Sonntag, 9. Mai 2010

not much at all

We're reading the Argonautica (or at least excerpts of it) in my Greek course this semester. Either my Greek has improved since the last time I tried tackling Hellenistic poetry (highly likely), or Apollonius is simply easier than an author like Callimachus. In any case, it's not as bad as I remembered. I'm enjoying it, in fact. And I'm familiar enough by now with the conventions of both Homeric poetry and the Alexandrian poets, that I can appreciate some of the particularly Hellenistic gestures.

I can't, for example, suppress the suspicion that the following was intended as a very bad pun, although none of the commentaries I've seen mention it...

Ἐν καὶ Ἀπόλλων Φοῖβος ὀιστεύων ἐτέτυκτο,
βούπαις, οὔ πω πολλός, ἑὴν ἐρύοντα καλύπτρης
μητέρα θαρσαλέως Τιτυὸν μέγαν, ὅν ῥ' ἔτεκέν γε
δῖ' Ἐλάρη, θρέψεν δὲ καὶ ἂψ ἐλοχεύσατο Γαῖα.
 (Argonautica, 1.759-62)

I don't know much about popular etymologies for the name "Apollo", but it seems to me that "οὔ πω πολλός" could be interpreted as a commentary on the name (alpha privative + polus, many). If it's not, the choice of "πολλός" rather than "μεγάς" seems a bit odd to me, although the LSJ entry does list the meaning "great, mighty" as possible. But who am I to question the word choice of a Hellenistic poet?

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