Reading 5: Aphrodite and the Weasel
|Perry Index||Fable Name||Aesopica Versions||Reading Selection|
|Perry 50||Aphrodite and the Weasel||Chambry 76 version 1||Primary|
|Perry 50||Aphrodite and the Weasel||Chambry 76 version 2||Secondary|
|Perry 50||Aphrodite and the Weasel||Babrius 32||Optional 1|
|Zenobius 2.93||Weasels don't wear wedding gowns||Unavailable||Optional 2|
About the Fable
Aphrodite, the goddess of love, appears in about six of the 'Aesopic' fables about a hen, an ugly slave-woman, a dog and sow, naming trees, a story of two grooms, and a weasel. Four of those fables deal with passion; the story of two grooms is especially intriguing. As a goddess, Aphrodite had only one divine duty: to make love and to inspire others to do so as well. That's all she did, and she did it well. It all started with that lovely jewel-studded girdle Burly Hephaistos made for her.... Aphrodite could be both cruel and compassionate, as love often is.
In the story of the weasel, Aphrodite bestows the gift of human mortality upon a weasel who fell in love with a youth. The weasel becomes a lass and marries(?) the youth. The fable has an unexpected twist.The story Aphrodite and the Weasel has much in common with the Greek proverb, 'weasels don't wear wedding gowns' (Zenobius 2.93, who directly associates this proverb with the Aesopic fable). Both L'Estrange's 1692 and Jacob's 1894 English versions are given below.
To the ancient Greeks, encountering a weasel was a sign of bad luck, like the English 'black cat' when it crosses in front of a person. (In English the word 'weasel' can refer to a devious person, a sly lowlife, who will cheat anyone any chance they get. 'Weasel words' mean 'empty words.' - implying the egg which has been sucked dry.) On the other hand, the Greeks and the Romans used weasels (not cats) to keep their houses free of vermin. Ferrets are a species of weasel. Pictures of a weasel on a leash can be found in Steinhowel's fable 39 De mustela et homine. The Latin word for weasel is mustēla or mustella , ae, f. [mus] . There are several phrases in LSJ that allude to the ignominous side of the weasel:
Selections from the Aristophanes and Theophrastus are listed here.
|Aristophanes Ecclesiazusae 791ff. (Text and translation from Perseus)|
|σεισμὸς εἰ γένοιτο πολλάκις||That an earthquake may come|
|ἢ πῦρ ἀπότροπον, ἢ διᾴξειεν γαλῆ,||or an ill-omened flash of lightning,that a black cat may run across the street|
|παύσαιντ᾽ ἂν ἐσφέροντες ὦμβρόντητε σύ||and no one carry in anything more, you fool!|
|Theophrastus Characters 16.3||Translation my own, correct as needed|
| καὶ τὴν ὁδὸν ἐὰν ὑπερδράμῃ γαλῆ, μὴ πρότερον πορευθῆναι, ἕως διεξέλθῃ τις ἢ λίθους τρεῖς ὑπὲρ τῆς ὁδοῦ διαβάλῃ.||if a weasel would run across his path, he does not go on until someone else would cross first or he would throw three stones over the path|
As the Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite holds great power over both mortals and immortals. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that she is featured in numerous myths, poems, and plays; likewise, there are many representations of Aphrodite in Greek sculpture and vase painting. While several legends of Aphrodite emphasize themes of love and desire, some of most compelling myths deal with the consequences that the goddess herself suffers as a result of being the victim of love. The story of Aphrodite and her interlude with the human Adonis makes for an interesting study of the double edged sword that passion can be. In this myth, the vulnerability of the goddess is poignant. This vulnerability points to the fact that in Greek mythology even the gods could suffer, and were certainly not immune to the pains and passions that we, as humans, experience.
Aphrodite ("Afros" is Greek for "foam of the sea") emerged naked from the foam and stepped ashore at Cyprus or Cythera, we're not sure. (People were so stunned at her beauty, they forgot where they were, the story goes. Babrius alludes to Cyprus.) Incidentally, some say the goddess of desire's connection with water may be one reason seafood has been considered an aphrodisiac throughout the ages. Her primary function in Greek culture was to preside over reproduction, ensuring the survival of the community. Venus is the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Eros is the Greek personification of Desire, like 'Cupid' in Latin.
