A christian prayer written in homeric Greek

By Roxas22, in 'Ancient Greek', Jul 25, 2019.

  1. Roxas22 New Member

    As the title said, in my continuos research of funny and interesting things to improve my greek (ancient of course, so related to all major dialects, even if in my school is mostly studied attic) I came across a little gem: a christian prayer attributed to Georgius Monacus Hamartulus (the sinner) from IX-X century, written in homeric greek and adonic verse (a dactylus and a spondee, but in this poem the first dactylus is often replaced with another spondee)
    here's the text, enjoy!

    Μνώεο, Χριστέ,
    υἱὲ θεοῖο
    οἰκέτεω σέο
    κῆρ' ἀλιτροῖο
    γράψαντος τάδε·
    καί μοι ὄπασσον
    λῦσιν παθέων
    τά μοι ἐμφύει
    ψυχᾷ ῥυπαρᾷ·
    δὸς δὲ ἰδέσθαι,
    σῶτερ Ἰησοῦ,
    ζαθέαν αἴγλαν
    σάν· ἔνθα φανεὶς
    μέλψω ἀοιδὰν
    ψυχᾶν παίονι,
    παίονι γυίων
    πατρὶ σὺν μεγάλῳ
    πνεύματι θ' ἁγνῷ.

    Here's my translation:
    Remember Christ
    son of god
    of the heart
    your sinful slave
    that wrote these things.
    And let me follow
    the deliverance
    from the mortal pains.
    Let these grow in me
    who an impure soul I am.
    Let me see
    Christ Savior
    your holy
    with the big father
    and holy spirit

    I only have a problem in the lines 17-20, can someone provide a translation? This could be very helpful since there are none on the internet
  2. Iáson Cívis Illústris

    • Civis Illustris
    It doesn't strike me as terribly Homeric, although these are definitely Homeric forms.

    φανείς is from φαίνομαι, and must be the strong aorist passive participle.

    μέλψω could be first person active future 'I shall sing' or a 2nd person aorist middle 'you sang'. ἀοιδὰν is presumably its object. παίονι should be from Παίων meaning 'Paionian' (a Macedonian tribe) but is more likely from Παιήων (= παιάν) which can mean either 'the healer' (Apollo) or 'a song sung to Apollo'. In this case, the dative might be intended as instrumental 'with a hymn to Apollo [or Christ]' but it seems more likely that it indicates the recipient of the song, 'to the healer Apollo [or rather Christ]'. Since Christ is the addressee, this means that μέλψω is probably first person: 'I shall sing a song to the Healer of souls (ψυχᾶν)'.

    γυίων is genitive pl. of γυῖον 'limb'. So παίονι γυίων is perhaps 'to the healer of limbs'.

    Then φανείς is still a problem. I would have supposed that it should refer to Christ's appearance ('When you appear' or similar), since this is what was requested in the preceding lines, but it ought to agree with the subject of μέλψω, which (see above) is most likely the speaker. In that case the whole thing would mean 'Appearing there [ie., in your light] I shall sing a song to the healer of souls, the healer of limbs'. Otherwise you have to take μέλψω as 2nd person aorist and παίονι as meaning 'healing song': 'You [Christ] appeared there and sang a song with a song to heal souls and a song to heal limbs', but this doesn't make a lot of sense.
    Bitmap likes this.
  3. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    I thought φανείς looked like someone had a problem with dangling participles, but I didn't know how likely that would be for a writer of that period.
  4. Roxas22 New Member

    Thanks a lot for your excellent help! At first my translation was like "when you appeare I would sing a song with a *PAEAN*" assuming that παιάν is not an adjective but a substantive referring to the chants themselves. Does this supposition have some sense?
  5. Iáson Cívis Illústris

    • Civis Illustris
    You're welcome.
    It has to be a substantive either way, but (as I was trying to say above) I think that a meaning of 'the healer' makes more sense than 'a victory-song', because otherwise (a) ἀοιδὰν and παίονι would then mean the same thing, which is odd; (b) παίονι is dative, and it would make little sense to sing a song to a song. I know little about the usage of the 9th-10th centuries though, so comparison with other contemporary texts might help.

    The subject of the verb has to be the person described by the participle.
  6. Hemo Rusticus Tom Bombadillo

    • Civis Illustris
    You've got all these perfectly Ionic, uncontracted forms and then a nifty ψυχᾶν, which is only Homeric in the sense that it's borrowed from a West Greek dialect (Aeolic).
    Roxas22 and Iáson like this.
  7. Roxas22 New Member

    As user Iáson said, they are common mostly as homeric forms. Why a 10th century Christian writer would use this specific dialect instead of epic homeric Greek? Also some words came directly from homeric works

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