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Niel

Canada
12 Posts

Posted - 19 Dec 2007 :  23:31:08  


Hello again. Once more I wonder if I could get assistance in translating, this time the following lines from 390 of the Homeric Hymn of Hermes, as shown below with the Loeb translation?

ἀμφοτέρους δ' ἐκέλευσεν ὁμόφρονα θυμὸν ἔχοντας ζητεύειν, Ἑρμῆν δὲ διάκτορον ἡγεμονεύειν καὶ δεῖξαι τὸν χῶρον ἐπ' ἀβλαβίῃσι νόοιο, ὅππη δὴ αῦτ' ἀπέκρυψε βοῶν ἵφθιμα κάρηνα.

"And he bade them both to be of one mind and search for the cattle, and guiding Hermes to lead the way and, without mischievousness of heart, to show the place where now he had hidden the strong cattle."

One of the things I am wondering about is the use of the words ὁμόφρονα and θυμὸν, for in the translations θυμὸν appears to be ignored. I say this because ὁμόφρονα itself seems to mean “to be of one mind,” leaving θυμὸν as either maybe emphasis or maybe actually slightly altering the idea of one mind to that of one mind-heart as say the Chinese might understand.

The translation I keep coming back to, and am wondering if it is viable, if it is sustainable from the text, is, “And the two of them, being of one mind, he commanded to have (to be) one soul (a single intention, so to speak) to seek....” Though it is obvious that Apollo and Hermes are both the intellectual sons of Zeus, and thus are of one mind, the mind of Zeus, yet they are out of harmony, out of alignment in their desires. In particular, Hermes does not feel that he is getting his fair share, does not feel he is getting his due recognition.

But, too, even further, what are they actually seeking? Does not “ζητεύειν” itself suggest “who is Zeus,” suggest that they are seeking the mind of Zeus? Too, the only way they are able to resolve their conflict is by appealing to Zeus, by appearing before Zeus, by returning to the presence of Zeus’ mind. And, also, just what are those cattle of Apollo? Are they not the very same cattle for which Odysseus's men lost their lives (their souls) for killing and eating when they had been expressly forbidden to do so? It would seem that as the cattle are Apollo’s wealth, and as it is only Apollo himself who knows the “mind of Zeus,” that his wealth-cattle that was stolen would be “that knowing of the mind of Zeus.” That Hermes stole the cattle does not mean that Hermes now necessarily knows the mind of Zeus, but rather it means that now Apollo does not know the mind of Zeus, that Apollo’s arrows are blunted, that his light is dimmed, his awareness darkened. And, too, in regards to the men of Odysseus, it would seem that in killing the cattle of Apollo (Helios) they killed the divinity within themselves, that they destroyed their knowing of the mind of god, their awareness of the mind of Zeus, and that their own awareness darkened. Also, as Hermes killed two of the cattle, it would suggest that he left oneness and entered duality, that he entered generation and hence parted from the mind of Zeus. And so, the only way to return to oneness, to being of one mind, which was the natural state of Hermes and Apollo (the natural state of mind), was to return to the presence of Zeus, to be of one heart, to be of one intention, one desire—the desire to be one. And so it would seem that the story is told of what happens when Hermes, when thought, runs off on its own into generation and leaves behind the mind of god, separates from the awareness of Apollo, departs from awareness itself. For is it not but awareness, not gnosis, that knows the mind of god (that is the light of god).

And so, can these lines support this interpretation? Too, I don’t understand what that κάρηνα, at the end, means either? It seems to be ignored in the translation. The head of the cows?


 

George

Greece
615 Posts

Posted - 20 Dec 2007 :  09:12:48  

 

To be of one mind is close to Ὁμόφρονα θυμὸν ἔχοντας, yet not enough, as you rightly observe. Ἔχω (I have) means to hold firmly, to have power over something. The translation reverses this, they have to belong to their 'one mind', their mind is placed above them.

The importance of this difference can not be understood if we unite thymon and phronesis in one word, as 'mind'. Things become more clear if we keep the distinction, remembering that the ancients, more than in any other epoch, and especially the presocratics and Plato, use each and every word as an essential element of the sentence - nothing is to be ignored or used superficially.

If we think this expression as saying "to have their heart thinking the same", we immediately see that a person, in this case a godly person, but this refers equally to men, has a power that transcends both mind and heart - reasoning, intentions, feelings - are all in this ultimate Power of a person. Neither mind nor heart are the commanding centre of man, his authority, his greatest power, is beyond these, and is left unnamed, at least in this text.

We can't even say that Zeus is that power, because it belongs to a person denoting absolute freedom against even what would seem the most powerful for him, i.e. his own mind and heart.

Κάρηνα are the heads. It is usual in homeric language to refer to a being by his head. Recall Plato (φίλη κεφαλή, etc.)

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Niel

Canada
12 Posts

Posted - 20 Dec 2007 :  22:24:51  

 

George, thank you for your reply. As always, I look forward to reading your comments; and, in this case, even more so as they are in answer to a query of my own. Your description of how the ancients wrote, their care of every word, I find very meaningful, and comforting. I hope, though, that you do not mind if I pursue this a bit more, for from your comments I am left wondering about this ultimate Power which you speak of. From you statement, “Neither mind nor heart are the commanding center of man, his authority, his greatest power, is beyond these…,” though, as you say, they are included in it, I am left wondering if you are saying that this ultimate Power is not intellectual, not of gnosis and awareness, but rather of something else, something different, something more? Too, that you say, “We can't even say that Zeus is that power, because it belongs to a person…,” again I am left wondering if you are saying that this ultimate Power it is not of god, but rather that is something just in man or just of man? And, too, in regards to this ultimate Power, does this fit in anyway to the description of the line in The Republic where Plato describes the four states of man? I guess what I am saying here, George, is that I am somewhat confused by this ultimate Power in man that you have mentioned; that I even find the phrase confusing, particularly the word Power with a capital "P". If you would elaborate this for me, it would be appreciated; for I suspect that I am missing something here that is obvious, that for whatever reason I am having trouble perceiving it.

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George

Greece
615 Posts

Posted - 22 Dec 2007 :  14:37:45  

 

The comments on this power were based exclusively on language, that is, the meaning of ehein (ἔχειν), "to have", which was neglected by the Loeb translator. They were not comments on any theory of ancient philosophers, Plato or anyone, just a note on the meaning of the verb "to have". If someone can have his heart and reason oriented towards this or that, then the leading 'element' of man is above heart and reason - as the language by itself suggests, right or wrong. If we leave the field of language, then something similar we can find clearly in Christian theology (the teaching on autexousion, i.e., self-authority, unalienable freedom of man).

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