Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Hymn to Aphrodite

Ἰόπλοκ' ἄγνα μελλιχόμειδε Σάπφοι,
Ἄμμιν ἐν ποήμασι σοῖσιν ὄττι
Γράψαι ἤθελες, 'γ' ἐθέλω λάβων ὄρ-
θως μετάτρεψαι.

Viole 'n la chioma, miele nel sorriso,
O pura Saffo, quello c'hai inteso
Nei tuoi poemi scriver, vo' capire
E ben ridire.
Īntŭ’ rīsū mēl, vĭŏlās căpīllīs,
Pūră Sāpph', hăbēs, cănĕr' āc vŏlēbās
Qu’ īn pŏēsĭīs, cŭpĭ' īpsĕ cāptă
Vērtĕrĕ rēctē.

Violet-haired, pure, honey-smiling Sappho,
What in your poems you wanted to write
To us I want to understand, o Sappho,
And translate right.

Today we start a relatively long series of Sappho posts, so I thought it would be nice to start with what was the cover for my original file of translations. Line 1 is by Alcaeus, the rest is my own composition. Top-right is Latin, bottom-left is Italian, and bottom-right, of course, is English.
But let's get to the Hymn in the title. This is the only poem that survived complete, all thanks to Dionysius of Halicarnassus and his Περὶ συνθέσεως ὀνομάτων, aka De Compositione Verborum, aka On literary composition. The tradition for that treatise gives us the text of the hymn, complete, with a lot of minor controversies which appear to have been settled by the time of Bergk's edition of Sappho, and a few bigger controversies which I will list below:
  • All codices have a ζ in l. 9, whereas the actual text had σδ as typical of Aeolic; this is not much of a controversy but rather an error in the codices which was corrected by a papyrus I will mention below;
  • At l. 10, codices have either πτερίγας, περίγας, περὶ γᾶς or περὶ γῆς, and in the following line δινεῦντες, δινῆντες, with or without the πτέρ', which is what led Bergk to conjecture πτέρυγας, delete πτέρ' and read that participle as δινεύεντες; this did not gain traction, and I would argue that perhaps that short vowel mark I saw in the papyrus over the iota supports a short vowel lengthened by a double following consonant, hence δίννεντες as I read; the translation would change in that the "black earth" would vanish; as for the controversy at l. 9, the codices seem to me to be pointing rather towards περὶ γᾶς μελαίνας than to Bergk's reading;
  • At l. 13, it seems codices were unanimous about τὺ, making me wonder why I only found this reading in Bergk and everyone else has σὺ like I do;
  • At l. 17, Bergk reads κὤττι ἔμῳ, and says «libri» read κ' ὄττι ἔμῳ or κὤτι γ' ἔμῳ; none of these scan unless we elide the -ττι, and the second «libri» version needs to delete its γ'; the papyrus, however, has a clear -ττι, so no elision is possible, and I'd be skeptical about a prodelision, hence I stick with the generally-accepted reading;
  • Another "controversy", or rather, a doubt of the codices is whether the "ἀλλα" of l. 22 is ἀλλὰ, "but", or ἄλλα, "other", and this is not solvable AFAIK; I seem to remember taking it as the former, but I guess I wouldn't significantly alter the translations if I were to change my interpretation;
  • Finally, the text in cruces; Bergk has «τίνα δηὖτ' ἀπείθην / μαῖς ἄγην ἐς σὰν φιλότατα», with critical note as in this image; some codices seem to at least partly support Edmonds' «τίνα δηὖτε πείθω / καί σ' ἄγην ἐς ‹ϝ›ὰν φιλότατα», which is what I hereby choose and will tweak my translations to reflect, because it seems the least corrective of the sources; since the papyrus, it seems the reading which, in place of Edmonds' καὶ, has ἄψ, has gained some traction because of possibly a psi hidden somewhere in the papyrus; that finds me very skeptical: where is said psi? As I state in my transcriptions post, I cannot seem to find any convincing trace of said psi in the scan; I originally didn't investigate so thoroughly, so my original translations were based on this "vulgata" version;
The papyrus, which is P.Oxy. 2288, is discussed at this Latin SE thread, which has a self-answer containing my transcription of the papyrus, and on my transcriptions post, which copies that self-answer, basically. The source for the scan is here, or at least that's result 1 of Googling "p.oxy. 2288", so probably my original source. These guys have different opinions on the cruces, and maybe some other passages, it appears.
With all that out of the way, let's get to the translations. As usual, we have Latin, Italian and English, which were done probably pretty close to 9/5/2010, which is the start date of my Sappho work. The Italian and English of this were started "randomly", and were what prompted me to translate all of Sappho not only to Latin, but to Italian and English as well. In this case, though, we also have French and German, and I have honestly no idea when these were done, except that they date to the Sappho work period (9/5/2010 – 28/8/2011), and that there were last changes (due to misinterpretation of the indicative aorist ἤρε' as imperative, cfr. below) done either in the Sappho period or (less likely) when I collected all my poem translations into a single file in summer 2012. The mistranslation fixes for Latin, English and Italian only happened last June, and were completely finalized on Jul 14 2017 as I wrote this post's draft. There was also a præsertim I decided to change to maxime in the Latin, and a "list'n'd" I turned to "hark'd" in the English. Let's get right into those!


