Archive for October, 2009


Semonides 7

It’s listed as Semonides 7 in David A. Campbell’s Greek Lyric Poetry, but that seems to be an attempt to normalize the numbering conventions within the book; most of the other numbers refer to fragments, and there’s no reason to believe that this is one. Also, it’s technically iambic, which is one of the types of poetry within the larger colloquial scope of “lyric poetry,” but is separate from the professional categorization of lyric as opposed to, for example, elegiac or melic poetry.

Labels aside, this is an interesting poem for several reasons. First of all, it is an example of catalog poetry, a popular genre in the old days, in which the poem is essentially a list of some sort, usually with each stanza headed by a label and filled out with a description. Most catalog poems were in epic meter (dactylic hexameter, for any poetry nuts out there)—probably in an effort to pay tribute to (or outright imitate; it’s hard to tell sometimes) the two most famous catalog poems: the Catalog of Women, a catalog of famous women of myth attributed to Hesiod, and the catalog of ships in book two of the Iliad—so Semonides’ use of iambs is unique, or nearly so. I also love the poem for its sheer mysogyny: Semonides 7 is a catalog of women, but conventional types of women rather than Hesiod’s heroic women, most descended from some type of animal, and all but one a curse to mankind. In some ways, it shows how far we’ve come; in others, how far we have yet to go. Regardless, it’s always a hoot for me to see how ancient thought processes worked (for instance, the hypocrisy of his description of women cuckolding their husbands, when the opposite was common practice and not at all frowned upon), and I particularly like how the only good woman isn’t remarkable for what she is like, but rather the results of her existence. The process for getting there isn’t mentioned, as if the author himself isn’t certain, which makes me wonder how he could blame the other women for not knowing either. And then I remember: “Oh yeah, he’s an ancient Greek!”

καὶ τὰ λειπόμενα


Hello world!

I don’t feel like changing the title of the opening post because, well, it’s appropriate, but the content is definitely getting redone. Welcome to Wholly Crap Productions, which doesn’t have much in the way of productions just yet, though anything I do make will wind up here. I’m an amateur everything and on my way to being a professional epigrapher (fingers crossed on grad schools right now!), so depending on how much time I have (rarely much, if any), how much motivation I have (not too much better, admittedly), and what mood strikes me, you may find anything from recipes to pictures of computer projects, to videos, to comics, to linguistic and historical articles here. I think I had something I was planning to post as soon as the signup process was completed, but it’s two in the morning, and I just got back from work at quarter after one, so I’m too tired to really think of such things too well. Ah well.

Oh, yes, and although the primary language is English, don’t be surprised if some other languages pop up occasionally. I have some level of proficiency in (in order from best to worst) French, ancient Greek, Latin, Biblical/imperial Aramaic, German, Hebrew, and Arabic, with some tidbits from Japanese, Welsh, and Italian, and I’m working on learning Coptic right now. Even though I can’t really hold much of a conversation in any but French, nor read much without plenty of reference materials nearby beyond the first three, all of them come up in the course of my studies and my odd life, and I may occasionally toss something odd up there like how I like that horrendous expletives sound pretty in Italian, or a Greek poem I particularly like. In fact, here, just so this isn’t a complete waste, have Archilochus’ (Ἀρχιλόχος) elegaic fragment 103:

“πόλλ’ οἶδ’ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ’ ἐχῖνος ἓν μέγα.”

“The fox knows many wiles, the hedgehog but one great one.” In other words, you don’t have to be smart to survive if you’re sufficiently prickly!Tune in next time for Simonides 7 if I’m up to that much typing.