Thursday, 31 January 2019

Shanties in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

Sea shanties are a tradition in the Assassin’s Creed video game series. The most recent installment, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey (2018), is set during the Peloponnesian War. When the player sails a ship around the Aegean Sea, the crew occasionally sing shanties. Many of them are in ancient Greek, based on real ancient poetry and songs.

Most of the shanties were selected and arranged by the composer Giannis Georgantelis. Here’s a short video about their production, by the musical director Dimitris Ilias.

I’d better admit I haven’t played AC: Odyssey. (My desktop computer is a bit lacking in the CPU department. Hopefully I’ll catch up in a few years -- too late for the party, but hey, better late than never.) So my information about the shanties isn’t based on gameplay, but on the soundtrack album on Spotify, and on YouTube clips.

Below I give the words as they are sung in the shanties, followed by the authentic ancient text with a translation. Most shanties don’t use all the text from the ancient poem: my text of the ancient poems shows the extra words in italics.
To be clear in advance: the musical team have done a really good job. In practical terms I could not have wished for better. Speaking as an academic, I have no complaints about any of their methods or choices. I do mention some errors and/or quibbles below, but they are really small beer compared to the overall success of the shanties.

In particular: yes, they use modern Greek pronunciation; no, no sensible classicist minds that. OK, it changes the poetic rhythms -- but then so do the music, the refrains, and other modifications to the wording. So basically, suck it up.

If you do have objections, then ask yourself as a purist why your copy of Sophocles uses the Ionic alphabet and 3rd century BCE spelling conventions.

It’s no bad thing to ease the transition between the modern and classical languages. I’m happy for students to use modern pronunciation in my ancient Greek classes, and I’m seriously considering teaching accents as stress accents for pedagogical reasons. Anyway, over half the songs date to the Roman era, so those ones were always pronounced roughly how they sound in the game.

Addendum, twelve hours later: since the first version of this transcription went online I’ve noticed a handful more errors and variations in the shanty texts, and annotated them below.

Addendum 2, another day later: I have now added my own translations for the shanties in cases where the text is organised differently from the ancient source. Note that the Greek text of the shanties is copied from what is sung, and therefore includes some typos that were evidently given to the singers.

Index

  1. ‘The black earth drinks’ -- Anacreontea 21.1-4, 6-7
  2. ‘Through the storm’ -- Alcaeus fr. 326.1-5 (ed. Lobel-Page)
  3. ‘Muse of the forest’ -- Aristophanes, Birds 737-743
  4. ‘The lost shield’ -- Archilochus fr. eleg. 5 (ed. West)
  5. ‘Bacchus teaches me to dance’ -- Anacreontea 49
  6. ‘Ares god of war’ -- Hymn to Ares 1-3, 5, 9
  7. ‘Song to Bacchus’ -- Anacreontea 48.1-8
  8. ‘When I drink’ -- Anacreontea 50.5-8, 25-28
  9. ‘Song for a young girl’ -- Anacreontea 22.5-16
  10. ‘Poseidon god of the sea’ -- Hymn to Poseidon 1, 4, 6

1. The black earth drinks (male crew, female crew)

ἡ γῆ μέλαινα πίνει, πίνει δὲ δένδρεα δ’ αὐτήν.
    τί μοι μάχεσθ’, ἑταῖροι, θέλοντι πίνειν;
    τί μοι μάχεσθ’, ἑταῖροι, καὐτῷ θέλοντι πίνειν;
ἡ γῆ μέλαινα πίνει, πίνει θάλασσ’ ἀναύρους.
    τί μοι μάχεσθ’, ἑταῖροι, θέλοντι πίνειν;
    τί μοι μάχεσθ’, ἑταῖροι, καὐτῷ θέλοντι πίνειν;
ἡ γῆ μέλαινα πίνει, ὁ δ’ ἥλιος θάλασσαν.
    τί μοι μάχεσθ’, ἑταῖροι, θέλοντι πίνειν;
    τί μοι μάχεσθ’, ἑταῖροι, καὐτῷ θέλοντι πίνειν;