There are no pictures of Aphrodite and the Weasel I can find online. In classical art Aphrodite has no distinctive attributes other than her beauty. Flowers and vegetation motifs suggest her connection to fertility. Aphrodite was associated with the dove. Another of her sacred birds was the goose, on which she is seen to ride in a vase painting from antiquity. Grass and flowers would spring up wherever her feet touched the earth. The Seasons clothed, perfumed and covered her in jewels, and brought her before the Immortals.
There are a number of pictures of weasels with mice and other animals. Weasels appear in ten different fables. You can find them on the Aesopica website; the Perry indexes are: 153, 364, 455
... and file 304
... and fox 443
... and mouse 298
... and owner 378
... and partridge 214
... and snake 63
... bride 350
Γαλῆ καὶ Ἀφροδίτη.
Γαλῆ ἐρασθεῖσα νεανίσκου εὐπρέπους ηὔξατο τῇ Ἀφροδίτῃ ὅπως αὐτὴν μεταμορφώσῃ εἰς γυναῖκά. Καὶ ἡ θεὸς ἐλεήσασα αὐτῆς τὸ πάθος μετετύπωσεν αὐτὴν εἰς κόρην εὐειδῆ, καὶ οὕτως ὁ νεανίσκος θεασάμενος αὐτὴν καὶ ἐρασθεὶς οἴκαδε ὡς ἑαυτὸν ἀπήγαγε. Καθημένων δὲ αὐτῶν ἐν τῷ θαλάμῳ, ἡ Ἀφροδίτη γνῶναι βουλομένη εἰ μεταβαλοῦσα τὸ σῶμα ἡ γαλῆ καὶ τὸν τρόπον ἤλλαξε, μῦν εἰς τὸ μέσον καθῆκεν. Ἡ δὲ ἐπιλαθομένη τῶν παρόντων ἐξαναστᾶσα ἀπὸ τῆς κοίτης τὸν μῦν ἐδίωκε καταφαγεῖν θέλουσα. Καὶ ἡ θεὸς ἀγανακτήσασα κατ' αὐτῆς πάλιν αὐτὴν εἰς τὴν ἀρχαίαν φύσιν ἀποκατέστησεν. Οὕτω καὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων οἱ φύσει πονηροί, κἂν φύσιν ἀλλάξωσι, τὸν γοῦν τρόπον οὐ μεταβάλλονται.
Questions for Chambry 76 Version 1 (Vocabulary is below)
Q1 The word εὐπρέπους is hard to find in online LSJ. It comes from what word? If the word is in the genitive, what is the morphology of the -ους? (Hint: ε + ο= ου. What letter does the stem of the word end in? Does a contraction occur?)
Q2 The phrase ὅπως αὐτὴν μεταμορφώσῃ εἰς γυναῖκά has ὅπως with the aorist subjunctive. Does ὅπως ever take the indicative (or future indicative)? If yes, then when? What section in Smyth's grammar would deal with this?
Q3 Words that end in -δε like οἴκαδε denote what?
Q4 In Chambry's version 1 of this fable, is that weasel of a girl married, or is the encounter with the man only a momentary 'taking'? What words, if any, hint at a marriage?
Q5 What does the phrase ἀπὸ τῆς κοίτης imply? (The mouse must have run across the bed, not the floor, don't you think? See L'Estrange's version.)
Q6 Two words are used in this fable which talk about the nature and character of a person. What are they? Do these words show up in any Greek philosophy anywhere?
Q7 How would one best translate the word ἀρχαίαν in the phrase 'εἰς τὴν ἀρχαίαν φύσιν' 'former', 'first', 'old'? What is your suggestion? What other word(s) could have been used?
