Question: Classical Greek term of endearment??

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PK Lentz

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1 Μαΐ 1996, 3:00:00 π.μ.1/5/96
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Hello,

For a fictional work I'm writing, I need a word which would have been
used in Athens c. 500-490 BCE. What I'm looking for is an equivalent
to modern "honey" or "darling" or other term of endearment which might
have been used between a husband and wife. I need both the masculine
and feminine forms of the word (or words, as there are probably
several...) Please assume I know little or no Greek (as that would be
a good assumption!). I'd appreciate any and all help you can offer.

Thank you,

Philip Lentz


"'The Bible says that in the days soon after Noah's Flood, people
still lived several hundred years. [Orthodontist, Jack] Cuozzo
postulates that many of the classic Neanderthal skeletons were
the remains of very old men and women.' It is not known whether
the practice of poor nutrition, inbreeding, and living in caves
might allow modern humans to live as long."
--Robert Sheaffer,
Skeptical Inquirer, Nov/Dec '95


John Robert Parker Jr.

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1 Μαΐ 1996, 3:00:00 π.μ.1/5/96
ως

In article <DqpG1...@mv.mv.com> fe...@pwc.mv.com (PK Lentz) writes:
>
>
>Hello,
>
>For a fictional work I'm writing, I need a word which would have been
>used in Athens c. 500-490 BCE. What I'm looking for is an equivalent
>to modern "honey" or "darling" or other term of endearment which might
>have been used between a husband and wife. I need both the masculine
>and feminine forms of the word (or words, as there are probably
>several...) Please assume I know little or no Greek (as that would be
>a good assumption!). I'd appreciate any and all help you can offer.
>
>Thank you,
>
>Philip Lentz
>

Well, you might want to try hedus (m/f) (sweet), hedistos (m)/
hediste (f)/hedistos (m) (sweetest), philos (m)/ phile (f) (dear), or
philetatos (m)/philetate (f) (dearest). Note that the "e"'s are
all transcribed etas, not epsilons. I think these are pretty common,
but I haven't any citations for you. They are authentic Attic Greek,
though.


John Robert Parker, Jr.


Mark B. MacDermot

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2 Μαΐ 1996, 3:00:00 π.μ.2/5/96
ως
John Robert Parker's ideas seem good ones, except that if husband
and wife are addressing each other they must use vocatives - no
difference in the feminine, but a different ending in the
masculine; further, hedus has a feminine hedeia, and philos should
probably be philtatos in the superlative. Here is a summary:
hedu (masc.) hedeia (fem.) - my sweet
hediste (short final-e)(masc.) hediste (long final -e) (fem. ) -
sweetest
phile (short final -e) (masc.) phile (long final -e) (fem.) - my
dear
philtate (short final -e) (masc) philtate (long final -e)
(fem.) - dearest

Of these, the first option seems the least convincing to me, but
the rest look idiomatic.

In addition, a woman might perhaps call her man 'aner' (short -e),
and a man might call his woman 'gunai'.

In the Iliad, daimonie (short -e, masc) and daimonie (long -e, fem)
are used memorably, when Andromache begins her affectionate and
desperate scolding of Hector's bravery in Book VI, and when Priam
drops a bombshell on Hecuba in Book XXIV. Macleod, in his
commentary on Book XXIV, explains: '{This word} does not ascribe
any particular quality or express any particular attitude to the
person addressed; rather it puts the speaker in a certain
relation to the hearer, adding warmth to appeals, challenges,
protests, invitations etc.' He acknowledges an Uppsala study of
1955. If you want your characters to raise the temperature in an
allusive literary way, this might help.

We have been offering routine endearments, which are mostly the
same in Greek as in English; were you after something more quaint
amd extravagant?



Moiner

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2 Μαΐ 1996, 3:00:00 π.μ.2/5/96
ως

In article <3...@fugax.win-uk.net>, fu...@fugax.win-uk.net (Mark B.
MacDermot) wrote:


>In the Iliad, daimonie (short -e, masc) and daimonie (long -e, fem)
>are used memorably, when Andromache begins her affectionate and
>desperate scolding of Hector's bravery in Book VI, and when Priam
>drops a bombshell on Hecuba in Book XXIV. Macleod, in his
>commentary on Book XXIV, explains: '{This word} does not ascribe
>any particular quality or express any particular attitude to the
>person addressed; rather it puts the speaker in a certain
>relation to the hearer, adding warmth to appeals, challenges,
>protests, invitations etc.' He acknowledges an Uppsala study of
>1955. If you want your characters to raise the temperature in an
>allusive literary way, this might help.

