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Hysminé’s Nostrils

August 9, 2013

Now that Kurk has brought up Hysminé’s nostrils, I have to admit that this is even odder than the lack of Adam’s nose. If Adam’s nose is downsized to his face, then Hysminé’s nose is upsized to her nostrils. How odd! Would you translate like this? (BTW, I don’t have access to the Greek, or English, but am hoping that Kurk does.) But this is Hysminé.

Her mouth is drawn in exact proportion, her lips are light and vermilion like a rose. Her white and perfectly straight teeth look like a choir of virgins around which the lips serve as rampart and refuge. Her face, enfin, forms a perfect circle in which her nostrils are the centre.

I just couldn’t bear to translate “enfin” – it comes like a lover’s sigh and “finally” just wouldn’t do. But why narines – “nostrils”  – instead of nose? According to LSJ, it is quite acceptable to translate τὰς ῥῖνας as nose, whether plural or not. Sometimes odd things creep into translation and then they stick.

Hysmine

 

 

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2013 9:58 am

    Suzanne, I love your translation (and even your retaining enfin)!

    We do have access to the Greek (via google)

    Τὸ στόμα συμμέτρως διέρρηκται· τὸ πολὺ τῆς σαρκὸς τῶν χειλέων διέρριπται, καὶ ἄμφω τὼ χείλη φοινίσσεται. Εἴποις ἰδὼν ῥόδον ἐκθλῖψαι τὴν κόρην τοῖς χείλεσι. Χορὸς ὀδόντων λευκός, συστοιχίαν φέρων εὐάρμοστον καὶ πρὸς τὸ χεῖλος ἀνάλογον, ὡς παρθένοι τοῖς χείλεσιν οἰκουρούμενοι. Ὅλον τὸ πρόσωπον κύκλος ἀνεπισφαλής· ἡ ῥὶν κέντρου· λόγον ἐπέχει πρὸς ὅλον τὸ κύκλωμα, καὶ εἰ μὴ φρίσσω τὸν Ἔρωτα καὶ μᾶλλον ἐκ τῆς πείρας αὐτῆς, εἶπον ἂν—ἀλλὰ σιγήσω τὸ ἐφεξῆς, ἵνα μὴ καὶ πάλιν καταβροντήσῃ με τὸ μειράκιον

    Notice, I’ve excerpted just a bit more than you have from the French. It perhaps accounts for the limited (and poor English) translation: Ismene and Ismenias, a novel translated from the French in 1788 by L. H. Le Moine. This translator only offers this English out of the French translation of the Greek –

    … she fills her beholders with admiration:

    Her eyes, her lips, her cheeks, her shape, her features

    seem to be drawn by Love’s own hand; by Love Himself in love.

    I don’t have access (nor does my university library) to E. M. Jeffrey’s English translation from the Greek, one of Four Byzantine Novels, which she published in 2013. (When it comes in via Interlibrary loan, then I’ll show here how she translates the Hellene bit here.)

  2. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    August 10, 2013 2:15 pm

    So how did the singular ἡ ῥὶν κέντρου get translated as “les marines?” Did the translator have some sexual connotation for nostrils, as in a filly’s flaring nostrils? But how does that line up with the virgin choir?

  3. August 10, 2013 7:20 pm

    Great questions! And what do you make of the same translator’s French for the following Greek original? It’s much much later in the novel than the bit you excerpt in your post. (It’s the bit I excerpted in comment to your earlier post of the week; I was trying to show “sweat” and “nose” NOT “face” together) –

    Aissis près de moi, Rhodope me prend les mains,
    essuie la sueur qui couvre mon front,
    mêle ses larmes aux miennes,
    partage ma douleur,
    et s’efforce de me rappeler à la vie en approchant des
    parfums de mes
    narines,
    en posant sa main humide sur ma poitrine,
    afin d’apaiser par cette douce fraicheur
    le feu qui dévoroit mon sein.

    Enfin elle renvoie toutes ses suivantes,
    à l’exception de Hyssimé,
    me serre dans ses bras,
    me donne un baiser,
    et s’écrie en poussant un profond soupir
    et les yeux baignés de larmes:
    O fortune inconstante, …

    καὶ ἡ Ῥοδόπη τῇ κλίνῃ παρακαθίσασα ἥπτετό μου χειρῶν,
    ἀπεμάσσετο τοὺς ἱδρῶτας,
    ἐδάκρυεν,
    ὅλον ἐκοινοῦτό μοι τὸ δυστύχημα,
    τὴν ψυχὴν ἀνεκτᾶτό μου
    τὰς ῥῖνας
    μυρίζουσα,
    ὑγράν μοι χεῖρα κατεπετίθει τῷ στέρνῳ
    καί μοι τὸ περικάρδιον ἔψυχε.

