Minding the "P's" II
Bill Long 11/26/08
A few words were "left over" from the previous essay. Then, guess what else happened? As I was researching one of them, I found myself being drawn into yet another direction. All of this will come out in this essay as we continue our trip to understand all the words.
1. Let's begin with phorbeia, since that is what started it all. It appears only in the Century, and is a Greek word meaning "a mouth-band, a halter by which a horse is tied to the manger." The Greek work behind it is phorbe, pasture or fodder. But the Century also tells us that it is the same as capistrum. When we arrive at capistrum, however, we are in a slightly enlarged world. It is "a bandage worn by ancient flute players to prevent the undue distention of the cheeks in blowing their instruments." Thus, it can also be a sort of "human halter." And, a capistrum is also the face of a bird and especially the "part of the head about the bill..." A picture is no doubt helpful. Here is a detail from a late 6th century BCE kylix showing an aulos (flute player) with a phorbeia compressing his cheeks. It would be interesting to talk with a flute-player some day to discover what the actual effects of wearing a phorbeia would be.
2. But before we can clamber safely back to other "p's," it is good to read the caption of the rest of kylix. It has "auloi plyer with phorbeia and dancer with crotala..." Crotala? This requires some exploration. The Greek word krotalon means "rattle," and it came into English as "a sort of clapper or castanet used in ancient Greece and elsewhere in religious dances" in Chambers' mid-18th century Cyclopedia. The equivalent Turkish musical instrument is called the crotalo. More interesting for me is that Crotalus is the typical genus of rattlesnakes, with the family name being Crotalidae. Something that structurally resembles the rattlesnake is called crotaliform.
3. My eye continued to wander--to the neighboring word, and I came up with crotaphic and crotaphe (KROW ta fay). The Greek word krotaphos means "the side of the head; in the plural it means "the temples"). Thus, something crotaphic is "temporal." "Crotaphic pains jolted him away from his concentrated task."
4. Philostorgy is listed by the OED as "rare (now archaic)," and means "parental love." The word rarely appears anywhere, but I managed to find a short story by Allen Barnett, author and educator who died in 1991 at age 36, entitled "Philostorgy, Now Obscure." In fact, Mr. Barnett published a 1990 collection of stories entitled The Body and Its Dangers, where many of the characters are afflicted with AIDS. The book was a winner of the PEN/Ernest Hemingway Citation. In the short story, Barnett talks about, among other things, the difficulty of communicating to loved ones the fact that one has AIDS. Perhaps that is the "double meaning" of the title--first, that parental love, the natural love for children, is obscured through the veil of AIDS; and second, that the word philostorgy has become "obscure" or "archaic/rare" through lack of use. The word storge (STORE gee) is actually an English word, meaning "natural affection; usually, of parents for their offspring." Hence it means the same as philostorgy. Thackeray used the term in 1850: "I could have...adored in her the Divine beneficence in endowing us with the maternal storge, which...sanctifies the history of mankind." Swedenborg used the term in his philosophy: "The innocence of infancy...is the cause of the love called storge."
5. Oops. I just noticed a term nearby which requires brief mention: storiated. The OED has it principally as historiated but it also has storiation, which indicates to me that you can put in the "hi" or not, as you desire. But, knowing that it relates to "history" is important, because storiation is "decoration with artistic designs representing historical, legendary, or emblematic subjects." Thus, one could have a heavily storiated or historiated volume. In the 16th and 17th centuries publishers went overboard in publishing storiated volumes. From the London Art Journal: "The mania for the acquisition of storiated title-pages has led to the cruel spoilation of thousands of rare old books."
7. Let's close with a word which could become the basis of an entire essay: phoronomy. The word is a Kantian word, derived from the Greek phora (motion) and pherein (carry or bear away) and is "that branch of mechanics which treats of bodies in motion; kinematics." Caird, in his Philosophy of Kant, has this line:
"Matter, quantitatively defined, is 'the moveable in space.' In this point of view it is the object of a science we may call Phoronomy."
Kant introduces us to phoronomy in the first chapter of Metaphysical Foundations of Science (1786). As this article says, the chapter considers the "quantity of motion of matter and how it is to be constructed in intuition a priori (so as to produce the kind of rules that are necessary for our experience of matter in motion)." Konstantin Pollok is now the leading exponent of Kant's idea of motion. This 2001 article describes phoronomy in more detail. I have always been a bit baffled by some of the "abstrusia" of Kant's philosophy, and this is no exception...
There are still a few words left...for the next essay.