Recall also that Odysseus and Penelope use it towards one another-- I've
seen it poignantly translated "you're so strange...", a phrase that stings
a bit when meeting a soulmate after ten years.

Doing extensive and repeated rereading of both Iliad and Odyssey, I found
that the "literal" meaning of daimonios/a/on "under the influence of a
daimon" was often well translated by taking the metaphor of "possession"
and running with it.
Thus I've gotten used to translating "daimonie" as "what's gotten into you?"

--
Moiner

"nobody knows everything, SO use everything you know!"

floaiza

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6 Μαΐ 1996, 3:00:00 π.μ.6/5/96
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Moiner

"nobody knows everything, SO use everything you know!"

******************************************

Liddell and Scott translate it as "Thou luckless wight!" I would simply
put it as "Are you possessed?" :-)

(just an opinion)

Francisco

Moiner

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6 Μαΐ 1996, 3:00:00 π.μ.6/5/96
ως

In article <4mlh2b$j...@news.ida.org>, flo...@ida.org (floaiza) wrote:
>In article <moiner-0205...@dialup-48.austin.io.com>,
moi...@io.com (Moiner) says:
>In article <3...@fugax.win-uk.net>, fu...@fugax.win-uk.net (Mark B.
>MacDermot) wrote:
>>In the Iliad, daimonie (short -e, masc) and daimonie (long -e, fem)
>>are used memorably,
(snip)

>Recall also that Odysseus and Penelope use it towards one another-- I've
>seen it poignantly translated "you're so strange...", a phrase that stings
>a bit when meeting a soulmate after ten years.
>
>Doing extensive and repeated rereading of both Iliad and Odyssey, I found
>that the "literal" meaning of daimonios/a/on "under the influence of a
>daimon" was often well translated by taking the metaphor of "possession"
>and running with it.
>Thus I've gotten used to translating "daimonie" as "what's gotten into you?"

>******************************************


>
>Liddell and Scott translate it as "Thou luckless wight!" I would simply
>put it as "Are you possessed?" :-)
>
>(just an opinion)

"thou luckless wight"-- now *there's* a phrase I can readily see Odysseus
and Penelope using toward one another during their touching reunion...
(OUK).

--

asek...@v9000.ntu.ac.sg

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7 Μαΐ 1996, 3:00:00 π.μ.7/5/96
ως

how interesting. There is a modern Greek expression which is used
in precisely the same sense, i.e. "thou luckless...".
But instead of "daimonie" it uses either "dolie" (from "dolos"=trickery)
or "thlibere" (from "thliberos"/"thlipsis" = sadness, depression).
The use of "dolios" in the context of this expression I've always
found intriguing because "dolios" means something like "trickster", but
"luckless" fits the meaning better - that is how the expression is used.
I find it just as intriguing as Odysseus saying "daimonie" for "luckless".

I can still remember my grandma saying "oh you, dolie, what misfortune
befell you" speaking to someone who had some misfortune. She used it
often. My parents rarely use it, and I don't think I've ever used it
myself. It may be that it is on its way to becoming extinct. -:)

Euthymios Kappos


Mark B. MacDermot

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7 Μαΐ 1996, 3:00:00 π.μ.7/5/96
ως


In article <4mlh2b$j...@news.ida.org>, floaiza (flo...@ida.org) writes:
>In article <moiner-0205...@dialup-48.austin.io.com>, moi...@io.com (Moiner) says:
>
>In article <3...@fugax.win-uk.net>, fu...@fugax.win-uk.net (Mark B.
>MacDermot) wrote:
>
>In the Iliad, daimonie (short -e, masc) and daimonie (long -e, fem)
>are used memorably, when Andromache begins her affectionate and
>desperate scolding of Hector's bravery in Book VI, and when Priam
>drops a bombshell on Hecuba in Book XXIV. Macleod, in his
>commentary on Book XXIV, explains: '{This word} does not ascribe
>any particular quality or express any particular attitude to the
>person addressed; rather it puts the speaker in a certain
>relation to the hearer, adding warmth to appeals, challenges,
>protests, invitations etc.' He acknowledges an Uppsala study of
>1955. If you want your characters to raise the temperature in an
>allusive literary way, this might help.
>
>Recall also that Odysseus and Penelope use it towards one another-- I've
>seen it poignantly translated "you're so strange...", a phrase that stings
>a bit when meeting a soulmate after ten years.
>
>Doing extensive and repeated rereading of both Iliad and Odyssey, I found
>that the "literal" meaning of daimonios/a/on "under the influence of a
>daimon" was often well translated by taking the metaphor of "possession"
>and running with it.
>Thus I've gotten used to translating "daimonie" as "what's gotten into you?"
>
>Moiner
>
>"nobody knows everything, SO use everything you know!"
>
>******************************************
>
>Liddell and Scott translate it as "Thou luckless wight!" I would simply
>put it as "Are you possessed?" :-)
>
>(just an opinion)
>
>Francisco
>