The black earth drinks, and the trees drink it in turn.
    Why fight me, friends, if I want to drink too?
The black earth drinks, and the sea drinks the torrents.
    Why fight me, friends, if I want to drink too?
The black earth drinks, and the sun drinks the sea.
    Why fight me, friends, if I want to drink too?
Original (italics indicate words left out in the shanty):
ἡ γῆ μέλαινα πίνει,
πίνει δένδρεα δ’ αὐτήν,
πίνει θάλασσ’ ἀναύρους,
ὁ δ’ ἥλιος θάλασσαν,
τὸν δ’ ἥλιον σελήνη·
τί μοι μάχεσθ’, ἑταῖροι,
καὐτῷ θέλοντι πίνειν;

The black earth drinks,
the trees drink it,
the sea drinks the torrents,
the sun the sea,
the moon the sun.
Why fight with me, my friends,
if I too want to drink?
-- Anacreontea 21 (tr. Campbell)
Note. Greeks in the time of the Peloponnesian War would certainly have been familiar with Anacreon, a famous melic poet of the late 500s BCE.

The poems in the Anacreontea, however, are from centuries later. They range from roughly the 1st century BCE to the 6th century CE. The title they bear in their manuscript is because they deal with themes associated with Anacreon ... Anacreon certainly did like a bit of wine.

The shanty has an erroneous repetition of δέ in its first line (= Anacr. 21.2), which cannot mean anything sensible. The error appears to originate from a version of the text that appears on the website ‘Noctes gallicanae’, which is also the origin of typos in shanties 4 and 9.

2. Through the storm (male crew)

ἀσυννέτημμι τὼν ἀνέμων στάσιν,
    νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα, νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα σὺν μελαίνᾳ,
    νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα, νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα.
κῦμα κυλίνδεται, ἄμμες δ’ ὂν τὸ μέσσον
    νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα, νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα σὺν μελαίνᾳ,
    νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα, νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα.
χείμωνι μόχθεντες μεγάλῳ μάλα·
    νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα, νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα σὺν μελαίνᾳ,
    νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα, νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα.

I don’t understand the set of the winds.
    We sail in our ship, we sail in our black ship.
The wave rolls, and we in the middle,
    we sail in our ship, we sail in our black ship,
struggling in a huge storm.
    We sail in our ship, we sail in our black ship.
Original:
ἀσυννέτημμι τὼν ἀνέμων στάσιν,
τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἔνθεν κῦμα κυλίνδεται,
τὸ δ’ ἔνθεν, ἄμμες δ’ ὂν τὸ μέσσον
νᾶϊ φορήμμεθα σὺν μελαίνᾳ

χείμωνι μόχθεντες μεγάλῳ μάλα·
πὲρ μὲν γὰρ ἄντλος ἰστοπέδαν ἔχει,
λαῖφος δὲ πὰν ζάδηλον ἤδη,
καὶ λάκιδες μέγαλαι κὰτ αὖτο,

χάλαισι δ’ ἄγκυρραι, τὰ δ’ ὀή[ϊα ...]

I fail to understand the direction of the winds:
one wave rolls in from this side,
another from that, and we in the middle
are carried along in company with our black ship,

much distressed in the great storm.
The bilge-water covers the masthold;
all the sail lets the light through now,
and there are great rents in it;

the anchors are slackening; the rudders [ ... ]
-- Alcaeus fr. 326 Lobel-Page (tr. Campbell)
Note. Alcaeus was one of the great duo of early poets of Lesbos, along with Sappho. Both poets wrote in the Lesbian dialect, which is a bit difficult for people trained in classical Attic Greek. Alcaeus’ fame was so great that the verse form used in this poem is named after him, the ‘Alcaic stanza’.

The theme, ostensibly a stormy sea, is fitting for the shanty. However, Alcaeus’ poetry is often heavily political. And in Greek poetry, sailing a ship is a common metaphor for governing a state. This poem is almost certainly about the tyrant Myrsilus, who gained power in Lesbos during Alcaeus’ lifetime: Alcaeus joined a conspiracy against Myrsilus, fled into exile, and later wrote a poem celebrating Myrsilus’ death.

3. Muse of the forest (male crew, female crew)

τιοτιοτιοτιοτίγξ.
Μούσα λοχμαία (τιοτιοτίγξ),
ποικίλη, μεθ’ ἧς εγώ (τιοτιοτίγξ)
    νάπαισι και κορυφαίς
    ἐν ὀρείαις,
τιοτιοτιοτιοτίγξ,
ἱζόμενος μελίας (τιοτιοτίγξ)
ἐπί φυλλοκόμου (τιοτιοτίγξ)
    νάπαισι και κορυφαίς
    ἐν ὀρείαις.

