On Jerome's Identification of "Galatians" to Mean Newly Initiated

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On Jerome's Identification of "Galatians" to Mean Newly Initiated

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:45 am

I had a moment where my real life and my scholarly hobby coincided on Saturday and the retelling of the event to my son last night. I was at one of his football (soccer) matches on Saturday. He has been playing better and better lately - so well that I had the song from My Fair Lady pop into my head 'The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly in the Plains.' As I was recounting the story to my thirteen year old last night I showed him the video clip and then the story of Pygmalion. But as I looked at the narrative I noticed that the statue was called Galatae (Γαλάτεια). While it turns out that the identification of the name of the statue was post-Classical, galatea (Γαλάτεια, perhaps “milk-white”), name of a sea-nymph, first in *Homer (Il. 18. 45); her legend was apparently first told by *Philoxenus (1) (see PLG4 3.609 ff.).

What this stimulated in my mind was the idea that the letter may have been so called originally not because of an association with the physical location of Galatia but owing to the addressees being those who drank milk (i.e. catechumen).
Tityrus and Galatea are found together only in Virgil, Eclogue 1. The article argues that they form a ‘significant’ pair of pastoral names, suggesting ‘cheese’ and ‘milk’. It provides evidence from Theocritus, where ‘milky’ Galatea is inserted in the semantic field of ‘milk and cheese’; Lucian, where Galatea forms a pair with the proper name Tyro; and the Alexander Romance, where Satyros is etymologized from ‘tyros’ (‘cheese’), in light of the fact that Virgil’s ‘Tityrus’ indicates a species of satyr.

Though Galatea appears already in Homer (Il. 18.45) and Hesiod (Theog. 250), the earliest near-explicit etymology of the name appears much later. According to the historian Douris Polyphemus set up a shrine to Galatea near Etna to honor her for the “abundance of milk” (διὰ τὴν … τοῦ γάλακτος πολυπλήθειαν) and this would have inspired Philoxenus of Cythera, when he visited the place, to invent the story of Polyphemus’ love for Galatea (FGrHist 76 F 58).10 The story is justifiably rejected as an example of the rationalization of myths,11 but precisely this feature would make it the first near-explicit etymology of Galatea. The first explicit occurrence appears in the 12th century A.D. It is found in Eustathius’ commentary on the above-mentioned Homeric passage (vol. 4, page 135.12-15 Van der Valk). Eustathius mentions that the Nereid Γαλάτεια was so called from “the milk-colored foams of the sea-waves” (διὰ τοὺς τῶν κυμάτων γαλαταχρόους ἀφρούς). We do not know how far back this etymology goes. According to the evidence we possess, literary (implied) etymologies of Galatea appear first in Hellenistic poetry and specifically in Theocritus, though he was not the first poet to introduce the Polyphemus-Galatea story but probably Philoxenus of Cythera. The theme was also treated by Callimachus and Bion.12 In Hellenistic literature poetry and philology are perfectly coordinated and hence Theocritus’ literary etymologies are at the same time the testimony of his erudition. Context, however, makes a great difference in poetry: names acquire or change meaning according to it, with dynamic flexibility and allusiveness that defeat the static and explicit word of philological etymologizing.

7Theocritus treated the story of Polyphemus and Galatea in Idylls 6 and 11. The poems suggest different etymologies of the Nereid’s name. I start with the latter, which is the better-known of the two:

Ὧ λευκὰ Γαλάτεια, τί τὸν φιλέοντ’ ἀποβάλλῃ,
λευκοτέρα πακτᾶς ποτιδεῖν, ἁπαλωτέρα ἀρνός …

(11.19-20)

O white Galatea, why do you spurn my love?
whiter than cream cheese, softer than a lamb…

ἐξένθοις, Γαλάτεια, καὶ ἐξενθοῖσα λάθοιο,
ὥσπερ ἐγὼ νῦν ὧδε καθήμενος, οἴκαδ’ ἀπενθεῖν·
ποιμαίνειν δ’ ἐθέλοις σὺν ἐμὶν ἅμα καὶ γάλ’ ἀμέλγειν
καὶ τυρὸν πᾶξαιτάμισον δριμεῖαν ἐνεῖσα.

(11.63-66)

Why don’t you come out, Galatea, and when you come out forget,
like me who is sitting here, to go back home?
May you be willing to tend the sheep with me and milk them
and set the cheese putting in sharp rennet.