Answers to the questions can be sent directly to Paul Fonck
Secondary Reading- Chambry version 2
(Variant version from Chambry's first edition) (Text with line numbering)
Γαλῆ καὶ Ἀφροδίτη.
Γαλῆ ἠράσθη ποτὲ ἀνδρὸς εὐπρεποῦς καὶ τὴν Ἀνθηνᾶν ἐδυσώπει ταύτην μεταμεῖψαι εἰς γυναῖκα καὶ ἐρασθῆναι αὐτῆς καὶ τὸν ἄνδρα ἐκεῖνον· ὃ δὴ καὶ ἔπραξεν ἡ θεά. Ἔτι δὲ τοῦ γάμου ὄντος, μῦς διέδραμεν ἐν τῷ μέσῳ. Ἡ δὲ τὰ νυμφικὰ ῥίψασα καὶ τῇ φύσει ἀκολουθήσασα τὸν μῦν κατεδίωκεν.
Ὅτι, κἂν πρὸς βραχύ τις ἐν ὑποκρίσει μορφῶται καὶ κρύπτηται, ἡ φύσις τοῦτον διὰ τῶν ἐργων ἐξελέγχει.
Questions for Chambry 76 Version 2 (Vocabulary is below)
Q1 Explain who/what Ἀνθηνᾶν is.
Q2 What case is ὃ and how does it function in the sentence.
Q3 Translate the phrase Ἡ δὲ τὰ νυμφικὰ ῥίψασα... Is the weasel throwing off her wedding garments, her bridal pretense or what?
Q4 What is the weasel following in the phrase τῇ φύσει ἀκολουθήσασα τὸν μῦν κατεδίωκεν, the mouse or her nature? τὸν μῦν is the object of what verb?
Q5 What is the best translation for κἂν πρὸς βραχύ?
Answers to the questions can be sent directly to Paul Fonck
Chambry published a multivolume edition of the fables for the Belles Lettres series in 1925/6 (Paris). He later revised this into a single volume, omitting hundreds of the fable variants. In addition, the numeration between these two volumes is not consistent. The texts here are taken from the 1925/6 edition, but the numeration follows the standard single volume edition.
|Chambry 76 Version 1 & 2 Vocabulary|
|γαλέη, contr. γαλῆ , ῆς||γαλῆ||a weasal, marten, ferret (sometimes translated as cat)|
|ἔραμαι||ἐρασθεῖσα, ἐρασθεὶς||love (esp. of sexual passion), lust after|
|εὐπρεπής, ές||good looking|
to pray, offer prayers, make a vow
|Ἀφροδίτη, ἡ||Ἀφροδίτῃ||Aphrodite; as appellate, sexual love, pleasure|
|ἐλεέω later ἐλεάω||ἐλεήσασα||to take pity on, have mercy on|
|πάθος, τὸ||πάθος||anything that befalls one, an accident; experience, passion|
|μετατῠ́πωσις , εως, ἡ,||a transformation, conversion|
|κόρη, ἡ , Ion. κούρη||κόρην||a girl; young wife; daughter of + gen|
|εὐειδής,-ές||εὐειδῆ||good-looking, pleasing to the eyes, beautiful|
|οἴκαδε||οἴκαδε||to home; home-ward|
|ἀπάγω||ἀπήγαγε||to lead off|
|κάθημαι||καθημένων||to be seated|
|θάλαμος||θαλάμῳ||an inner room; bedroom|
|μεταβάλλω||μεταβαλοῦσα, μεταβάλλονται||to change, turn about, alter|