(See below for translation)
Original:
Μοῦσα λοχμαία,
τιοτιοτιοτιοτίγξ,
ποικίλη, μεθ’ ἧς ἐγὼ νάπαισί
    <τε καὶ> κορυφαῖς ἐν ὀρείαις,
τιοτιοτιοτιοτίγξ,
ἱζόμενος μελίας ἔπι φυλλοκόμου,
τιοτιοτιοτιοτίγξ.

Muse of the forest,
tio tio tio tiotinx,
I join in your varied song
in the glens and mountain peaks,
tio tio tio tiotinx,
sitting on a leafy-haired ash tree,
tio tio tio tiotinx.
-- Aristophanes, Birds 737-743 (tr. Gainsford)
Note. Aristophanes’ comic play the Birds premiered at the Dionysia festival in Athens in February 414 BCE. The birds make up a chorus who sing odes throughout the play. This shanty comes from one of those odes: tio tio tio tiotinx represents birdsong (though it doesn’t really sound like it in the shanty!). It is an interlude in a longer song where the chorus step out of character to address the audience directly.

The play is about two Athenians who decide to flee the ravages of the Peloponnesian War -- it’s a not-so-subtle escape fantasy -- and, along with the birds, they found a new home in a city in the sky and call it Nephelokokkygia ‘cloud cuckoo land’. (‘Cloud cuckoo land’ is still proverbial in modern English: its most prominent appearance in recent mass media is in The Lego Movie (2014).)

4. The lost shield (male crew, female crew)

ἀσπίδι μὲν Σαΐων τις ἀγάλλεται, ἣν παρὰ θάμνῳ,
    ἐρρέτω, ἐρρέτω, ἐρρέτω, ἐξαῦτις κτήσομαι οὐ κακίων.
ἔντος ἀμώμητον, ἀμώμητον, κάλλιστον οὐκ ἐθέλων,
    ἐρρέτω, ἐρρέτω, ἐρρέτω, ἐξαῦτις κτήσομαι οὐ κακίων.
αὐτὸν δ᾽ ἐκ μ’ ἐσάωσα, τί μοι μέλει ἀσπὶς ἐκείνη;
    ἐρρέτω, ἐρρέτω, ἐρρέτω, ἐξαῦτις κτήσομαι οὐ κακίων.

Some Saian is boasting over my shield -- it was by a bush --
    to hell with it, to hell with it, to hell with it! I’ll get another one just as good.
a perfectly good weapon, I didn’t mean to leave it there.
    to hell with it, to hell with it, to hell with it! I’ll get another one just as good.
But I saved myself, so what do I care about the shield?
    to hell with it, to hell with it, to hell with it! I’ll get another one just as good.
Original:
ἀσπίδι μὲν Σαΐων τις ἀγάλλεται, ἣν παρὰ θάμνῳ,
    ἔντος ἀμώμητον, κάλλιπον οὐκ ἐθέλων·
αὐτὸν δ’ ἐξεσάωσα. τί μοι μέλει ἀσπὶς ἐκείνη;
    ἐρρέτω· ἐξαῦτις κτήσομαι οὐ κακίω.

Some Saian exults in my shield which I left --
    a faultless weapon -- beside a bush against my will.
But I saved myself. What do I care about that shield?
    To hell with it! I’ll get one that’s just as good another time.
-- Archilochus fr. eleg. 5 (tr. Gerber)
Note. The 7th century BCE poet Archilochus was perhaps the most celebrated of all the early Greek poets, until the popularity of Homer skyrocketed in the late 500s. Archilochus is known for his rebelliousness, here shown by his willingness to drop his shield and flee from battle. This poem is elegiac, a genre associated with philosophy and moralising.

The text of the shanty has typos which come from the website ‘Noctes gallicanae’, as in shanties 1 and 9: κάλλιστον (for κάλλιπον) and κακίων (for κακίω). Neither error makes sense in Greek. I’ve translated the shanty above as though the typos weren’t there. A further variant, ἐκ μ’ ἐσάωσα (‘I saved myself’) for ἐξεσάωσα, is a known alternate reading and means basically the same as the usual text.

