From: Carl W. Conrad (email@example.com)
Date: Fri May 14 1999 - 15:43:28 EDT
At 12:14 PM -0400 5/14/99, TonyProst@aol.com wrote:
> This is why centrality
>of position can't really be a very important element in prose (although it
>certainly may be in stichic verse, as Latin hexameters reveal marvelously).
>When one is listening to another speak, the place of greatest emphasis is
>really going to be the beginning and the end of the sequence of words.
>Please briefly expand on this first sentence, particularly the parenthesis! I
>have been reading with great interest this set of correspondences, but as I
>deal chiefly with verse, it has served to distinguish my text from the
>ur-text. Nonnos certainly uses lines as structural units, rarely extending a
>predicate or adjective into the next line from its object. He also frequently
>constructs symmetrical lines, in which the subject or the verb will be the
>central word, and its attributes symmetrically divided around it, often with
>a dative adjective and its associated participle at one end of the line and
>the other, with another pair of predicates nested between them, surrounding
>the main word.
> Is there any recognizable or even arguable GREEK metrical verse in
>any of the Koine NT?
Here's the opening of Aratus' Phaenomena, the beginning of the fifth verse
of which Paul is made by Luke to cite in Acts 17:28:
EK DIOS ARCWMESQA, TON OUDEPOT' ANDRES EWMEN
ARRHTON; MESTAI DE DIOS PASAI MEN AGUIAI,
PASAI D' ANQRWPWN AGORAI, MESTH DE QALASSA
KAI LIMENES; PANTH DE DIOS KECRHMEQA PANTES.
TOU GAR KAI GENOS ESMEN.
"From Zeus let us begin, whom never we men should leave
unspoken (of); filled with Zeus are all the streets,
all men's gathering-places, filled too the sea
and harbors; absolutely of Zeus do we all have need.
Of him, after all, even kindred are we.
In one sense, one can see that DIOS is central to lines 2 and 4; although
it might be a bit more accurate to say that it falls immediately before the
fourth-foot caesura in these lines; of course there is threefold repetition
of DIOS as there is repetition with case-change ('polyptoton') of
MESTAI/MESTH and PASAI/PASAI/PANTH. In general one would have to say,
however, that line-beginning and ends and colon-beginnings and ends,
particularly as marked off by the rhythmic structure of the hexameter line,
are more inmportant in the Greek hexameter than is centrality. Centrality
is more significant in the so-called interlocked "Golden Lines" which
Dryden described as "a pair of adjectives and a pair of nouns with a verb
in the middle to keep the peace." e.g., Vergil, Eclogues 1.34
(aesthetically this line is a unit, but syntactically it is part of a
pinguis et ingratae premeretur caseus urbi ...
Here the adjective 'pinguis' construes with the noun 'caseus' to constitute
the subject of 'premeretur' while ingratae construes with urbi as a dative
indirect object of 'premeretur': "... and rich cheese was pressed for the
thankless town ..." Here too one would have to say that although the verb
is central, the heavy stress in this sort of Latin verse structure is on
the adjectives that lead off the parade.
The only other hexameter cited in the GNT is in letter to Titus (1:12): a
line from Epimenides' De Oraculis evidently modeled on a line in Hesiod's
account of the epiphany of the Muses to himself in the Theogony:
KRHTES AEI YEUSTAI, KAKA QHRIA, GASTERES ARGAI
"Cretans are always liars, foul beasts, lazy bellies."
Of the word-order here there's not an awful lot to say. Like Hesiod's original,
POIMENES AGRAULOI, KAK' ELEGCEA, GASTERES OION
"Herdsmen rustic, foul reproaches, bellies only ..."
the three vocatives fall into metrical cola marked by the caesura of the
third foot and the bucolic diaeresis at the end of the fourth. As for
emphasis in the line of Epimenides, I'd say it falls upon YEUSTAI most
heavily because of the pause created by the central caesura there, then
there's the chiastic phrase with the emphatic adjectives KAKA and ARGAI at
the beginning and end of the entire group.
The only reason I can readily talk about this is that this was the topic of
my doctoral dissertation several decades ago. If you want to see it, it's
published by Garland Press in a revised edition as "From Epic to Lyric:
Traditional Patterns of Word-Order in Greek and Latin Poetry" in the series
"Harvard Dissertations in the Classics." I warn you, however, it's boring
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
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