The Cologne Epode Project

Archilochus, P. Colon. inv. 7511


The “Cologne Epode Project” is not just a great name for a Classics-inspired, prog-rock band. Over the month in which we will be reading Greek Lyric, the Project will also provide an opportunity for you to gain more knowledge about the Ionic dialect, and Lyric poetry, and papyrology, and literary criticism.

You will do so by contributing to the creation of a student introduction and commentary on Archilochus 196a West = S478 Page (a.k.a the Cologne Epode).

Our goal is to produce a commentary that can be submitted to, with the hope that it will be published in their catalogue of texts.  Κλέος ἄφθιτον could be yours!

Responsibilities (τὰ δέοντα)

Each of you will contribute to the Project in three ways:

  1. by preparing a short section of the introduction with a partner (e.g. life of Archilochus, history of the text, relationship of the poem to the other poems by Archilochus and/or other poetry)
  2. by creating vocabulary lists, scanning the meter, and commenting on 3 stanzas of the poem
  3. by reviewing and proofing the vocabulary list and commentary of a fellow student.

Stages of the Project, with due dates (διαδοχαί)

  1. 10/17: Select your Stanzas: after you have read Guy Davenport’s translation of the Cologne Epode, notify me via email of the stanzas for which you would like to be responsible. I will update this list as I receive your preferences, so check back before you submit your preference:
    1. Stanzas 1-3 = lines 1-6: Amelia
    2. Stanzas 4-6 = lines 7-12: Zoe
    3. Stanzas 7-9 = 13-18: Dakota
    4. Stanzas 10-12 = 19-24: Nicholas
    5. Stanzas 13-15 = 25-30: Sasha
    6. Stanzas 16-18 = 31-15: Rachel
  2. 10/21: 1) Gain a better appreciation for Archilochus and his poetry by reading William Harris’ chapter, “Archilochus: First Poet after Homer“; 2) find your stanzas via the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae [guide to the TLG], which the page numeration (i.e. S478a). If you are having trouble finding the fragment, try searching Archilochus for its first word: παμπαν or pampan. Supplement the TLG text with the conjectures from Campbell 1994.
  3. 10/28: With your digital text as a resource, create two vocabulary lists for your stanzas:
    1. a full, alphabetical list with every word, its full dictionary entry, and a capacious list of definitions;
    2. Following the format used by other commentaries (e.g. P. O. 1), prepare a select vocabulary list that is keyed to particular lines. Including only those words that are not in the Stage 1 Core Vocabulary, although you may include Attic equivalencies for any word that you feel is necessary.
  4. 11/6: Create a student commentary and ancillary materials for your stanzas.
    1. Your commentary should focus on unusual vocabulary and confusing or ambiguous forms, with the occasional commentary on agreement, syntax, etc.
      1. Please refer to the scholarly commentary on the poem by Bremer et. al. [Google Books and on Reserve in Magill] as you work on this section of the Project; you may also find the thesis by D. Lavigne helpful. This article by J. van Sickle that appeared soon after the rediscovery of the epode may also be of interest, as it includes another (more literal) translation and a discussion of the structure of the poem and the reconstruction of the text.
    2. Rewrite your stanzas in standard prose word order; be sure to include articles as needed.
    3. Prepare a full scansion of your stanzas.
    4. Share your stanzas with your partner.
  5. 11/17: Meet with your partner to discuss any missing or incorrect information; revise as necessary.
  6. 11/20: Email me your section of the introduction.
    1. Life and Times of Archilochus: Dakota & Zoe
    2. The Epode in the context of Archilochus’ other writings: Rachel & Amelia
    3. History of the Text: Nick & Sasha

SNL: Greek Gods on the Greek Economy

In a sketch from a few weeks back, Saturday Night Live imagined the Greek gods trying to devise a plan to overcome the Greek economic crisis. May be worth a few chuckles…

Some Useful Greek Phrases

Here are some useful Greek phrases you may want to incorporate into your speeches (or interjections!). If you have a particular insult or saying you’d like to say in Greek, let me know and I can translate for you.