    Καὶ τέλος τὰς θεραπαινίδας κατασκορπίσασα
    πλὴν τῆς ὡς παιδίσκης Ὑσμίνης,
    καὶ ὅλονσυναγαγοῦσά με κατεφίλησε
    καὶ φιλήσασα δακρύων ἐπληρώθη τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς
    καὶ στενάζουσα βύθιον
    “ὦ Τύχη”

    There’s concordance here in this second excerpt that seems lacking in the translation of the first.

  4. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    August 10, 2013 10:31 pm

    That totally makes sense. It works!

    I also love the way, in Greek and in French, men can use the word for “breast.”

  5. August 11, 2013 9:22 am

    I also love the way, in Greek and in French, men can use the word for “breast.”

    Some of your blogging about Psalm 68 has made many of us much more aware of how men can use the word for “breast.” 🙂

  6. August 27, 2013 2:30 pm

    The Elizabeth Jeffreys volume is in, with her translation of Hysmine and Hysminias by Eumathios Makrembolites. Her English translation of the Greek is below the Greek and is followed by the French translation of the Greek. The bold font and the line formatting are mine.

    Book 3 section 6

    Τὸ στόμα συμμέτρως διέρρηκται· τὸ πολὺ τῆς σαρκὸς τῶν χειλέων διέρριπται, καὶ ἄμφω τὼ χείλη φοινίσσεται. Εἴποις ἰδὼν ῥόδον ἐκθλῖψαι τὴν κόρην τοῖς χείλεσι. Χορὸς ὀδόντων λευκός, συστοιχίαν φέρων εὐάρμοστον καὶ πρὸς τὸ χεῖλος ἀνάλογον, ὡς παρθένοι τοῖς χείλεσιν οἰκουρούμενοι. Ὅλον τὸ πρόσωπον κύκλος ἀνεπισφαλής· ἡ ῥὶν κέντρου· λόγον ἐπέχει πρὸς ὅλον τὸ κύκλωμα, καὶ εἰ μὴ φρίσσω τὸν Ἔρωτα καὶ μᾶλλον ἐκ τῆς πείρας αὐτῆς, εἶπον ἂν—ἀλλὰ σιγήσω τὸ ἐφεξῆς, ἵνα μὴ καὶ πάλιν καταβροντήσῃ με τὸ μειράκιον

    Her mouth was parted evenly, most of the flesh from her lips was pressed back and both her lips were tinted red. Seeing her you would way that the girl had crushed a rose with her lips. The chorus of her teeth was white, set in harmonious ranks and appropriate to her lips were like maidens guarded by her lips. Her entire face formed a perfect circle; her nose held the central place in the circuit, and did I not fear Eros and indeed have my experience to support me I would say — but I shall be silent over the rest so that the lad may not hurl thunder my way again.

    Hysmine

    //////
    /////
    /////
    /////
    //////
    /////
    /////
    /////
    //////
    /////
    /////
    /////

    —–
    Book 9 section 14

    καὶ ἡ Ῥοδόπη τῇ κλίνῃ παρακαθίσασα ἥπτετό μου χειρῶν,
    ἀπεμάσσετο τοὺς ἱδρῶτας,
    ἐδάκρυεν,
    ὅλον ἐκοινοῦτό μοι τὸ δυστύχημα,
    τὴν ψυχὴν ἀνεκτᾶτό μου
    τὰς ῥῖνας
    μυρίζουσα,
    ὑγράν μοι χεῖρα κατεπετίθει τῷ στέρνῳ
    καί μοι τὸ περικάρδιον ἔψυχε.

    Καὶ τέλος τὰς θεραπαινίδας κατασκορπίσασα
    πλὴν τῆς ὡς παιδίσκης Ὑσμίνης,
    καὶ ὅλονσυναγαγοῦσά με κατεφίλησε
    καὶ φιλήσασα δακρύων ἐπληρώθη τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς
    καὶ στενάζουσα βύθιον
    “ὦ Τύχη”

    Rhodope sat down by the couch and clasped my hands,
    wiped away my sweat
    and wept,
    completely sharing in my misfortune,
    and she summoned back my soul
    by anointing
    my nostrils.
    She placed a damp hand on my chest
    and stimulated the area round my heart.

    Finally she dismissed the attendants,
    except for the serving girl who looked like Hysmine,
    and, gathering me completely to her,
    she kissed me and as she kissed me her eyes filled with tears
    and she sighed deeply,
    saying, “O Fate….”

    Aissis près de moi, Rhodope me prend les mains,
    essuie la sueur qui couvre mon front,
    mêle ses larmes aux miennes,
    partage ma douleur,
    et s’efforce de me rappeler à la vie en approchant des
    parfums de
    mes narines,
    en posant sa main humide sur ma poitrine,
    afin d’apaiser par cette douce fraicheur
    le feu qui dévoroit mon sein.

    Enfin elle renvoie toutes ses suivantes,
    à l’exception de Hyssimé,
    me serre dans ses bras,
    me donne un baiser,
    et s’écrie en poussant un profond soupir
    et les yeux baignés de larmes:
    O fortune inconstante, …

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