[B-Greek] To herd the winds (Prov. 9:12)

Emanuel Contac vaisamar at gmail.com
Tue Apr 6 04:27:17 EDT 2010

Hello List,

 I submitted this query on a LXX group, recently, but there was no feedback (possibly because people were involved in the preparations for the Easter) so I submit it to B-Greek, which is more active. I realize that my query goes beyond grammar, but sometimes it happens that you dissect a text grammatically, understand it at that level, and still the overall meaning is far from clear. Here is my query.


  Some time ago I had the chance of listening to a Romanian scholar discuss a Romanian phrase (a paşte vânt) which seems to come ultimately from the Bible, from Proverbs 9:12 (POIMAINEIN ANEMOUS) in LXX (i.e. Old Greek). Strangely enough, the Romanian for „poimainein anemous” means „to waste time, to sit idly, to kill time”. I will not expand on that because my purpose is to see what the original meaning of the phrase was in the LXX, in the context of Proverbs (for which we have no Hebrew correspondent at this particular verse). 

Note that this fragment occurs in Vulgate too, in Prov. 10:4 (How it ended there would be another discussion which I do not intend to pursue).

Does anyone know if this phrase (poimainein anemous) continued to be used in Byzantine Greek or in Modern Greek? Did it become a by-word for someone wasting time?

Brenton takes poimainein as „rule” and so gives the following meaning: he who resorts to lies is like the one attempting to rule the winds (these being notoriously untamable).

Below you can read the verse in Old Greek, Brenton and Vulgata Clementina. Any insights would be much appreciated.

- ὃς ἐρείδεται ἐπὶψεύδεσιν οὗτος ποιμανεῖἀνέμους ὁδ᾽αὐτὸς διώξεται ὄρνεα πετόμενα (Pro 9:12)

Brenton – „He that stays himself upon falsehoods, attempts to rule the winds, and the
same will pursue birds in their fight” (Pro 9:12)

Clementina – „Qui nititur mendaciis, hic pascit ventos; idem autem ipse sequitur
aves volantes” (Pro 10:4).

Note also Hosea 12:1 „Ephraim pascit ventum, et sequitur aestum; tota die mendacium et
vastitatem multiplicat: et foedus cum Assyriis iniit, et oleum in Aegyptum

Very interestingly, later commentators of the Latin text of Hosea took “pascere” as “feeding on”. That is, Ephraim is “feeding on the wind”. The dual sense of “pascere” is kept in Romanian too; a paşte can mean “to feed the animals, by taking them to graze on a pasture”, as well as “graze, feed on grass” (used of the animal itself).

Many thanks,
Emanuel Conţac, Romania

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