5. Bacchus teaches me to dance (male crew, female crew)

τοῦ Διὸς ὁ παῖς ὁ Βάκχος,
    ὁ λυσίφρων, ὁ Λυαῖος
ὅταν εἰς φρένας τὰς ἐμάς
    εἰσέλθῃ μεθυδώτας
διδάσκει με, διδάσκει με, διδάσκει με χορεύειν.
ἔχω δέ τι καὶ τερπνόν
    ὁ τᾶς μέθας ἐραστάς·
μετὰ κρότων, μετ’ ᾠδᾶς
    τέρπει με κἀφροδίτα·
διδάσκει με, διδάσκει με, διδάσκει με χορεύειν.
        πάλιν θέλω χορεύειν,
        πάλιν θέλω χορεύειν,
        ὦ ὦ ὦ ὦ.

(See below for translation)
Original:
τοῦ Διὸς ὁ παῖς ὁ Βάκχος,
ὁ λυσίφρων ὁ Λυαῖος,
ὅταν εἰς φρένας τὰς ἐμάς
εἰσέλθῃ μεθυδώτας,
διδάσκει με χορεύειν.
ἔχω δέ τι καὶ τερπνόν
ὁ τᾶς μέθας ἐραστάς·
μετὰ κρότων, μετ’ ᾠδᾶς
τέρπει με κἀφροδίτα·
πάλιν θέλω χορεύειν.

Zeus’ son Bacchus,
the Mind-loosener, the Liberator!
When into my thoughts
he enters, the wine-giver,
he teaches me to dance.
And there’s something else I enjoy,
when I am wine’s lover:
along with the beat, along with the song
Aphrodite gives me pleasure too.
I want to dance again!
-- Anacreontea 49 (tr. Gainsford)
Note: See number 1, above, on the date of the Anacreontea.

Contrary to some people’s belief, Bacchus is not ‘the Roman name for Dionysus’. Dionysus was one of the most long-standing deities in Greek religion, and had cult centres all over the Greek world with many titles and names. He possessed both names in Greek at least as early as the 5th century BCE. Herodotus calls him ‘Baccheian’, Sophocles and Euripides call him ‘Bacchus’, and a more mystic variant ‘Iacchus’ appears in Herodotus and Aristophanes.

6. Ares, god of war (male crew, female crew)

Ἆρες ὑπερμενέτα, Ἆρες βρισάρματε,
Ἆρες χρυσεοπήληξ, Ἆρες ἀμόγητε,
    Ἆρες, Ἆρες, Ἆρες, Ἆρες.
Ἆρες χαλκοκορυστά, Ἆρες ἐπίκουρε,
Ἆρες δικαιοτάτων, Ἆρες ἀγὲ φωτῶν.
    Ἆρες, Ἆρες, Ἆρες, Ἆρες.

Ares proud-spirited, Ares weighing down the chariot,
Ares gold-helmeted, Ares tireless,
    Ares, Ares, Ares, Ares!
Ares armed in bronze, Ares the ally,
Ares of the most just, Ares leader of men,
    Ares, Ares, Ares, Ares!
Original:
Ἆρες ὑπερμενέτα, βρισάρματε, χρυσεοπήληξ,
ὀβριμόθυμε, φέρασπι, πολισσόε, χαλκοκορυστά,
καρτερόχειρ, ἀμόγητε, δορυσθενές, ἕρκος Ὀλύμπου,
Νίκης εὐπολέμοιο πάτερ, συναρωγὲ Θέμιστος,
ἀντιβίοισι τύραννε,
δικαιοτάτων ἀγὲ φωτῶν,
ἠνορέης σκηπτοῦχε, πυραυγέα κύκλον ἑλίσσων
αἰθέρος ἑπταπόροις ἐνὶ τείρεσιν ἔνθα σε πῶλοι
ζαφλεγέες τριτάτης ὑπὲρ ἄντυγος αἰὲν ἔχουσι·
κλῦθι βροτῶν
ἐπίκουρε, δοτὴρ εὐθαλέος ἥβης, ...

