The Man Born Blind (John 9:1–17)

This post was originally written for a Lenten devotional put together by my parish, Church of the Advent, in Washington, DC.

It wasn’t just their question; it was mine.
What caused this wretched curse of wroth divine?
What did I do to be robbed of the light,
to utt’rly disappear from others’ sight?
Why hath my God looked on me with contempt?
With what did he my cursèd parents tempt,
cursèd with me, clearly God’s enemy,
curs’d e’er to ask and ask again, “why me?”
But then Light came, unveiling my deceptions;
with mud he smeared away my preconceptions.
My pain, rejection, O my loss and hurt,
that shame that comes from grov’ling in the dirt,
became the pretext for my greatest boon—
That moment when Light’s eyes did meet my own.

Today’s passage begins with a question, in effect, “Master, was this man born blind because of his own sin, or because of his parents’?” The starting point for my sonnet above was the realization that this question must also have haunted both the blind-man himself and his parents, and that it likely tore their family apart. Instead of finding support from his parents (vv. 18–22), as might be expected, he has been lying down by the side of the road and begging. Even after a dramatic reversal of fortune, his parents have no desire to stick up for their newly healed son (vv. 18–23). We easily imagine how the need to blame would have destroyed this man’s bonds with his parents. He’s faced rejection from his neighbors too. Some of those who have walked by him as he begged, presumably for years, are not even sure that this man is in fact the blind beggar— they had simply learned to look away.

Jesus, however, looks this pain squarely in the eyes. He refuses to allow his disciples, or the man’s neighbors, to employ theology to dehumanize, to disclaim responsibility for a creature, though marred, who was made in God’s image (may Christ confront us when we do the same!). He takes instead this terrible suffering as a pretext for a greater glory— that of sight restored, both of body and of soul. For God is so mighty in his love that even the most terrible suffering can be made, in the light of the cross, to look as though it were God’s original plan, as though God himself had directly caused terrible toil to bring about the reversal. This is not so, and cannot be so, but it is a testament to God’s exquisite care that our sufferings often become the locus of extraordinary blessing. This is the spiritual truth we are bid to embrace during the season of Lent: that when we lose our lives, we find them; that when we take up our crosses, we rise to new life; that when we lean with Christ into our pain, exhaustion, and despair, we might, just might, find Easter joy.

Dr. Poulos

This past Wednesday (April 10, 2019), I successfully defended my dissertation entitled, “Callimachus and Callimacheanism in the Poetry of Gregory of Nazianzus.” Here’s the abstract:

In this study, I analyze the poetics of Gregory of Nazianzus (ca. 330–390 AD), who was one of the first Christian poets writing in Greek to leave an extensive corpus of poetry (about 17,000 lines). Gregory work is striking not only for its breadth but also for its wide variety of themes and metrical schemes. As my focal point, I have chosen Gregory’s reception and adaptation of the poetry and poetics of Callimachus of Cyrene (ca. 290–230 BC). Callimachus was the first poet in the western tradition to enunciate an aesthetic and came to typify for subsequent authors an approach to poetry that privileged finely-wrought, compressed, and erudite compositions. I argue that for Gregory, Callimachus’ works are more than simply one more source to exploit for nice turns of phrase; rather, Callimachus pervasively shapes Gregory’s entire approach to poetic composition. This is seen not only in Gregory’s allusions to Callimachean works, which are numerous and occur quite frequently in programmatic contexts, but also in features of Gregory’s work like poikilia (variety) and a strong authorial persona that have their best precedent in Callimachus’ variegated oeuvre.

In chapter one, I survey Callimachus’ reception in the second and third centuries AD. By examining the three most extensive works of hexametric didactic extant from this period (Dionysius’ Periegesis, Oppian’s Halieutica, and ps.-Oppian’s Cynegetica), I argue that Callimachus is a uniquely useful influence for probing how later poets create their poetic personae and enunciate their own aesthetic. Chapters 2–5 treat Gregory’s poetry. I have organized them around four traits that scholars have consistently associated with Callimachean poetry: originality, fineness (λεπτότης), erudition, and self-awareness. In chapter two, I show how Gregory adapts the untrodden path motif found in the prologue to Callimachus’ Aetia. I contend that Gregory’s formal experimentation should be regarded as a deliberate embrace of Callimachean polyeideia. Chapter three has as its subject Gregory’s poetic style. I show that for Gregory, Callimachus typifies the concise and technically capable poet, as Gregory consistently advocates for concise speech through allusions to Callimachus’ works. In the fourth chapter, I attend to Gregory’s erudition. His self-proclaimed mastery of both pagan and Christian literature is a foundational aspect of his poetic persona. Though the patent didactic intent in some of Gregory’s verse is at odds with Callimachus’ practice, I argue that when Gregory deploys erudition for polemical and cultural ends he fits neatly within the tradition of Alexandrian didactic. In chapter five, I consider Gregory’s poetic self-awareness. I argue that, following Callimachean precedent, Gregory created sequences of multiple poems thematically linked by ring-compositions and self-allusions. I conclude that Gregory edited his poems much more extensively than has previously been recognized. My work illuminates on the one hand how pervasively Callimachus shapes Gregory’s approach to poetic composition. Yet I have also identified a number of significant ways in which Gregory consciously departs from his Callimachean model.

