previously in retrospect.  It was interesting to study the slow reversal of time.  The reason I think this is relevant is because I did the typing in the DPI Office, and I speculated about pragmatics while doing it.

I would like to justify my presence here by doing some kind of close reading but I don’t have anything I really want to do that to right now, because I’m not far enough in the Sophocles do draw any kind of conclusions about the text.  Instead, I’m going to go to my chair and read Fillmore’s Lectures on Deixis.  I’m going over there now! (Study questions: where is ‘there’? when is ‘now’? how does the concept of ‘internet presence’ affect our perception of deictic anchorage? For example: my gmail tells people I’m present when I am not, but I do not intend for it to do so.  And my neglecting to set my status as ‘away’ is certainly not intentional, since it’s never occurred to me until now to do so.  I was thinking about this recently in terms of voice-mail.  If you record on your home phone “I’m not here,” you are anticipating a moment in the future when this statement will be true.  But if you were to record this on a cellphone, it will generally be an untrue statement because you and your cellphone are probably in the same location.  But then, I thought that most people don’t have that message on their voice-mail, perhaps because there’s an awareness that the semantic linkage between phone and home has been disconnected (pun!).)

Heroides 15.177

I just finally finished the Sappho epistle.  Not sure where I stand on the issue of authorship.  Knox (Peter not Bernard), in his commentary, is completely sure that it is not Ovid, and he pulls out examples of where the poem is “not well developed (279), “awkward” (282, quoting Tarrant, who is a hater), and “odd” (289).  But it seems to me that if he were assured, on the other hand, that it was Ovid, he would probably justify these same features as “Ovidian idiosyncracy” or “iconoclasm.”  This isn’t a very interesting argument, but it makes me a little indignant.  But I really didn’t use the Knox at all, just read his introductory notes and now flipped through it for incendiary phraseology.  The poem was pretty easy, I don’t know why I didn’t just finish it 3 weeks ago when I started it.  I checked out the Knox and also Kenney’s commentary of the double Heroides to maybe compare the style, also because I am sort of reading Callimachus and the version of Acontius and Cydippe in Ovid is supposed to be really interesting, textually, whereas Callimachus’ version includes a delightful geographical digression.  Oh, the digression!  I love it!  Gosh, I wouldn’t mind finding a few more fragments of Iamblichus (and damn!, I wrote a paper about him not 5 months ago and I couldn’t remember his name At All.  My brain should try to be a little awesomer.).  Anyway, here are a few words about the epistula Sapphus.  I like these lines, which I read today:

Lesbides aequoreae, nupturaque nuptaque proles,
Lesbides, Aeolia nomina dicta lyra,
Lesbides, infamem quae me fecistis amatae,
desinite ad citeras turba uenire meas!

I like the conflation of herself with her musical instruments, which she does throughout.  As though writing love lyric drove her to enact love lyric, so by being too closely associated with her music she becomes solely an instrument for passionate loving.  This is another example of a song that could easily be transformed into a pop song, especially the title of this post, omg, Sappho adolescens.

I spent the entirety of the afternoon in my office getting ready to start thinking about my paper.  I am really interested in Functional Grammar, but I think I have a lot to learn before I can comprehend it, and I fear that I’m being irresponsible about it, as always.  I wish I’d taken Linguistics when the chance had offered itself, then I could have taken Phonetics this term and Morphology next term and I could talk about de Saussure suavely and without thinking about Magnetic Fields.  But Coulter George’s book, despite its author’s ridiculous name, is incredibly readable even though it is also quite dull.  It is about the differences between expression of agent with a passive noun; standard expression is genitive of agent with ὑπό, or dative of agent, usually in the perfect tenses.  Oh! This is interesting.  Smythe (§1488) says “The notion of agency does not belong to the dative, but it is a natural inference that the person interested is the agent.”  The Dative: Just Getting Better and Better.  Anyway, George analyzes several examples of non-standard agent expressions (i.e. ἐκ, παρά with genitive or dative, πρός).  I just read the sections this evening about prose, but he includes tragedy in the next section.  So far, I think that παρά isn’t strictly used of agency, but of source, especially since it’s most often used with verbs like πέμπω and δίδωμι, sometimes with διδάσκω, which is interesting to me.  And George reminded me of the part at the beginning of the Symposium (175e-e) when Socrates says to Agathon: εἰ γὰρ οὕτως ἔχει καὶ ἡ σοφία, πολλοῦ τιμῶμαι τὴν παρὰ σοὶ κατάκλισιν· οἶμαι γάρ με παρὰ σοῦ πολλῆς καὶ καλῆς σοφίας πληρωθήσεσθαι.  Look: two types of παρἀ!  In such proximity!

