κύπτειν "bend down" spine or knees?

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
Stephen Hughes
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κύπτειν "bend down" spine or knees?

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 4th, 2015, 11:18 pm

While talking about conditions of the spine, Hippocrates uses the cognates of κύπτειν solely in reference to the spine.

When I have pictured John the Baptist untying Jesus sandals or Jesus writing with his finger, I had thought they were squatting (cf. ὀκλάζειν "squat", bend the hams and go down). Have I been mistaken? Let me spell out the steps I have taken so far on the path of self-doubt...

Our Italian friend (page 219) gives κλίνομαι = κύπτω. While they certainly are similar, I think κλίνεσθαι implies that there is something to lean against, while κύπτειν means bend only supported by ones own strength.

Hippocrates when speaking of a curvature of the spine laterally says καὶ ἐς τὸ πλάγιον σκολιοῦνται σπόνδυλοι. That is to say that the σφόνδυλοι "vertebrae" (Attic spelling of σπόνδυλοι, which is described as being Ionic and Later Greek) are curved (cf scoliosis), but that is not referred to directly as κύφωσις (described in LSJ as being hump-backed). σκολιοῦσθαι is used to describe the general curvature of the spine (ῥάχις , ιος, Att. εως, ἡ). Since Hippocrates compares κύπτειν to the lateral curvature, it is likely that κύπτειν only (or at least usually) refers to forward movement.

The passages in question are:
Mark 1:7 wrote:Καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν, λέγων, Ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω μου, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς κύψας λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ.
John 8:6 wrote:Ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς κάτω κύψας, τῷ δακτύλῳ ἔγραφεν εἰς τὴν γῆν
John 8:8 wrote:πάλιν κάτω κύψας ἔγραφεν εἰς τὴν γῆν.
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RandallButh
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Re: κύπτειν "bend down" spine or knees?

Post by RandallButh » August 5th, 2015, 4:28 am

Nice questions, Stephanos.

Please let us know what you find out, and relationship or overlap with ὀκλάσαι (like a woman giving birth, and/or with the knee) and κάμψαι (with the knee).
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: κύπτειν "bend down" spine or knees?

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 5th, 2015, 7:02 am

προσκυνεῖν could also be considered as a forward and downward motion involving both legs and back. Question being is is hands, knees and head / chest, or jus hands and knees.
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cwconrad
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Re: κύπτειν "bend down" spine or knees?

Post by cwconrad » August 5th, 2015, 8:31 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:While talking about conditions of the spine, Hippocrates uses the cognates of κύπτειν solely in reference to the spine.

When I have pictured John the Baptist untying Jesus sandals or Jesus writing with his finger, I had thought they were squatting (cf. ὀκλάζειν "squat", bend the hams and go down). Have I been mistaken? Let me spell out the steps I have taken so far on the path of self-doubt...

Our Italian friend (page 219) gives κλίνομαι = κύπτω. While they certainly are similar, I think κλίνεσθαι implies that there is something to lean against, while κύπτειν means bend only supported by ones own strength.]
That's consistent with the etymological cognate in Latin, cubare, but κλίνεσθαι has a much broader range of usage, including the very common one of reclining to eat in the standard Greco-Roman fashion. προσκυνεῖν does seem to involve going down on one's knees and τιθέναι τὰ γόνατα is well attested in the GNT in that sense as a show of respect. I'd bet that κύπτειν, to the extent that it's associated with tying another's sandal-straps, means "crouch" in the context in which JB uses it, even if elsewhere it means "bow over" under a heavy load on one's back or "hang one's head in shame."
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Stephen Hughes
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Re: κύπτειν "bend down" spine or knees?

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 6th, 2015, 2:37 am

To further test presumptions... The direction of the head in παρακύπτειν is another interesting question. κύπτειν - spine bent forward, but is the head facing down or horizontal? I had always assumed it was hands to support and head facing down, but that could be tested.
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Tony Pope
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Re: κύπτειν "bend down" spine or knees?

Post by Tony Pope » August 6th, 2015, 4:10 am

Photius cites this from Aristophanes
ὡς ἐς τὴν γῆν κύψασα κάτω καὶ ξυννενοφυῖα βαδίζει
which is also given in LSJ s.v. συννέφω and referenced as Fragm. 395.
http://heml.mta.ca/lace/sidebysideview2/7770584

Presumably you are not squatting if βαδίζεις.