|ἀλλάσσω, later Att. ἀλλαντόττω||ἤλλαξε, ἀλλάξωσι||to exchange, barter|
|καθίημι||καθῆκεν||to send down|
|καθήκω||καθῆκεν||to have come|
|ἐπιλήθω||to cause to forget|
|ἐπιλανθάνομαι||ἐπιλαθομένη||to forget, let something slip by|
|πάρειμι||παρόντων||to be by, present, near, at hand|
|ἐξανίστημι||ἐξαναστᾶσα||to raise up; intr. stand up|
|κοίτη , ἡ||κοίτης||bed, esp. marriage bed; act of going to bed; coitus|
|ἀγανακτέω||ἀγανακτήσασα||to be irritated at, angry with, vexed at|
|φύσις [ῠ], ἡ, gen. φύσεως||φύσιν, φύσει||origin; nature, constitution; character|
|ἀποκαθίστημι||ἀποκατέστησεν||to restore,return to|
|κἂν||= καὶ ἄν||1. in later Gr. without εἰ, simply as a stronger form of καί, even
2. for καὶ ἄν ( [̂ ἐάν] ), even if, with the same moods as ἐάν,
|γοῦν||> γε + οῦν||at least then, at any rate, any way|
|δυσωπέω||ἐδυσώπει||to shame, put to shame|
|μετᾰμείβω||μεταμεῖψαι||to change, exchange|
|διατρέχω||διέδραμεν||to run about; run across, pass through|
|νυμφίδιος||νυμφικὰ||of a bride, bridal|
|ῥίπτω||ῥίψασα||to throw, cast, hurl|
|μορφάω||to shape, fashion, mold|
|μορφόω||μορφῶται||to give form or shape to|
|κρύπτω||κρύπτηται||to hide, cover, cloak|
|ἐξελέγχω||ἐξελέγχει||to convict, refute;put to the proof, test|
|Idioms and idiomatic usage|
|πρὸς βραχύ||πρός c.acc. freq. periphr. for Adv|
Babrius 32: Aphrodite and the Weasel
B1 Γαλῇ ποτ' ἀνδρὸς εὐπρεποῦς ἐρασθείσῃ
B2 δίδωσι σεμνὴ Κύπρις, ἡ πόθων μήτηρ,
B3 μορφὴν ἀμεῖψαι καὶ λαβεῖν γυναικείην,
B4 καλῆς γυναικός, ἧς τίς οὐκ ἔχειν ἤρα;
B5 ἰδὼν δ' ἐκεῖνος --ἐν μέρει γὰρ ἡλώκει--
B6 γαμεῖν ἔμελλεν. ἠρμένου δὲ τοῦ δείπνου
B7 παρέδραμεν μῦς· τὸν δὲ τῆς βαθυστρώτου
B8 καταβᾶσα κοίτης ἐπεδίωκεν ἡ νύμφη.
B9 γάμου δὲ δαιτὴ 'λέλυτο, καὶ καλῶς παίξας
B10 Ἔρως ἀπῆλθε· τῇ φύσει γὰρ ἡττήθη.
Babrius 32 Questions
Q1 The word σεμνός in line B2 can also mean 'proud' or 'naughty'. Is Babrius making a pun on words here?
Q2 How do you translate the phrase ἧ τίς οὐκ ἔχειν ἤρα;? Is it a question?
Q3 What two children of Aphrodite are listed in this fable? Should the noun πόθων in line B2 be capitalized?
Q4 Translate the phrase --ἐν μέρει γὰρ ἡλώκει--
Q6 The BABRII FABULAE AESOPEAE lists several variants for 'λέλυτο in line B9; they are λέλυτο and δέδυτο. How would one translate the variants? Does δέδυτο have a chance of being the original reading? Why did Perry (in the Babrius text given above) put the apostrophe -- I asume standing for the pluperfect ἐλέλυτο?
