02 April 2007

Callipygian Aphrodite

From Athenaeus 12.555 (text via Google Books, whose top-notch quality control is responsible for the doubtful readings at the end):

οὕτω δὲ ἐξήρηντο τῶν ἡδυπαθειῶν· οἱ τότε, ὡς καὶ καλλιπύγου Ἀφροδίτης ἱερὸν ἱδρύσασθαι ἀπὸ τοιαύτης αἰτίας. ἀνδρὶ ἀγροίκῳ ἐγένοντο δύο καλαὶ θυγατέρες. αὗται φιλονεικήσασαί ποτε πρὸς ἑαυτάς, προελθοῦσαι ἐπὶ τὴν λεωφόρον διεκρίνοντο, ποτέρα εἴη καλλιπυγοτέρα. καί ποτε παριόντος νεανίσκου, πατέρα πρεσβύτην ἔχοντος, ἐπέδειξαν ἑαυτὰς καὶ τούτῳ· καὶ ὃς θεασάμενος ἔκρινε τὴν πρεσβυτέραν· ἧς καὶ εἰς ἔρωτα ἐμπεσὼν, ἐλθὼν εἰς ἄστυ, κλινήρης γίνεται, καὶ διηγεῖται τὰ γεγενημένα τῷ ἀδελφῷ ἑαυτοῦ, ὄντι νεωτέρῳ. ὁ δὲ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐλθὼν εἰς ἀγροὺς, καὶ θεασάμενος τὰς παῖδας, ἐρᾷ καὶ αὐτὸς τῆς ἑτέρας. ὁ οὖν πατήρ, ἐπεὶ παρακαλῶν αὐτοὺς ἐνδοξοτέρους λαβεῖν γάμους οὐκ ἔπειθεν, ἄγεται ἐκ τοῦ ἀγροῦ τὰς παῖδας αὐτοῖς, πείσας ἐκείνων τὸν πατέρα, καὶ ζεύγνυσι τοῖς υἱοῖς. αὗται οὖν ὑπὸ τῶν πολιτῶν καλλίπυγοι ἐκαλοῦντο, ὡς καὶ ὁ Μεγαλοπολίτης Κερκιδᾶς ἐν τοῖς ἰάμβοις ἱστορεῖ, λέγων·

    ἦν καλλιπύγων ζεῦγος ἐν Συρακούσαις·

[α]ὗται οὖν, ἐπιλαβόμεναι οὐσίας λαμπρᾶς, ἱδρύσαντο [Ἀ]φροδίτης ἱερόν, καλέσασαι Καλλίπυγον τὴν θεόν, ὡς ἱστο[ρ]εῖ καὶ Ἀρχέλαος ἐν τοῖς ἰάμβοις.

In limping Old High Translationese:

They so loved their pleasures that they once set up a temple to Aphrodite of the Beautiful Buttocks in this way: a farmer had two beautiful daughters. They loved disputing with each other and once went to the public road to judge which had the most beautiful buttocks. And when a young man with an old father came near they showed themselves to him. And after seeing them, he picked the elder. He even fell in love with her and went to the city, became bedridden, and went through what happened to his brother, who was younger. And then he [the younger one —wm] went to the country himself, looked at the girls and he fell in love with the other one. Therefore their father, since he couldn't convince them to make a more suitable marriage, brought the girls from the country for them, after convincing their father, and married them to his sons. So these girls were called "callipygian" [having beautiful buttocks] by the citizens, as the Megalopolitan Cercidas relates in his iambics:

    There was a pair of callipygian [girls] in Syracuse.

And these girls, after getting a lot of property, set up a temple of Aphrodite, calling the goddess "Callipygian" as Archelaos also relates in his iambics.

I'm not sure I've got ἐξήρηντο right. And I'm very puzzled by the elder brother becoming bedridden after seeing these beautiful young ladies. I don't know if that's normal love-sick behavior for ancient Greeks.


downrightamazed said...

"Bedridden." You know, *wink wink* "taking care of business" *nudge nudge* That's what the kids called it back then.

Much more poetic than "flogging the log."

blob said...

Becoming bedridden actually is a pretty common item in the aetiology of love and passion in Gk. literature. Love is a wasting sickness that threatens to kill whose who are afflicted unless they can requite their desire.

Wm said...

Becoming bedridden actually is a pretty common item in the aetiology of love and passion in Gk. literature.

Ahh, good to know. Thanks.

As an aside, Japanese literature (and anime, where I encountered it first) can use sudden nosebleeds as a similar sign of being overcome by love.