Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Oppian of Corycus, Halieutica 2.106: "They knew not hastening their death"

Pseudo-Oppianos, Kynegetica
(Poem on Hunting)
Cod. gr. 479, fol. 59 r
(Image from Art for Everyone)

The above image is from an 11th-century illuminated Byzantine manuscript of Kynegetica, by Pseudo-Oppianos, not from Halieutica, by Oppian of Corycus, who lived during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (121-180), but since I find the color blue lovely in this image and since Oppian's poem is about fishing, I decided to go with this anyway. According to the Art for Everyone website, the image shows "[t]hree fishers fishing with . . . nets at night," adding that "a lamp is used to attract the fish."

I was looking for something on Oppian of Corycus because his poem on the art of fishing, or Halieutica, makes use of the Greek nominative participle after a verb of knowing, as I discovered from re-checking the note to Book 9.792 ("And knew not eating death") in Alastair Fowler's 1998 annotated edition of John Milton's Paradise Lost:
Oppian, Halieutica ii 106, σπεύδοντες ὄλεθρον, 'knew not hastening their death.' (Fowler, Paradise Lost, Second Edition, London and New York: Longman, 1998, page 516)
Fowler doesn't say how he found that Oppian had used this participle, but I believe that I've located his source:
The Poetical Works of John Milton: With Notes of Various Authors, by Henry John Todd (London: Law and Gilbert, 1809)
The first printing was 1801, but I have no access to that issue. Anyway, here's what Mr. Todd has to say on page 79 about Paradise Lost 9.792, "And knew not eating death":
It is a Greek phrase, used often by the Latins too. Oppian, Halieut. ii. 106.

---------- οὐδ᾽ ἐνόησαν ἑὸν σπεύδοντες ὄλεθρον.

They knew not hastening their death. Eating the fruit which brought death, was eating death, as being virtually contained in it.

I presume that "Richardson" refers to "Mr. R. Richardson, of Clare-Hall, Cambridge," whom Todd calls "the earliest vindicator of Milton from the invidious charges of Lauder." The "Mr. R. Richardson" would be Richard Richardson, the "Lauder" would be William Lauder, and the "invidious charges" would be Lauder's accusation that Milton had plagiarized, as I learn from Dawn Shawcross ("Richardson against Lauder's allegations (1747)," John Milton: 1732-1801, Routledge, 1996).

Concerning the Greek offered above, for those who wish a closer look at the diacritical marks, the line in Mr. Todd's text can be enlarged. And for those whose Greek is better than my own, here's a link to a Greek edition of Halieutica (just click and then scroll down to ii. 106). Perhaps someone with the requisite Greek skills can explain the context to this clause, "They knew not hastening their death" (οὐδ᾽ ἐνόησαν ἑὸν σπεύδοντες ὄλεθρον). Whose death? What hastened it?

As readers may recall, I'm looking into Milton's reason for using the awkward expression in PL 9.792, "And knew not eating death," and the search is taking me many places.

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At 4:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know that the VA docs had Milton in mind, so this might not be of help. But they said advised "substitute pork with fish."

Had to do with my cholesterol levels mind, oh - they mentioned apples but I don't recall them saying anything regarding peaches.


At 5:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

If eating pork is eating death, then I'll at least find myself in hog heaven.

Don't take the VA's fishy advice . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did find it difficult - making a pot of beans proved difficult when I couldn't find fish hocks at the grocery.


At 8:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

What you need is fish hooks . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the boil time for fish hooks? Or can you just leave them overnight in a crock pot?


At 3:06 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The longer they remain in the pot, the better for you . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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