|"Interesting" news regarding the booklet named de indolentia and attributed to Galen.|
It was our intention to publish sufficient language remarks to the text of such a treatise allegedly written by Galen, but, not being certain to do it so quickly, we resolved to offer to our Reader the information that follows.
For the benefit of those who are not aware, we will say that de indolentia is a writing that was discovered in 2005 by Antoine Pietrobelli in a manuscript kept by the Monastery of Vlatades in Thessaloniki and called Thessalonicensis Vlatadon 14. After the news of its discovery, a crowd of scholars rushed upon such a short work as ravenous animals upon a prey. The Latin title assigned to it is due to a non-Latinist scholar, since indolentia is a neologism coined by Cicero to mean privatio / detractio / vacuitas doloris, insensitivity to pain, ἀναλγησία, in a physical sense. It would have been preferable, if anything, something like de remota aegritudine. But this is not the ”interesting” news we are getting at.
In the critical edition edited by Véronique Boudon-Millot and Jacques Jouanna with the collaboration of Antoine Pietrobelli (Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 2010) we read about the title (p. 27): [*]
The title in Vlatadon, be it the one at the beginning (Περὶ ἀλυγισίας) or the one at the end (Περὶ ἀλογισίας) is wrong. The restoration of the title in the ed. princeps (Περὶ ἀλυπίας) comes from the fact that Galen himself mentions the treatise in his De libris propriis, c. 15, where he ranks it among the works he wrote about "ethical philosophy" (Boudon-Millot 169,13f. τῆς ἠθικῆς φιλοσοφίας). Well, he quotes it as follows: Περὶ ἀλυπίας ἕν "About not being sorrowed, one volume" (ibid. 169,17). […] The Vlatadon's error in the title, is it perhaps ominous for the quality of the copy and the scribe's understanding? It is doubtful that the scribe understood all that he copied. Neither the word ἀλυγισία nor the word ἀλογισία exist; the form ἀλογισία is close to ἀλογιστία "missing reflection, thoughtlessness", which actually is attested by Galen in De placitis Hippocratis et Platonis […]. But this is not the topic of the treatise. The source of the error is probably a confusion of capitals Π/ΓΙ. This is confirmed by the use of the word inside the treatise, § 69,21,12, where Galen says he thinks he has answered the question that his interlocutor had put on ''the absence of sorrow." The manuscript gives περὶ ἀλυπεισίας. Farther on, the word recurs in § 79b,24 in the form of ἀλυπισίαν. These two forms are equivalent to what is given in the title without the reading error of capitals. But what is remarkable is the fact that in the four forms the ending in -εισία vel -ισία (with occasional iotacism errors) is the same. Hence, it is hardly likely that the original word in the tradition of Vlatadon is the short word ἀλυπία. Behind such an error a longer word hides, which is the term not attested elsewhere *ἀλυπησία. While ἀλυπία means ''the absence of sorrow," ἀλυπησία has got a more active sense: it is "the action of not being sorrowed."
Before going on, we need some clarification. Let us see the four occurrences as they appear in the codex.
1. ; 2. ; 3. ; 4. . As for the 1st occurrence we read in the apparatus (p. 2): ἀλυγισίας Vlat. As for the specimen no. 4 (p. 26): ἀλογισίας Vlat. But, as you can well detect, this information is incorrect, since in both cases the ending is abbreviated and in all cases the smooth breathing is missing, so in apparatus they would respectively have had to write αλυγισί(ας) and αλογισί(ας) (In no. 4, written by another scribe, in our opinion the reading of ο instead of υ is not so sure.) As to no. 2, in which Jouanna reads the diphthong ει, it seems to us very similar to no. 3, that is, there is no diphthong: yes, the letter ι is poorly written and very close to π, but we cannot see any diphthong ει. However, there is no obstacle, which can prevent us from asserting that the codex both in the title and τέλος has ἀλυγισία, whereas inside it there is ἀλυπισία (← ἀλυπησία from iotacism). Now we can go on.
Has the Reader well read? Jouanna states that the word ἀλυγισία does not exist and the term ἀλυπησία is not attested elsewhere.