Also from Aristophanes:
Frogs ὥστ᾽ ἐπαφαυάνθην Παναθηναίοισι γελῶν, ὅτε δὴ
(1091) βραδὺς ἄνθρωπός τις ἔθει κύψας
λευκὸς πίων ὑπολειπόμενος
καὶ δεινὰ ποιῶν:
[So that I laughed myself dry at the Panathenaic games, when some slow guy ran, hunched over, pale, drunk, left behind and doing miserably] (Tr. on Perseus site)
CWConrad wrote: I'd bet that κύπτειν, to the extent that it's associated with tying another's sandal-straps, means "crouch" in the context in which JB uses it
Presumably, to reach the sandal straps the slave would go down with both knees touching the ground just as if kneeling in homage?

As regards παρακύπτειν, Field (1899) complained of the use of the word "stooping" in the KJV and RV at Luke 24.12 and John 20.5, 11, and adduced
LXX Gen 26.8 καὶ παρακύψας ᾿Αβιμέλεχ ὁ βασιλεὺς Γεράρων διὰ τῆς θυρίδος,
Prov 7.6 ἀπὸ γὰρ θυρίδος ἐκ τοῦ οἴκου αὐτῆς εἰς τὰς πλατείας παρακύπτουσα,
Sirach 21.23 ἄφρων ἀπὸ θύρας παρακύπτει εἰς οἰκίαν;

as well as Aesop Fables 297 (= Chambry 202, Perry 145)
Λέων ἐπί τινι αἰγιαλῷ πλαζόμενος, ὡς ἐθεάσατο δελφῖνα παρακύψαντα
[A lion was wandering on the seashore when he saw a dolphin stick his head out of the water.]

and Epictetus 1.1.16 ἂν ἄπλοια ᾖ, καθήμεθα σπώμενοι καὶ παρακύπτομεν συνεχῶς: ‘τίς ἄνεμος πνεῖ;
[when the weather is not fit for sailing, we sit down and torment ourselves, and continually look out to see what wind is blowing.]

F. Field Notes on the Translation of the New Testament 1899, 80f
https://archive.org/stream/notesontrans ... 0/mode/2up

Παρακύπτειν is also discussed in quite some detail by E. Abbott Johannine Vocabulary §1799-1804. He defines it as "take a rapid -- but not necessarily careless -- glance at anything". I am not so sure about the "rapid", but it is certainly used of sticking one's neck in or out of a window or door to take a look.
https://archive.org/stream/johanninevoc ... 0/mode/2up
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: κύπτειν "bend down" spine or knees?

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 6th, 2015, 5:45 am

I don't quite know how to process the dolphin example. Perhaps like this...
Image
It appears that the dolphin is resting its "arms" on the other side of the surface of the water and pushing its head through from its world to look at ours.

My working supposition is that the κύπτειν means "change the upper body centre of gravity by bending the spine". κατα- to below the point of bending, ἀνα- to an upright position above the point of bending, παρα- to offset the centre of gravity (which would be taxing on the lumber region, so using one's hands to support the weight of the upper body would be logical, or as your Abbott suggests especially if not supported, would only be able to be maintained for a short while). From an upright or seated position the κύπτειν would not need to be lower than the hips, but from a standing position, Jesus' upper body centre of gravity would need to be lower than the hips to reach the ground (a man of my bulk naturally holds a knee for support in doing that), for him to write with his finger on the ground.
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Tony Pope
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Re: κύπτειν "bend down" spine or knees?

Post by Tony Pope » August 6th, 2015, 8:14 am

Tony Pope wrote:sticking one's neck in or out of a window or door to take a look.
Correction: I meant to say "sticking one's head in or out ..." (Had first put "craning one's neck to take a look" and then failed to edit it properly.)
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Stephen Hughes
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Re: κύπτειν "bend down" spine or knees?

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 6th, 2015, 1:35 pm

I have an adendum for my post.

Was Jesus standing or sitting when he leant down or leant forward to write on the ground?
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Stephen Hughes
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Re: κύπτειν "bend down" spine or knees?

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 7th, 2015, 1:50 am

Tony Pope wrote:and Epictetus 1.1.16 ἂν ἄπλοια ᾖ, καθήμεθα σπώμενοι καὶ παρακύπτομεν συνεχῶς: ‘τίς ἄνεμος πνεῖ;
[when the weather is not fit for sailing, we sit down and torment ourselves, and continually look out to see what wind is blowing.]
Image
Of course the young man in this picture is more interested in the person beside him than the sea, and the prop-wash of a cruise ship isn't appropriate either, but I couldn't find a more suitable royalty-free image.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

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