Lethe and Eunoe

Purgatorio

In Purgatorio, Dante puts the source of the mythical rivers Lethe and Eunoe at the peak of the earthly mountain at the antipodes that is Purgatory. After purging yourself of your sins in ascending through Purgatory, you must wade through the two rivers before entering paradise.

The Lethe (Greek for “forgetfulness”) purges your memory of your sins. The Eunoe (“good mind”) enhances your memory of those good things you accomplished in life.

It’s a nice reminder of moving on in our own personal lives. You can’t really move on to bigger and better things until you put the old issues behind you. Heaven with constant reminders of the problems of the past is not really heaven.

There is also an interesting Buddhist flavor here, reminding you to live in the present. What’s done is done, you’ve accounted for it, now move on.

— Reader’s Note —

I encourage everyone to make the full journey from Inferno to Paradiso. Its best done, in my opinion, by choosing whether you want to read for poetry or read for late medieval Italian historical detail. Doing both at once can be overwhelming. Either way, if you do, definitely check out the Dartmouth Dante Project.

 

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Not enough (words for) love

I’m reading Robert Nozick’s The Examined Life. It’s full of good, mind-tingling things, and last night I read his chapter on love. He doesn’t mention this specifically but it reminded me that the Greek’s (yes, back to that language) have 4 words for love, where English has one.

agape

eros

philia

storge

They are pretty distinct and world certainly simplify English, leaving behind a lot of mucking about with adjectives. But at the same time, we would lose out on some great comedy of misunderstanding.

I’m really focused on Greek lately, aren’t I? This despite the fact that I have never attempted any education (self or otherwise) in Greek. I taught myself and took college level courses in Latin for years. And yet I return to Greek for in interesting tidbits more often.

No lesson today. Just bits of info. I assume people aren’t generally aware of this, but perhaps I am wrong?

Epiousios

Welcome to my third blog. It’s been at least 5 years since my last blog post. The goal this time is to post every day, no matter how short. Let’s get started. (No, this opener will not regale you with what this blog will try to be, besides daily. Who knows what it will be. Expectations unformed cannot be disappointed.)

ldsprayergreek

“Epiousios” is a classical Greek word that has fascinated me for a long time. I even own espiousios.me (.com was too expensive for my taste) and it re-directs right here.

For the full background, check out this site and the wikipedia page. Here’s why I love it:

  1. It is a hapax legomenon, meaning it only appears once in the bible or in the entirety of Classical Greek literature. This makes translation difficult.
  2. It is found in the Matthew and Luke Gospel versions of the Lord’s Prayer (see picture above), and that’s it.
  3. Thanks to translation into Latin and then subsequently into other languages, it has been rendered as “daily” for centuries now. “Give us this day ou daily bread …” This blog is supposed to be a daily exercise, so I like the symmetry and opening connection.
  4. The use of “daily” as the proper translation is highly suspect. The Greek word for daily is used throughout the Bible, and it’s not “epiousios.”
  5. Breaking the word apart, it seems more likely that the word is meant to convey the concept of being “supersubstantial,” thus suggesting the we are not talking about physical sustenance here but rather the religious and spiritual concept of the Eucharist.
  6. But, says history and 2,000 years of Church wrangling, we’ll stick with “daily” because, well, you know, because.

So I love it because of its uniqueness and because its an example of how history and institutions really work. The Lord’s Prayer, one of the most important pieces of literature in Western history, said over and over again DAILY all over the world, includes a word which is almost certainly “wrong” from its original meaning. But everyone’s cool with it. Because that’s what we do.