Last week when I wrote my blog review of the Margaret Atwood play, The Penelopiad now on at the Stanley until November 20 I found that I had written Pelenopiad down the line. I am a dyslexic so it did not surprise me. But I became curious and looked up dyslexia on my on line Diccionario de la Real Academia Española. I discovered: dislexia. (De dis-2 y el gr. λέξις, habla o dicción). 1. f. Dificultad en el aprendizaje de la lectura, la escritura o el cálculo, frecuentemente asociada con trastornos de la coordinación motora y la atención, pero no de la inteligencia. 2. f. Med. Incapacidad parcial o total para comprender lo que se lee causada por una lesión cerebral. The word comes from the Greek word λέξις which means talk or diction. All the above set me to further thinking and wondering what poet Ogden Nash, he of the laboured rhyme, might have to say about the Greeks. I checked on my volume of Selected Poems of Ogden Nash — I Wouldn’t Have Missed It with an introduction by Archibald MacLeish and found this: While Homer Nodded: A Footnote To The Iliad In the days when the hollow ships of the well-greaved Achaeans were beached off Priam’s city there was a two-faced Achaean named Antiscrupulos. And he was so two-faced that his duplicity was doubled. It was quadrapulous. He was owner of a mighty fleet which was not under Achaean registry, it flew the flag of Hesperides. And his ships were never hollow, they were always full of costly cargoes such as maidens available for sacrifice and Lotus the predecessor of LSD and cantharides. He was far too busy hurling insults at Hector on the ringing plains of windy Troy. He was always furrowing the wine-dark sea in search of costlier car- goes and nearly always accompanied by a fascinating hetaera, which was the contemporary term for the daughter of joy. But once he didn’t take her with him and got home a day early and what did he behold? There was his hetaera in compromising situation with a shower of gold, And he said,” How do you excuse such misconduct?”, And she said , “ I don’t need any excuse, This isn’t really a shower of gold but aegis-bearing Zeus. Well, Antiscrupulos was very moral about other people’s morals, anent he was a veritable bluenose. And he was also jealous as a dozen Heras and Junos So after precautiously sacrificing a maiden to the aegis-bearing Zeus he accused aegis-bearing Zeus as being a compulsive seducer and a menace to Achaean womanhood both mortal and immortal. And Zeus did not incinerate him with a thunderbolt , he just gave a thunderous self-satisfied lecherous chortle. Antiscrupulos grew even more indignant and ventured on further prods, He said,” How can you chortle off your licentious behaviour, you who should set an example of marital fidelity for us humans, you who bears the dread responsibility of the monarch of Olympus and king of all the gods?”. He said, “ Tell me , O king of all the gods , for your godless philandering can you offer the shadow of an excuse , the ghost of an excuse, the wraith of an excuse , even the wraithiest?”. And Zeus said, “I am an atheist”.
I am certainly no Ogden Nash but it made me think that he would have likely questioned with glee the lack of logic of such words like Penelope yet Terpsichore is not pronounced Terspsí-coree. Then why is Penelope not Pen-eh-lope. Would have Nash have perhaps started something like: To elope with Pen-eh-lope is Not to elopee with Penelopee. It is equally not the same to play Monopoly with Penelope As Monopoly with Pen-eh-lope, to no avail Will send you straight to jail It all makes me wonder how one exactly pronounces Cassiopeia and I have my doubts if I could tackle Calliope (call-i-oh-pee or calli-ope). Consider who she is: In Greek mythology, Calliope ( /kəˈlaɪ.əpiː/ kə-ly-ə-pee; Ancient Greek: Καλλιόπη Kalliope “beautiful-voiced”) was the muse of epic poetry, daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne, and is now best known as Homer’s muse, the inspiration for the Odyssey and the Iliad. This brings me to a preoccupation as to who Menmosyne is and how it is pronounced Mnemosyne ( /nɨˈmɒzɨniː/ or /nɨˈmɒsɨni/; Greek: Mνημοσύνη, pronounced [mnɛːmosýːnɛː]), source of the word mnemonic, was the personification of memory in Greek mythology. This titaness was the daughter of Gaia and Uranus and the mother of the nine Muses by Zeus. And I could go on and will for a bit more. When Rosemary and my two granddaughters and I arrived to the Great Salt Lake in July past, we navigated with our Malibu a causeway that took us to an island in the lake called Antelope Island. I had warned my granddaughters that Utahians (does that sound strange? It sounds as strange as Newyoricans) pronounced it Antí-lo-pee and soon even Rosemary was having fun pronouncing it that way. As for the patient Penelope there seem to be many meanings. The one that Atwood chose was the one of the purple striped duck. This duck, a flock of them saved baby Penelope from being drowned when her father, King Icarius threw her into the sea. Another quite strange is this one: from Gk. Penelopeia, probably related to pene “thread on the bobbin.” Used in English as the type of the virtuous wife (1580) as it was in Latin. It is from this definition that some equate Penelope to the meaning of weaver. The real reason for all this nonsense, if I am to be truthful is simply to give me space to place here two more pictures of Sandrine Cassini, a Penelope anybody in his right mind would drop Circe, just like that, and hurry home. I’m much too chaste of thought to add, to her bed.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.