Archive for January 2013

The characteristics of wine for body and soul   1 comment

Well-known are the biblical praises of wine from the Psalter, “wine that maketh glad the heart of man” (Ps 104:15, ויין ישׂמח לבב אנוש, καὶ οἶνος εὐφραίνει καρδίαν ἀνθρώπου) and from the line in a parable, where a vine says, “Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man?” (Judges 9:13, החדלתי את תירושי המשׂמח אלהים ואנשים, B Μὴ ἀπολείψασα τὸν οἶνόν μου τὸν εὐφραίνοντα θεὸν καὶ ἀνθρώπους, but Α differently, Ἀφεῖσα τὸν οἶνόν μου, τὴν εὐφροσύνην τὴν παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τῶν ἀνθρώπων). I was pleased and surprised recently to find a few lines in Arabic (Garšūnī) from a fifteenth-century Psalter (parallel Syriac and Garšūnī) in the collection of Saint Mark’s Monastery in Jerusalem (no. 10, dated 1474/5) that list wine’s effects: five for the body and five for the soul. These lines are written at a ninety degree angle to the rest of the text, but they do seem to be in the hand of the scribe who penned the rest of the book. Here is the text, and a translation is below.

Saint Mark's Monastery, Jerusalem, 10, f. 117r

Saint Mark’s Monastery, Jerusalem, 10, f. 117r

Note that in the second part, three of the five verbs are feminine, but masculine elsewhere.

Five characteristics of wine as they pertain to the body:

  1. Improves digestion [al-haḍm]
  2. Allows [yaḏaru] urine
  3. Improves the skin
  4. Makes the breath pleasant
  5. Intensifies sex [al-bāh]

And five [characteristics of wine] as they pertain to the soul:

  1. Gladdens the soul
  2. Brings hope
  3. Pains the heart
  4. Improves character
  5. Opposes greed

P.S. For some remarks on wine and other alcoholic beverages in Syriac literature, see my paper available here.

Herbert Pierrepont Houghton (1880-1964)   2 comments

I came across this morning a short article by Herbert Pierrepont Houghton on Georgian nouns. I’d known his name from The Coptic Verb, Bohairic Dialect and from this bookplate, which is affixed to the inside front cover of Chaine’s Grammaire éthiopienne (Beirut, 1907), now part of HMML’s collection.

Houghton's bookplate

Houghton’s bookplate

From 1923-1950, Houghton taught in the classics department at Carleton College, which is only about 120 miles from where I write these lines. According to a brief mention on Carleton’s website, he first studied at Amherst College before earning his doctorate in 1907 from Johns Hopkins. At Carleton, he taught Greek, but also linguistics — a subject not taught nearly as much then as now — Old English, and Sanskrit. As will be seen from his publications (vide infra), however, these were hardly the full extent of his interests. Incidentally, we may note his attention to and appreciation of typography and book design, when we consider the preface to the second edition of his work on the Amharic verb: “This new edition is printed in Garamond type on India eggshell paper… The cover is purposely of a roseate hue resembling one of the shades used in the flag of Ethiopia, the country of which Amharic is the official language.”

His signature in HMML's copy of Chaine, Grammaire éthiopienne.

His signature in HMML’s copy of Chaine, Grammaire éthiopienne.

As I have said before (here, for example), tactile, or even visual-digital, reminders of our forebears can bring a kind of intellectual pleasure, a sign that we, too, participate in their kind of communio sanctorum, and that is one reason why personalia can be so meaningful (to a small group of people, admittedly!).

Transliteration (Houghton's?) in Grammaire éthiopienne

Transliteration (Houghton’s?) in Grammaire éthiopienne

Here are a few of Houghton’s works, listed in chronological order. NB: some of the books (in italics) are very short.

The Moral Significance of Animals as Indicated in Greek Proverbs (Amherst: Carpenter and Morehouse, 1915).

“Saving Greek in the College”. The Classical Weekly 10.9 (Dec. 11, 1916): 65-67.

“Review of The Sanskrit Indeclinables of the Hindu Grammarians and Lexicographers by Isidore Dyen”. The Classical Weekly 34.8 (Dec. 9, 1940): 88-89.

“Languages of the Caucasus: Georgian Noun Formation and Declension”. The Classical Weekly 36.19 (Mar. 29, 1943): 219-223.