The defense was by far the least stressful major milestone of the process; it was for me a stimulating hour and a half discussion about Gregory’s poetry and ways I can strengthen my work going forward. Celebrating with friends and family has been extremely gratifying, to say the least. Here’s a picture of me with my wife and children:

I find it rather strange that I haven’t blogged more about Gregory, as I have now written some 75,000 words on his verse. But when I look back over the past two years, it’s not surprising. Since April, 2017 (when the proposal was approved), I or my wife has:

  • moved twice
  • bought a house
  • given birth to our second child
  • written a 250 pp. dissertation
  • presented two conference papers
  • organized a conference session
  • traveled to Germany and to Brazil

In short, it’s been quite a busy time! I’m exceedingly grateful for the support of my wife and sister, for the nurturing yet stimulating intellectual community of CUA, and most of all to the one, e quo et per quem et ad quem omnia.

Gr. naz. Hymn Virg. (carm. 1.2.1a 107–116)

Below you find my poetic translation of an excerpt from the Hymn Virg. of Gregory of Nazianzus (carm. 1.2.1a 107–116), where he narrates the creation of Eve:

Πλευρὴν ἐκ λαγόνων μούνην ἕλε, τήν ῥα γυναῖκα
Δειμάμενος, καὶ φίλτρον ἐνὶ στέρνοισι κεράσσας,
Ἀμφοτέροις ἐφέηκεν ἐπἀλλήλοισι φέρεσθαι·
Οὐ πᾶσοὐδἐπὶ πάντας, ὅρον δἐπέθηκε πόθοισιν, [110]
Ὅν ῥα γάμον καλέουσ’, ὕλης ἀμέτροιο χαλινὸν,
Ὡς μὴ μαιμώωσα, καὶ ἄσχετα μαργαίνουσα,
Προφρονέως ἀγεληδὸν ἐπἀλλήλοισιν ἰόντων,1
Ῥήξειεν μερόπων ἱερὸν γένος ἐκ φιλότητος
Ἀζυγέος, πολέμους δὲ καὶ ἔχθεα πᾶσιν ὀρίνῃ [115]
Οἶστρος ἀσημάντοισι φορεύμενος ἀφραδίῃσιν.

He took the rib from Adam’s side and made
the wife. He mixed desire in their breasts
and bid them bear themselves to one another,
but not at all without discrimination.
He placed a limit on their loves, what we
call marriage, bridle for unmeasured matter,
lest it go mad, convulsing endlessly,
like animals that read’ly mate in herds,
and wreck the holy race of men through love
unbounded, lest desire unrestrained
should raise up wars and senseless quarrels for all.

  1. It is not clear how to construe this line; it may be corrupt.

Cappadocian Ekphrases of Anger

Basil’s Homily 10 is devoted to combatting anger, and theme Gregory took up later even more extensively in his carm. 1.2.25 Adv. iram. As Oberhaus has noted,1 the parallels between Gregory’s poem and Basil’s homily are particularly strong in the respective ekphrases of an angry person (Gr. Naz. Adv. iram 85-110 and Basil Hom. 10.2). I offer here the Greek text and my English translations of both passages.