Answers to the questions can be sent directly to Paul Fonck
|Babrius 32 Vocabulary (Chambry vocabulary not repeated)|
|σεμνός||σεμνὴ||revered, holy august|
|Κύπρις , ῐδος, ἡ, acc. Κύπριν and Κύπριδα, Il.5.330,458:--Cypris, a name of Aphrodite, from the island of Cyprus|
|πόθος , ὁ,||πόθων||longing, yearning, regret; love, desire; personified, A.Supp.1039(lyr.), where Π. and Πειθώ are children of Κύπρις; Ἔρως καὶ Ἵμερος καὶ Π. Paus.1.43.6 ; Κύπρι Πόθων μῆτερ|
|ἀμείβω||ἀμεῖψαι||to exchange, change|
|γυναικεῖος, α, ον||γυναικείην||feminine, belonging to a woman|
|where (indecl. adv)|
|ὅ, ἥ, τό or ὅς, ἥ, ὅ.||ἧς||who/what (relative pronoun)|
|ἐράω||ἤρα||to love, be in love with|
|ἤρα||ἤρα||1) kindnesses, gifts;
2) = χάριν, c. gen., on account of,
|ἁλίσκομαι||ἡλώκει ppl.||to be caught, seized; detected|
a later form of ἠρεμαῖος, quiet
|ἀείρω, αἴρω||ἠρμένου||to lift up, take up|
|ἀρᾰρίσκω||ἠρμένου||to join, fit together; furnish, furnished|
|κοίτη , ἡ||κοίτης||bed, marraige bed; act of going to bed; coitus|
|δαίτη, ἡ||δαιτὴ||poet. for δαίς, feast, banquet|
|παίζω||παίξας||to play, dance; jest, sport|
|ἡσσάομαι, Att. ἡττ-||ἡττήθη||to be worsted by|
Ben Perry, Babrius and Phaedrus (Loeb). This edition contains the Greek texts of Babrius, with a facing English translation, and an extensive index covering the Greek and Latin fable tradition. This book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the Aesopic fable tradition. Invaluable.
Zenobius 2.93 Weasels don't wear wedding gowns.
The Greek text for this saying will be coming in the future.
Line Numbering and the Structure of Fables
The lines are numbered for collation and reference purposes. The line numbering format is comprised of three elements: Author+Version+Line Identifier: Author = B/C#.1/C#.2/S/A/H for Babrius, Chambry 1, Chambry 2, Syntipas, Aphthonius or Herodotus; Line Identifier = T/M/# where T=Title, P = Promythium, E = Epimythium or # = Line number (incremental, but not counting the moral or title); The endomythium, the moral 'inside the story, is simply listed as a line number.
Parts of a fable:
Promythium: A moral that comes before the story, so that the reader / listener can properly decode the meaning
Fable Body: the content of the fable, including the endomythium, but not the promythium or epimythium
Endomythium: the moral inside the story (listed as a line number)
Epimythium: The moral added at the end of the story to make sure the point of the fable is clear.
C76.1-T Γαλῆ καὶ Ἀφροδίτη.
C76.1-1 Γαλῆ ἐρασθεῖσα νεανίσκου εὐπρέπους ηὔξατο τῇ Ἀφροδίτῃ ὅπως αὐτὴν μεταμορφώσῃ εἰς γυναῖκά.
C76.1-2 Καὶ ἡ θεὸς ἐλεήσασα αὐτῆς τὸ πάθος μετετύπωσεν αὐτὴν εἰς κόρην εὐειδῆ, καὶ οὕτως ὁ νεανίσκος θεασάμενος αὐτὴν καὶ ἐρασθεὶς οἴκαδε ὡς ἑαυτὸν ἀπήγαγε.
C76.1-3 Καθημένων δὲ αὐτῶν ἐν τῷ θαλάμῳ, ἡ Ἀφροδίτη γνῶναι βουλομένη εἰ μεταβαλοῦσα τὸ σῶμα ἡ γαλῆ καὶ τὸν τρόπον ἤλλαξε, μῦν εἰς τὸ μέσον καθῆκεν.
C76.1-4 Ἡ δὲ ἐπιλαθομένη τῶν παρόντων ἐξαναστᾶσα ἀπὸ τῆς κοίτης τὸν μῦν ἐδίωκε καταφαγεῖν θέλουσα.
C76.1-5 Καὶ ἡ θεὸς ἀγανακτήσασα κατ' αὐτῆς πάλιν αὐτὴν εἰς τὴν ἀρχαίαν φύσιν ἀποκατέστησεν.
C76.1-E Οὕτω καὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων οἱ φύσει πονηροί, κἂν φύσιν ἀλλάξωσι, τὸν γοῦν τρόπον οὐ μεταβάλλονται.
