13 August 2007

No Roses in Homer

Someone posted a brief poem on the Textkit forum as a verse composition challenge. Unfortunately, the opening stanza is mostly a list, which is always a nightmare in verse translation. I decided to check Homer to see if there are any epithets with rose I could use to save me some metrical pains. There aren't, because Homer not once uses the word rose, ῥόδον. Nor does Hesiod, nor any of the Homeric Hymns except one, the Hymn to Demeter, where it is part of — ta-dah! — a list:

ἄνθεά τ' αἰνυμένην, ῥόδα καὶ κρόκον ἠδ' ἴα καλὰ       6

There are compounds and derivatives involving roses — ῥοδόεις, the famous ῥοδοδάκτυλος. Just no roses themselves. This is surprising to me.

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