Ποικιλόθρον’ ἀθάνατ’ Ἀφρόδιτα,
Παῖ Δίος, δολόπλοκε, λίσσομαί σε·
Μή μ’ ἄσαισι μήτ’ ὀνίαισι δάμνα,
Πότνια, θῦμον,

Ἀλλὰ τυίδ’ ἔλθ’, αἴποτα κἀτέρωτα,
Τᾶς ἔμας αὔδως ἀίοισα πήλυι,
Ἔκλυες, πάτρος δὲ δόμον λίποισα
Χρύσιον ἦλθες,

Ἀρμ’ ὐπασδεύξαισα, κάλοι δέ σ’ ἆγον
Ὤκεες στροῦθοι περὶ γᾶς μελαίνας,
Πύκνα δίννεντες πτέρ’ ἀπ’ ὠράνω͜ αἴθε-
ρος διὰ μέσσω,

Αἶψα δ’ ἐξίκοντο· σὺ δ’, ὦ Μάκαιρα,
Μηδιάσαισ’ ἀθανάτῳ προσώπῳ,
Ἤρε’ ὄττι δηὖτε πέπονθα, κὤττι
Δηὖτε κάλημι,

Κὤττι μοι μάλιστα θέλω γένεσθαι
Μαινόλᾳ θύμῳ· «τίνα δηὖτε †πείθω
Καί σ’ ἄγην† ἐς ‹ϝ›ὰν φιλότατα, τίς τ’, ὦ
Ψάπφ’, ἀδικήει;

Καὶ γὰρ αἰ φεύγει, ταχέως διώξει,
Αἰ δὲ δῶρα μὴ δέκετ’, ἀλλὰ δώσει,
Αἰ δὲ μὴ φίλει, ταχέως φιλήσει,
Κωὐκ ἐθέλοισα».

Ἔλθε μοι καὶ νῦν, χαλέπαν δὲ λῦσον
Ἐκ μερίμναν, ὄσσα δέ μοι τέλεσσαι
θῦμος ἰμέρρει, τέλεσον· σὺ δ᾽ αὔτα
σύμμαχος ἔσσο.


Immortal dal ricco trono͜ Afrodite,
Di Giove scaltra figlia, or m’udite:
Di pene͜ e di tormenti al cuor no͜ aprite
La triste vìa,

Ma qui venite, s’anche͜ un altro dìa,
Udita di lontan la voce mìa,
Lasciaste l’aure͜a casa che v’havìa
Per cura mìa,

E passeri leggeri vi portavan
Sul carro, i qua͜i sopra terra volavan
Sbattendo l’ale͜ a’ venti che soffiavan
Per mezzo͜ il cielo,

E subito tornavan; o Beata,
Di riso l'immortal faccia adornata,
Chiedevi che chiedessi, o qual già data
M'avesse il cielo

Cosa, e che più di tutto vo' ch'accada
A me furente: «Chi vuoi ch'io †persüada
Ad amar te† mi chiedo,…e da chi cada
Ingiuria͜ a te!

