Various idioms

The sun had a prominent place in Indo-European poetry and myth, as we shall see in Chapter 5, and it plays a part in a number of traditional expressions. As it traverses and surveys the whole earth, the idea 'the world from end to end' can be expressed by 'as far as the sun looks about' (AV 10. 10. 34 yävat süryo vipasyati) or some equivalent. So in Greek, II. 7. 451, 458 'its/your fame shall be known oaov r ¿mKiSvarai rjws, as far as the daylight spreads'; in Welsh, hytyr etil heül, 'as far as the sun wanders'.30

The sun, heaven, and other cosmic entities are also symbols of eternity. A Hittite curse on a conquered city condemns it to remain uninhabited 'so long as heaven, earth, and mankind (exist)' (CTH 423). The great Luwian and Phoenician bilingual inscription from Karatepe contains the prayer that Azitiwada's name 'may be for ever, like the name of the sun and moon'.31 Indian expressions of 'for ever and ever' include 'so long as the sun shall be in the sky' (yävat süryo asäd divi, AV 6. 75. 3); 'as long as moon and sun shine' (Rm. 7. 1464*); 'as long as mountains stand and rivers flow' (MBh. 5. 139. 55); 'as long as earth endures' (MBh. 12. 54. 28). Similarly in Greek: 'as long as

29 Chadwick (1932), 169, lines 13, 24, etc.; SCHS ii, no. 17, line 368 na morskü demijü, 'to the sea(-going) ship'.

30 Cülhwch and Olwen, ed. R. Bromwich and D. S. Evans (Cardiff 1992), line 158.

31 H. Donner-W. Röllig, Kanaanäische ünd aramäische Inschriften, 3rd edn. (Wiesbaden 1966-9), no. 26 A iv 2 f. = C v 5-7.

earth and sun endure' (Theognis 252); 'so long as waters flow and trees grow tall, and the sun rises and shines, and the radiant moon' (Hom. Epigr. 3). And in the Celtic literatures: 'as long as the sun shall cross the sky' (oiret rabh grian ar deiseal, verse in Acallam na Senorach 520 Stokes); 'as long as heaven remains above earth' (Moliant Cadwallon 21).32 I have collected a few similar expressions from Hebrew and Assyrian texts, but they are no older than the first millennium bce.33

The world we live in can be equated with the world under the sun. Indeed the Baltic word for 'world', Lithuanian pasaulis, Latvian pasaule, means literally 'under the sun'. 'There are many birds flying about under the sun's beams' (Od. 2. 181) means no more than 'in the world'. In an early British poem we already meet the expression 'everyone under the sun'.34 The phrase is especially used to emphasize uniqueness in respect of some quality. The horses that Zeus gave to Tros were 'the best of all the horses that there are under the day's light and the sun' (Il. 5. 266 f., im' ym r yeAiov re; cf. 4. 44). Euripides' Alcestis is declared to be 'by far the finest woman of those under the sun' (Ale. 151). In an early Irish poem we read that 'under heaven (fo nimib) there was none so strong as the son of Äine'.35 In the Edda Helgi Hjorvardsson is proclaimed 'the prince who was best under the sun'. Sigurd is told 'a mightier man will not come on the earth, under the sun's seat, than you are deemed'. Hervor's dead father tells her that she will bear a son who will be 'the most glorious raised under the sun's tent'.36

To be here under the sun, to be able to see the sun, is synonymous with being alive. 'Do not give us over to death, O Soma; may we yet see the sun going up' (RV 10. 59. 4); 'let this man be here with his life, in the portion of the sun (süryasya bhöge), in the world of non-dying' (AV 8. 1. 1). svar or süryam drse 'see the sun' stands for being alive (RV 1. 23. 21, al.), as does the simple 'seeing' (pasyan, 1. 116. 25). Similarly in the Göthös, astvat asom Xyat, 'may Truth be there corporeal' (i.e. in the corporeal world), is parallel to xvong darosöi xsadröi xyat armaitis, 'may Rightmindedness be there in the realm in the sight of the sun'.37 In Greek we have, for instance, 'while I am alive and

32 Ed. R. G. Gruffydd in R. Bromwich and R. B. Jones, Astudiethau ar yr Hengredd (Cardiff 1978), 27 ff. On this poem cf. Jarman, Y Gododdin, xxiii.

