Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Deceptive renderings of Greek proper names

At times, it is peculiarly necessary to picture the Greek behind a Latin transcription or transliteration in order to determine its morphological marking. This can require a fuller knowledge of Latin vowel quantities.

* Propertius I.20.33

hic erat Arganthi Pegē sub verticĕ montis
'Here was Pege (i.e. Πηγή) near the peak of Mount Arganthus'

This line neatly contrasts the quantity of the 3rd declension ablative singular verticĕ with that of the a-stem nominative singular.

* Ovid, Metamorphoses VI.273

Heu quantum haec Niobē Niobē distabat ab illā
'Alas! How different this Niobe (i.e. Νιόβη) was from that Niobe (as if a 5th declension ablative singular, like rē)!'

Niobe is either Niobă -ae or Niobē -ēs. The 5th declension ablative has a long e. The forms (found in prose authors) ...Niobă Niobā... with their five successive short vowels would not be metrically admissible.

While on this subject: the -e of second declension adverbs like facile is long.

* CIL I[2].1211[= VI 15346] = CLE 52 = ILS 8403, lines 2-4

heic est sepulcrum hau pulcrum pulcrai feminae.
nomen parentes nominarunt Claudiam.
suom mareitum corde deilexit souo.

Kruschwitz, following Massaro, takes Nomen, not as the Latin neuter noun 'name' in an odd figura etymologica, but as a Greek accusative of the name Νόμη. The following parentes prevents us from detecting the quantity of the .

On a different note: Achilles, son of Peleus, seems only to appear as Achilles in Latin (according to the OLD), but his namesakes do appear as Achilleus: a friend of Brutus (ad Brut. 1.6.2), the assassin of Pompey (Luc.1.523 for Achillas -ae), (?) ... . The exception is Achilleas acc.pl. as the name of a style of statue in Pliny HN 34.18.

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