07 October 2010

Theodoros' Poem to Cleofe

Polyphemus and Galatea
This weekend the Byzantine Studies Association of North America is meeting at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I am speaking Friday on the poem Theodoros Palaiologos wrote for Cleofe, or on the reasons why it is by Theodoros and not by Bessarion as asserted since Allatius pronounced it so in 1648 and so maintained up to this day by a remarkable number of people who should know better.

It is also asserted that the poem is in Bessarion's handwriting, but an examination of the script and comparison with other documents certainly by Bessarion shows several distinct differences in letter formation, even if the overall effect is similar. However, since it is not possible to assert that handwriting is the equivalent of authorship, we will just let that go.

It is, I think, in the contents of the poem itself that authorship is made clear, both in what Theodoros writes and in the use he has made of two other poems. I am putting all three poems here, the original texts and the translations Pierre MacKay and I have made, which is what I will use as the handout for my conference paper.

στϊχοι ἐπιτύμβιοι ἰάμβικοι ἐπὶ τῷ τάφῳ τῆς μακαρίτιδος βασιλίσσης κυρᾶς Κλεόπης τῆς Παλαιολογίνης MS. Venice. Marcianus 533 f. 48b

Καὶ σώμασι πρίν, φιλτάτη, ξυνημμένοι
μία τε σὰρξ ὄντες, θεοῦ φάσκει λόγος,
τῷ πνεύματι ξύνειμεν ἄρτι κρειττόνως,
σοῦ μὲν νοητῶς καὶ τρόπον μοι καὶ λόγον
βιόν τε καὶ νόημα πᾶν οὐρανόθεν
ἐμοῦ καθαρῶς καθορώσης ᾗ θέμις,
ἐμοῦ διχασθέντος δέ, φεῦ, ἐπωδύνως
θερμοῖς τε σὺν δᾶκρυσιν ἐκκαλουμένου
μέρος τὸ λεῖπον καὶ καλὸν δή μοι μέλος.

Ταύτῃ γὰρ ἐν ταύτῃ σε γράψας εἰκόνι
πάντως ἐμαυτὸν προσπαρέγραψα τρόπῳ,
ἑνώσεως θέλων ξυνῆφθαί σοι τρίτῳ
ὡς τοῦ πόθου σβέσαιμι τὴν δεινὴν φλόγα
ψυχῆς τ’ ἐπαντλήσαιμι οἰδαῖνον πάθος.

Ἀλλ’ ὦ θανοῦσα καὶ θεῷ ζῶσ’ ἀξίως,
ἡνίκα τοῖς σοῖς τὸ χρεὼν ταὐτῷ τάφῳ
ὀστᾶ συνάψῃ τἀμὰ τετράδι τρόπων
αἰσθήσεων ἔξω με δεῖξαν πεντάδος,
πέμπτον σύναψον κρειττον’ ἀλλον δὴ τρόπον
τρυφῆς μετασχείν καὶ θεοῦ θεωρίας,
σὺν σοὶ τὸ θαρρεῖν ὡς ἔχουσα καὶ μάλα
δοῦσα ξυνεργὸς ἁμὸς οἷα καὶ μέλος.

Funerary iambic lines on the tomb of the
blessed Basilissa, Lady Cleofe Palaiologina.

Although, my dearest, we were once united,
being one flesh, the word of God claims
that it is better now to be together in the spirit,
you, living in thought, looking down from Heaven
upon my life, my words, my ways, and thought,

seeing all clearly as it is your right,
I, alas, torn apart, living in pain,
calling out for you with scalding tears,
for me, one thing is left, one good thing, song.

And so, portraying you in this image,
I have put myself beside you in every sense
wishing to be united in a third form of union.
so as to quench the terrible fire of longing
and to empty out the agony from my soul.

But, you who have died but live with God, deservedly,
when in the same tomb necessity brings
my bones together with yours in the fourth way
then, showing me what lies beyond the five senses
unite with me in the fifth and greater way
to share in delight and in the sight of God
my courage lies with you, who possess and indeed
give me, as my fellow-poet, this song.

       Morta è la sancta donna che tenea
mio spirto unito, tacito e contento;
anzi vive nel cielo, e io in tormento
remaso sono, altr’uom ch’io non solea:
      non huom, ma bruto, sì che ben dovea
sequire il corpo suo di vita spento,
né mai partir da lato al monimento,
ma incenerarmi ove ’l suo cor giacea,
      ché forse l’alma lei sequita arebbe
nel triumpho celeste, ove si vive
eternalmente per divina possa.
      Se pur di seguir lei fusser stà prive
le forze mie, almen stato serebbe
sepulto il corpo presso a le sacr’ossa.

       The holy lady is dead, who used to keep
my spirit united, quiet and content;
Now she lives in heaven, and I in torment
am left, another man from what I was:
      not man, but brute, so that I had best
have followed her body now bereft of life,
never to depart from her tomb-side
but scatter my ashes where her heart lies.
      Perhaps my soul might follow her
in the celestial triumph, where all live
eternally by divine power.
      Then if my efforts still left me prevented
from following her, my body would at least
be buried close beside her sacred bones.

Theocritus XI, 1–4 (Cyclops).

Οὐδὲν ποττὸν ἔρωτα πεφύκει φάρμακον ἄλλο,
Νικία, οὔτ’ ἔγχριστον, ἐμὶν δοκεῖ, οὔτ’ ἐπίπαστον,

ἢ ταὶ Πιερίδες· κοῦφον δέ τι τοῦτο καὶ ἁδύ
γίνετ’ ἐπ' ἀνθρώποις, εὑρεῖν δ’ οὐ ῥᾴδιόν ἐστι.

There is no other drug for love, Nicias, nor salve, nor poultice,
except the Muses, and this is something sweet and gentle
for men, yet it is not easy to discover it.

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