Rosy-fingered dawn

Here's how Matsudaira handles the start of Book II of the Odyssey. First, for reference, Butler's version:

Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared Telemachus rose ...

And here's Matsudaira's version:

朝のまだきに生れ指ばら色の曙の女神が姿を現わすと、オデュッセウスの寵愛の息子は床から身を起こし ...

So the word madaki is a time word sort of meaning "soon", almost "too soon." There is actually a word, asamadaki, which means "early morning when dawn is just about to break" (and it can be used with madaki, giving you asamadaki madaki: "too early in the early morning"). So literally the above means something like:

When, born as the morning broke, the rosy-fingered goddess of dawn showed her form, Odysseus's beloved son rose from his bed ...

(Note that Matsudaira is presumably restoring a roundabout way of saying "Telemachus" that Butler has simplified.)

Part of the reason that I decided to read this book in Japanese is that I read Japanese much closer than I do English. I'd never really even thought about the way that "morning" and "dawn" are related in the standard English version of the epithet, but all those Japanese books and poems about Heian nobles getting up to mischief at various named points on the evening → noon spectrum have primed me to pay closer attention to this stuff in Japanese. And so it pleases me to notice that to be the goddess of dawn (akebono), you have to get up (that is, be born) pretty early (asa no madaki).

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I wish I had your patience to read carefully in Japanese. I'm trying to study for JLPT and I can't stand the struggle of groping with a text that would be so easy in English. Patience really is a gift to be grateful for...

Leonardo Boiko:

For further reference: ἦμος δ᾽ ἠριγένεια φάνη ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠώς,
ὤρνυτ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἐξ εὐνῆφιν Ὀδυσσῆος φίλος υἱὸς […]

So, yeah, in the original it was
Odyssēos Phílos yiòs and not Thelemakos.

Avery: Dude read it in Greek for full oral-formulaic effectiveness :) One loses a lot with prose translations, particularly when the writer decides to “simplify” the “roundabout ways” of speaking… Seriously, these things were essentially songbooks.

(I’m being facetious, I can’t read it in Greek or Japanese either…)

“Reading carefully” makes me think of this.

Leonardo Boiko:

(My utter inability with Greek being illustrated by my pidgin spelling of… [checks wikipedia] Tēlemakhos.)


What did Matsudaira use as a base text...the Greek? If so his trans. would make sense


Yeah, Matsudaira is a renowned Greek scholar and his translation was published within the last 10-20 years. He also has notes like "this epithet occurs only here" or "for more on [obscure character name], see Iliad III", and all of his character/place names are obviously direct from the Greek (Atene, not At(h)ena, etc.) I'm 100% certain that he was working directly from the ancient Greek.

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