From Basil’s 10th Homily

Ὀφθαλμοὶ μὲν γὰρ ἐκείνοις οἱ οἰκεῖοί τε καὶ συνήθεις ἠγνόηνται· παράφορον δὲ τὸ ὄμμα, καὶ πῦρ ἤδη βλέπει. Καὶ παραθήγει τὸν ὀδόντα κατὰ τῶν συῶν τοὺς ὁμόσε χωροῦντας. Πρόσωπον πελιδνὸν καὶ ὕφαιμον· ὄγκος τοῦ σώματος ἐξοιδαίνων· φλέβες διαῤῥηγνύμεναι, ὑπὸ τῆς ἔνδοθεν ζάλης κλονουμένου (357) τοῦ πνεύματος. Φωνὴ τραχεῖα, καὶ ὑπερτεινομένη, καὶ λόγος ἄναρθρος καὶ εἰκῆ προεκπίπτων, οὐ κατὰ μέρος, οὐδὲ εὐτάκτως, οὐδὲ εὐσήμως προϊών.2

For their normal and customary visage becomes unrecognizable. The eye goes askance with a fiery blaze and they sharpen their teeth like boars that advance on one another. The face becomes livid and bloodshot; the whole girth of the body swells; veins nearly break from the internal squall, while the breathing rushes wildly. The voice becomes exceedingly high and tense, while speech becomes inarticulate and falls forth to no end, proceeding without proportion, measure, or seemliness. (Basil of Caesarea, Hom. 10.2 PG 31.356–57)

From Gregory Adv. iram

εἴ σοί τις ὦπται τῶν ἁλόντων τῷ πάθει, [85]
οἶδας σαφῶς φημι, καὶ γράψει λόγος.
ἔσοπτρον ἐχρῆν ἑστάναι χολουμένοις,
ὡς ἂν βλέποντες, ἀλλὰ τὴν αὐτῶν ὕβριν
μικρὸν χαλῷεν, τοῦ πάθους ἐξ ὄψεως,
κατηγόρῳ σιγῶντι κάμπτοντες φρένα. [90]
καὶ τόδἔστηκαὐτὸς ὑβριστὴς σὸς,
ἐν κατόψει σαυτὸν, εἰ σχολὴν ἄγοις.
πάθος γὰρ οἷς ἓν, κοινὰ καὶ συμπτώματα.
ὕφαιμον ὄμμα, καὶ θέσεις διάστροφοι,
τρίχες συώδεις, καὶ γένυς διάβροχος, [95]
ὡχρὰ παρειὰ, νεκρότητος ἔμφασις·
ἄλλων ἐρυθρὰ, καὶ μολιβδώδης τινῶν·
ὅπως ἂν, οἶμαι, καί τινα χρώσας τύχοι
βακχιώδης καὶ κάκιστος ζωγράφος·
αὐχὴν διοιδῶν, ἀγκυλούμεναι φλέβες, [100]
πνοὴ λόγον κόπτουσα καὶ πυκνουμένη,
λυσσῶδες ἄσθμα, καὶ φρύαγμἀσχημονοῦν,
μυκτὴρ πλατύς τε καὶ πνέων ὅλην ὕβριν.
κρότοι τε χειρῶν, καὶ ποδῶν ἐξάλματα,
κύψεις, στροφαὶ, γέλωτες, ἱδρῶτες, κόποι· [105]
τίνος κοποῦντος; οὐδενὸς, πλὴν δαίμονος.
νεύσεις ἄνω τε καὶ κάτω, λόγου δίχα,
γνάθοι φυσώμεναί τε καὶ ψοφούμεναι,
ὡς δή τις αὐλοῖς3· παιομένη τε δακτύλοις
χεὶρ ἀπειλή4 καὶ ψόφων προοίμιον. [110)

If you should see one caught in passion’s grip [85]
you know quite clearly what it is I say
and what my poem shall at once describe.
One ought to place a mirror before the angry,
that they may see and after just a bit
of rage, the passion glimpsed, restrain their soul
before their figure’s silent accusation. [90]
Or if you find yourself at ease, your foe
may serve the same end as the polished glass,
for one disease has symptoms shared by all:
The eyes are shot with blood and out of place,
the hair is bristling, jaws are wet with spit; [95]
The cheeks are pale— the very look of death.
some parts red, and some a leaden blue
as though the face had got its hues from painters
who knew no skill but only how to drink.
The neck swells; veins distend and curve away. [100]
The breath then cuts and strangles off the speech;
the breathing’s manic; thence, unseemly snorts.
The nose grows broad, replete with insolence.
The hands and feet begin to leap and spring;
they stoop and strain, turn, mock and sweat. [105]
and who’s to blame? none but this demon foe.
Their jaws move up and down without a word;
their cheeks inflate, emitting senseless sounds
as flutists’ do. The hands, balled into fists,5
become a threat and precursor of more. [110] (Gr. Naz. adv. iram 85–110)6

Bibliography

Crimi, C. 2018. “Nazianzenica XXII. Variazioni sull’ira in Gregorio (carm. I.2.25; or. 18).” In Cipolla, P.B.ed., Metodo e passione. Atti dell’incontro di studi in onore di Giuseppina Basta Donzelli, 131–44. Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert.

