söndag, mars 08, 2009

On Bedfellows

Reply for Grand'mère Mimi:

The 3 words malakoì oúte arsenokoîtai in 1 Cor 6:9 refer to the 7th Commandment, the Household, by Paulos the House Congre-gation, and translates "soft"/ neither / arseno-koît-ai respecti-vely. The latter word signifying male "bedders" or concubin(s).

As Boswell 1980 points out the construction itself does not indi-cate which half is the subject/object and thus the meaning rests indefinable. He gives the example of the comedy “lady killers”, which are neither… I always think of “Gefillte Fisch”, a Yiddish course which isn’t filled but in-baked, as far as I can see (it’s very tasty).

However, the Old Latin translation from North Africa (maybe just 3/4 of a century after Paulos, thus elder than the youngest Alex-andrian “Letters” in the NT), is masculorum concubitores: male bedfellows.

Such were male prostitutes (they may have been EU-nucks – the ancient world is a different landscape...). And probably they pros-tituted themselves more often with xärai; (lit. widows) self sup-porting women, than with men. The ársen; “male” is there to un-derline their aptness for their trade…

Antiquity was full of Greek specialitées à prix fix which weren't even translatable to Ancient Latin...

Bedfellows were an important institution in pre Modernity. Hardly even Emperors or Kings slept alone in their beds. It was too cold. Queen Elizabeth I had a Swedish Woman of the Bed-chamber, Helena Snakenborg called My Good Lady Marquess of Northampton, Queen Catharine Parr’s brother’s 3rd wife and widow.

Strange as it may seem to us, bedfellows always were of the s a m e sex – or none, as were the case with wet-nurses… ;=) Just as men went about holding arms - they still do in pre modern cultures, that is most everything outside the West.

In Ancient Egypt Household members slept on the roof, well into Medieval times they slept in mats on the floor. At the beginning of the last century, most servants still slept in attics.

Stable boys slept in the hay (blankets were for horses, as my Grandmother’s eldest Aunt Selma - the family saint, much into slums and good works - was once rebuked when visiting her Uncle at Ekenäs in Finland. It was winter and she had come upon a heap of woollen blankets in the Vestibule and asked if she could take them out to the Stables. Yes you can, said Uncle Claes. Whereupon Aunt Selma exclaimed: How the stable boys will be pleased… Not the men – the horses! her uncle retorted.)

The word arsenokoîtai itself is probably Corinthian slang and not known in writing before Paulos around 54 AD (“1st“ Cor:1-8 is at least the third letter to Corinth, Chapters 8-16 is the second, and the “2nd“ Cor is the first preserved).

When, in the centuries after Paulos, it is (rarely) used it refers to economic abuse of different kinds; Greed, 10th Commandment.

Only from the 10th century the word seems gradually to have taken on a sexualized meaning, parallel to the way malakoì; “soft” (primarily of textiles), was changed to refer to “masturbation” (having taken on that meaning in Modern Greek for both women and men ;=)

Malakós in its primary sense is found in Luke 7:24 and Matt 11:8, referring to clothes, those of John the Baptist to be precise.

8 kommentarer:

Grandmère Mimi sa...

Göran! An entire post devoted to answering my question! I'm honored.

Thank you. Your answer is quite helpful.

Göran Koch-Swahne sa...

My pleasure!

Cany sa...

Wonderful, wonderful post Goran. Thank you!

Fred Schwartz sa...

Göran, just when I finally got the last one figured out now I have to go to work on this one.

All kidding aside, your work for me is both a trememdous help in understanding hte scriptures and a pleasure to reflect on with my God. Thanks!

Göran Koch-Swahne sa...

Thanks, back to you!

Mike in Texas sa...

Goran ... a nice tidbit hidden away in a footnote in Boswell. (Footnote 26 on p. 364)

Joannes Jejunator (Patriarch of Constantinople who lived in the sixth century A.D.) used "arsenkoites" in a treatise on how confessor priests should ask penitents about sexual sin. If we translate "arsenkoites" as "homosexuality", then his treatise contains the following sentence:

"In fact, many men even commit the sin of homosexuality with their wives."

Moreover, that particular sentence occurs at the end of a paragraph discussing men who have incestuous sexual relations with female relatives, so it doesn't even appear in connection with a discussion of homosexual activity of any kind. The Patriarch is clearly discussing the sins common among heterosexuals.

***** "This penitential, one of the earliest in Greek, has traditionally been ascribed to John the Faster ("Jejunator"), patriarch of Constantinople from A.D. 582 to 593, whose name appears on several manuscripts of the work. Although this attribution is vigorously contested (not without reason), no resolution of the issue has been pssible, and scholarly opinion on the subject ranges from acceptance of John's authorship to a beief in composition as late as the tenth century. A complex summary of the various points of view may be found in Emilio Herman, "Il piu antico penitenziale greco," Orientalia Christiana periodica 19 (1953): 71-127. For the text as cited, see Patrologiae cursus completus, Series Graeca, 88:1893-96. There is no English translation, and the Latin provided in the PG edition is particularly loose and misleading.

Göran Koch-Swahne sa...

I think the 10th century would be the more probable, because the other sexualizations - and the penitentials as a genre - come then.

À propos of the Patrologia, I once had a quote from Johannes Chrysostomos (Homilia IV in Romans, I believe) labelled Patrologia graecae in Boswell, wich turned out to be a misprint... There is no Greek original, so it w a s the Patrologia latina ;=)

How I found out (the series, some 300 strong, is put away in the vaults of the Royal Library instead of in the large groundfloor reading room where the other "reference" works are), but I put Patrologia latina on the form the next time - and got the right one!

Mike in Texas sa...

Ha!