34 Trawsganu Kynan Garwyn 95-8 (Book of Taliesin 45; Koch-Carey (2000), 303). Some Semitic parallels (none earlier than the seventh century bce) in West (1997), 235.

35 Campanile (1988), 27 no. 4. 2; a parallel in Kuno Meyer, Bruchstücke der älteren Lyrik Irlands (Berlin 1919), 115.

36 HelgakviSa Hiyrvardzsonar 39. 4, cf. 43. 8; Gripisspa 52. 5-8, cf. 7. 2; Waking of Angantyr 17 (Edd. min. 17).

37 Y. 43. 16. Cf. Y. 32. 10, 'that man corrupts the Message, who declares that the worst thing to behold with the eyes is the cow and the sun.'

seeing upon the earth'; 'this man ... who has hit me and boasts of it and claims that I will not see the sun's bright light for much longer'; 'leave the light of the sun'; 'she is no longer under the sun'.38 Old Norse has the expression sjd sik 'see oneself' (Gylf 45).

To be born is to come into the light, npo ^owaSe (Il. 16. 188, cf. 19. 103, 118), is $dos (Pind. Ol. 6. 44), in luminis oras (Enn. Ann. 135 et al.), an thit lioht (Heliand 626). An alternative expression, shared by Greek and Norse, is 'come to one's mother's knees': Hes. Th. 460 p^rpos npos yowad' ikoito; Sigurdarkvida 45 of komz fyr kne modur. It reflects the widespread and ancient practice of giving birth in a kneeling position.

The father's role as begetter is sometimes emphasized by coupling the two words. In the Rigveda (1. 164. 33 and often) we find the pairing pita janita 'father begetter', just like the etymological counterparts in Avestan (Y. 44. 3 zqda pta), Greek (Eur. Ion 136 yeveTwp naT-p; elsewhere o yevv-aas naT-rip and similar phrases), and Latin (Enn. Ann. 108 o pater o genitor).

Instead of saying 'you are a congenital so-and-so', Indic and Greek poets may say 'your father (or mother) bore you to be a ...': RV 1. 129. 11 ddha hi tva janita . .. raksohdnam tva jfjanad, 'for that is why your sire sired you as a gremlin-slayer'; Il. 13. 777 inel ovSe pe napnav avdXKiSa yeivaTo p-T^p, 'for my mother did not give birth to me as a coward', cf. 6. 24, Od. 1. 223, 6. 25, 21. 172; Hymn. Herm. 160 f. 'your father has begotten you to be a great nuisance to mortal men and the immortal gods'. An analogous idiom is 'the gods made' (someone to be what he is): RV 7. 16. 12, 'him the gods made the sacrifice-priest, the observant, the conveyor of offerings', cf. 1. 31. 11; 7. 17. 6; 8. 23. 18; Od. 17. 271 (the lyre), 'which the gods made to be the companion of the feast'; 23. 166 f. 'the dwellers in Olympus made your heart hard beyond all women'; Hes. Th. 600 f.; Enn. Ann. 107 qualem te patriae custodem di genuerunt!

Where human emotions are described, we find a good deal of common ground in the kind of language used in different branches of the tradition, and this may to some extent reflect Indo-European idiom. On the other hand there is little that points to its being peculiarly Indo-European, and similar phraseology sometimes appears in Near Eastern literatures. Emotions tend to be represented as external forces that come to one, enter one, or seize one.39

38 II. 1. 88, 5. 119, 18. 11; Eur. Ale. 393 f. More in Durante (1976), 116 f. Naturally these associations are not exclusively Indo-European. In the Old Babylonian Gilgamesh epic (Meissner fr. i 12'-15', p. 276 George) the hero, addressing the Sun-god, says 'I shall sleep for all time: let my eyes (now) look on the sun, let me have my fill of light . . . When might a dead man see the sun's radiance?'

