Poluphōnotatos

gerardhomer-det1

Part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.

Ὁ δὴ πολυφωνότατος ἁπάντων ποιητῶν Ὅμηρος, ὅταν μὲν ὥραν ὄψεως εὐμόρφου καὶ κάλλος ἡδονῆς ἐπαγωγὸν ἐπιδείξασθαι βούληται, τῶν τε φωνηέντων τοῖς κρατίστοις χρήσεται καὶ τῶν ἡμιφώνων τοῖς μαλακωτάτοις, καὶ οὐ καταπυκνώσει τοῖς ἀφώνοις τὰς συλλαβὰς οὐδὲ συγκόψει τοὺς ἤχους παρατιθεὶς ἀλλήλοις τὰ δυσέκφορα, πραεῖαν δέ τινα ποιήσει τὴν ἁρμονίαν τῶν γραμμάτων καὶ ῥέουσαν ἀλύπως διὰ τῆς ἀκοῆς, ὡς ἔχει ταυτί

ἣ δ’ ἴεν ἐκ θαλάμοιο περίφρων Πηνελόπεια
Ἀρτέμιδι ἰκέλη ἠὲ χρυσῇ Ἀφροδίτῃ. [Od. 17.36s. = 19.53s.]

Δήλῳ δήποτε τοῖον Ἀπόλλωνος παρὰ βωμῷ
φοίνικος νέον ἔρνος ἀνερχόμενον ἐνόησα. [Od. 6.162s.]

καὶ Χλῶριν εἶδον περικαλλέα, τήν ποτε Νηλεὺς
γῆμεν ἑὸν μετὰ κάλλος, ἐπεὶ πόρε μυρία ἕδνα. [Od. 11.281s.]

(Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Peri Suntheseōs Onomatōn 16.97-98)

Now when Homer, the poet with the most voices of all, wishes to portray the freshness of a comely countenance and a beauty that brings delight, you will find him using the finest of the vowels and the softest of the semivowels, and not crowding his syllables with voiceless letters, nor destroying the flow of sound by juxtaposing words which are hard to pronounce. He will make the arrangement of the letters sound gentle, and make it flow through the ear without offending it, as in the following lines:

Penelope, queen of wisdom from her chamber forth had gone,
Like Artemis or golden Aphrodite’s form divine.

’Twas once at Delos that I saw hard by Apollo’s shrine,
A sapling palm whose youthful straightness matched such comely grace as thine.

And saw I Chloris passing fair, whom Neleus wed of yore,
Bestowing wedding gifts unnumbered, for her beauty’s sake.

(tr. Stephen Usher)

2 thoughts on “Poluphōnotatos”

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