Ares haughty in spirit, heavy on chariot, golden-helmed;
grim-hearted, shieldbearer, city savior, bronze-armored;
tough of arm, untiring, spear-strong, bulwark of Olympus;
father of Victory in the good fight, ally of Law;
oppressor of the rebellious,
leader of the righteous;
sceptred king of manliness, as you wheel your fiery circle
among the seven coursing lights of the ether, where your
flaming steeds ever keep you up on the third orbit;
hearken,
helper of mankind, giver of brave young manhood ...
-- Hymn 8 to Ares 1-9 (tr. West)
Note. The ‘Homeric’ hymns are a collection of poems in honour of various gods, nearly all of which date roughly from 670 to 500 BCE. This one is the exception: the Hymn to Ares is about a thousand years later than any other poem in the collection. As with the Anacreontea, this poem is ancient-ish, but not that ancient.

The poem is modelled on a set of Orphic hymns of the Roman era, and draws on the post-classical link between Ares and the planet Mars. There is some reason to link it in particular to Proclus, a 5th century CE philosopher and hymn-writer: here’s a 1970 article on the subject by the great scholar M. L. West.

7. Song to Bacchus (male crew, female crew)

ὅταν ὁ Βάκχος ἔλθῃ, εὕδουσιν αἱ μέριμναι·
    φέρε μοι κύπελλον ὦ παῖ, φέρε μοι κύπελλον παῖ.
δοκῶ δ᾿ ἔχειν τὰ Κροίσου, θέλω καλῶς ἀείδειν·
    φέρε μοι κύπελλον ὦ παῖ, φέρε μοι κύπελλον παῖ.

κισσοστεφὴς δὲ κεῖμαι, πατῶ δ᾿ ἅπαντα θυμῷ·
    φέρε μοι κύπελλον ὦ παῖ, φέρε μοι κύπελλον παῖ.
ὅπλιζ’, ἐγὼ δὲ πίνω, φέρε μοι κύπελλον, ὦ παῖ·
    φέρε μοι κύπελλον ὦ παῖ, φέρε μοι κύπελλον παῖ.

Whenever Bacchus comes, my cares go to sleep.
    Bring me the cup, boy, bring me the cup, boy!
I dream I’m as rich as Croesus, and it makes me want to sing.
    Bring me the cup, boy, bring me the cup, boy!

Ivy-garlanded I lie, but in my heart I walk the world.
    Bring me the cup, boy, bring me the cup, boy!
Get it ready and I’ll drink: bring me the cup, boy!
    Bring me the cup, boy, bring me the cup, boy!
Original:
ὅταν ὁ Βάκχος ἔλθῃ,
εὕδουσιν αἱ μέριμναι,
δοκῶ δ᾿ ἔχειν τὰ Κροίσου.
θέλω καλῶς ἀείδειν,
κισσοστεφὴς δὲ κεῖμαι,
πατῶ δ᾿ ἅπαντα θυμῷ.
ὅπλιζ’, ἐγὼ δὲ πίνω.
φέρε μοι κύπελλον, ὦ παῖ,
μεθύοντα γάρ με κεῖσθαι
πολὺ κρεῖσσον ἢ θανόντα.

When Bacchus comes,
my worries go to sleep,
and I imagine that I have the wealth of Croesus;
I want to sing beautifully;
I lie garlanded with ivy
and in my heart I disdain the world.
Prepare the wine and let me drink it.
Bring me a cup, boy;
for it is far better that I should
be drunk than lie dead.
-- Anacreontea 48 (tr. Campbell)
Note. See number 1, above, on the date of the Anacreontea, and number 5 on the name ‘Bacchus’.

The last three lines, which include the shanty’s refrain, are in a different metre and may come from a separate poem.

It can be hard to hear the words φέρε μοι clearly in the refrain of the shanty, but they are both there. (The original version of this transcription left out μοι in the refrain.)

8. When I drink (male crew, female crew)

ὅτ’ ἐγὼ πίω τὸν οἶνον (ὅτε πίω, ὅτε πίω)
ἀπορίπτονται αἱ μέριμναι
πολυφρόντιδές τε βουλαὶ
ἐς ἁλικτύπους ἀήτας.
(ὅτε πίω, ὅτε πίω, ὅτε πίω, ὅτε πίω)

ὅτ᾿ ἐγὼ πίω τὸν οἶνον (ὅτε πίω, ὅτε πίω)
τοῦτό μοι μόνον τὸ κέρδος,
τοῦτ᾿ ἐγὼ λαβὼν ἀποίσω·
τὸ θανεῖν γὰρ μετὰ πάντων.
(ὅτε πίω, ὅτε πίω, ὅτε πίω, ὅτε πίω)

ὅτ᾿ ἐγὼ πίω τὸν οἶνον (ὅτε πίω, ὅτε πίω).