39 See the material collected by Durante (1976), 138-40, and for Semitic parallels West (1997), 234.

The idea that the heart is 'eaten' by cares or by the person who suffers from them appears in Greek and Old Norse, as well as in Sumerian and Egyptian.40 Love's arrow that pierces the heart is known to the Atharvaveda (3. 25. 1-3) as well as to Greek poets and artists from the fifth century bce on.41 The Hittite king Hattusili III, writing in Akkadian to the Babylonian king Kadasman-Enlil II, uses the expression 'he chilled my heart (libbe uktessi) with the words he wrote to me', which corresponds to a phrase found in Hesiod and Homer.42 But this might have been an areal idiom, at home in Anatolia, and in general these sporadic parallels provide no solid basis for reconstruction.

We are on firmer ground with phrases that are etymologically related. The Homeric word /ivos, although it has become somewhat specialized in the sense of 'fighting spirit', 'consciousness of strength', is the exact counterpart of Vedic manas-, Avestan manah- 'mind', 'disposition', and it appears in various lexical collocations that have Indo-Iranian parallels.43 The compounds ev/evrfs and Sva/evrjs, 'well/ill disposed', corresponding to Vedic sumanas- and epic durmanas-, Avestan humanah-, dusmanah-, preserve the original sense of /ivos. On the other hand /ivos yv means 'good courage'; it is something that a god 'sends' or 'blows' into men or animals (Il. 17. 456 evinvevaev /ivos yv, 20. 80, 24. 442), and so resembles the bhadram manah 'bright disposition' which is appropriate for overcoming enemies (RV 2. 26. 2, 8. 19. 20) and which a god may blow into one: 10. 20. 1 = 25. 1 bhadram no api vataya manah 'blow at us a bright disposition'. A god may also inject /ivos noXvdapais (Il. 17. 156, 19. 37; Od. 13. 387) or impart /ivos Kal dapaos (Il. 5. 2; Od. 1. 321), 'menos and boldness'. These formulae have their cognates in dhrsan manah 'bold spirit', which is an attribute of the war-god Indra (RV 1. 54. 2; 5. 35. 4; 8. 62. 5), and in the compound dhrsanmanas- (1. 52. 12; 8. 89. 4; epithet of Indra). We recall the Greek personal names Thersimenes and Thrasymenes, which may have been first coined at a much earlier date than that of their historical bearers. The same elements are perhaps contained in the Homeric adjective dpaav/i/vwv, if it is from *-men-mon-.44

Andromenes too may be an old name, paralleled as it is by the Avestan name Naramanah- (Yt. 5. 50, 19. 77) and the Vedic adjective nmanas-, 'man-spirited', 'having a hero's spirit'; they can all be derived from *h,2nr-menes-. In the Avestan epithet naire.manah-, of the same meaning, the first

40 See West (1978), 358; Havamal 121. 8 sorg etr hiarta, 'care eats the heart'.

41 Durante (1958), 8 = (1976), 128. It is possible that the idea is already expressed in Swedish Bronze Age rock drawings, where an archer, perhaps female, aims an arrow at a copulating couple, or leads an ithyphallic man ashore from a ship: de Vries (1956), i. 106 f., Abb. 2c and 3a.

