Verweerde skrif: ʼn tematiese ondersoek na ouderdom, verganklikheid, aftakeling en sterflikheid in die vroeë Griekse digkuns

Erasmus, Alecia (2014-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: With the discovery of the so-called “New Sappho” in 2004, there has been a revival in the research about Sappho, Greek lyric and old age in Greek literature. In this short fragment, Sappho writes about the symptoms of old age. She interweaves this with mythological references to Eos and Tithonus. It was especially this remarkable find that has focused my attention on the themes of old age, caducity, bodily decay and mortality in Greek literature. In my opinion the discovery of a new fragment of Greek poetry justifies research on this genre as well as the themes that occur in it. This thesis explores the following research question: What is the view of old age that is brought to the fore in a thematic examination of early Greek poetry? My discussion includes works by Sappho, Anacreon, Ibycus, Mimnermus, Tyrtaeus of Sparta, Solon of Athens, Theognis, Archilochus and Semonides of Amorgos. This thesis found that the view of old age in early Greek poetry is predominantly negative. The thesis proves the hypothesis that the view of old age, caducity, bodily decay and mortality that is brought to the fore in a thematic examination of early Greek poetry agrees with the negative view of these aspects as appears from the other literary genres from the Greek canon. In most cases there is a strong relationship between old age and eroticism and how old age obstructs eroticism. In these fragments we often find a human revolt on a universal scale against old age and the loss of love. The aged body is no longer seen as an erotic object. This also has serious implications for the social circumstances of the aged. The use of the first person voice stresses both the raw, personal experience of old age and the universal experience thereof. The first person plural in some cases underlines the collective attitude and experiences of the ageing person. Early Greek poets describe old age as πόλιος (grey), ὀδυνηρός (painful), ἀργαλέος (baneful), κακός (evil), ἄμορφος (ugly), οὐλόμενος (accursed) and ἄζηλος (unenviable). The epithets and adjectival clauses which are identified in the discussed poetry form a conceptual nexus of old age which is almost uniformly negative. Except for Tyrtaeus and maybe Solon, most poets have a disapproving, reproachful, despising and repulsive attitude towards old age. In these fragments, old age is described as the threshold to death. Old age in itself is a type of death, a living death.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Met die ontdekking van die sogenaamde “Nuwe Sappho” in 2004 het daar weer opflikkering gekom in die navorsing oor Sappho, die Griekse liriek en die ouderdom in Griekse letterkunde. In hierdie kort fragment skryf Sappho oor die simptome van die ouderdom en verweef sy dit ook met mitologiese verwysings na Eos en Tithonos. Dit is juis hierdie merkwaardige vonds wat my aandag gefokus het op die temas van ouderdom, verganklikheid, aftakeling en sterflikheid in die Griekse letterkunde. Die ontdekking van ʼn nuwe fragment Griekse poësie regverdig na myns insiens navorsing oor hierdie genre en dus ook die temas wat daarin voorkom. In hierdie tesis word die volgende navorsingsprobleem ondersoek: Wat is die siening van ouderdom, verganklikheid, aftakeling en sterflikheid wat na vore kom in ʼn tematiese ondersoek van die vroeë Griekse digkuns? My bespreking sluit werke deur Sappho, Anakreon, Ibukos, Mimnermos, Turtaios van Sparta, Solon van Athene, Theognis, Archilochos en Semonides van Amorgos in. In hierdie tesis is daar bevind dat die siening van die ouderdom in die vroeë Griekse digkuns oorwegend negatief is. Die tesis bewys die hipotese dat die siening van ouderdom, verganklikheid, aftakeling en sterflikheid wat na vore kom in ʼn tematiese ondersoek van die vroeë Griekse digkuns ooreenstem met die negatiewe siening oor hierdie aspekte wat in ander letterkundige genres van die Griekse kanon blyk. Daar is in die meeste gevalle ʼn sterk verbintenis tussen die ouderdom en die erotiek en hoe eersgenoemde die tweede kortwiek. Dikwels tref ons op ʼn universele vlak ʼn uiting van die menslike verset teen die ouderdom en die verlies van liefde in die fragmente aan. Die bejaarde liggaam word nie meer as ʼn erotiese voorwerp gesien nie. Dit het ook ernstige implikasies vir die sosiale omstandighede van die bejaardes. Die gebruik van die eerstepersoonspreker in die vroeë Griekse digkuns onderstreep tegelyk die rou, persoonlike belewenis van die ouderdom sowel as die universele ervaring daarvan. Die eerstepersoonsmeervoud in sekere gevalle beklemtoon die kollektiewe houding en ervaring van die ouerwordende mens. Die ouderdom word deur die vroeë Griekse digters as πόλιος (gryskop; grou), ὀδυνηρός (pynlik), ἀργαλέος (verderflik), κακός (boos), ἄμορφος (lelik), οὐλόμενος (vervloek) en ἄζηλος (onbenydenswaardig) uitgekryt. Die epiteta en byvoeglike bepalings wat in die bespreekte kortpoësie aangetref word, vorm ʼn konseptuele neksus van die ouderdom wat amper gelykmatig negatief is. Behalwe vir die uitsondering van Turtaios en miskien Solon, is die meeste digters se houding teenoor die ouderdom en bejaardes daardie van afkeer, verwyt, veragting en ongeneentheid. In dié fragmente word die ouderdom geskets as die drumpel tot die dood. Ouderdom is op sigself ʼn soort dood, ʼn lewende dood.

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