small joys

February 3, 2009 at 9:56 pm (school) ()

Every time I think I’ve had just about enough of Greek, something pops up that rekindles my joy. Today, for example, I learned that our venerable word tragedy, used so often in our culture, comes (obviously) from the Greek τραγῳδία, the cathartic literary production of so many playwrights. What is interesting, however, is that τραγῳδία, or, in English letters, tragoidia, is a compound of two other words, tragos and aeidein, or “goat” and “to sing.” That’s right, tragedy literally means goat-song. 

There are several theories about this, ranging from the dull (a goat might have been the prize at the Dionysia), to the moderately convincing (goats may once have been sacrificed to choral song, which evolved into tragedy as we know it, like in Antigone, etc.), to the highly impertinent (choral singers were young men much like goats in that they were hairy, smelly, and licentious).

With this in mind I turn to attempting to memorize -μι verb patterns.


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