ὦ Κύκλωψ Κύκλωψ, πᾷ τὰς φρένας ἐκπεπότασαι;
αἴ κ’ ἐνθὼν ταλάρως τε πλέκοις καὶ θαλλὸν ἀμάσας
ταῖς ἄρνεσσι φέροις, τάχα κα πολὺ μᾶλλον ἔχοις νῶν.
τὰν παρεοῖσαν ἄμελγε· τí τὸν φεύγοντα διώκεις;
εὑρησεῖς Γαλάτειαν ἴσως καὶ καλλίον’ ἄλλαν.

(11.72-76)

O Cyclops, Cyclops! Where is your sound mind gone?
If you went to weave your baskets or gather shoots
for the lambs, you would show more sense.
Milk the ewe that you have; why chase one that flees from you?
Perhaps you will find another Galatea, even fairer.

As a rule attention is paid only to the first passage, which opens the Cyclops’ song. Polyphemus addresses the Nereid as “white Galatea” and compliments her further by calling her “whiter than cream cheese (?)”.13 By modern standards Γαλάτεια is a semantically ‘opaque’ name.14 Ancient standards did not, however, obey the strict linguistic rules of today. Besides, the use of names in literature has always had its own ‘arbitrary’ rules. The most accurate thing we can say about the use of Γαλάτεια in this poem is that it acquires meaning by virtue of its combination with other semantic units.15 In other words, the combination of the name with ‘cheese’ and ‘whiteness’ causes the segment Γαλά(τ)-16 to suggest ‘γάλα’ (‘milk’).

Richard Hunter wonders if “Polyphemus did not realise the meaning of Galateia’s name, as he did not understand Odysseus’ disguise as Outis”,17implying that the Cyclops compares Galatea with cheese while her name suggests milk. In order to clarify this point it is necessary to look at the other occurrences of the name in the poem. It is extremely important that all three occurrences of ‘Γαλάτεια’ in the Cyclops’ song insert the name in the semantic field of ‘milk’ (‘whiteness’, ‘milking’) and ‘cheese’ (‘whiteness’, ‘cheese-making’). In passage 1 λευκά Γαλάτεια combines with λευκοτέρα πακτᾶς: here the name Γαλάτεια substitutes for γάλα.18 In passage 2 Γαλάτεια forms a semantic cluster19 with γάλ’ ἀμέλγειν and τυρὸν πᾶξαι τάμισον δριμεῖαν ἐνεῖσα (‘cheese-making’): the cluster includes both Γαλάτεια and γάλα. Finally, in passage 3 ταλάρως stands for ‘cheese-making’ (it was a receptacle where milk intended for cheese-making was placed) and combines with ἄμελγε (‘milking’) and Γαλάτειαν: here Γαλάτειαν again substitutes for γάλα.

If, therefore, Γαλάτειαν is consistently exploited in the Cyclops’ song to create semantic pairs with ‘cheese’, this would suggest, in my view, that the Cyclops is aware of the meaning of the name. In Theocritus 11 the Cyclops constructs a ‘Γαλάτειαν’ perfectly adapted to his main activity as a shepherd: she is whiter than his dairy products; she is invited to tend the sheep, milk the ewes and make cheese; he would have liked to ‘milk’ her like a ‘ewe’, but she is unwilling and so he will have to content himself with ‘milking the ewe that he has’, one of the girls that have taken a fancy to him. The specific semantic associations of ‘Γαλάτειαν’ occur only in the Cyclops’ song and not in the opening section addressed by the poet to Nikias (8, 13). Finally, the examination of these passages has confirmed that in all cases the essential semantic pair is ‘milk / Γαλάτειαν and cheese’. When the pair is thematized, it adapts to different contexts and suggests different things. ‘Whiteness’ is just one of them.

In Theocritus 6 the name is differently contextualized. Here is the passage:

καὶ γάρ θην οὐδ’ εἶδος ἔχω κακὸν ὥς με λέγοντι.
ἦ γὰρ πρᾶν ἐς πόντον ἐσέβλεπον, ἦς δὲ γαλάνα,
καὶ καλὰ μὲν τὰ γένεια, καλὰ δέ μευ ἁ μία κώρα,
ὡς παρ’ ἐμὶν κέκριται, κατεφαίνετο, τῶν δέ τ’ ὀδόντων
λευκοτέραν αὐγὰν Παρίας ὑπεφαίνετο λίθοιο.