Here you have the interesting news. Let us pick up the splendid dictionary by Ἰωάννης Σταματάκος (Ioannis Stamatakos), Λεξικὸν τῆς νέας ἑλληνικῆς γλώσσης, Ἀθῆναι (Ὁ Φοῖνιξ) 1952, vol. I, and search the non-existent term ἀλυγισία. On p. 185 we read: ἀ-λυγισία, ἡ (καὶ δημ. ἀλυγισιά)· ἡ ἀκαμψία, δυσκαμψία.—ἀντ. εὐλυγισία, εὐκαμψία, ἐλαστικότης ∥ μτφρ. ἀδιαλλαξία, πεῖσμα, ξεροκεφαλιά.—ἀντ. διαλακτικότης, συμβιβαστικότης, κλπ. So, the word does exist—in literal sense it means inflexibility, steadfastness, in figurative sense irreconcilability, obstinacy. The word is also listed in the most recent Λεξικό (Athens 1995) by Ἐμμανουὴλ Κριαρᾶς (Emmauil Kriaras), p. 61: αλυγισία και (συνιζ.) -ιά η, ουσ. 1. το να είναι κάποιος αλύγιστος (συνων. ακαμψία, δυσκαμψία· αντ. ευλυγισία). 2. (μεταφ.) το να είναι κάποιος σκληρός (συνων. σκληρότητα, απονιά). Here, too, the term is explained by (1.) being inflexible, (2.) being hard / cruel.
This would be the word that does not exist. Hence, we can peacefully say that in ἀλυγισία there is no confusion of capitals, the two pairs of words are not equivalent, and the legitimate title witnessed by codex is Περὶ ἀλυγισίας!
Now, let us go on to ἀλυπησία, which, according to what we have just read, is a word not attested. Such a statement is false, since the term is attested in the poem τὸ θανατικὸν τῆς Ῥόδου (the plague of Rhodes), v. 191, by Ἐμμανουὴλ Γεωργηλᾶς, published in Carmina Graeca Medii Aevi, edidit Guilelmus Wagner, Lipsiae (Teubner) 1874, p. 38. Of course, the professors who have dealt with this work, tagged along behind Jouanna, cf. ex.gr. Galeno, Nuovi scritti autobiografici, Intr. trad. e comm. di M. Vegetti, Roma [Carocci] 2013, p. 257: "(ἀλυπησία) is a non-existent word in the Greek language." Brodersen does not act differently in his little book Galenos. Die verbrannte Bibliothek, Wiesbaden (MarixVerlag) 2015, where title is as follows: Περὶ ἀλυπ[ησ]ίας. Not only that: the term is still alive in modern Greek with the accent on the last vowel (from synizesis): cf. Ἰ. Σταματάκος, Λεξικὸν cit., p. 186 s.v.: ἀ-λυπησιά, ἡ, δημ.· τὸ νὰ μὴ λυπῆταί τις, νὰ μὴ συμπονῇ, ἀναλγησία, ἀσυγκινησία, ἀπονιά, ἀναισθησία, κλπ. It is not the quirk of a traditionalist lexicographer like Stamatakos, since the term is an entry in the aforementioned dictionary by Kriaras, p. 61: αλυπησιά η, ουσ (συνιζ.), το να συμπεριφέρεται κανείς χωρίς ευσπλαγχνία, χωρίς λύπηση: φέρθηκε μ΄~ στο θυμό του (συνών. ασπλαγχνία, σκληρότητα). It is evident that the editors have unwisely trusted the Californian Thesaurus. This is not a fault, and they are certainly not guilty of not reading The plague of Rhodes ! What, however, is a serious thing is that the term is an entry in the most important lexicon by the aforementioned Kriaras, i.e. the Λεξικὸ τῆς μεσαιωνικῆς ἑλληνικῆς δημώδους γραμματείας 1100-1669, Τόμος Α', Θεσσαλονίκη 1968, p. 238, where the meaning of ἀλυπησία — explained by ἀσπλαγχνία ruthlessness and σκληρότητα harshness — is closer to ἀλυγισία than to ἀλυπία.
In short, the editors did not take the trouble to consult a simple dictionary! A student who had committed the same inconsiderateness would be charged with negligence and humiliated by his professors.
In our title we put "interesting" between inverted commas because, when last year we informed a female professor of this incredible incident concerning ἀλυπησία, the reaction of this woman was, "Interesting." We had to stop ourselves from responding in words what Galen means with his gesture in the image above. We will certainly not talk about the arrogance, haughtiness and ignorance of the full professors (although there are some exceptions), will we? Moreover, it is well established that a university degree – not only in Italy – is the title that assures and guarantees the reached level of ignorance essential to achieve social success.
However, we want to inform our Reader, that the author of this de indolentia is not Galen: the clues are extant. Apart from the fact that now the text given by the codex is smothered with a thick blanket of conjectures, we limit ourselves to a few remarks.