Se͜ infatti fugge, t’inseguirà presta,
Doni darà se͜ a prender non è lesta,
Se͜ amor non dà, s’anche nol voglia, presta
Darallo͜ a te».

Venite͜ a meve͜ anch’ora,͜ e dagli affanni
Duri m’ solvete,͜ e al cor non date danni,
Ma ciò che cupe; e ne’ beati scanni
Pugnate meco.


Vénus du trộne brillant, toujours pas mǫrte,
Fillė dė Jọve, Trompeuse, prière jė te pǫrte:
Du mal ẹt du tourmȩnt, Déęsse, la pǫrte
Nė m’ouvrė pas,

Mais viȩns ici, ẹt, si͜ autrėfois aussi,
Ma voix très éloignée ayant ouïe,
Tu écoutas, ẹt de ta maiso̧n ẹt vie
Tu t’ȩn allas,

Et beaux passereaux rapides lė joug tėnaient
Lǫrsquė sur la terre noire ils tė pǫrtaient
Parmi l’éthęr, ẹt ailes rapides bâtaient
Ȩn venant du cięl,

Ẹt rėtournaient ȩn peu; ẹt tu, Béée,
Souri͜ant sur l'immǫrtęlle face, dėmandais,
Cė quė j'avais, ẹt cė quė jė priais
Pour moi au cięl,

Ẹt ce quė surtout je voulais quė mė fusse fait,
Furieuse ȩn cœur: «Qui dois-jė (qui tė plaît)
Ȩncǫre t’aimẹr convaincre? Ẹt qui tė fait,
Sapphọ, un tǫrt?

Car si͜ ęlle s’ȩnfuie, biȩntột ęlle t’ȩnsuivra,
Cadeaux, si͜ ęlle n'en prȩnd pas, biȩntột dǫnnera,
Si͜ ęlle nė t’aime pas, biȩntột ęlle t’aimėra,
So̧n vouloir mǫrt».

Viȩn à mois maintėnant, ẹt du tormȩnt
Très dur mė libre, ẹt ce quė mo̧n cœur maintenant
Veut quė me soit fait, fais vrais; ȩn co̧mbattant
M’aidė tu même.

Dīvĭtīs thrŏnī, Iŏvĭs Āphrŏdītă,
Cāllĭd’, īmmōrtālĭs, ĕg’ āpprĕcōr tē:
Tū nĕ tōrmēntīs nĕvĕ, dīvă, pœ̄nīs
Cōr mĭhĭ dāmnā,

Sēd vĕn’ hūc, sī tēmpŏr’ ăli͞oquĕ tū mī,
Vōcem a͞udĭēns mĕăm, ābsquĕ lōngē,
Pārŭīstī, ēt pătrĭ’ dēsĕru͞istī
A͞urĕăm ǣdĕm,

Cūrrŭī iŭgō dăt’ ĕt āffĕrēbānt
Pāssĕrēs pūlchrī mĕdĭūmquĕ dēnsīs
Pērcŭti͞entēs ǣthĕrĕm īllŭ̂m ālīs,
Cǣrŭlĕ’ ābs, t’ hūc,

Ābs stătīmqu’ ībānt ĭ’; ăt, ō Bĕātă,
Vūltŭ' sīnĕ mōrtĕ cŭm ādrǐdērĕt,
Pāssă quǣrēbās qu’ ĕg' ĕrāmquĕ, quōdquĕ
Rūrsŭ' vŏcābăm,

Quōdquĕ māxĭmē mĭhĭ fi͞er’ hĭēbăm,
Cōrdĕ āmēnt’: «Āc cŭĭ tē †sŭāde͞am
Rūrsŭ’† nūnc ămārĕ? Făcīt quĭs īniū-
ri͞am tĭbĭ, Sāpphō?

Nāmquĕ sī fŭgīt, răpĭd’ īnsĕquētŭr,
Sīvĕ dōn’ ha͞ud āccĭpĭt, ātquĕ dābĭt,
Sīvĕ ha͞ud ămāt, răpĭdē t’ ămābĭt,
Ēts’ ĕă nōlīt».