Having resorted to παρἀ puns, I have to stop now.  Oh, but first I have to tell you that I made a mistake in my translation of Pythian 11.  I was translating ἁβρότατος as a superlative of ἁβρός, which it looked like, but it’s actually a Doric genitive of ἁβρότης.  I checked the alpha against Finglass’s metrical analysis, and it is surely long, it’s an eta.  So now you translate the lines (31-5):

θάνεν μὲν αὐτὸς ἥρως Ἀτρεΐδας
ἵκων χρόνῳ κλυταῖς ἐν Ἀμύκλαις,
μάντιν τ’ ὄλεσσε κόραν, ἐπεὶ ἀμφ’ Ἑλένᾳ πυρωθέντας
Τρώων ἔλυσε δόμους

And he himself died, the hero, son of Atreus
coming at last to famous Amyclae,
and he ruined the mantic maiden, when for Helen’s sake,
he parted the burning homes of the Trojans
from luxury.

So what is going on here is a λύω with genitive construction that is not in the Middle Liddel but I did not check the LSJ.  And Finglass suggests that there’s irony because in 5th c. Greece luxury, ἁβρότης, was a really terrible thing so in his sacking of Troy Agamemnon thinks he’s doing them a favor.  I also want to notice the words “about Helen” “burning” in 33, because a lot of the time you burn from love.  Finglass didn’t write about that.  But, anyway, maybe we can talk about sound-alikes?  Maybe there’s a little tiny suggestion that in spending so much time in the East, Agamemnon himself became luxurized/soft, as he’s characterized in Agamemnon.  After all, ἕλυσε doesn’t need or want a genitive, it can destroy Troy fine on its own, and what does the genitive ἁβρότατος refer to, anyway?  Cassandra?  I don’t think that’s right, but listen to this: in Euripides’ Electra, there is reference several times to Clytemnestra being surrounded by Phrygian spoils, and that her slave women are Asian; in all the Orestes tragedies there’s a strong theme of luxury, of spoilage. Furthermore, Bowra wants Pindar to be influenced by Aeschylus, and the dating of the poem could be either 474 or 454.  He uses evidence about Pindar’s life to go with the later date.

Now this has made me think about the construction of history through anecdotes, something Emily’s written about.  But history really is constructed through the text, and anecdotes are texts, so it doesn’t really matter if they’re true.  The same goes for the Sappho epistle: everything we know about Sappho comes from her poems and poems people wrote about her, and wherever New Comedy and Ovid got the story about her love for Phaon, it doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the textual construction called Sappho.  And what I was saying earlier about Galatea and Polyphemus, how Philoxenus introduced this romance into the pre-Epic bucolic world (this is something Carl told me but I want to learn more about.  I wonder if the story of Paris and Oenone also came from the bucolic tradition.  OK I just checked Knox and he says “The existence of a Hellenistic narrative poem on Paris and Oenone has long been suspected…. The evidence for a Hellenistic model for this episode is not very convincing, depending for the most part on subjective assessments of the bucolic setting of Paris’ deathbed entreaty of Oenone and the pathetic strain of narrative, a type that is readily attributed to Hellenistic tastes” (141).  But I think we all know that P. Knox is a curmudgeon.  Well, maybe not.  He teaches at Boulder and looks quite nice.  But he could stand to be less incredulous, I think, because as I am about to say, there is no truth.) and it quickly became enfolded into the Book of mythology.  I think I’ve noticed that the Greek conception of facts is quite different from ours.  And that reminds me of Brian, who came to my office and made excellent observations, then said he’d probably not be back.  Seriously, Brian, if you do come back, I want you to appreciate how awesome it is that you were talking about facts and I just ended up talking about facts, totally independently.  And now I’m sorry that I was piqued and did not read your email carefully.  And Pindar is awesome.

I’m going now over to my chair to read some de Jong.  As the poet says, whatever happens can’t be worse than what’s happening now.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.