Geffcken, J. 1909. Kynika und Verwandtes. Heidelberg: C. Winters Universitätsbuchhandlung.

Oberhaus, M. 1991. Gregor von Nazianz. Gegen den Zorn : (carmen 1, 2, 25) : Einleitung und Kommentar. Paderborn: Schöningh.

Wagner, S.M.M. 1950. Basil the Great. Ascetical Works. Fathers of the Church 9. Catholic University of America Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctt32b2kz.


  1. Oberhaus 1991 ad loc.

  2. To my knowledge, the best text remains the Maurist edition, reprinted in PG 31 coll. 353-372, which I have cited here. The homily has been rendered into English in Wagner 1950.

  3. P Caillau ἅλως (contra metrum) : codd. ἄλλος : ἀσκός Oberhaus.

    I have adopted the conjecture of Crimi 2018 136.

  4. codd. ἀπειλεῖ : ἀπειλή susp. Oberhaus

  5. The sense of παιομένη δακτύλοις is obscure. I have followed the paraphrase Geffcken 1909 30, who interprets the phrase as a circumlocution for “balled fists.” Oberhaus 1991 ad loc. rejects this in favor of menacing hand gestures. See also discussion in Crimi 2018.

  6. In translating Gregory’s verse, I have chosen to employ English iambic pentameter to render both iambic trimeter and dactylic hexameter, as iambic pentameter is the primary meter of both English epic (Milton) and drama (Shakespeare). I differentiate between the two by permitting more archaic forms in English when rendering hexameter, since the diction of hexametric poetry, particularly in Gregory’s day, was much more removed from contemporary speech than that of iambic trimeter.

Gr. naz. Adv. iram 15–25

Below you’ll find nice Homeric simile in Gregory’s long iambic poem against anger (carm. 1.2.25). I treat this in the dissertation, and post my poetic rendering here. The text comes from PG 37, though I’ve consulted the readings of Oberhaus 1991.

δεῖ δ’, ὡς ἔοικε, μή τι μαλθακὸν λέγειν, [15]
κακοῦ τοσούτου τῷ λόγῳ προκειμένου·
ἀλλὡς πυρὸς βρέμοντος ἀγρίαν φλόγα,
πηδῶντος, αἰθύσσοντος ἐντινάγμασι
πολλοῖς, ἄνω ῥέοντος ἐμψύχῳ φορᾷ,
λάβρως ἀεὶ τὰ πρόσθεν οἰκειουμένου, [20]
ὕδωρ, κόνιν πέμποντας εὐνάσαι βίᾳ·
θῆρα λόχμης ἐκφανέντα συσκίου,
φρίσσοντα, πῦρ βλέποντα, ἐξαφρούμενον,
μάχης ἐρῶντα, καὶ φόνων καὶ πτωμάτων,
λόγχαις, κυνηγοῖς, σφενδόναις καταιχμάσαι [25]

For one must, as is meet, avoid all languor, [15]
when such an ill is set before one’s reason,
and quench, like those that dirt and water cast
against a fire that belches wild flame,
and leaps and jumps with numerous shakes,
and climbs aloft with motion from within
greedily making all that was its own; [20]
or slay, as hunters take the wild beast
with spears and slings, when it appears from deep
within the shadowed grove, with eyes ablaze
and hair erect, foam oozing from its mouth,
lusting for battle, corpses and their death. [25]

Bibliography

Oberhaus, M. 1991. Gregor von Nazianz. Gegen den Zorn : (carmen 1, 2, 25) : Einleitung und Kommentar. Paderborn: Schöningh.

Gr. naz. carm. 1.1.11 (On the Incarnation)

In carm. 1.1.11, Gregory attacks the “impious verbosity” of Apollinarians, who asserted that Christ did not assume a full humanity in the incarnation, but that the divine Logos replaced his human mind (νοῦς). Below I’ve printed the text from the PG, my verse translation, and some comments adapted from the present dissertation chapter:

Νήπιος, ὅστις ἄνακτα Θεοῦ Λόγον αἰὲν ἐόντα
οὐ σέβετἰσοθέως Πατρὸς ἐπουρανίου.
νήπιος, ὅστις ἄνακτα Λόγον βροτὸν ἔνθα φανέντα
οὐ σέβετἰσοθέως οὐρανίοιο Λόγου.
τέμνει δ μεγάλοιο Πατρὸς Λόγον, ἠὲ Λόγοιο [5]
μορφὴν ἀνδρομέην, καὶ πάχος ἡμέτερον.
ἦν Θεὸς, ἀλλἐπάγη Πατρὸς Λόγος ἡμέτερος φώς,
ὥς κε Θεὸν μίξῃ, μικτὸς ἐὼν χθονίοις.
εἷς Θεὸς ἀμφοτέρωθε· τόσον βροτὸς, ὅσσον ἔμἔρδειν
ἀντὶ βροτοῖο Θεόν. Ἵλαθι, τρωτὸς ἄνω. [10]
τόσσον ἔχοις. Τί δἔμοιγε νόον, καὶ μίξιν ἄφραστον;
ἀμφὶ Θεὸν, θνητοὶ, στέργετε μέτρα λόγου.
εἰ μὲν δὴ πεπίθοιμι, τὸ λώϊον. Εἰ δὲ μελαίνεις
τὸν χάρτην πολλαῖς χιλιάσιν ἐπέων,
δεῦρἄγε, πλαξὶ τεαῖς ὀλιγόστιχα ταῦτα χαράξω [15]
γράμματἐμῇ γραφίδι, μέλαν οὐδὲν ἔχει.

Foolish who worships not th’ eternal Word
as equal to the high Father in heaven.
Foolish who worships not th’ incarnate Word,
as equal to the heavenly Word on High,
but cuts from Father’s might His Word, or else
doth cut the Word from human shape, our breadth.
The Father’s Word was God, but made our man
so that, with mortals mixed, He’d mix in God.
A single god comprising both: a man,
to make man into gods: have mercy, thou
who art above the Wounded Word on high.
For you, no more– why seek from me the knowledge
of that ineffable and holy mixture.
Oh mortals, mind the boundaries your speech.
Should I persuade thee, that is all the better;
yet if you stain your page with myriad lines
come here and I will scratch these letters few
onto your books, with pen that bears no stain.

Gregory begins with learned etymological word-play. The Homeric adjective νήπιος (“childish” or “foolish”) was derived in several ways. The prefix νη– generally negated what followed, but some ancient writers speculated that νη could also be an intensifier (cf. the affirmative particle ναί, still used for “yes” in Modern Greek). Clement of Alexandria, for instance, argued that the νη– in νήπιος should not be understood as a privative (κατὰ στέρησιν), but an intensifier.1 He thereby argued that νήπιος mean “extremely gentle” (cf. ἤπιος, “gentle”) rather than “witless.”2 Gregory here employs the νη in an intensifying manner, but derives the compound νήπιος from νη and ἔπος (“word” or “verse”). Instead of Clement’s “extremely gentle,” Gregory suggests the heretics are extremely verbose. Gregory thus subtly introduces a theme that runs through the poem: the verbosity of heretics and the limits of human speech.

Gregory’s theme, proper brevity in speech, makes allusions to Callimachus appropriate. These he delays these until the end, but there makes them quite explicit. If the heretics fail to respect the limits of human speech, they will go on “blackening their pages with many thousands of lines” (πολλαῖς χιλιάσιν ἐπέων), with which Gregory alludes to Aet. fr. 1.4 (ἐν πολλαῖς ἤνυσα χιλιάσιν “[because I have not written one song] in many thousands of lines”). The adjective ὀλιγόστιχα (1.1.11 15) occurs several lines later in the Aetia prologue (fr. 1.9), also before the bucolic diaeresis.

Though Gregory delays the Callimachean allusions until the end of the poem, the work contains Callimachean stylistic elements throughout. One might compare the striking anaphora of the two opening couplets (νήπιος ὅστις ἄνακτα in 1 and 3, οὐ σεβετἰσοθεῶς in 2 and 4) with hZeus 86–87, which both begin and end with ἑσπέριοςνοήσῃ. Moreover, Gregory employs a number of juxtaposed prosodic variants, a favorite technique of Callimachus.3 Some he achieves through position, that is, by placing a word ending with a closed short syllable before a word beginning vowel and then repeating it before a word beginning with a consonant, thus lengthening the syllable. So λόγον (“Word”) in line one is scanned as a pyrrhus ( ˘ ˘), but in line three it is scanned as an iamb (˘ ¯) because its final syllable is lengthened by the following word βρότον (“person”). He also exploits the flexibility afforded by consonant clusters composed of mutes and liquids, which optionally lengthen a preceding short vowel. So πατρὸς is scanned as a trochee in line 2 (¯ ˘) but a pyrrhus in line 4 ( ˘ ˘). He combines the two methods in line 7, where πατρὸς again appears, but now scans as a spondee (¯ ¯), since it is followed by a word beginning with a consonant. Finally, Gregory exploits bi-forms of the same word. In lines 9 and and 11, he places τόσον, ὅσσον, and τόσσον in close proximity. The prosodic variation here is made possible by the option of dropping a sigma in the pronouns τόσσος and ὅσσος.