The first concerns the logic: Galen twice would have quoted the same verses of Euripides, § 52 and § 77. It is true that Galen himself cites the same verses in De placitis Hippocratis et Platonis (already mentioned by Cicero too, cf. Tusc. 3.29, not 3.32, as someone wrote), but believing that in a relatively short treatise Galen repeats the same quotation of 6 verses, means qualifying him an imbecile, unable to distribute the matter, which he is dealing with. If there was a hint of repetition, as in § 22 (ὡς ἔφην), we might still accept it, even against any common sense, but not this way! Galen was not an imbecile, least of all an incompetent.
As for the language, pay attention to the succinct set of samples below.
— The opening words offer the first difficulty: ἔλαβόν σου τὴν ἐπιστολήν. This formula will appear in Basilius and will be frequent in Libanius (4th certury). The rare cases where λαμβάνω refers to ἐπιστολήν before the 4th century, you find – except, perhaps, two or three occurrences – the participle aorist, which determines the condition of the main verb. It should also be pointed that σου has the value of παρά σου: it is not a possessive, but a genitive of origin.
— § 39. We read οὐκ ἀρκούμενος διαίτῃ εὐτελεῖ, but in Galen ἀρκούμενος is never referred to diet and the adjective is never used as attribute of δίαιτα.
— In § 46 you find πολὺ πλέω τῶν ἱκανῶν. Apart from that Galen always seems to prefer the form πλείω instead of πλέω, it is a relatively rare expression you never encounter in Galen.
— In § 54 – and there is the rub – the author writes παρ΄ ὅλον τὸν χρόνον, an expression, which Origen uses one only time, and will become more frequent a few centuries after Galen, when ὅλος will have lost its proper meaning of whole, entire, complete, unsuitable as attribute of χρόνος. Galen in fact always uses the classic form παρὰ πάντα τὸν χρόνον, usual since Isocrates.
Other expressions are perplexing indeed.
— § 14: ἐν μέσῳ βιβλίων. This strange expression is in Libanius (again Libanius, 4th century!). It looks like an artificially expurgated form of the one used in the spoken language, that is μέσα στὰ (=΄ς τὰ) βιβλία inside the books. If our hypothesis were proved, the drawing of this treatise would be thrown several centuries after Galen.
The above is sufficient in order that a willing student can feel the incentive to carry out a research, which will allow him to find out how many impurities of style and syntax, definitely not attributable to Galen, this pseudo-Galenic treatise offers. We do not rule out that the anonymous writer has exploited the writings of Galen, but anyhow this is not the περὶ ἀλυπίας by Galen, but the περὶ ἀλυγισίας by an anonymous cheat, one of those who even during the great physician's lifetime were used to appropriate with impunity his writings and his name.
[*] Unfortunately we were unable to get the critical edition published in "Hellenika" 2010, edited by two Greek scholars. [By chance, on January 31 we found free online the aforementioned edition. The Greek scholars are Παρασκευή Κοτζιά-Παντελή (Paraskeví Kotziá-Pandelí) and Παναγιώτης Σωτηρούδης (Panaghiótis Sotirúdis). Such edition has been published in the quoted review, pp. 63÷150, with translation and commentary. Having a look here and there, we have the impression that it promises to be no less interesting than Jouanna's edition, even if those Greek scholars received a special treatment from the Monastery of Vlatadon.]
 This dictionary of course adopt the devastating "reforms" that have for ever disinherited the generations born after 1976. These reforms are destroying the roots of a glorious people, as is well demonstrated by the current condition of Greece. A nation that destroys its own language, is destroying its own identity, betrays its ancestors and is doomed to suicide. And all that disaster thanks to a handful of sycophants envious and greedy for political power and money. Not even the Turks were able to make such a devastation.
 Our hypothesis is not absurd, since this fact happened to us many decades ago. At the university, during a written examination, we committed the lightness of not checking a word in the dictionary and, for an unfathomable reason, we translated "drunk" instead of “sweated." Obviously we did not get through the examination, but the professor (he was Dario Del Corno, a radical-chic swollen with ill-concealed haughtiness) was not satisfied to give a bad mark, but sent for us and, quoting the error, mocked and humiliated us in every possible way. However he did us a service, because we realized that the university cloaca was not a suitable place for learning anything whatsoever. As for his value as a scholar, arid and learned, you can detect it from his unbalanced translations of Aristophanes, not to mention other.
[2017 © Franco Luigi Viero]