Thursday, October 27, 2011

Unruly Wind Within her Womb

Ian C. Storey, ed., Fragments of Old Comedy, Vol. I: Alcaeus to Diocles (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), p. 173 (translating Athenaeus 454a, with translator's footnote):
Callias was the first to reveal a word through iambic lines, a rather vulgar word, but phrased in the following manner:

Dear ladies, I am pregnant, but for modesty's sake I will spell out the name of my child for you in letters. A great upright stroke, and from its middle stands a little slanting stroke on its side. Then a circle with two little feet.3

3 The letters described are psi and omega ("ō"), yielding pso, perhaps related to psoa (foul smell). The speaker is not pregnant, then, but suffering from gas.

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