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Old 08-11-2017, 11:18 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default "Bacchae"--Choral Ode, 370-432


Strophe 1
Sanctity, you queen of gods, as you
go flying over earth on golden wings,
do you take in the sacrilegious things
Pentheus has been promulgating, how
he scorns the Roaring God, Semele’s son,
who, during banquets decked in bright bouquets,
is first among the blest divinities?
He has the power to bring outsiders in,
to laugh when pipes play and to deaden care
when grape-joy visits sacred feasts
and the abounding wine-bowl casts
sleep over men with ivy in their hair.

Antistrophe 1
An unchecked mouth and rash stupidity
mean ruin, but a peaceful, prudent life
remains untossed by storms and keeps homes safe.
Although the gods live far away on high,
they watch the deeds of mortals all the same.
Smart talk is hardly wisdom; it’s unwise
for men to think big and forget their place.
Our lives are short. Given our dearth of time,
who, in pursuing all-too-distant goals,
would lose out on what lies at hand?
That way of living, to my mind,
is for misguided men and crazy fools.

Strophe 2
I want to go to Cyprus, island of
the foam-born goddess, where the gods of love
reside, the sweet bewitchers of our wits;
to Paphos, where a hundred rivulets
water the plain and there are no rain showers.
Bull-Roarer, Keeper of Ecstatic Powers
and Leader of Bacchants, take me to sublime
Pieria where the Muses spend their time,
to a divine Olympian mountain slope.
There, there at last we Bacchant girls have scope
to hold, among the Graces and Desire,
the secret rites whose celebrants we are.

Antistrophe 2
Our son of Zeus delights in feasts, and Peace,
the youth-nurse, the purveyor of success,
is precious to him. He distributes wine,
the grief-cure, both to blest and unblest men.
Oh, he detests, though, everyone who scorns
the following imperative concerns:
to live each day and night in blessedness,
and to exclude the over-curious
from the enlightened thoughts that live inside
one’s intellect. All that the multitude
of people think a man should think and do—
that is what I approve—I’ll do it, too.

. . . . .

Antistrophe 1, Line 12 was "belongs to bad thinkers and crazy fools"

. . . . .

370 Holiness, lady of the gods, Holiness, who bear your golden wings across the face of the earth, do you hear this from Pentheus? Do you hear this unholy 375 hubris against Bromius, the child of Semele, the first daimôn at well-garlanded banquets [euphrosunai]? He holds this office, to introduce people into the sacred company of khoroi, 380 to laugh to the accompaniment of the pipes, and to bring an end to cares, whenever the delight of the grape comes forth in the feasts of the gods, and in ivy-bearing banquets 385 the goblet surrounds men with sleep.

antistrophe 1
Misfortune is the end result [telos] of unbridled mouths and lawless folly. The life of serenity [hêsukhiâ] 390 and sense remains unshaken and supports households. Though they dwell far off in the heavens, the gods see mortal affairs. 395 It is not wisdom [sophiâ] to be overly sophos, and to think things unbefitting mortal men. Life is short, and in it he who pursues great things does not achieve that which is present. In my opinion, these are the ways of mad and 400 ill-counseling men.

strophe 2
Would that I could go to Cyprus, the island of Aphrodite, where the Loves dwell, who charm 405 mortals’ hearts, and to Paphos, fertilized without rain by the streams of a foreign river flowing with a hundred mouths. Lead me, Bromius, daimôn of joy who leads the Bacchae, 410 to Pieria, beautiful seat of the Muses, the holy slope of Olympus. 415 There are the Graces [Kharites], there is desire, there it is divinely ordained [themis] for the Bacchae to celebrate their rites.

antistrophe 2
The daimôn, the son of Zeus, rejoices in banquets, and Peace, 420 which brings prosperity, goddess who nourishes youths, is philê to him. He gives an equal delight from wine, banishing grief, to the wealthy [olbios] and to the less fortunate. He hates whoever does not care about this: 425 to live day and philai nights in blessedness and to keep his wise phrên and intellect away from over-curious men. 430 What the common multitude thinks and practices, that I would accept.
. . . . .

370Ὁσία πότνα θεῶν,
Ὁσία δ᾽ ἃ κατὰ γᾶν
χρυσέαν πτέρυγα φέρεις,
τάδε Πενθέως ἀίεις;
ἀίεις οὐχ ὁσίαν
375ὕβριν ἐς τὸν Βρόμιον, τὸν
Σεμέλας, τὸν παρὰ καλλι-
στεφάνοις εὐφροσύναις δαί-
μονα πρῶτον μακάρων; ὃς τάδ᾽ ἔχει,
θιασεύειν τε χοροῖς
380μετά τ᾽ αὐλοῦ γελάσαι
ἀποπαῦσαί τε μερίμνας,
ὁπόταν βότρυος ἔλθῃ
γάνος ἐν δαιτὶ θεῶν, κισ-
σοφόροις δ᾽ ἐν θαλίαις ἀν-
385δράσι κρατὴρ ὕπνον ἀμ-

