Can someone read these two early modern Greek words for me?
October 15, 2018 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Hiya! I cannot read Greek. I would really (reallyreally) like to know what the two Greek words in this passage from a 1576 English book say, both as an English translation, and as a transliteration into an easily typable (so Latin, I guess?) script. Context and more pics within!

First word is on the bottom right corner of the verso page ("the Greeks name the same ???????"), second shorter word is about mid-way down the recto, between the marginal glosses on the far right ("which the Greeks call ????? but it is more wretched and miserable").

Here's a slightly bigger (but also blurrier) shot of WORD 1 and WORD 2.

Here is the EEBO transcription for broader context (basically, they are each some version of words for compassion/pity/mercy/etc. The more precise you can be, the better!)

If you have EEBO access, the full text is here.

If you need better images, I can try? But I am technologically inept.

(Happy to compensate you for your troubles, if translation is your professional gig! MeMail me!)
posted by Dorinda to Writing & Language (9 answers total)
(big disclaimer: I don't speak greek, and these are just from some google translation)

The first word looks to be έλεος (éleos), meaning mercy.

The second is ελεημοσύνη (eleimosýni), or alms/alms-giving.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:34 AM on October 15, 2018

The second one is probably Eleos, a Greek goddess of mercy. Not sure on the first.
posted by suncages at 8:36 AM on October 15, 2018

I'm not an expert either, but I think you can see Luke 11:42 for an instance of the first (though I suspect the author of your text meant to write eleēmosynē rather than eleēmosynēn) and Aristotle's Rhetoric 2.8.2 for an instance of the second (eleos). If you click the 'load' link for the English at the second link you'll also get a nice definition from Aristotle.
posted by Wobbuffet at 9:04 AM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

My seminary Greek is getting rusty, but, specialagentwebb has it right. The words are generally used for charitable giving and mercy. As Wobbuffet notes, the synē ending is how one would usually refer to it, but eleēsynēn is the same word. Greek is an inflected language—the ending changes to reflect tense, number, gender, etc. Eleēsynēn (singular, accusative) is the form most often seen in the New Testament, which may have influenced the author’s choice.

By the way, I doubt you are looking at early modern Greek, although it may be similar. The writer is almost certainly thinking of classical or biblical writers.

(I made B pluses in Greek 17 years ago. Someone really good at this is welcome to correct me.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:01 AM on October 15, 2018

All answers sound correct to my modern Greek ears; both words are in current use in the sense implied by the text.
posted by each day we work at 10:05 AM on October 15, 2018

The writer is almost certainly thinking of classical or biblical writers.

From the context of the passage, this is 100% certainly the case. He's talking about the ancient Athenians. Early modern Greeks were not running around worshipping Eleos and building temples to her.
posted by praemunire at 11:49 AM on October 15, 2018

Thanks, all! I knew I could count on the smarty-pantses (smarty-pantsi?) of MeFi.

(And yes, I meant "early modern" to refer to the text in which the words appear, not the words bad!)
posted by Dorinda at 2:11 PM on October 15, 2018

People mostly have it, though note that there are diacritics on these words in the original text. So it's ἐλεημοσύνη (I think what some people are interpreting as a nu is in fact a comma) and έλεος (this word is incorrectly missing the smooth breathing; should be ἔλεος).
posted by dd42 at 2:36 PM on October 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks, all! I knew I could count on the smarty-pantses (smarty-pantsi?) of MeFi.

posted by atrazine at 2:07 AM on October 16, 2018

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