Gregory’s etymological word play continues in line 7, where he writes that “the Word of the Father was made our man (φώς).” He here exploits the homophones φώς (man) and φῶς (light). By Gregory’s period the difference original difference in tonal accentuation would scarcely have been heard.4 Gregory certainly intends us to hear John 1 in the background, where Jesus as the Word (λόγος) is described as “the light of men” (τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων Jn 1:4) and “the true light that illumines every human being” (τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον Jn 1:9), and where the Logos is said to “become flesh and dwell among us” (Καὶ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν Jn 1:14).

After a few lines dealing with Jesus’ incarnation, he bids his imagined to be satisfied with his extremely brief account of the incarnation (11). Instead of probing things that are, strictly speaking, ineffable (ἄφραστον), Gregory tells them to “respect the limits of speech” (12). Gregory here again plays on the polyvalence of the word μέτρον (“limit” or “measure”). The more significant point is a theological one: the nature of the Incarnation is ultimately beyond the human being’s capacity to capture in words. Yet Gregory playfully takes it also to the more banal reality of the length of a literary work, effectively what we would call word or page count. The last few lines of the poem link this theological error (failing to respect the limits of human speech) to an aesthetic error (writing endlessly with so sense of proper length). Gregory characterized his own reply as unstained in both senses: it is true theologically and written in a concise style. The stylistic concerns are here foregrounded by the allusions to Callimachus already mentioned, and by the striking ending to the poem, where Gregory promises to write his works with a “pen that bears no stain” (line 16). He is, once more, delighting in paradox, for we could equally translate the line “a pen that has no ink.” Gregory here uses γραφίς (“pen”) in a metaphorical sense similar to the Latin stilus.5 His theological insight finds expression in a “spotless” style.

Bibliography

Chantraine, P. 1968. Dictionnaire étymologique de la lange Grecque. Paris.

Hopkinson, N. 1982. “Juxtaposed Prosodic Variants in Greek and Latin Poetry.” Glotta: Zeitschrift Für Griechische Und Lateinische Sprache 60: 162–77.


  1. καὶ γὰρ οὐδὲ ἔστι τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ νηπίου κατὰ στέρησιν ἡμῖν νοούμενον, ἐπεὶ τὸ νη στερητικὸν γραμματικῶν νομοθετοῦσιν παῖδες (Clem. of Al. Paed. 1.20).

  2. Chantraine 1968 s.v. rejects an etymology from νη– and ἔπος.

  3. The term refers to the juxtaposition of the same or similar words with prosodic variation. For instance, Call. hZeus 55: καλὰ μὲν ἠἐξευ, καλὰ δἔτραφες, οὐράνιε Ζεῦ (“Well you grew, and well you were raised, heavenly Zeus”). The first καλὰ must be scanned as a trochee (¯ ˘), the second as a pyrrhus (˘ ˘).

    For a typology and examples, see Hopkinson 1982. In his partial catalogue, he lists several examples from Gregory, but none from this poem.

  4. This is, as it happens, another coincidence on which Clement of Alexandria commented (Paed. 1.6.28). He suggested that because the redeemed person is “light in the Lord” (φῶς ἐν κυρίῳ, from Eph 5:8), the human being was rightly called a φώς by the ancients.

  5. This is the only passage of which I am aware where an author uses γραφίς in this metaphorical sense.

Back to WordPress

After a year or two at Squarespace, I’ve decided to return to WordPress. This blog largely contains material from before I started my graduate work at Catholic 6.5 years ago, but I’ve decided to revive this blog rather than beginning something new. I’ve transferred my domain here, so what was mapoulos.wordpress.com is now simply alexpoulos.com. I’ve rechristened the site “equulus” (κῦδος to the one who parses that). The content that was at the Squarespace site will be moved over here in due course.

Within the next couple of months I’ll be finishing and defending my dissertation on the poetry of Gregory of Nazianzus. After that, I’m planning to resume work in software development and pursue scholarship outside of work. This will afford me more flexibility in what I undertake research-wise and, paradoxically, more time to blog here. We’ll see what comes of it.