42 CTH 172 obv. 23, ed. A. Hagenbuchner, Die Korrespondenz der Hethiter, ii (Stuttgart 1989), 282/289; Beckman (1999), 140 §4; Hes. Op. 360 with my note.

element has taken adjectival form (* neryo-). In the Vedas we find also the noun nrmnam 'heroism, heroic deed', and in Homer the phrase /evos or /eve' avSpwv.45

The strangest of the Greek formulae involving this noun is iepov /evos, used periphrastically with a hero's name in the genitive, iepov /evos AAkivooio = Alcinous and the like. As in 'OSvoonos ieprj is, ieprj is TrjAe/axoio, iepwi evl Sifipwi, iepos does not (or did not originally) mean 'holy' but had a sense corresponding to that of Vedic isira-, 'strong, impetuous'. The antiquity of the phrase is confirmed by the pavallel of RV 8. 48. 7 isirena . .. manasa 'with vigorous spirit', as Kuhn already noticed in 1853.46

An implacable or unyielding person is said in Homer to have a heart of bronze or iron, xaAKeov ¿¡Top Il. 2. 490; oiSjpeos 6v/os 22. 357, tfTop 24. 205, 521, KpaBin Od. 4. 293; aSa/avTos 6v/os Hes. Op. 147; aSa/avTos rf oiSapov KexaAKevTai /eAaivav KapSiav Pind. fr. 123. 4. Similar images are common in the Indian epics: MBh. 3. 28. 5 'he must have a heart of iron (ayasam hrdayam), that man of evil deeds', cf. Rm. 2. 17. 30, 35. 20. In MBh. 6. 15. 53 and 10. 1. 10 the adjective is adrisaramaya- 'of rocky nature', in 6. 115. 4, 7. 8. 10 et al. asmasaramaya- 'of stony nature', in 12. 171. 23 and Rm. 2. 55. 9 vajrasaramaya- 'of adamantine nature'.

The striking Homeric expression eyeAaooe Se oi fiiAov tfTop (Il. 21. 389), e/ov S' eyeAaooe fiiAov Kyp (Od. 9. 413), 'and his/my dear heart laughed', is used of someone who laughs internally on perceiving that things have turned out as he hoped. It has a series of parallels in Germanic poetry. In the Prymskviia (31. 1-2), when Thor's stolen hammer is laid in his lap as he sits disguised as a bride, hlo Hlorrida hugr i briosti, 'Hlorridi's (Thor's) mind laughed in his breast'. Attila's does likewise when Gudrun's chastity is proved by ordeal (Guirunarkviia C 10. 1-2). So too in Old English: Beowulf 730 pa his mod ahlog, 'then his mind laughed'; Andreas 454 are mod ahloh 'our mind(s) laughed'; Solomon and Saturn B 336 nc&fre car his ferhi ahldg 'never before (had) his spirit laughed'.

In the last chapter we met the ancient root *wekw 'speak' and the Graeco-Aryan noun *wekwes- (vacas-, enos), used with particular reference to poetry. Both in Vedic and in early Greek it can be characterized as 'sweet', and by the same word, svadu- = ^Svs, whose primary application is to sweet-tasting things such as honey and mead. RV 1. 114. 6 idam .. . vacah svadoh svadiyah, 'this utterance, sweeter than sweet'; 8. 24. 20 vacah ghrtilt svidayo madhunas

46 Pisani (1969), 362; Schmitt (1967), 109-14; Durante (1976), 94 f. (with other parallel uses of isira- and iepos); Watkins (1995), 13.

ca, 'utterance sweeter than ghee and honey'; with the feminine noun vac-, 2. 21. 6 svadm^nam vacdh, 'sweetness of utterance'. In Greek epic the compound ^Sven-s is used of Nestor as a persuasive orator, of a singer, and of the Muses.47

Of Nestor the poet goes on to say that his speech used to run from his tongue sweeter than honey, peXiTos yXvKiwv, a semantic if not a lexical parallel to RV 8. 24. 20 just quoted. Compounds such as peXiy-qpvs 'honey-voiced', peXi das 'honey-toned', peXi^S-s 'honey-sweet', peXiyXwaaos 'honey-tongued', and others are routinely used of poetry and song in archaic and classical Greek verse. Similarly in the Vedas we have mddhumattamam vdcah 'most honeyed speech', RV 5. 11. 5; jihvtl mddhumati 'honeyed tongue', 3. 57. 5; osthav iva mddhu asne vddanta 'like lips speaking honey to the mouth', 2. 39. 6; vaco mddhu 'honey of speech', AV 12. 1. 16, cf. 58; TS 3. 3. 2.48 In Nordic myth the gift of poesy is conferred by a mead made from honey and the blood of a sage called Kvasir, who was created from the gods' spittle, and in skaldic verse poetry is referred to by such terms as dwarfs' mead, giants' mead, Odin's mead, etc.49