(See below for translation)
Original:
ὅτ’ ἐγὼ πίω τὸν οἶνον,
ἀπορίπτονται μέριμναι
πολυφρόντιδές τε βουλαί
ἐς ἁλικτύπους ἀήτας. ...

ὅτ’ ἐγὼ πίω τὸν οἶνον,
τοῦτό μοι μόνον τὸ κέρδος,
τοῦτ’ ἐγὼ λαβὼν ἀποίσω·
τὸ θανεῖν γὰρ μετὰ πάντων.

When I drink wine,
my worries are thrown away,
and my anxious deliberations
to the winds that pound the sea. ...

When I drink wine,
that is all the gain I ask:
I shall accept it and take it away;
for I must die along with everyone else.
-- Anacreontea 50.5-8, 25-28 (tr. Campbell, adjusted)
Note. See number 1, above, on the date of the Anacreontea. A late date for this poem is especially strongly indicated by its metrical features. The anomalous spellings and forms in the manuscript text may also represent a late date rather than textual corruption.

9. Song for a young girl (male crew, female crew)

ἐγὼ δ’ ἔσοπτρον εἴην,
ὅπως ἀεὶ βλέπῃς μοι·
ἐγὼ χιτὼν γενοίμην,
ὅπως ἀεὶ φορῇς με.

ὕδωρ θέλω γενέσθαι,
ὅπως σε χρῶτα λούσω, ὅπως σε χρῶτα λούσω.

μύρον, γύναι, γενοίμην,
ὅπως ἐγώ σ’ ἐλείψω.
καὶ ταινίη δὲ μασθῷ
καὶ μάργαρον τραχήλῳ

καὶ σάνδαλον γενοίμην·
μόνον ποσὶν πάτει με, μόνον ποσὶν πάτει.

(See below for translation)
Original:
Εἰς κόρην
ἡ Ταντάλου ποτ’ ἔστη
λίθος Φρυγῶν ἐν ὄχθαις,
καὶ παῖς ποτ’ ὄρνις ἔπτη
Πανδίονος χελιδών.

ἐγὼ δ’ ἔσοπτρον εἴην,
ὅπως ἀεὶ βλέπῃς με·
ἐγὼ χιτὼν γενοίμην,
ὅπως ἀεὶ φορῇς με.
ὕδωρ θέλω γενέσθαι,
ὅπως σε χρῶτα λούσω·
μύρον, γύναι, γενοίμην,
ὅπως ἐγώ σ’ ἀλείψω.
καὶ ταινίη δὲ μασθῷ
καὶ μάργαρον τραχήλῳ
καὶ σάνδαλον γενοίμην·
μόνον ποσὶν πάτει με.

To a girl
Once Tantalus’ daughter became
a stone standing among the Phrygian hills;
once Pandion’s daughter became a bird
and flew, a swallow.

If only I could be a mirror,
so that you would always look at me;
if only I could be a robe,
so that you would always wear me;
I wish to become water,
that I might wash your skin;
I’d become perfume, lady,
that I might anoint you;
and a band for your breast,
a pearl for your neck,
a sandal I’d become --
only you get to trample me underfoot!
-- Anacreontea 22 (tr. Campbell, adjusted)
Note. See number 1, above, on the date of the Anacreontea.

The text used for the shanty has a couple of errors: βλέπῃς μοι, σ’ λείψω. The second of these apparently comes from the website ‘Noctes gallicanae’, as in shanties 1 and 4. That site also omits the first four lines of the poem, as in the shanty.

10. Poseidon god of the sea (male crew, female crew)

ἀμφὶ Ποσειδάωτα, μέγαν θεόν,
ἀμφὶ Ποσειδάωτα ἄρχομ’ ἀείδειν.
χαῖρε, Ποσείδαον, χαῖρε γαιήοχε,
χαῖρε, Ποσείδαον, χαῖρε Ἐννοσίγαιε,
    χαῖρε, χαῖρε, μέγαν θεόν.
χαῖρε, Ποσείδαον, χαῖρε.
χαῖρε, Ποσείδαον, χαῖρε γαιήοχε,
χαῖρε, Ποσείδαον, χαῖρε Ἐννοσίγαιε,
    χαῖρε, χαῖρε, μέγαν θεόν.