Herbert Pierrepont Houghton (from the Carleton website)

Herbert Pierrepont Houghton (from the Carleton website)

“Review of Verbs of Movement and Their Variants in the Critical Edition of the Ädiparvan by E. D. Kulkarni”. The Classical Weekly 37.6 (Nov. 15, 1943): 68-69.

Languages of the Caucasus: Two Studies (Northfield, Minn.: Mohn, 1946).

Aspects of the Amharic Verb in Comparison with Ethiopic. 2d ed.. (Northfield, Minn.: Mohn, 1949).

“Gildersleeve on the First Nemean”. The Classical Journal 49 (1954): 215-220.

“The Coptic Infinitive”. Aegyptus 35 (1955): 275-291.

“The Seventh Nemean”. The Classical Journal 50 (1955): 173-178.

The Basque verb,: Guipuzcoan Dialect (Northfield, Minn.: Mohn, 1944). Cf. The Verb in Guipuzcoan Basque (Charlottesville, Va., 1956).

“Coptic Substantive Relationship”.  Aegyptus 36 (1956): 153-177.

“The Coptic Sentence”. Aegyptus 37 (1957): 226-242.

“The Coptic Apocalypse”. Aegyptus 39 (1959): 40-91.

“The Coptic Apocalypse, part III, Akhmîmice: «The Apocalypse of Elias»”. Aegyptus 39 (1959): 179-210.

The Coptic Verb, Bohairic Dialect (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1959). Originally (Northfield, Minn.: Mohn, 1948), online at HathiTrust.

“A Study of the Coptic Prefixed Prepositional Particles”. Aegyptus 39 (1959): 211-222.

An Introduction to the Basque Language, Labourdin Dialect (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1961).

“The Akhmîmic Dialect of Coptic, with a brief Glossary”. Aegyptus 42 (1962): 3-26.

“The Coptic Gospel of Thomas”. Aegyptus 43 (1963): 107-140.

The Dictionary of Georgian National Biography   1 comment

I recently stumbled upon the Dictionary of Georgian National Biography online, where interested people can find short biographical summaries about famous Georgians (or people from elsewhere who came to be associated with Georgia) from antiquity — even Medea, as the daughter of the king of Colchis, has an entry — to the present. It’s hardly in-depth, but on occasions where only basic information about this or that individual from Georgia is needed, it’s worth a look. Here are direct links to a few entries that might interest readers of this blog:

Two important Syriac books from OI (Chicago)   Leave a comment

For some time the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago has very generously made available PDFs of its great store of books in Egyptology, Assyriology, archaeology, history, etc. Very recently the accessibility of two books of definite interest for Syriac scholars have been announced:

This is part I, but that is all that appeared. The only complete edition is that from the Bar-Hebraeus Verlag, 2003. Full information on manuscripts, editions, and studies will be found in Hidemi Takahashi’s always handy Barhebraeus: A Bio-Bibliography (Piscataway, 2005), 147-173.

Lagarde, with his interest in the Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible had worked on this Syriac text before and published it (as he did for other works) in Hebrew script (see here for bibliography of Epiphanios in Syriac). I cannot refrain from quoting Sprengling’s humorous report (p. ix) on Lagarde:

…our last predecessor in a similar undertaking [work on the Syriac Bible], the curious Paul de Lagarde of Göttingen. Lagarde had therefore undertaken an extensive study and a series of editions of this Epiphanius material. In his usual fashion he scattered this work around in a series of odd publications, many of them in small editions. These are not easy to get and, when obtained, generally not easy to use. The Syriac text, for example, he printed in Hebrew letters, because there was no Syriac type in Göttingen. His translation into German is curious. In various notes voicing his disgust and alleging (a thing Lagarde does not often admit) his incompetence, he shows that this was to him no labor of love. Jülicher’s statement in Pauly-Wissowa that the text is “sehr schlect ediert” by Lagarde is, indeed, too harsh a judgement. But a better, more easily accessible, more usable, and in every way more definitive edition than that of Lagarde, dated 1880, was clearly called for.

Hence the book by Dean, now eminently accessible after not being so for many years.
The Greek fragments of Epiphanios’ work (CPG 3746, cf. 3747) are not all that remains in addition to the Syriac: Georgian (CSCO 460-461, by M. van Esbroeck) and Armenian (CSCO 583, by M. Stone and R. Ervine) witnesses have also been published since the time of Dean’s Syriac text. In this work, interesting in and of itself, we have another opportunity for cross-linguistic comparison.

So, hats off to the OI for sharing its resources!

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