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Bill Thayer

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Symphosius:
The Ænigmata (or Riddles)

The Text on LacusCurtius

I used two different editions, by Elizabeth Hickman DuBois (later Peck), 1912; and by Raymond Ohl, 1928. The Latin text I used is Ohl's. My preferred translation — by far — is Peck's on the other hand; but I've appended Ohl's as well. The corresponding solution pages, in addition to the answer to the riddle, will eventually include Ohl's apparatus criticus and commentary, and maybe Peck's commentary as well.

The introductions of each edition are also online, providing ample background material on this minor author: Prof. Peck's, a much shorter, more popular, and frankly more germane introduction; and Ohl's, with exhaustive details on literary influences, dating and authorship, prosody, the manuscript tradition, etc.

The entire work, or at least the bare pages without the answers, is now proofread: therefore in the table of contents below, the Books are shown on blue backgrounds; anything on a red background would indicate, as elsewhere onsite, that my transcription had remained unproofread. As of early March 06, with very few exceptions, the pages with the answers aren't even input, let alone proofread. Should you still spot an error, please do report it, of course.

Further details on the technical aspects of the site layout follow the Table of Contents.

Apparatus

The Ohl edition provides a comprehensive apparatus criticus. zzz

Translations

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[image ALT: zzz.]

A book of riddles doesn't exactly lend itself to neat illustration in one image; and in fact none of the three editions I used is illustrated; but making of necessity a virtue, I grabbed the one image I saw, a sort of printer's mark on the title page of the Peck edition, reproducing a famous graffito in the Domus Gelotiana. (No, that's not a sombrero-coiffed Mexican, but a mill, of which the donkey is the engine; if this puzzles you, you can find details and pictures, as often, in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, s.v. Mola, and the further excellent offsite link in the footer bar there.)

At any rate, this little graphic first seemed irrelevant, although it does happen to illustrate the answer to one of Symphosius' riddles — you hardly expect me, gentle reader, to tell you which one, now? — until, riddlewise, its appropriateness suddenly dawned on me:

O round and round in endless rut you grind,
Amazed at what this stuff does to your mind!
A donkey, friend, would easier the answers find.

If, endowed with better Latinity than I, you succeed in expressing this worthy sentiment in an elegant hexametrical tercet, I'll be glad to add it here, of course.


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Site updated: 4 Sep 06