30 July 2006

Two Thoughts on the Homeric Hymn to Demeter

I expect the aoidification of the Hymn to Demeter will be complete in a few weeks. All the really major work is done, and I've made my full second pass through with the big pen. Now we just need to refine a few details, and settle the remaining questions.

One of those is a trivial textual question, for the end of the poem, ll.494-495:

πρόφρονες ἀντ’ ᾠδῆς βίοτον θυμήρε’ ὀπάζειν·
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ καὶ σεῖο καὶ ἄλλης μνήσομ’ ἀοιδῆς.

This ending nearly perfectly repeated in one other hymn, 30 (To the Earth, Mother of All):

πρόφρων δ’ ἀντ’ ᾠδῆς βίοτον θυμήρε’ ὄπαζε·
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ καὶ σεῖο καὶ ἄλλης μνήσομ’ ἀοιδῆς.

And less exactly on line 17 (of 19) of hymn 31 (to the Sun):

χαῖρε ἄναξ, πρόφρων δὲ βίον θυμήρε’ ὄπαζε.

It turns out the manuscript for the Demeter hymn actually has not ὀπάζειν but ὄπαζε, a singular imperative. Voss is responsible for the infinitive, which, it must be said, is a perfectly good use of the infinitive in Epic Greek. But if the only reason to use it is to avoid a problem with concord in number, I can't help but think lectio difficilior should guide us here, and accept the ms. reading. Such a mismatch isn't exactly unprecedented Greek. I think we'll go with ὄπαζε.

In How to Kill a Dragon Calvert Watkins argues in support of the existence of a particle ταρ (pp.150-151). It is frequently used with interrogatives, πῶς ταρ, τίς ταρ, κτλ. (I was delighted to see that West even uses this in his Teubner Iliad). However, the particle also occurs a few times after verbs of fearing, wailing and the like. The verb is usually at the start of a line, and occurs as V ταρ ἔπειτα.

There are two places in the Hymn to Demeter where verbs of shouting are followed by δ’ ἄρ’, which arroused my suspicions. Neither is at the start of the line, though they do start after the caesura. They're very similar:

ἦγ’ ὀλοφυρομένην· || ἰάχησε δ’ ἄρ’ ὄρθια φωνῇ     20
πολλ’ ἀεκαζομένην, || ἐβόησα δ’ ἄρ’ ὄρθια φωνῇ.     432

Line 20 describes Persephone's abduction. Line 432 is her describing this to her mother, Demeter. My Allen OCT lists no variants for either line, but I don't trust it. I have emailed someone to check for τ’ ἄρ’ in Richardson.

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