Certain Greek poets speak of 'ambrosial' song.50 It is difficult to say how definite a meaning should be attached to the epithet, but some connotation of ambrosia, the delicious, honey-like food of the gods, can hardly have been absent. It is tempting to compare MBh. 12. 279. 1 na trpyamy amrtasyeva vacasas te pitamaha, 'of your utterance, grandfather, as of amrtam, I cannot get my fill', where amrtam corresponds to the Greek 'ambrosia'. Its collocation with vacas- recalls Pindar's ap poaiwv inewv.

The idea of song as something that runs liquidly finds further expression in the use of the verb 'pour' (Vedic hu, Greek xew, Latin fundo, < *gu) with prayers, hymns, and the like as the object. At the same time there may be an association with pouring out liquid offerings, and the metaphor may have been especially at home in sacral language. So RV 1. 110. 6 a manlsa.m antdriksasya ncbhyah sruceva ghrtdm juhavama vidmdna, 'let us expertly pour a remembrancing for the heroes o f the air [the Rbhus] like ghee with the spoon'; 2. 27. 1, 41. 18; 8. 39. 6; Od. 19. 521 xe'et noXv^xea ^wv-v; Hymn. Hom. 19. 18; Pind. Isth. 8. 58; Aesch. Supp. 631 evKTaia yevei xeovaas,

47 Il. 1. 248; Hymn. Hom. 21. 4, 32. 2; r,Sveneiai MoSaai Hes. Th. 965 f., fr. 1. 1 f.; Schmitt (1967), 255.

48 Durante (1960), 233 n. 10; (1976), 113. For a couple of Semitic parallels see West (1997), 230.

49 Gylf. 57 = Skdldsk. p. 3. 10 ff. Faulkes; Skdldsk. 3.

50 Hes. Th. 69 ap poai-qi poXn-qi (cf. 43 ap poTov oaaav); Hymn. Hom. 27. 18 ap poaiwv ona; Pind. Pyth. 4. 299 ap poaiwv inewv; Bacchyl. 19. 2 ap poaiwv peXewv; cf. Soph. Ant. 1134 ap pcjTwv inewv.

Cho. 449; Hor. Epod. 17. 53 quid obseratis auribus fundis preces?; Virg. Aen. 5. 234, 6. 55.51

Where we would say 'for two days', 'for three days', it is typical of Indo-European narrative to say 'for n nights and n days', or 'for n days and n nights'.52 It is remarkable, moreover, how often the number is three; this is a formulaic period in Indo-Iranian, Celtic, and Slavonic. Thus RV 1. 116. 4 tisrah ksapas trir aha 'for three nights (and) three days'; MBh. 3. 12. 4 tribhir ahorötraih, 3. 61. 57 trön ahorötrön;53 in Avestan, Yt. 5. 62, 10. 122 dri.ayarom dri.xssapa.eom (at 10. 122 also bi.ayarom bi.xsapanom); in Greek, Od. 17. 515 rpeis ... vvKras .. . rpia 8' rf^ara (with other numbers: 9. 74, 10. 142, Hes. Op. 612); in Armenian, Sassountsy David 130, 136 'they fought for three days and three nights' (cf., with other numbers, 13, 28, 59, al.); in Old Irish, Erchoitmed ingine Gulidi 10 tri la 7 teora aidhchi,54 cf. Tain (I) 1009, 2112/ 2136, 3297, Tain bo Fraich 124, 135 Meid, Aislinge Äenguso pp. 52, 63 Shaw, etc.; in a Welsh chronicle, Annales Cambriae sub anno 516, tribus diebus et tribus noctibus; in a Russian bylina, Chadwick (1932), 38 lines 28, 33, 53, etc.; in Serbo-Croat epic, pa tri dana i tri noci ravne 'for three days and three whole nights'.55

