argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
In Ancient Greek, nouns, adjectives, and definite articles are all inflected based on case (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, or vocative), number (singular, dual, or plural), and gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter). One of the strangest effects of this widespread inflection is that names, which are treated grammatically as proper nouns, are also inflected.

Now to try and un-confuse you, using Alexander and Hephaistion as examples.

In English, we can use 'Alexander' in all of the following sentences:

1. Alexander is born on 20 July, 336 BC.
2. Alexander's father is the king of Macedon.
3. Hephaistion gives a gift to Alexander on his birthday.
4. Aristotle teaches Alexander at Mieza.
5. "Alexander, where are you?" Hephaistion calls.

In the first sentence, Alexander is the subject, which means it is in the nominative case. In the second sentence, Alexander appears in the possessive form, marked in English by "'s", which is the genitive case. In the third sentence, something is being given 'to Alexander', which is the dative case. In the fourth sentence, Aristotle is the subject (nominative case) and Alexander is the direct object, which is the accusative case. Finally, in the last sentence, Alexander is being addressed directly, which is the vocative case.

In Ancient Greek, because 'Alexander' is being used in a different case in each sentence, it must be inflected differently:

1. Alexander is . . . [subject, nominative case] -- Ἀλέξανδρος (Alexandros)
2. Alexander's . . . [possessive, genitive case] -- Ἀλεξάνδρου (Alexandrou)
3. . . . to Alexander . . . [indirect object, dative case] -- Ἀλεξάνδρῳ (Alexandrōi)
4. . . . teaches Alexander . . . [direct object, accusative case] -- Ἀλεξάνδρον (Alexandron)
5. "Alexander, . . ." [address, vocative case] -- Ἀλέξανδρε (Alexandre)

Alexander is a relatively easy name to inflect because it follows the basic masculine o-stem pattern. I've no idea what pattern Hephaistion's name follows, but here's how his name inflects:

1. [nominative case] Ἡφαιστίων (Hēphaistiōn)
2. [genitive case] Ἡφαιστίωνος (Hēphaistiōnos)
3. [dative case] Ἡφαιστίωνι (Hēphaistiōni)
4. [accusative case] Ἡφαιστίωνα (Hēphaistiōna)
5. [vocative case] Ἡφαιστίων (Hēphaistiōn)

It would be like having to call me 'Armadeie' when addressing me directly, but 'Armadeios' when speaking about something I did and 'Armadeiou' when talking about something that belonged to me.

Grammatically, it should be possible to inflect names for the dual and plural, too, though I'm not sure when such a thing would ever be done. Even if you had two or more people with the same name, you could clarify who was who by referring to their father's name. (There were no last names in Ancient Greece; instead you had, "X, son/daughter of Y." For example, "Hephaistion, son of Amyntor.")

I doubt any names will be on tomorrow's exam, except for possibly Ἥρα (Hēra, Hera), Ἡράχλης (Hērachlēs, Herakles), or Ἀχιλλεύς (Achilleus, Achilles) - all of which happen to be in the nominative case - but it's interesting nonetheless.

Fortunately, rather than having to memorize the inflections of names, you can look them up online.

Also, Alexander and Hephaistion now have their own tag. Isn't that exciting?

Bed now, Greek exam tomorrow. Osu.
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
On Monday, we received our grades from the first Ancient Greek exam and spent the first hour of class going over our test. At one point, our professor was trying to emphasize the importance of accents and breathing marks. The word in question was ὁδός, which means 'road, path' and is properly transliterated as 'hodos'. However, it's the breathing mark (῾) over the word that marks the 'h' sound. Thus, if you ignore the diacritical marks, you would transliterate as 'odos', which is incorrect.

Our professor's way of expressing this? "If someone writing 'hodos' left out the 'h', I want to decapitate them."

It loses something without the delivery; I've never seen our professor anything but smiling and polite. Whether that makes it funnier or scarier is in the eyes of the beholder. (. . . and the youth approached, fingers stroking the edge of the blade with tender affection. Regarding the prone figure with a gentle smile, he said calmly, "And now, if you'll excuse me, sir, it's time for your decapitation.")

Another memorable quote, from when we were first learning how to conjugate nouns, was: "And given that the Greeks rarely talked to their apples, we will not worry about that [the vocative neuter case]."

The first time I sat in Roman History was good for professor quotes, too. "Meetings are a painful way of making friends . . . If you're lonely, have a meeting!"
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
Mary Renault's The Praise Singer is told through the eyes of the historical poet Simonides, who is perhaps most famous for his epitaph for the Spartans who died at the Battle of Thermopylae: 'Tell them in Lakedaimon, passer-by, that here, obedient to their word, we lie.'

