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αἱ τέτταρες, ἢ πέντε, ὧραι
χαίρετε! παρ’ ἡμῖν ἐν τῇ Γερμανίᾳ νῦν καλλίστη ἐστὶν ἡ ὥρα· οἱ γεωργοὶ θερίζουσιν τὸν σῖτον, τὰ δένδρα γέμει καρπῶν καὶ ὁ ἥλιος καλῶς λάμπει ἀλλὰ οὐκέτι φλέγει. αἱ δ’ ἡμέραι ἤδη βραχύτεραι γίγνονται, καὶ δι’ ὀλίγου ἀποπτήσονται οἱ ὄρνιθες καὶ μαρανθήσονται τὰ ἄνθη. διὰ τοῦτο σήμερον διαλεξόμεθα περὶ τῶν ὡρῶν τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ· ἀρξώμεθα δέ.
Hi! Here in Germany the season is now especially beautiful: The farmers harvest the crop, the trees are loaded with fruits and the sun shines nicely without blazing anymore. But the days are already getting shorter, and soon the birds will fly away and the flowers will wither. For this reason we will talk today about the seasons of the year. So let’s start!
ἡμεῖς, οἱ νῦν, διαιροῦμεν τὸν ἐνιαυτὸν εἰς τέτταρας ὥρας· οἱ δὲ παλαιοὶ διαφερόντως διεῖλον τὸν ἐνιαυτόν· οἱ μὲν εἶχον μόνον δύο ὥρας, οἱ δὲ τρεῖς, τέτταρας, πέντε, ἕξ, ἑπτά· σήμερον δὲ ἡμεῖς ὀψόμεθα πέντε ὥρας· ὧν τέτταρες καὶ βρεττανιστὶ ὑπάρχουσιν καὶ μία ἰδία ἐστὶ τοῖς παλαιοῖς Ἕλλησι. ἀρξόμεθα δὲ ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ὥρας· τοῦ ἔαρος.
We, living today, divide the year into four seasons. The ancients, however, divided the year differently. Some were having two seasons, others three, four, five, six, seven. Today we will see five seasons: four of which also exist in English and one is peculiar to the ancient Greeks. But we will start from the first season: spring.
τοῦ ἔαρος ἀρχομένου βλαστάνει τὰ ἄνθη καὶ τὰ δένδρα· οἱ δ’ὄρνιθες ᾄδουσι καὶ ποιοῦνται τὰς νεοσσιὰς· διὰ τοῦτο οἱ ὄρνιθες σημεῖόν εἰσι τοῦ ἔαρος καὶ ὑπάρχει παλαιὰ παροιμία ἣ λέγει· μία χελιδὼν ἔαρ οὐ ποιεῖ.
With the start of spring the flowers and trees bud and grow. The birds sing and build their nests. Because of this the birds are a sign of spring and there is an old proverb that says: One swallow does not make a summer (lit. „spring“).
τοῦ θέρους φλέγει ὁ ἥλιος, μάλιστα ἐν τῇ Ἑλλάδι. αἱ δὲ θερμόταται ἡμέραι εἰσὶν αἱ ὑπὸ κύνα · ὁ γὰρ κύων ἐστὶ σημεῖον τοῦ οὐρανοῦ· καὶ ὅτε ἀνατέλλει ὁ κύων, μέγιστον γίγνεται καῦμα· καὶ πάντες οἱ γεωργοὶ καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι ἄνθρωποι παύονται τῶν ἔργων αὐτῶν.
During summer the sun is blazing, especially in Greece. The hottest days are the dog days. For the „dog“ is a star constellation. And when the „dog“ rises the heat is greatest. And all the farmes and the other people stop their works.
ἡ ὀπώρα οὐκ ὑπάρχει βρεττανιστί, ἔστι δὲ μεγίστη αὕτη ἡ ὥρα παρὰ τοῖς παλαιοῖς Ἕλλησι· τῆς γὰρ ὀπώρας ἀκμαζούσης καιρός ἐστι τοῦ θερίζειν καὶ τοῦ τρυγᾶν· συλλέγουσι δὲ πάντες τὰ βότρυα καὶ πατοῦσιν αὐτὰ ἐν ληνοῖς· ἐκρρεῖ ἡ τρὺξ ἐξ ἧς γίγνεται ὁ οἶνος.