C76.2-T Γαλῆ καὶ Ἀφροδίτη.
C76.2-1 Γαλῆ ἠράσθη ποτὲ ἀνδρὸς εὐπρεποῦς καὶ τὴν Ἀνθηνᾶν ἐδυσώπει ταύτην μεταμεῖψαι εἰς γυναῖκα καὶ ἐρασθῆναι αὐτῆς καὶ τὸν ἄνδρα ἐκεῖνον· ὃ δὴ καὶ ἔπραξεν ἡ θεά.
C76.2-2 Ἔτι δὲ τοῦ γάμου ὄντος, μῦς διέδραμεν ἐν τῷ μέσῳ.
C76.2-3 Ἡ δὲ τὰ νυμφικὰ ῥίψασα καὶ τῇ φύσει ἀκολουθήσασα τὸν μῦν κατεδίωκεν.
C76.2-E Ὅτι, κἂν πρὸς βραχύ τις ἐν ὑποκρίσει μορφῶται καὶ κρύπτηται, ἡ φύσις τοῦτον διὰ τῶν ἐργων ἐξελέγχει.
The Fables of Aesop, by Joseph Jacobs with illustrations by Richard Heighway (1894). The page images come from Google Books. The digitized text comes from Project Gutenberg. You can purchase this inexpensive Dover edition, The Fables of Aesop by Joseph Jacobs from amazon.com.
61. A CAT AND VENUS (Perry 50)
A young Fellow that was passionately in Love with a Cat made it his humble Suit to Venus to turn Puss into a Woman. The Transformation was wrought in the twinkling of an Eye, and out she comes, a very bucksome Lass. The doating Sot took her home to his Bed; and bad fair for a Litter of Kittens by her that Night: But as the loving Couple lay snugging together, a Toy took Venus in the Head, to try if the Cat had chang’d her Manners with her Shape; and so for Experiment, turn’d a Mouse loose into the Chamber. The Cat, upon this Temptation, started out of the Bed, and without any regard to the Marriage-Joys, made a leap at the Mouse, which Venus took for so high an Affront, that she turn’d the Madam into a Puss again.
THE MORAL. The extravagant Transports of Love, and the wonderful Force of Nature, are unaccountable; the one carries us out of our selves, and the other brings us back again.
L'Estrange originally published his version of the fables in 1692. There is a very nice illustrated edition in the Children's Classics series by Knopf: Sir Roger L'Estrange. Aesop - Fables which is available at amazon.com.
A version of Babrius fables (Greek text; Latin introduction, comments and apparatus) is available on Google books. It may be freely downloaded as a pdf file (7.1 M) . You can find the book at http://www.google.co.uk/books?id=TtikmO4PekUC&pg=PA1&dq=babrii#PPR1,M1
The title page is as follows:
Additional Tools and Aids to Reading
The LetsReadGreek website has vocabulary and a list of helpful questions and leads on some of the more difficult words. A little of topical vocabulary for each is included, along with a Latin version, some English versions of the fables and some engravings and carvings from older books. The LetsReadGreek site requires one to have a unicode Greek compatible font. I've been trying to get the site properly configured, so please be patient. A note, SPIonic is not adequate, you must have one of the Windows or Mac unicode fonts installed. Gentium is a wonderful and easy to read font downloadable from the SIL website at http://scripts.sil.org/Gentium_download.
I highly recommend using the Perseus website tools for vocabulary, morphology, texts and grammar. There is a lot there; however, Aesop is not. Some of the vocabulary in the fables do not exist in LSJ (but maybe in the supplement). To use Perseus adequately, one must learn Perseus’ betacode style with variations, for questions see the FAQ. I also suggest bookmarking the base pages in your browser, or better yet, drag them if you can and put each one onto your browser’s toolbar. The following online tools can be found on the Perseus website:
Note: If you are using the Perseus site, you must set your Perseus configuration to properly display the Greek. This may be done by clicking on the "Configure Display" on the Perseus Menu and selecting the corresponding Greek format (choose Unicode or Unicode with pre-combined accents).