Another noteworthy idiom relating to time is 'all days', meaning 'day after day', often with the connotation of 'for ever'. So in RV 1. 52. 11, 171. 3 ahöni visvö, cf. 3. 54. 22, 5. 41. 4, al.; Y. 43. 2 vöspö ayörO; Il. 8. 539 (and often) rf^ara mivra; HeiSreks gatur 19 (Edd. min. 113, Hervarar saga 10) of alla daga.56

The noise and shouting of the Homeric battle is described as reaching up to heaven: Il. 12. 338 dvry 8' ovpavov iKev, cf. 14. 60; 13. 837 rjxv 8' a^fiorepwv iKer aidepa Kai Aios avyds; so of Ajax by himself, 15. 686 8e ol aidep' iKavev. Similarly in the Indian epics: MBh. 5. 197. 8 divam ivösprsat, the noise 'touched the sky as it were', cf. 6. 52. 22; 8. 7. 6; 'rose up to highest heaven', Rm. 2. 83. 15. In Irish saga too cries are 'heard even to the clouds of heaven', and it is the same in Serbo-Croat epic: ljuto pisnu, do neba se cuje, 'she screamed in anger, and her cry reached the heavens'; ode huka ispod oblakova, 'the sound rose to the clouds'.57

53 Ahorötra- is a compound meaning 'day + night'.

54 Ed. Kuno Meyer, Hibernica Minora (Oxford 1894), 67.

55 Salih Ugljanin, SCHS ii, no. 10. 30, cf. no. 13. 287. As I shall cite Salih elsewhere, it may be noted here that he was originally trained as a singer in the Albanian tradition; he only learned Serbo-Croat at the age of 30.

56 There is a similar expression in Hebrew: kol-hayyamim, 'all the days'.

57 Aided Con Chulainn (version 2) 20 p. 88. 28 van Hamel; Salih Ugljanin, Song of Baghdad (SCHS ii, no. 1) 1239; ibid. no. 18. 347.

The root *wes 'clothe' has similar metaphorical applications in the Rigveda and in Homer.58 An unseen divinity may be clothed in a cloud. Soma in RV 9. 83. 5 is nabho vasanah, where nabhas- and vas- are the exact cognates of Greek vefios and eo-. In other cases the 'garment' is a mist or storm (mih-, abhra-) that is an actual part of the weather, clothing the storm-demon Vrtra (2. 30. 3), the Maruts (5. 63. 6), or the mountains (5. 85. 4). This naturistic interpretation is not excluded in Il. 14. 350 f., where Zeus and Hera lie on Ida, enl Se vefieAr/v eooavTo I KaA^v xpvoeir/v, oTiAnval S' aneninTov eepoai, 'clothed themselves in a cloud, a lovely golden one, and a glistening precipitation fell from it', though there is nothing to suggest it in 15. 308 ei/evos w/oiiv ve^eA^v or 20. 150 a^l S' dp' dpprjKTov ve^eArjv w/oioiv eoavTo. In other Homeric passages evvvo6ai is constructed with yepa 'air, mist', or vefieA-q and vefios are combined with different verbs for 'wrap in, conceal in'.

The two Ajaxes are three times described as 6ovpiv eniei/evoi aAKjv, 'clad in furious valour', and a similar phrase is used of Achilles (Il. 20. 381). Durante has compared RV 4. 16. 14 (of Indra) mrgo na hasti tavislm usanah, 'clothing yourself with strength like an elephant'; 9. 7. 4 pari . .. k-^v'ya, . .. nrmna vasanah, (a seer) 'clothing himself about with seerdom and manhood'; 9. 80. 3 Urjam vasanah, (Soma) 'clothed with invigoration'.59

0 0

Post a comment