About Poseidon, great god,
about Poseidon I begin my song.
Hail, Poseidon! Hail, earth-mover!
Hail, Poseidon! Hail, land-shaker!
    Hail, hail! The great god!
Hail, Poseidon, hail!
Hail, Poseidon! Hail, earth-mover!
Hail, Poseidon! Hail, land-shaker!
    Hail, hail! The great god!
Original:
ἀμφὶ Ποσειδάωνα θεὸν μέγαν ἄρχομ’ ἀείδειν
γαίης κινητῆρα καὶ ἀτρυγέτοιο θαλάσσης
πόντιον, ὅς θ’ Ἑλικῶνα καὶ εὐρείας ἔχει Αἰγάς.
διχθά τοι Ἐννοσίγαιε θεοὶ τιμὴν ἐδάσαντο
ἵππων τε δμητῆρ’ ἔμεναι σωτῆρά τε νηῶν.
χαῖρε Ποσείδαον γαιήοχε κυανοχαῖτα,
καὶ μάκαρ εὐμενὲς ἦτορ ἔχων πλώουσιν ἄρηγε.

About Poseidon the great god first I sing,
mover of the earth and the barren sea,
marine god, who possesses Helicon and broad Aegae.
In two parts, Earth-shaker, the gods assigned you your privilege:
to be a tamer of horses, and savior of ships.
I salute you, Poseidon, earth-rider, sable-hair.
Keep your heart well-disposed, blessed one, and assist those at sea.
-- Hymn 22 to Poseidon (tr. West)
Note. Unlike the Hymn to Ares (see number 6, above), this hymn is truly archaic and could well have been known to sailors in the Peloponnesian War.

The shanty’s text has a typo in line 1, Ποσειδάωτα (for Ποσειδάωνα). It seems to originate with the Perseus site. It appears to be a result of automated OCR: the Perseus text is based on the 1914 Loeb edition by H. G. Evelyn-White, but the print version has the correct reading.

I’ve alerted the folks at Perseus, and shortly after the first version of this transcription went online they replied that they’ve corrected their database. The corrected version will appear in newer versions of the Perseus reader, but they’re not planning to update the www.perseus.tufts.edu site.

4 comments:

  1. Nice, Thanks for this I was searching for these. Also do you have any info on the translation of the soundtrack of the game.

    https://youtu.be/irKtQv3q9KI

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    Replies
    1. Not much! That is ancient Greek, but not an ancient poem. It's a pretty direct translation of the English lyrics into classical Greek. Here's the first stanza --

      ἰδοὺ τοὺς ἀστέρας
      ὑπὸ τὰ ὄρη καὶ τὸν ἀλύκιστον πόντον·
      τὸ σὸν ὄναρ ἀκολούθει.
      ἄριστοι τῶν ἠτόρων
      οἱ θεοὶ ἀροῦσιν τοὺς τολμῶντας,
      εὐκαρδίους προσκοπεῖν
      τὸν σφῶν πότμον.

      Look at the stars
      beneath the hills, and the saltiest sea.
      Follow your dream.
      Best of hearts;
      the gods will lift those who dare
      bravely to foresee
      their own fate.

      As compared to the official English lyrics:

      Look to the stars,
      beyond the mountains and the wild sea.
      Follow your dreams.
      The bravest hearts,
      the gods will favour those who dare
      to see, courageously,
      their destiny.

      It isn't error-free: line 2 ὑπὸ ('beneath') makes sense and should clearly be ὑπὲρ ('beyond'), and ἀλύκιστον is a weird word ('saltiest').

      After that it gets harder to make out the words - παγκάλη νῆσε 'beautiful island' is fine, but the next line and a half I find hard to understand. I think there are some errors. But the end of the refrain is clear enough - ἀνὰ πάλιν εἰς τὸ παρέστιον θάλπος, a somewhat ungrammatical form of 'back again to the fireside warmth' - to see that it's still intended to be a direct translation of the English.

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    2. (Correction: I meant line 2 ὑπὸ 'beneath' makes NO sense.)

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