ἀχαλίνων στομάτων
ἀνόμου τ᾽ ἀφροσύνας
τὸ τέλος δυστυχία:
ὁ δὲ τᾶς ἡσυχίας
390βίοτος καὶ τὸ φρονεῖν
ἀσάλευτόν τε μένει καὶ
συνέχει δώματα: πόρσω
γὰρ ὅμως αἰθέρα ναίον-
τες ὁρῶσιν τὰ βροτῶν οὐρανίδαι.
395τὸ σοφὸν δ᾽ οὐ σοφία
τό τε μὴ θνητὰ φρονεῖν.
βραχὺς αἰών: ἐπὶ τούτῳ
δέ τις ἂν μεγάλα διώκων
τὰ παρόντ᾽ οὐχὶ φέροι. μαι-
400νομένων οἵδε τρόποι καὶ
κακοβούλων παρ᾽ ἔμοι-
γε φωτῶν.

ἱκοίμαν ποτὶ Κύπρον,
νᾶσον τᾶς Ἀφροδίτας,
ἵν᾽ οἱ θελξίφρονες νέμον-
405ται θνατοῖσιν Ἔρωτες,
Πάφον θ᾽ ἃν ἑκατόστομοι
βαρβάρου ποταμοῦ ῥοαὶ
καρπίζουσιν ἄνομβροι.
οὗ δ᾽ ἁ καλλιστευομένα
410Πιερία μούσειος ἕδρα,
σεμνὰ κλιτὺς Ὀλύμπου,
ἐκεῖσ᾽ ἄγε με, Βρόμιε Βρόμιε,
πρόβακχ᾽ εὔιε δαῖμον.
ἐκεῖ Χάριτες,

415ἐκεῖ δὲ Πόθος: ἐκεῖ δὲ βάκ-
χαις θέμις ὀργιάζειν.
ὁ δαίμων ὁ Διὸς παῖς
χαίρει μὲν θαλίαισιν,
φιλεῖ δ᾽ ὀλβοδότειραν Εἰ-
420ρήναν, κουροτρόφον θεάν.
ἴσαν δ᾽ ἔς τε τὸν ὄλβιον
τόν τε χείρονα δῶκ᾽ ἔχειν
οἴνου τέρψιν ἄλυπον:
μισεῖ δ᾽ ᾧ μὴ ταῦτα μέλει,
425κατὰ φάος νύκτας τε φίλας
εὐαίωνα διαζῆν,
σοφὰν δ᾽ ἀπέχειν πραπίδα φρένα τε
περισσῶν παρὰ φωτῶν:
430τὸ πλῆθος ὅ τι
τὸ φαυλότερον ἐνόμισε χρῆ-
ταί τε, τόδ᾽ ἂν δεχοίμαν.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-13-2017 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 08-11-2017, 04:15 PM
Duncan Gillies MacLaurin's Avatar
Duncan Gillies MacLaurin Duncan Gillies MacLaurin is offline
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Wow, you've extended this somewhat. The crib isn't much help. "Sacriligious" is spelt wrong.

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Old 08-11-2017, 04:22 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thanks, for commenting, Duncan. Odes are famously difficult to interpret and translate. I think I, if anything, compressed the ode a bit.

My dictionary has "sacrilegious."
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Old 08-11-2017, 11:34 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 1,276

Good morning Aaron,

This is splendid. Meter and rhyme both seem felicitous, and the tone seems apt.
Here are a couple of very local thoughts on scansion:

remains untossed: is yet untossed?

belongs to bad thinkers and crazy fools: is for bad thinkers and for crazy fools?

As you think best, of course; the whole thing is of a piece, and I think will declaim as well as it reads on the page. What a nice ode!

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Old 08-12-2017, 03:54 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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John, thank you for your close reading.

I like very much your suggestion of “is for” for “belongs to”. I will go with:

is for misguided men and crazy fools.

I think I need to keep “remains untossed by storms” because it fits in the with the gnomic context. The ode speaks generally about different types of lives.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-12-2017 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 08-29-2017, 11:17 PM
Eric Mwathi Eric Mwathi is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Austria
Posts: 12

Hi, I enjoyed scanning both versions, though my Greek barely goes past being able to read the poem without knowing much of the meaning. It sounds like the original Choral ode is written in alternating dactylic Tri and tetrameter meter. I wanted to know what made you want to extend the lines to iambic pentameters.

Last edited by Eric Mwathi; 08-30-2017 at 08:51 AM.
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Old 08-30-2017, 01:32 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Eric, thank you for asking. The odes are famously difficult to translate, and I have added the difficulty of (off-) rhyme to distinguish the odes from the spoken parts of the play. I extended the lines to pentameters in order to gie myself more room to rhyme and to imitate Yeats' great translations of odes from "Antigone."

Pleasure to meet you,

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