1. I have enjoyed the discussion of 'daimonios' in Homer.
Although I would not feel happy with every detail suggested (for
example, 'What's gotten into you?' and 'Are you possessed?' may be
too intimate for the courteous skirmishing of Odysseus and
Penelope in Odyssey 23), I have nothing better to suggest, and it
is good to encounter other readers troubled by the same problems of
nuance.

2. Yet I feel responsible for creating a detour from the
question originally posted, which is what terms of endearment might
be used between husband and wife in early fifth century Athens. I
wondered whether there was anything more colourful than 'my dear'
and 'my sweetest'. There must surely be a good repertory of
expressive terms of endearment in Greek, but where are the terms
collected? In Plato Republic 474D and Lucretius de Rerum Natura IV
1160 etc. the authors list, semi-satirically, the terms of approval
used by lovers to describe features which others would regard as
blemishes. Yet a) would these expressions be used as terms of
address and b) would they have been used between husband and wife?
(The Plato passage is paederastic, and so the terms would require
some adaptation...) Or would it have been regarded as uxorious
in a man and wanton in a woman to parade this degree of marital
affection?


Robert Stonehouse

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12 Μαΐ 1996, 3:00:00 π.μ.12/5/96
ως

fe...@pwc.mv.com (PK Lentz) wrote:
> I need a word which would have been
>used in Athens c. 500-490 BCE. What I'm looking for is an equivalent
>to modern "honey" or "darling" or other term of endearment which might
>have been used between a husband and wife.

This seems to be surprisingly difficult. Conversations between husband
and wife from anything like the right period are not common. I can
think of nothing in Plato. The relation between Diotima and Socrates
in the Symposium is that of sage and disciple. She addresses him twice
as O phile Socrates, my dear Socrates, much like Sherlock Holmes with
his ‘My dear Watson’. Socrates addresses her once as O sophotate
Diotima, Most Wise....

It does not appear that people addressed one another as ‘husband’ or
‘wife’. All the words that meant specifically husband or wife - posis,
damar, alochos, akoites - were obsolete and used in poetry only. Attic
used words that meant simply man - aner - and woman - gyne. Lawyers
who needed to be explicit had to add an adjective, e.g. wedded woman.
Gyne (Madam?) was a normal form of address. A man could use it to his
wife, but also to any other woman, and I see nothing to show his use
differed between the two. In Sophocles, Trachiniae 550-551, Deianeira
actually contrasts aner with posis, describing Heracles as ‘my husband
but the younger woman’s man’. This being tragedy, she has both words
available.

There is one long conversation in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, 845-958,
between Kinesias and his wife Myrrhine. He is desperately trying to
wheedle her into bed. She treats him roughly, which he rather enjoys,
but then alternately leads him on and puts him off and finally tricks
him somehow and runs away. He uses her name frequently, including
affectionate diminutives - O glykytaton Myrrhinidion, which Van Daele
renders as ‘O ma toute douce Myrrhinette’, and O Myrrhion. That looks
like special wheedling language. She never uses his name at all. At
the point where success seems to be in his grasp he says O chrysion,
‘Treasure’ perhaps, which is probably bedroom language. Dicaeopolis
uses it to the two courtesans who come on with him at the end of the
Acharnians. It is Lysistrata herself, not his wife, who greets
Kinesias as Philtate. She has never even met him before.

Philtate - with a long e if addressed to a woman, short to a man -
seems to be used especially in greetings. In Euripides, Heracles is
welcomed with it when he arrives just in time to save his family from
massacre. Helen and Menelaus use it in the recognition scene. In
Menander’s Epitrepontes, the show-girl Habrotonon uses it to Pamphila
on recognising her as the mother of the child she has been looking
after, and Pamphila uses it in return when she is convinced that this
really is her child.

All these are reasonably in period and the examples from comedy should
be safe. Tragedy can only be supporting evidence because the language
was special.

Way out of period, Juvenal quotes Zoe kai psyche - my life and my soul
- as a woman’s bedroom language unfit for use in public. I am sure he
or another of the Latin poets has a whole line of Greek endearments
including Meli mou - my honey - but I cannot remember where it is.

I seem to be saying it all depends on the context. That may or may not
be helpful. I hope my errors will attract correction!

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