Nūnc quŏqu' ādvĕnīquĕ, mĕīsquĕ dūrīs
Sōlvĕ pœ̄nīs m', āccĭdĕr' ēt mĭhī cŏr
Quǣ cŭpīt, fāc vēră; mĭhīquĕ, quǣsō,
Sīs sŏcĭ' īpsă.


Immortal Aphrodite with shimm’ring throne,
Deceiving kid of Jove, my pra͞y͞er you own:
With pain and torment, Goddess, to the bone
Chill not my heart

But hither come, and, if another day,
My faint voice having heard from far away,
You hark’d, and from your Dad’s gold home that day
You took your cart,

And yoked it, and cute rapid sparrows drew
From heaven o’er black earth your cart and you,
In mid-air flapping their dense wings, as you
Came down to me,

And went back in a blink; O Lucky, thou,
With a full smile on thy immortal brow,
Asked what I've passed, and what again I now
Do ask from thee,

And what I wish the most t’ happen to me
Insane i’ th’ heart: «Whom should I to love thee
Again persu͜ade And, Sappho, who to thee
Is be͜ing unfair?

Indeed if she doth flee, she’ll soon pursue;
If gifts she does not take, she’ll give to you;
If then she does not love, she’ll soon love you,
Though ’r will be air».

Come to me now as well, and set me free
From my sharp pains, and what my heart from thee
Doth ask, please grant it; and, prithee, with me
Do fight yourself.


Untödliche͜ Aphrodit’ (dein Thron erscheint),
Täuschėndė Tochtėr Zeus, mein Bętėn meint:
Göttin, noch nicht was Qual und Strafė scheint
Gib meinėm Herz,

Aber komm hi͜ėr; wẹnn auch in andẹrėr Zeit,
Habėnd gęhört meinė Stimmė von weit,
Du hörtėst an, kamst mit Barerzigkeit
Zu meinėm Schmerz

Aus deinėr goldẹnėr Himmėlhaus, und dich
Übėr der Erdė Spätzė brachtėn, sich
Bėwęgėndė durch schnellė Flügėl, dich
Die schönė schlepptėn

Schnellė; schnell kommten; als ein Lächelns Licht
Du hattėst am untödlichėm Gėsicht,
Glückligė, du was ich fragt’, und das Sicht
An mich gėschlepptėn

Fragtėst, was mȩhr als allẹs ich wünschtė mir,
Wütėndė͜ im Hęrz: «Wėn wiedėr soll ich dir
In Liebė tragėn? Sappho, wer dęnn dir
Ein Unrecht tut?

Dęnn węnn sie flieht, vęrfolgėn schnell wird sie;
Węnn kein Gėschenk sie nimmt, gębėn wird sie;
Auch węnn liebėn nicht will, liebėn wird sie

Komm doch auch jętzt zu mir, und mich erfrei
Von schwęrėn Quälėn; Sachėnallerlei
Die mein Hęrz wünscht, mach wirklich; du selbst sei
Hęlfėrin mir.

About the changes to the translations
Stanzas 4-5 were originally translated differently.. The first one suffered from a misinterpretation of ἤρε' as an aorist imperative. Now, this is suggested by the tenses of the surrounding verbs, which, being present, suggest Sappho is describing what she is asking the goddess to do during her epiphany, whereas before she was talking about previous epiphanies. However, the verb is ἔρομαι, and an eta at the start of that aorist can only be an augment, which only the indicative has. So she is still talking about past epiphanies of the goddess, with a mix of aorist indicative and historic present, which you can feel the strangeness of in the above English. Stanza 5 instead suffered from a different choice of reading for the part in cruces. I originally followed the "vulgate" of «τίνα δηὖτε πείθω / ἄψ σ' ἄγην ἐς σὰν φιλότατα», whence the translations below. Let me give you Greek, Italian and French on the left and Latin, English and German on the right.

