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Greek to me
February 29, 2012 12:30 AM   Subscribe

Greek scholars: If an epithalamium is a poem "upon a bedchamber" what would a poem "upon wine" be? An epoinon (ἐποἶνον)? An epoinion (ἐποἶνιον)? An epoinios (ἐποἶνιος)? And how would you Latinize in a manner historically and stylistically concurrent to that of "epithalamium"? Has no Greek poet ever written a poem "upon wine" before?
posted by punkbitch to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also, in English, why are Horace's and Catullus' poems called "odes" instead of carmina? Are they even odes, really?
posted by punkbitch at 12:31 AM on February 29, 2012


Greek poetry was (and, later, Latin poetry often pretended to be) defined by its context of performance. While an "epithalamium" is literally "on a bedchamber," it isn't about the bedchamber; it's a wedding hymn that would be performed for the new couple. If you look up the (fragmentary) verses of, say, Anacreon or Alcaeus, you'll find plenty of drinking songs in their work, called "skolia" or more generically "sympotic poetry," songs meant to be performed at drinking parties.

As for your second question, it's probably the preference in English for the word "ode" from the Renaissance onward, since it is the literal Greek equivalent of the Latin carmen. Both just mean song (though the Greek ᾠδή does have certain formal characteristics which Horace and Catullus sometimes imitate). If you look at Latin editions of the two poets, the odes of both are referred as carmina.
posted by Bromius at 6:45 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


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