(BEING CONTINUED FROM 31/12/14)
THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES
THE POEMS OF SAPPHO
System of Greek Transliteration
Sappho’s poems are written in Aoelian Greek, spoken in antiquity in the North-Eastern Aegean. This is a rustic and more archaic dialect than the Attic or New Testament Greek which is typically taught in schools,closer to the Homeric. Indeed, many of the confirmed surviving Sappho fragments are from quotes in Roman grammatical treatises to illustrate fine points of the Aeolic dialect (The early Christians burned most of her poems, but couldn’t eradicate every stray line of hers that was quoted in some textbook). In some
cases the Sappho fragments are references in texts to quotes in other (lost) texts.
In this text, transliterated Greek text is shown in a monospaced font, e.g., Psa’pfa. The system of transliteration has been designed so that the Greek text can be migrated to Unicode automatically at some point, balancing of readability and resemblance to the original Greek letter. For this reason, it was felt that there should be exactly one character per grapheme, except where it would be unambiguous (ks and ps).
The ð (ð in HTML) (capital E) symbol is used to transcribe theta, because h is being used for eta and th would be ambiguous; the ð symbol represents a similar sound to theta (abet a voiced version, as in ‘the’) in Old English. Capitalized letters are written as the equivalent capital Latin letter. Although there were a couple of left over Latin characters, they were left out of the mix since standalone use of the letters ‘c’ and ‘q’ would just make the resulting transcriptions look stranger than they already are. Hopefully, if you are
slightly familiar with Greek orthography, this system should only take a few moments to get up to speed with.
Accent marks follow the vowel they are placed on, including (for consistency) the breath marks ! and ?.
[Note that the rough breath mark does not actually appear in this corpus because it is not found in Aeolian Greek, except in one case (in Book 3) where the poem was rewritten in Attic.] This is done even if the vowel is capitalized (in which case the Greek has the breathing mark written before the vowel, e.g. Helen,written here E?le’na, is actually spelled ?Ele’na).
Note also that an diaresis (umlaut) iota is found occasionally in long vowel combinations. This is written as the HTML ï (ï). This has no special phonetic significance as far as I know; it just seems to be an orthographic convention.
The following table gives the name of the Greek letter, the letter by which it is transcribed, and an approximate pronunciation (for non-experts). If you know nothing about Greek, and you want to try reading the Greek out loud (which I heartily recommend), just ignore the punctuation marks and pronounce h as ‘e’,w as ‘o’, and j as ‘y’.
Note by P.K.- I have endeavoured to insert the actual Greek font wherever practicable. All efforts were made to ensure an accurate transcription, but if errors have crept in, I apologize.
Out of the land of Egypt1 a fair stone;
420 And on it shall the Hebrew people stumble;But by his guiding nations shall be brought
Together; for the God who rules on high They also shall know through him, and the way
In common light2. For unto chosen men
425 Will he show life eternal, but the fire Will be for ages on the lawless bring.
And then shall he the sickly heal, and all Who are blameworthy who shall trust in him..
And then the blind shall see, the lame shall walk3,
430 The deaf shall hearken, and the dumb shall speak.
Demons shall he drive out, and of the dead There shall be an uprising; on the waves
Shall he walk; also in a desert place Shall he five thousand satisfy with food
435 From five loaves and a fish out of the sea,
And with the remnants of them, for the hope Of peoples, shall he fill twelve baskets full.
And then shall Israel, drunken, not discern,Nor shall they hear, oppressed with feeble cars.
440 But when the maddening wrath of the Most High
Shall come upon the Hebrews, and take faith Away from them, because they slew the Son
Of the heavenly God; then also with foul lips Shall Israel give him cuffs and spittle4 drugged.
445 And gall for food and vinegar unmixed For drink will they, with evil madness smitten
In bosom and in heart, give impiously,Not seeing with their eyes, more blind than moles,
More terrible than crawling poisonous beasts,
450 Fast bound by heavy sleep. But when his hands He shall spread forth and measure out all things,And bear the crown of thorns, and they shall pierce His side with reeds, for which dark monstrous night Shall be for three hours in the midst of day,
455 Then also shall the temple of Solomon Bring to an end a mighty sign5 for men,
When he shall to the house of Hades go Proclaiming resurrection to the dead.
But when in three days he shall come again
460 Unto the light, and show his form to men And teach all things, ascending in the clouds
Unto the house of heaven shall he go Leaving the world a Gospel covenant.
And in his name shall blossom a new shoot
465 From nations that are guided by the law Of the Mighty One. But also after this
There shall be wise guides, and then afterward There shall be a cessation of the prophets.
After that, when the Hebrew people reap
470 Their evil harvest, shall a Roman king6Much gold and silver utterly destroy.
And afterward shall other royal powers Continuously arise as kingdoms perish,
And they will oppress mortals. But great fall
475 Shall be for those men, when they shall begin Unrighteous arrogance. But when the temple Of Solomon in the holy land shall fall,
Cast down by barbarous men in brazen mail, And from the land the Hebrews shall be driven
480 Wandering and wasted, and among the wheat They shall much darnel mingle, there shall be Evil contention among, all mankind;
And the cities suffering outrage shall bewail Each other, in their breasts receiving wrath
485 Of the great God, since they wrought evil work.
6 470. Roman king.–Titus, who carried the spoils of the temple to Rome.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
TRANSLATED FROM THE GREEK AND ENGLISH BLANK VERSE BY MILTON S. TERRY,Professor in Garrett Biblical Institute,
NEW YORK: HUNT & EATON CINCINNATI: CRANSTON & STOWE 1890 ,
Copyright, 1890, by HUNT & EATON,NEW YORK.