κοπετός / κόπτεσθαι communal expression?

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
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Stephen Hughes
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κοπετός / κόπτεσθαι communal expression?

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 9th, 2015, 12:53 am

Do κοπετός / κόπτεσθαι "beat the breast", "wail" express an unorganised communal expression of grief (individuals carrying out a socially defined/expected grieving action), or was it seen as an individual action simply in response to one's own feelings inside.
Acts 8:2 wrote:Συνεκόμισαν δὲ τὸν Στέφανον ἄνδρες εὐλαβεῖς, καὶ ἐποιήσαντο κοπετὸν μέγαν ἐπ’ αὐτῷ.
Matthew 11:17 wrote:Ηὐλήσαμεν ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐκ ὠρχήσασθε· ἐθρηνήσαμεν ὑμῖν, καὶ οὐκ ἐκόψασθε.
Matthew 24:30 (cf. Revelations 1:7) wrote:καὶ τότε κόψονται πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς, καὶ ὄψονται τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐρχόμενον ἐπὶ τῶν νεφελῶν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ μετὰ δυνάμεως καὶ δόξης πολλῆς.
Luke 8:52 wrote:Ἔκλαιον δὲ πάντες, καὶ ἐκόπτοντο αὐτήν. Ὁ δὲ εἶπεν, Μὴ κλαίετε· οὐκ ἀπέθανεν, ἀλλὰ καθεύδει.
Luke 23:27 wrote:Ἠκολούθει δὲ αὐτῷ πολὺ πλῆθος τοῦ λαοῦ, καὶ γυναικῶν αἳ καὶ ἐκόπτοντο καὶ ἐθρήνουν αὐτόν.
Revelations 18:9 wrote:Καὶ κλαύσουσιν καὶ κόψονται ἐπ’ αὐτὴν οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς οἱ
For especially Luke 23:27, compare κοπετούς τε γυναικείους ἀφαιρῶν in Plutarch, Fabius Maximus, 17, 5, translated by Bernadotte Perrin as "checking effeminate lamentation". I take that with the things lsted about others following it - make known their common bad feelings, rather than with his own stoicism that are listed before it.
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

cwconrad
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Re: κοπετός / κόπτεσθαι communal expression?

Post by cwconrad » August 9th, 2015, 5:53 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:Do κοπετός / κόπτεσθαι "beat the breast", "wail" express an unorganised communal expression of grief (individuals carrying out a socially defined/expected grieving action), or was it seen as an individual action simply in response to one's own feelings inside.
Although it's an earlier stage of Greek culture, I would assume that the choral song designated κομμός, a standard alternative to the regular choral ode or στάσιμον that intervenes between ἐπεισόδια in Greek tragedy is in line with the NT suggestions or references to a shared ritualized lament:
κομμός (A), ὁ, (κόπτω)
A striking; esp. beating of the head and breast in lamentation, ἔκοψα κομμὸν Ἄριον A.Ch.423 (lyr.), cf. Bion 1.97 (pl.); hence,
2 in the Att. Drama, dirge, lament, sung alternately by one or more of the chief characters and the chorus, κ. δὲ θρῆνος κοινὸς χοροῦ καὶ ἀπὸ σκηνῆς Arist.Po.1452b24.
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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: κοπετός / κόπτεσθαι communal expression?

Post by Stephen Hughes » August 9th, 2015, 10:16 am

cwconrad wrote:I would assume that the choral song designated κομμός, a standard alternative to the regular choral ode or στάσιμον that intervenes between ἐπεισόδια in Greek tragedy is in line with the NT suggestions or references to a shared ritualized lament:
Now that, with an assumption, we are shuffling out along the branch, hoping that it doesn't give way, let me suggest what might lie out where even the finches don't dare stand.

To speculate, with no possibility of proof, they could be funeral songs, possibly Christian adaptations of dirges that were sung. By Christianised, I mean, incorporation the theology and experience of the Resurrection in general, rather than the white robes and golden crowns that characterise the eschatological cult of the martyrs, that was to develop later.

Louw and Nida (52.1) put the meaning more or less towards "the beat(ing) of the breast",and "lament(ation)". To my mind that is moving towards στεναγμός "groaning and sighing" and ἔτυπτεν (εἰς) τὸ στῆθος αὐτοῦ (Luke 18:13, Tax collector cf. Pharisee in the temple), with a feeling of loss ἐρήμωσις. And they put the other words at the start of their section 52 into a more formalised environment.

After CWC (above), as a song, it is somewhat closer perhaps to θρῆνος "a song incorporating wailing-like mournful tones". I might suggest, in fancy, that the antiphon character of the κομμός may have been in the κοπετός mentioned here, or perhaps the κοπετός is a term to designate a particular genre of songs appropriate to a funeral, or even activities, of which singing dirges was a part.

Now that I have taken several steps past the end of the branch, there is probably the need to wonder if any of that could be true. Besides κοπετός / κόπτεσθαι being in the plural, and it being used with the adjective γυναικεῖος by Plutarch, what other evidence could be used to test speculation's heady flight?
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Γελᾷ δ' ὁ μωρός, κἄν τι μὴ γέλοιον ᾖ
(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Tony Pope
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Re: κοπετός / κόπτεσθαι communal expression?

Post by Tony Pope » August 10th, 2015, 4:43 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:Do κοπετός / κόπτεσθαι "beat the breast", "wail" express an unorganised communal expression of grief (individuals carrying out a socially defined/expected grieving action), or was it seen as an individual action simply in response to one's own feelings inside.
Perhaps either according to context? There seem to be not many examples of κόπτεσθαι where the subject is singular, but how about Bathsheba mourning her husband:
LXX 2Km11.26 καὶ ἤκουσεν ἡ γυνὴ Οὐρίου ὅτι ἀπέθανεν Οὐρίας ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, καὶ ἐκόψατο τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτῆς.

Abraham mourning his wife is described similarly, but his numerous servants might be implictly included so that example is perhaps not to be pressed.
LXX Gen23.2 ἦλθε δὲ ῾Αβραὰμ κόψασθαι Σάρραν καὶ πενθῆσαι.

Here is one in the active voice from Chariton's Callirhoe. The noble Callirhoe is bemoaning her lot as she has been captured by pirates and sold as a slave in a foreign country. She notices the image of Chaireas, the husband she has lost.
Chariton 1.14.9 κόπτουσα δὲ τῇ χειρὶ τὸ στῆθος εἶδεν ἐν τῷ δακτυλίῳ τὴν εἰκόνα τὴν Χαιρέου καὶ καταφιλοῦσα ...
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