Hello! and Good-bye!

χαῖρε / khaíre [to one person]
χαῖρετε / khaírete [to two or more persons]
μέγα χαῖρε / khaíre [to one person, more intense than above]
μέγα χαῖρετε / khaírete [to two or more persons]
ὑγίεια! hygíeia!
I drink (to you)!
προπίνω σοι, ἧμιν / propi’nô [soi (sg) / humin’ (pl)]!
Go to Hell!
εἰς Ἁίδου! / eis Haidou!
Ἁιδόσδε! / Haidosde!
εἰς κόρακας! / eis korakas! [lit. “to the crows”]
Ha! (surprise or suffering)
παπαῖ! / papai’!
By the Gods, …
πρὸς θεῶν / Pros Theôn’ …
I entreat you by Olympian Zeus,…
λίσσομαι Ζῆνος Ὀλυμπίου / Lis’somai Zênos’ Olumpi’ou, …
Be kindly disposed to me!
προσφιλῶς μοι ἔχε! /  Prosphilôs’ moi e’khe (sg)
Ah! (grief, angerm surprise, admiration)
φεῦ! / Feu!
So be it!
ἔστω! / Es’tô!
οὔποτε! Ou’pote!
No indeed, no truly.
οὐ μέντοι. Ou men’toi.
οὐ δῆτα. Ou dēta.
οὐ μέν. Ou men.
Shame! or Disgrace!
ἀτιμία! Atimia!
αἶσχρος! Aischros!
σιγῇ νῦν! Sigê’ nun!
Thank you.
εὐχάριστος εἰμί. Eukháristos eimí.
Χάρις σοι! Kháris soi!
Woe is me!
ἰώ μοί! / iō moi!
τάλας! / tálas!
τλῆμον! tlēmon!
ναῖ / Nai.
μάλιστα! / málista! (more emphatic)

This list of phrases developed from


Can’t run a mile in armor and then thrash the Persians? Science confirms that you are a wimp


In our conversation about whether Athenians could have run 6 stades in armor before the battle of Marathon, I mentioned a new book by Peter McAllister on how advancing technology has attenuated the human body. Here’s some more information on McAllister’s thesis…

LONDON (Reuters) – Many prehistoric Australian aboriginals could have outrun world 100 and 200 meters record holder Usain Bolt in modern conditions.

Some Tutsi men in Rwanda exceeded the current world high jump record of 2.45 meters during initiation ceremonies in which they had to jump at least their own height to progress to manhood.

Any Neanderthal woman could have beaten former bodybuilder and current California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in an arm wrestle.

These and other eye-catching claims are detailed in a book by Australian anthropologist Peter McAllister entitled “Manthropology” and provocatively sub-titled “The Science of the Inadequate Modern Male.”

[Read more…]

Water is Best… especially for a Bath.

ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ :: Inscription over the entrance to the Pump Room, Bath.

Vocabulary Anax

Sign-up sheet for Vocabulary Anax

  • 11/15 [Dakota]
  • 11/17 [Zoe]
  • 11/22 [Sasha]
  • 11/29 [Amelia]
  • 12/1 [Rachel]

“To Anacreon in Heaven” or a Star-Spangled Hangover

Does this tune sounds familiar? (video is a little lewd but mostly SWF)


“To Anacreon in Heaven” was the official song of the Anacreontic Society, a gentlemanly club of amateur musicians in 18th-century London.

Anacreon, a Greek lyric poet of the 6th century BCE whom Peisistratus brought to Athens with great fanfare, was famous for his poems on love and intoxication. His poetry spawned a slew of imitators in antiquity, who wrote in the voice of Anacreon or claimed they were inspired by his example. After they were rediscovered and published in 1554, these poem, or Anacreontea, inspired numerous imitators from the 16th through 19th century. And among these homages is “To Anacreon in Heaven.”