Αἶψα δ’ ἐξίκοντο· σὺ δ’, ὦ Μάκαιρα,
Μηδιάσαισ’ ἀθανάτῳ προσώπῳ,
Ἤρε’ ὄττι δηὖτε πέπονθα, κὤττι
Δηὖτε κάλημι,

Κὤττι μοι μάλιστα θέλω γένεσθαι
Μαινόλᾳ θύμῳ· «τίνα δηὖτε †πείθω
Ἂψ σ’ ἄγην† ἐς σὰν φιλότατα, τίς τ’, ὦ
Ψάπφ’, ἀδικήει;

E subito tornavan; o Beata,
Con riso l’immortal faccia guardata,
Chiedete cosa chiesta, ͜ o già passata
Da me, dal cielo,

E ciò che più di tutto vòi m’accada,
Furente͜ in cuor: «Chi mai ancor persuada
Te ad amare m’ chiedo, e da chi cada
Ingiuria͜ a te!

Ẹt rėtournaient ȩn peu; mais tu, Béée,
En souriant immǫrtęlle face regardée,
Demandẹz c’ quė j’ai déjà passée͜ ou priée
Pour moi au cięl,

Et ce quė surtout jė veux quė mė soit fait,
Furieuse ȩn cœur: «Qui dois-jė (qui tė plaît)
Ȩncǫre t’aimẹr convaincre? Ẹt qui tė fait,
Sapphọ, un tǫrt?

Ābs stătīmqu’ ībānt ĭ’; ăt, ō Bĕātă,
Sīnĕ mōrtĕ tūm făcĭe͞iquĕ rīdēns,
Quǣrĕ pāssă quōd i’ ĕgŏ sūmquĕ, quōdquĕ
Rūrsŭ’ rĕquīrō,

Quōdquĕ mī prǣsērt’ ĕgŏ fi͞er’ hĭō nūnc
Cōrdĕ āmēnt’: «Āc tĭbĭ quēm †sŭāde͞am
Rūrsŭ’† nūnc ămārĕ? Făcīt quĭs īniū-
ri͞am tĭbĭ, Sāpphō?

And went back in a blink; O Lucky, now,
With smiling face unto th’ immortal brow
Ask what I passed, and what again I now
Do ask from thee,

And what I wish the most t’ happen to me
Insane i’ th’ heart: «Whoe’er persu͜ade I thee
Again to love? And, Sappho, who to thee
Is be͜ing unfair?

Schnellė, und schnell zurück; Glückligė, du,
Lächẹlė der untödlichėr Miene zu,
Fragė was ich jętzt frag’, und ęs, wozu
Göttėr schon schlepptėn

Mich, und was mȩhr als allẹs ich wünschė mir,
Wütėndė͜ im Herz: «Wėn wiedėr soll ich dir
In Liebė tragėn? Sappho, wer dęnn dir
Ein Unrecht tut?

About the weird diacritics in French and German

If you don't care about pronunciation nitpicks or my way of pronouncing the letters "e" and "o" in French and German, just ignore those. If, however, you are interested in any of the above, I'll list the diacritics below. Firstly, diacritics for French.
  • An "e" with nothing on it should not be pronounced;
  • An "e" with a dot below (ẹ) is pronounced /e/, i.e. the first element of the diphthong of "hey" (/ei/), aka the vowel of "ẹt";
  • An "e" with a cedilla below (ȩ) is pronounced as a nasal /ã/, as in French "en";
  • An "e" with an ogonek below (ę) is pronounced as an open /ɛ/, as in "ęst";
  • An "e" with a dot above (ė) is pronounced as a schwa /ə/, i.e. the way you pronounce the final "e" in "belle" if you don't just leave it silent;
  • An "o" with an ogonek below (ǫ) is pronounced as an open /ɔ/, as in "mǫrt";
  • An "o" with a cedilla below (o̧) is pronounceed as a nasal /õ/, as in "o̧n";
  • An "o" with a dot below (ọ) is pronounced as a closed /o/, i.e. as in "Sapphọ".
Now for German.
  • An "e" with nothing on it is pronounced as an open /ɛ/, cfr. above;
  • An "e" with an ogonek below (ę) is pronounced as a closed /e/, i.e. the first element of the dipthong in "hey" (said diphthong is /ei/);
  • An "e" with a dot above (ė) is pronounced as a schwa /ə/;
  • An "e" with a dot below (ẹ) is silent.
This is all only valid outside diphthongs, which are pronounced according to each language's own rules and are not marked with anything.

Note: these are all the references I ever used for Sappho as of now. I may not have used all of these in the present post.

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