Late-summer (opora) does not exist (as a season) in English. But this season is a big thing for the ancient Greeks. For in late summer it is time to mow and gather (fruits). Everybody gathers the grapes and they tread them in wine vats. The must flows out, out of which the wine gets produced.
τῆς ὀπώρας ληγούσης γίγνεται τὸ φθινόπωρον· ταύτῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἀποπέτονται οἱ ὄρνιθες, μαραίνεται τὰ φυτὰ καὶ τοῖς γεωργοῖς νῦν καιρός ἐστι τοῦ ἀροῦν τοὺς ἀγροὺς αὐτῶν.
When late summer has ended autumn is coming. During this season the birds migrate („fly away“), the plants wither and for the farmers it is now time to plough their fields.
τοῦ χειμῶνος τὰ δένδρα οὐκέτι ἔχει φύλλα, ἄπεισιν οἱ ὄρνιθες, ψῦχος γίγνεται καὶ ὁ Ζεὺς νίφει. ἐν δὲ τῇ Ἑλλάδι ταύτῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ καὶ θύελλαι μεγάλαι γίγνονται, διὰ τοῦτο τοῖς παλαιοῖς ἀδύνατον ἦν πλεῖν τοῦ χειμῶνος· τὸ ὄνομα οὖν χειμὼν σημαίνει οὐ μόνον τὴν ὥραν τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ ἀλλὰ καὶ τούτους τοὺς ἰσχυροὺς ἀνέμους οἳ γίγνονται ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ.
During winter the trees don’t have leaves anymore, there are no birds, it’s getting cold and it snows. In Greece there are also big storms during this season. Because of this it was impossible for the ancients to sail during winter. So the word cheimon does not only mean the season of the year but also these strong winds which arise during this season.
μῦθος – storytime
διὰ τί δὲ ἀεὶ μεταβάλλονται αἱ ὧραι τοῦ ἐνιατοῦ; ὑπάρχει ἐνδοξότατος μῦθος ἀκριβῶς περὶ τούτου. ὁ δὲ μῦθός ἐστιν ὅδε·
But why do the seasons of the year always change? There is a famous myth about just that. The myth goes like this:
πάλαι ἡ Δημήτηρ ἡ θεὰ τῶν καρπῶν καὶ τῆς γεωργίας ἀφθόνως παρεῖχεν τοῖς ζῴοις καὶ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις πλῆθος τῶν ἀγαθῶν· πάντοτε γὰρ ἡ γῆ ἐθάλλει ἄνθεσιν, τὰ φύλλα ἐβλάστανε καὶ οἱ ὄρνιθες ᾖδον. ἦν δὲ τῇ Δήμητρι θυγάτηρ, κόρη καλλίστη ὀνόματι Περσεφόνη. ὁ δὲ Ἅιδης ὁ θεὸς τῶν νεκρῶν ἰδὼν τὴν κόρην σφόδρα ἠράσθη αὐτῆς· δῆλον δ’ ἦν ὄτι ἡ Δημήτηρ οὐδέποτε ἐκδώσει τὴν θυγατέρα γάμβρῳ τοιούτῳ·
In ancient times Demeter, the goddess of fruits and agriculture, used to bestow on animals and humans an abundance of good things: For the earth was always blooming with flowers, the leaves were green and the birds were singing. Demeter had a daughter, a very beautiful girl called Persephone. But Hades, the god of the dead, upon seeing the girl fell madly in love with her. It was clear, however, that Demeter would never give her daughter to such a husband.
[cut with apologetic face made by Jenny] κακὴ τύχη
δὶα τοῦτο ὁ Ἅιδης ἥρπασε τὴν κόρην καὶ ἤγαγεν αὐτὴν κάτω εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν αὐτοῦ. ἡ οὖν Δημήτηρ πολὺν χρόνον ἐζήτει τὴν θυγατέρα περιπατοῦσα καὶ κλαίουσα. ὅτε δὲ ἔμαθε τὴν θυγατέρα νῦν ἐν Ἅιδου μένειν, οὐκέτι ἐβούλετο εἶναι θεά, ἀλλὰ γραῦς τις γενομένη ἔλιπε τὸν Ὄλυμπον. τῆς δὲ Δήμητρος ἀπούσης καὶ ἡ φύσις ἤρξατο ἀποθνῄσκειν· ἐμαραίνετο τὰ ἄνθη, ἀπέπιπτε τὰ φύλλα ἀπὸ τῶν δένδρων καὶ οἱ ἀγροὶ οὐκέτι παρεῖχον τὸν σῖτον. λιμώσσοντες δὲ καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι κακῶς εἶχον· ἐνόσουν γὰρ καὶ ἀπέθνῃσκον· τοῦτο δὲ οὐκ ἤρεσεν τοῖς θεοῖς, ὅτι οὐκέτι ἐδέχοντο τὰς θυσίας ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων.