Here are the saucy lyrics:

To Anacreon in Heav’n, where he sat in full glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a petition;
That he their Inspirer and Patron wou’d be;
When this answer arrived from the Jolly Old Grecian;
“Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
No longer be mute,
I’ll lend you my name and inspire you to boot,
And besides I’ll instruct you like me, to intwine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

The news through Olympus immediately flew;
When Old Thunder pretended to give himself airs.
If these Mortals are suffered their scheme to pursue,
The Devil, a Goddess, will stay above stairs.
“Hark”, Already they cry,
“In transports of joy,
Away to the Sons of Anacreon we’ll fly.
And besides I’ll instruct you like me, to intwine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

“The Yellow-Haired God and his nine lusty Maids,
From Helion’s banks will incontinent flee,
Idalia will boast but of tenantless Shades,
And the bi-forked hill a mere desert will be.
My Thunder no fear on’t,
Shall soon do it’s errand,
And damme I’ll swing the Ringleaders I warrant,
I’ll trim the young dogs, for thus daring to twine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

Apollo rose up and said, “Pry’thee ne’er quarrel,
Good sing of the Gods with my Vot’ries below:
Your Thunder is useless”–then showing his laurel,
Cry’d “Sic evitable fulmen’ you know!
Then over each head
My laurels I’ll spread
So my sons from your Crackers no mischief shall dread,
While snug in their clubroom, they jovially twine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

Next Momus got up with his risible Phiz
And swore with Apollo he’d cheerfully join-
“The full tide of Harmony still shall be his,
But the Song, and the Catch, and the Laugh, shall be mine.
Then Jove be not jealous
Of these honest fellows,”
Cry’d Jove, “We relent since the truth you now tell us;
And swear by Old Styx, that they long shall intwine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

Ye Sons of Anacreon then join hand in hand;
Preserve Unanimity, Friendship, and Love!
‘Tis yours to support what’s so happily plann’d;
You’ve the sanction of Gods, and the Fiat of Jove.
While thus we agree,
Our toast let it be:
“May our Club flourish Happy, United, and Free!
And long may the Sons of Anacreon intwine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

Lyrics: Ralph Tomlinson
Music: John Stafford Smith

Foxes, Hedgehogs, and Polymaths

Archilochus makes an oblique appearance at the end of an interesting article about the increasing scarcity of polymaths,

Isaiah Berlin once divided thinkers into two types. Foxes, he wrote, know many things; whereas hedgehogs know one big thing. The foxes used to roam free across the hills. Today the hedgehogs rule.

The Perils of Prose Composition

A Song of Greek Prose

Thrice happy are those
Who ne’er heard of Greek Prose—
Or Greek Poetry either, as far as that goes;
For Liddell and Scott
Shall cumber them not,
Nor Sargent nor Sidgwick shall break their repose.

But I, late at night,
By the very bad light
Of very bad gas, must painfully write
Some stuff that a Greek
With his delicate cheek
Would smile at as ‘barbarous’—faith, he well might.

For when it is done,
I doubt if, for one,
I myself could explain how the meaning might run;
And as for the style—
Well, it’s hardly worth while
To talk about style, where style there is none.

It was all very fine
For a poet divine
Like Byron, to rave of Greek women and wine;
But the Prose that I sing
Is a different thing,
And I frankly acknowledge it’s not in my line.

So away with Greek Prose,
The source of my woes!
(This metre’s too tough, I must draw to a close.)
May Sargent be drowned
In the ocean profound,
And Sidgwick be food for the carrion crows!

~ Robert F. Murray (1863-1893)

Tariq Ali rereads Hesiod’s Works and Days

This week in The Guardian, Tariq Ali muses on the wisdom of Hesiod, which ranges from the value of an honest day’s work to the importance of a clean pair of underwear:

As Greek economic problems intensify, it’s worth remembering the first economist, Hesiod, a poet whose Works and Days was written against the backdrop of agrarian crisis…

[Read more…]


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