[ilds] Agathou diamonos

Richard Pine durrelllibrarycorfu at gmail.com
Tue Apr 26 15:31:47 PDT 2016


From: Hashsham Khalid <hashsham.2011 at my.bristol.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, Apr 26, 2016 at 1:23 PM
Subject: Re: [ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 108, Issue 17
To: "ilds at lists.uvic.ca" <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>


Hello,
Would anyone be kind enough to tell me what the Greek epigraph before
MountOlive means?

Regards
Hashsham

There are two versions of this epigraph:

Agathou diamonos - appears in the first edition of Mountolive

and

to onoma tou agathou diamonos - appears in the collected edition of the
Quartet

Taking the longer version, which is a dedication to LD's wife Claude
Vincendon, the literal meaning is, or could be

The name of the good spirit/demon

except that it is mis-spelt, since the correct Greek word is 'daimonos'

Any interpretation is bound to be ambiguous/uncertain because while
'daimonos' means - to modern Greeks - 'devil', LD would hardly refer to his
wife as 'the good devil' (although that in itself suggests a possible
oxymoronic joke on LD's part), which indicates that he intended 'daimon' or
'daemon' to mean 'spirit' in the sense of a guardian angel.
The word is not in itself a classical Greek usage, although 'daimon' (the
latter o being an omega rather than (as in modern parlance) an omicro)
means 'god' - or 'goddess' - similar to Latin 'numen', with a secondary
meaning of 'one's genius' or 'fortune'. However, as LD was not overly
familiar  with classical Greek, it seems unlikely that he had it in mind.
The OED defines 'demon' (giving its alternative spelling as 'daemon') in
several senses, including 1) an evil spirit and 2) an attendant or
indwelling spirit, one's genius. Clearly these two meanings could be
interpreted as mutually exclusive. Or not.
The latter meaning would seem to be more in line with LD's intention in
that he did regard Claude as such a spirit (as in 'genius loci', if one can
mix one's linguistic metaphors).
The misprint - 'diamonos' for 'daimonos' - presumably arose due to LD's
mis-typing which went undetected by the ignoramuses at Fabers who, in these
days, lack all pretensions to a classical education. We will say nothing of
the grammatical error(s).
I trust this answer is sufficiently obscure.
Richard Pine
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