For this reason Hades abducted the girl and led her into the underworld. Demeter was searching for her daughter for a long time, walking around and crying. But when she learned that her daughter was now staying in Hades she no longer wanted to be a goddess but turning into an old woman she left Olympus. But with Demeter being away, nature, too, began to die: The flowers were withering, the leaves fell from the trees and the fields no longer yielded crop. Due to hunger the humans were suffering, too: They became sick and were dying. This the gods didn’t like because they no longer received sacrifices from the humans.
ὁ οὖν Ζεὺς ἐκέλευσε τὸν Ἅιδην ἀποδοῦναι τὴν κόρην· πείθεται μὲν ὁ Ἅιδης, δίδωσι δὲ τῇ Περσεφόνῃ ῥοιᾶς κόκκον φαγεῖν εἰδὼς ὅτι πᾶς ὃς ἐγεύετο τοῦ βρώματος τοῦ Ἅιδου ἀναγκάζεται ἐπανιέναι εἰς τὴν τῶν κάτω βασιλείαν.
Zeus therefore ordered Hades to give the girl back. Hades obeys but gives Persephone pomegranate seed to eat knowing that whoever has tasted from the food of Hades is forced to return into the underworld.
ἡ οὖν Δημήτηρ χαίρει ὁρῶσα τὴν θυγατέρα καὶ μετ’ αυτῆς χαίρει ἡ φύσις· πάλιν ᾄδουσιν οἱ ὄρνιθες, πάλιν ἀνθεῖ τὰ ἄνθη, πάλιν ἡ γῆ παρέχει σῖτον τοῖς ἀνθρώποις.
Demeter rejoices upon seeing her daughter and together with her nature rejoices: The birds sing again, the flowers blossom again, the earth brings forth grain again for the humans.
δέδοκται δὲ πᾶσι τοῖς θεοῖς ὅτι ἡ Περσεφόνη οἰκήσει τὸ μὲν τρίτον μέρος ἑκάστου ἐνιαυτοῦ παρὰ τῷ ἀνδρὶ ἐν τῇ τῶν κάτω βασιλείᾳ, τὰ δὲ δύο μέρη παρὰ τῇ μητρὶ ἐν Ὀλύμπῳ· ὅταν οὖν οἰκῇ ἡ Περσεφόνη ἐν τῷ Ἅιδου, λυπεῖται ἡ Δημήτηρ καὶ χειμὼν γίγνεται, ὅτε δὲ πάρεστι ἡ θυγάτηρ ἀγάλλεται ἡ μήτηρ καὶ μετ‘ αὐτῆς ὅλη ἡ φύσις· πάντα θάλλει καὶ ἀκμάζει καὶ βλαστάνει.
All the gods decide that Persophone will live one thirds of each year with her husband in the underworld, two third with her mother on Mount Olympus. So whenever Persephone lives in Hades, Demeter grieves and it becomes winter, but when her daughter is with her the mother is glad and with her all of nature: Everything blossoms and blooms and grows.
διὰ οὖν τοῦτο ἀεὶ μεταβάλλονται αἱ ὧραι τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ. τίς δὲ ὥρα παρ’ ὑμῖν ἐστιν; ἔαρ, θέρος, ὀπώρα, φθινόπωρον, χειμών; λέγετε ἡμῖν, εἰ βούλεσθε, ἐν τοῖς κάτω ὑπομνήμασιν. καὶ… ἔρρωσθε.
So that’s why the seasons of the year always keep changing. What season is it where you live? Spring, summer, late summer, autumn, winter? Tell us, if you like, in the comments below. And… bye!