Two things made this novel stand out from the rest of Renault's Greek-based books. First, it is surprisingly short -- less than 200 pages in the format I read. And second, rather than narrate continuously, Renault focuses on specific points in Simonides' life. Surprisingly, I did not find this technique jarring, even though I had not expected to spend so many pages on an event that perhaps lasted two days in real time while entire years were mentioned only in passing; I credit Renault's prose and her ability to create scenes that draw you in and feel real for holding the novel together.

My favourite part of the novel was the last half, which was set in Athens and featured several brief yet unforgettable appearances by Harmodius and Aristogeiton. At the same time, my least favourite part was also the last half, mainly because the ending felt too abrupt while there was so much potential for further expansion.

Despite this, I enjoyed The Praise Singer almost as much as The Mask of Apollo. Simonides is quite astute, which makes for much more introspective reading than Theseus' point of view allows in The King Must Die.

Below are some quotes from The Praise Singer that I found memorable enough to write down while reading.

Praise Singer quotes. )
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
I found these lists while looking for a Greek dictionary in the university library; the book they're from is called Greek Forms of Address: From Herodotus to Lucian by Eleanor Dickey (Clarendon Press, 1996). The ancient Greek, the Roman transliteration, and the English translation are all given. Any mistakes are mine.

Friendship terms. )

Insult terms. )

In addition to interest and potential use, friendship and insult addresses are particularly fascinating in that they can also reveal what a society does and does not value.
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
Almost the entire ancient Greece collection was closed off for the day.

Libations have been poured and the choicest part of the meat has been cut and made ready for the fire.

I spent half-an-hour browsing through the gift shop's collection of ancient Greece books. Specifically, the line of Alexander biographies, in which I looked 'Hephaistion' up in the index of every single book; it's a tradition, and it interests me how various authors and scholars treat him and his relationship to Alexander. One biography I found in Ohio made the interesting comment that even though Hephaistion was Alexander's closest friend, Alexander was very much a loner -- something which struck me as particularly odd considering Alexander was generally known for loving the signs of love and giving them in return. The most interesting comment I found today was an author who said that Hephaistion was 'delicate' . . . compared to Kleitus the Black.

I also found a book on Troy that didn't even mention Patroklos; that was sad.

In happier news, I almost finished my paper (it still has to be edited and printed) and I might have a confirmed place to stay at Swansea.
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
The gods speak to men in dreams. My daimon showed me one possible future in vivid detail.

It would be bad to offer up one's lips and have one's beloved turn away. Worse, still, for one's beloved to submit out of pity.

Worst of all would be the disaster of a lover who presses his suit to the breaking point. 'Choose between your lovers and say you love me most of all.' To do so would be beyond repair.

When he is with the lover, both cease from their pain, but when he is away then he longs as he is longed for, and has love's image, love for love lodging in his breast, which he calls and believes to be not love but friendship only, and his desire is as the desire of the other, but weaker; he wants to see him, touch him, kiss him, embrace him, and probably not long afterwards his desire is accomplished. When they meet, the wanton steed of the lover has a word to say to the charioteer; he would like to have a little pleasure in return for many pains, but the wanton steed of the beloved says not a word, for he is bursting with passion which he understands not;--he throws his arms round the lover and embraces him as his dearest friend; and, when they are side by side, he is not in a state in which he can refuse the lover anything, if he ask him; although his fellow-steed and the charioteer oppose him with the arguments of shame and reason. After this their happiness depends upon their self-control; if the better elements of the mind which lead to order and philosophy prevail, then they pass their life here in happiness and harmony--masters of themselves and orderly--enslaving the vicious and emancipating the virtuous elements of the soul; and when the end comes, they are light and winged for flight, having conquered in one of the three heavenly or truly Olympian victories; nor can human discipline or divine inspiration confer any greater blessing on man than this.

(Plato, Phaedrus)
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
ἐπεὶ καὶ αὐτῶ Ἀλεξάνδρῳ ἡ Ἡφαοστίωνος τελευτὴ οὐ σμικρὰ ξυμφορὰ γεγένμτο, ἧς καὶ αὐτὸς Ἀλέξανδρος προαπελθεῖν ἄν δοκεῖ μοι ἐθελῆσαι μᾶλλον ἤ ζῶν πειραθῆωαι, οὐ μεῖον ἤ καί Ἀχιλλέα δοκῶ ἂν ἑλέσθαι προαποθανεῖν Πατρόκλου μᾶλλον ἤ τοῦ θαωάτου αὐτῶ τιμωρόν γενέσθαι.

