τὸ φρενῶν διαφθαρέν -> senselessness in one's thinking, being at wits' end, damage of the understanding, derangement of the mind

spiros

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τὸ φρενῶν διαφθαρέν -> damage of the understanding, madness, folly
« Last Edit: Today at 12:17:19 by billberg23 »


billberg23

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Euripides, Orestes 296-8:
ὅταν δὲ τἄμ᾽ ἀθυμήσαντ᾽ ἴδῃς, / σύ μου τὸ δεινὸν καὶ διαφθαρὲν φρενῶν / ἴσχναινε παραμυθοῦ θ᾽.
The sense seems to be "whenever you see me despondent over my situation, do what you can to lessen and relieve what is wild and senseless in my thinking (literally, 'what of my wits is weird and ruined')".




billberg23

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LSJ attempts to justify its translation of the Euripidean τὸ φρενῶν διαφθαρέν as “damage of the understanding, madness, folly, derangement of the mind,” i.e. as equivalent to φρενοβλάβεια (a word first attested two centuries later), by citing a passage from Xenophon’s Cyropaedia (4.1.8.5-8).  That passage, which deals with the despondency (ἀθυμία) of Croesus and his allies over the loss in battle of their best men, is worth a look:
ἀθυμίαν δὲ πλείστην παρεῖχε πᾶσιν ὅτι τὸ ἡγούμενον τῆς στρατιᾶς φῦλον διέφθαρτο τὰς γνώμας. In Walter Miller’s 1914 translation, “but what caused the greatest despondency in all was the fact that the leading contingent of the army had become thoroughly demoralized” (literally “had become ruined in their resolve/purpose”).  There is more than a subtle difference, we would hope, between being demoralized and being deranged, just as there is a big difference between the Euripidean τὸ φρενῶν διαφθαρέν, “senseless thinking”  (along with the Xenophontic διέφθαρτο τὰς γνώμας, “ruined resolve”) and the much later φρενοβλάβεια, “madness.”



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billberg23

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We could conceivably see craziness in the other quality of Orestes' despondency, τὸ δεινὸν φρενῶν, but it doesn't seem likely.  He's probably referring to wild fantasies rather than madness.


 

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