(6.34-38)

For in truth, I am not as ugly as they say.
Only lately I was looking into the sea, when all was calm,
and I thought my beard looked beautiful, and so did my one eye,
while my teeth gleamed whiter than Parian marble.

As noted above, in literature the meaning of names is not static but dynamic; it may change within a collection of poems or within the same poem. Richard Hunter sums up the semantics of the present passage as follows: “Whereas in Idyll 11 Polyphemos gazed ἐς πόντον in the hope of seeing the beloved Galateia (18), here he looks ἐς πόντον and sees his own beloved self: instead of Γαλάτεια, there is γαλάνα …, instead of a girl (κώρα, cf. 1.82), there is his eye, κώρα … In Idyll 11 whiteness was on the side of ‘Miss Milky’; now the Cyclops has it”.21 One has to be reminded that we never hear the voice of Galatea but only the voice of the Cyclops. In other words her name acquires meaning only through him and according to his viewpoint. In Idyll 11 he sees ‘γάλα’ in her name; here he sees ‘γαλάνα’, ‘calm of the sea’, because it is what suits him and specifically what permits him to see his own reflection in the water. Theocritean Γαλάτεια is a purely mental construction. In other words her name exists only in the Cyclops’ fantasy and is shaped according to his mood and love passion or strategy. This is the ground where poetry challenges philology.

13Worthy of note is Lucian’s commentary on the semantics of ‘Γαλάτεια’ in Theocritus 11 and 6. In one of his Marine Dialogues (1.2.11-3.6) the Nereid Doris, who is talking to Galatea, makes the following biting comment about Polyphemus’ attraction to her sister: “What could he see in you but your white skin (τὸ λευκὸν μόνον)? And this because all he knows is cheese and milk (ὅτι συνήθης ἐστὶ τυρῷ καὶ γάλακτι) and he considers everything pretty that is like them. If you want to find out what you really look like, go sit on a rock when the weather is calm (εἴ ποτε γαλήνη εἴη), lean over the water and look at yourself: just a bit of white skin, that is all (οὐδὲν ἄλλο ἢ χροίαν λευκὴν ἀκριβῶς). Who will care for it without a touch of red (τὸ ἐρύθημα)?” Initially Lucian identifies the ‘milky’ whiteness of Γαλάτεια as a construction of the Cyclops’ mind. He next adapts the Cyclops’ ‘gaze in the calm water’ (γαλήνη) in order to render the viewpoint of a third party (Doris). The Attic Greek (γαλήνη) makes the play on γαλάνα / Γαλάτεια less obvious, but the mirror works anyway as in Theocritus 6. Doris assumes that Γαλάτεια will see in the calm water ‘plain whiteness’, while in the Cyclops’ eyes his own teeth ‘shone with a gleam whiter than Parian marble’. The Parian marble comparison would have suited Galatea’s body much better than the Cyclops’ teeth, but Doris is wicked and makes things worse by adding that white skin alone is not to be appreciated unless accompanied with ‘a touch of red’. Galatea’s reply is sarcastic: “Well, I may be all white as you say (Καὶ μὴν ἐγὼ ἡ ἀκράτως λευκή), but at least I have a lover, while you have none: not a shepherd, not a sailor, not a ferryman”. Galatea neither confirms nor denies her sister’s earlier comments; she merely accepts, for the sake of argument, her last disparaging comment about the ‘pure whiteness’ of her skin and strikes back. Thus Lucian’s humorous commentary ends up doing the same thing as the text of Theocritus: it elucidates it and at the same time provides further viewpoints on the ‘whiteness’ of Γαλάτεια, which remains invariably context-bound.

Γαλάτεια and Τυρώ in Lucian’s True History
14I argued above that in Theocritus 11 the essential semantic pair is ‘milk / Γαλάτεια and cheese’. We can now look at a passage where the second member of the pair (‘cheese’) is also replaced by a proper name. In Lucian’s True History the narrator and his companions sail to a sea of milk and an island of cheese. The vines on the island produce milk instead of wine; it has a temple dedicated to Galatea and is ruled by Queen Tyro. Here is the ancient passage followed by an English translation:

Μετ’ οὐ πολὺ δὲ εἰς πέλαγος ἐνεβαίνομεν, οὐχ ὕδατος, ἀλλὰ γάλακτος· καὶ νῆσος ἐν αὐτῷ ἐφαίνετο λευκὴ πλήρης ἀμπέλων. ἦν δὲ ἡ νῆσος τυρὸς μέγιστος συμπεπηγώς, ὡς ὕστερον ἐμφαγόντες ἐμάθομεν, σταδίων εἴκοσι πέντε τὸ περίμετρον· αἱ δὲ ἄμπελοι βοτρύων πλήρεις, οὐ μέντοι οἶνον, ἀλλὰ γάλα ἐξ αὐτῶν ἀποθλίβοντες ἐπίνομεν. ἱερὸν δὲ ἐν μέσῃ τῇ νήσῳ ἀνῳκοδόμητο Γαλατείας τῆς Νηρηΐδος, ὡς ἐδήλου τὸ ἐπίγραμμα. ὅσον οὖν χρόνον ἐκεῖ ἐμείναμεν, ὄψον μὲν ἡμῖν καὶ σιτίον ἡ γῆ ὑπῆρχεν, ποτὸν δὲ τὸ γάλα τὸ ἐκ τῶν βοτρύων. βασιλεύειν δὲ τῶν χωρίων τούτων ἐλέγετο Τυρὼ ἡ Σαλμωνέως, μετὰ τὴν ἐντεῦθεν ἀπαλλαγὴν ταύτην παρὰ τοῦ Ποσειδῶνος λαβοῦσα τὴν τιμήν.

(2.3.5-16)

Soon we entered a sea not of water but of milk, in which there was an island, white in color and full of vines. The island was a huge piece of hard cheese, as we later found out by eating it. Its perimeter was twenty-five stades long. The vines were covered with grapes, but when we pressed them we drank not wine but milk. In the middle of the island there was a temple of Galatea the Nereid, as the inscription on it indicated. During the time we stayed there, the ground itself was our bread and meat, and the vine-milk was our drink. We heard that the queen of the place was Tyro, the daughter of Salmoneus, and that Poseidon had given her this honor after death.


15The Lucianic passage is sometimes used in combination with the passage from Douris quoted earlier about the shrine Polyphemus dedicated to Galatea (FGrHist 76 F 58), in order to support the existence of a local cult of Galatea. What concerns me in this fantastic description is the pair of significant names Γαλάτεια and Τυρώ. Obviously Lucian looked for a name that would represent the second member of the semantic pair ‘milk and cheese’ and found it in Tyro. According to Diodorus Siculus (6.6.5) her name derives from τυρός (‘cheese’) and she received it “because of the whiteness and softness of her body” (διὰ τὴν λευκότητα καὶ τὴν τοῦ σώματος μαλακότητα). (Cf. also ∑ Hom. Od. 11.235)
Last edited by Secret Alias on Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Secret Alias
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Re: On the 'Epistle to the Galatians'

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Dec 10, 2019 9:49 am

Jerome Commentary on Galatians 1.3.1
We must expound what follows – Who has bewitched you? – in a way worthy of Paul, who even if rough in this speech is not so in his understanding. It must not be interpreted in such a way as to make Paul legitimize the witchcraft that is popularly supposed to do harm. Rather he has used a colloquial expression, and as elsewhere so here he has adopted a word from everyday speech… In the same way as tender infants are said to be harmed by witchcraft, so too the Galatians, recently born in the faith of Christ and nourished with milk, not solid food, have been injured as though someone has cast a spell on them.
Jerome quotes the Christian writer Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius as saying that the Galatians were so called because of the whiteness of their skin, as though their name was derived from Greek gala ('milk')

Lactantius, in a work not extant, had, as Jerome tells us, connected the name with gala, milk, as if they had been so named a candore corporis — which some have improved upon, as if the apostle here meant to stigmatize them as sucklings.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: On Jerome's Identification of "Galatians" to Mean Newly Initiated

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:05 am

The Marcionites gave milk and honey to the newly baptized:
He (Marcion) certainly has not even yet rejected the Creator's water, for in it he washes his own: nor the oil with which he anoints them, nor the compound of milk and honey on which he weans them, nor the Creator's bread by which he makes manifest his own body. Even in his own rites and ceremonies he cannot do without things begged and borrowed from the Creator. (1.14.5)
Hippolytus echoes the same use of milk and honey to the newly baptized. The reference is clearly to Exodus 3 albeit reinterpreted as a cosmic redemption:
And God said moreover unto Moses: 'Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you; this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations. Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, hath appeared unto me, saying: I have surely remembered you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt. And I have said: I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt ... unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: On Jerome's Identification of "Galatians" to Mean Newly Initiated

