One of the texts for St Nicholas of Myra is a beast and a monster. No matter how good your Greek is, it is bafflingly hard. Part of the problem is that it is written in a poetic style – the editor, Anrich, even marks the cadences with <> marks! The opening section is highly rhetorical and windy; even the narrative portion, telling the tale of the three virgins for whom Nicholas found dowries, is difficult.
David Miller had a go at it, and has produced the following: but if you reckon yourself a Greek whizz, then why not see if you can work out what’s going on with the text? David writes:
Anyway, speed of work on this was about twice as slow as on the previous ones, even with leaving seven places where I have had to take a guess from the context at meanings which were out of my reach. I suggest that, as it’s only for your blog, you could put this bit up, complete with my notes about those seven places, and invite anyone who knows more to contribute their solutions.
Here’s the page images from Anrich’s edition:
And here is David’s final version of the translation, after much discussion in the comments. Any further comments are very welcome!
- The 3 daughters re-re-revised (Word .doc file)
David’s first encounter with the text produced the following email, which I reproduce for the benefit of others who may walk this way:
Now, as for Methodius ad Theodorum:
I’ve reached, in rough, halfway through para.2 (“Heimat”) – far enough to try a bit of it out on you, to see if it really is the sort of stuff you want.
Note first that, as the bit of Greek embedded in Anrich’s introduction reveals, it is designed as a poem (ποιημα). The angle brackets that disfigure the text passim are the cadences, marked by Anrich in accordance with Meyer’s Sentence-end Law (intro. para.2), and therefore, I suggest, nothing whatever to do with us, even if I could reproduce them.
The whole of the first paragraph is the sort of wordy grovelling that you see in the preface of 17th/18th cent. English treatises, designed to flatter the dedicatee; it expresses the author’s intention to please him by giving up writing encomia, and writing narrative instead.
Here’s the start of para.2:
“O Nicholas, God’s servant, vessel containing the perfume of the [all-holy and lifegiving] Spirit; flower, shoot and root of the Myrans, and their fragrance, lily-white in pre-eminence, adorned like a violet in public life, red as a rose in truthfulness, greener even than the buds in self-control, and with your head crowned in grey; you have toiled to the uttermost at your work, making light of the body but keeping the spirit tightly strung, bedewed with purity and alive [lit. “foaming”] with zeal ….” [incidentally we have yet to reach a verb – I stuck in “you have toiled” in place of the participle because I could hold out no longer – and I should probably be putting “thou” for “you”, in an attempt to reach the distant heights of Methodius’ language, which he claimed in par.1 was going to be plain and clear]
It all sounds very, um, Byzantine!