In fact the death of Hephaestion had proved a great misfortune to Alexander himself, and Alexander, I believe, would have preferred to have gone first himself rather than experience it during his lifetime, just as I think Achilles would have preferred to die before Patroclus rather than to have been the avenger of his death.


I had wondered how diacritic marks were done on the computer and, thanks to this site, it only took me about forty minutes to type that sentence in. (The site also features a bilingual selection from Plato's Phaedrus.)

The quote is from volume two of the Loeb Classical Library printing of Arrian's Anabasis Alexandri/History of Alexander. The Loeb editions are quite nice - all bilingual, with both the original Ancient Greek/Latin and an English translation - though they cost $20 per book.

Quintus Curtius is easier to quote from -- he wrote in Latin. Is longe omnium amicorum carissimus erat regi, cum ipso pariter eductus, secretorum omnium arbiter, libertatis quoque in admonendo eo non alius plus habebat, quod tamen ita usurpabat ut magis a rege permissum quam vindicatum ab eo videretur.

He [Hephaestion] was by far the dearest to the king of all his friends; brought up with him, and the confidant of all his secrets, he also had more freedom than anyone else in admonishing him, a privilege which he nevertheless used in such a manner that it seemed rather to be allowed by the king than claimed by himself . . .
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
This is the last of the Maurice posts I have planned, but it's a topic I wanted to comment on as soon as I saw the reference by name in Maurice. It's also a topic that has become very personal to me through The Charioteer. Plato's Phaedrus can be read online here; Maurice is by E. M. Forster and The Charioteer is by Mary Renault.

Plato's Phaedrus, similar to the Symposium, is a dialogue about love, particularly of the homoerotic sort. It begins with Phaedrus recounting a speech made by Lysias on how the non-lover is better than the lover for lovers spoil their beloveds by flattering them with undeserved praise, try to control the life of the beloved out of jealousy, and so on. Socrates follows suit and makes his own speech on the detriments of love. Then, coming upon a realization, Socrates chastises Phaedrus ("That was a dreadful speech which you brought with you, and you made me utter one as bad.") and makes a second speech praising love, which is the apex of the dialogue.

It is in this second speech that Socrates introduces the idea of a three-part soul symbolized by a charioteer and two horses -- one horse is clean and white and loves virtue, the other horse is mangy and black and loves anything that satisfies his desires, and the charioteer is the leader who must control the horses and preserve balance between all three. If it sounds similar to Freud, it is, with the charioteer as the ego, the white horse as the superego, and the black horse as the id. Socrates then describes how the charioteer and horses of both lover and beloved act when near each other.

Since this is Plato, self-control and a refrain from sexual acts are strongly encouraged for both the lover and his beloved. However, Plato says that even those who have been active sexually "are dear, but not so dear to one another as the others" and "when the time comes at which they receive their wings" both chaste and unchaste couples "have the same plumage because of their love."

In short, the Phaedrus presents a beautifully written (and highly idealistic) view of love spoken of in terms of a couple (a lover and a beloved) formed by two males.

The impact of Plato's Phaedrus can be seen in both Forster and Renault, who mention the Phaedrus by name in Maurice and The Charioteer, respectively. However, while Forster mainly introduces the Phaedrus for Clive, who is presented as a Hellenist, the Phaedrus is one of the central, continuous themes of The Charioteer, which derives its very title from the dialogue.

The Phaedrus in Maurice. )

The Phaedrus in The Charioteer. )

I've been considering it a lot lately and, if it's true that everyone has that one special book that they identify with, I think The Charioteer is mine. It wasn't always. Even after I started reading Renault, Fire From Heaven was my immediate favourite. But the things that Laurie goes through, his gradual and sometimes painful quest to discover who his is and his place in the world . . . Sometimes I think it's all there, only in an altered form, shaped by the time period in which we each live.

"At some stage of a broken midnight conversation, he had said, 'I've often had a feeling that there's nowhere I really belong.' He had hardly known himself what he wanted; but Ralph had said, without a moment's hesitation, 'You belong with me. As long as we're both alive, this will always be your place before anyone else's. That's a promise.'"

The fulfillment of the Phaedrus, only not so optimistic, but so much more real.
argurotoxos: Midnighter holding balloons, waiting for his husband (Default)
This is something I've been meaning to post for a while, but never got around to.

Mary Renault's been my favourite author ever since I read Fire From Heaven for a high school project about four years ago. While flipping through it again, paying special attention to the dog-eared pages, I came across a passage that struck me. It was significant the first time I read it, but even more so now; I could see hints of how I've chosen to interpret Gon and Killua in the text.

I don't really expect any comments on this, but I wanted to share.

Selection )


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March 2016



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