Post by Secret Alias » Tue Dec 10, 2019 10:10 am

Paul on Jesus being the 'milk' that is consumed by the catechumen:
The nutriment is the milk of the Father, by which alone we infants are nourished. The Word Himself, then, the beloved One, and our nourisher, hath shed His own blood for us, to save humanity; and by Him, we, believing on God, flee to the Word, “the care-soothing breast” of the Father. And He alone, as is befitting, supplies us children with the milk of love, and those only are truly blessed who suck this breast. Wherefore also Peter says: “Laying therefore aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisy, and envy, and evil speaking, as new-born babes, desire the milk of the word, that ye may grow by it to salvation; if ye have tasted that the Lord is Chrestos.”[1 Pet. ii. 1–3. Here χρηστός = nomen sacrum] And were one to concede to them that the meat was something different from the milk, then how shall they avoid being transfixed on their own spit, through want of consideration of nature? For in winter, when the air is condensed, and prevents the escape of the heat enclosed within, the food, transmuted and digested and changed into blood, passes into the veins, and these, in the absence of exhalation, are greatly distended, and exhibit strong pulsations; consequently also nurses are then fullest of milk. And we have shown a little above, that on pregnancy blood passes into milk by a change which does not affect its substance, just as in old people yellow hair changes to grey. But again in summer, the body, having its pores more open, affords greater facility for diaphoretic action in the case of the food, and the milk is least abundant, since neither is the blood full, nor is the whole nutriment retained. If, then, the digestion of the food results in the production of blood, and the blood becomes milk, then blood is a preparation for milk, as blood is for a human beings, and the grape for the vine. With milk, then, the Lord’s nutriment, we are nursed directly we are born; and as soon as we are regenerated, we are honoured by receiving the good news of the hope of rest, even the Jerusalem above, in which it is written that milk and honey fall in showers, receiving through what is material the pledge of the sacred food. “For meats are done away with,” [1 Cor. vi. 13. as the apostle himself says; but this nourishment on milk leads to the heavens, rearing up citizens of heaven, and members of the angelic choirs. And since the Word is the gushing fountain of life, and has been called a river of olive oil, Paul, using appropriate figurative language, and calling Him milk, adds: “I have given you to drink;” [1 Cor. iii. 2]. for we drink in the word, the nutriment of the truth. In truth, also liquid food is called drink; and the same thing may somehow be both meat and drink, according to the different aspects in which it is considered, just as cheese is the solidification of milk or milk solidified; for I am not concerned here to make a nice selection of an expression, only to say that one substance supplies both articles of food. Besides, for children at the breast, milk alone suffices; it serves both for meat and drink. “I,” says the Lord, “have meat to eat that ye know not of. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me.” [John iv. 32–34]. You see another kind of food which, similarly with milk, represents figuratively the will of God. Besides, also, the completion of His own passion He called catachrestically “a cup,” [Matt. xx. 22, etc] when He alone had to drink and drain it. Thus to Christ the fulfilling of His Father’s will was food; and to us infants, who drink the milk of the word of the heavens, Christ Himself is food. Hence seeking is called sucking; for to those babes that seek the Word, the Father’s breasts of love supply milk.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: On Jerome's Identification of "Galatians" to Mean Newly Initiated

Post by Jax » Wed Dec 11, 2019 7:43 am

Very interesting SA. I always wondered why that letter had no city named in it.

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Re: On Jerome's Identification of "Galatians" to Mean Newly Initiated

Post by Secret Alias » Wed Dec 11, 2019 8:56 am

Remember that Philo interprets the 'promise' (cf. Paul) from God to Abraham to ספר http://cal.huc.edu/showjastrow.php?page=1017 the stars is interpreted as the promise of astral projection, that his children will be as the stars.

And He took him outside and said, "Now look toward the heavens, and ספר the stars, if you are able to ספר them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."

Paul knows this interpretation and contrasts this astral birth to the physical birth of Ishmael. So the idea emerges that this 'promise' is fulfilled by Christ. So the initiates receive milk because of the milky way. While ספר is usually taken to mean 'count' so that it speaks to the vast number of physical descendants Abraham will have, it must be noted there is a very strong tradition developed from the text of Genesis that God impregnated Sarah, so Isaac is not even his physical descendant.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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