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Polyphemus and Tepegöz

  • C.S. Mundy

The story of Tepegöz is the eighth of the twelve surviving tales of the medieval Turkish cycle of Dede Korkut. In language and style it is uniform with the remainder of the cycle, but in character it differs considerably, being composed largely of incidents common to the folktales of many peoples. Its most striking feature, and the one which has attracted most attention, is the variant of the story of Polyphemus which it contains. But besides this the story has a peculiar interest of its own. It is not a mere chance retelling of an old tale. Its narrative has been based upon a traditional wording which goes back to a time before the various incidents, of independent origin, were welded together in the present complex story.

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page 279 note 1 Diez, H.F. von, Denkwürdigkeiten von Asien, II, Berlinund Halle, 1815.

page 279 note 2 First published in Abhandlungen der Königl. Akad. der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, 1857, reprinted in Grimm, W., Kleinere Schriften, IV, 1887.

page 279 note 3 Grimm used the old French version of this work; the Latin text had not yet been discovered. (References in a later footnote.)

page 280 note 1 The whole material known up to 1918 is listed by Bolte and Polivka, Anmerkungen, III, 374–8.

page 280 note 2 Page mentions another dissenter: Meuli, K., Odyssee u. Argonautika, Berlin, 1921. I have not seen this book.

page 280 note 3 I have taken the liberty of amending Hackman's formula. In his main classification (161 sqq.) he accidentally omitted the Homeric mode of escape, which does occur in some of the tales. He later (171–2) distinguishes the two methods as IIa and 116.

page 281 note 1 Johannis de Alia Silva Dolopathos, sive de rege et septem sapientibus, edited by H. Oesterley, Strasbourg, 1873, and again by A. Hilka, in Sammlung mittellateinischer Texts, 5, Heidelberg, 1913. This work was written between the years 1184 and 1212. A metrical French version, Li romavs de Dolopathos, was composed between 1222 and 1228; it was edited by C. Brunet and A. de Montaiglon, Paris, 1856.

page 281 note 2 i.e. 1916.

page 283 note 1 Examples of von Diez's inaccuracies are given in Gökyay's introduction. From von Diez the story passed to W. Grimm (op. cit.), and from him to Hackman (op. cit.). There are two synopses in English, both based on Grimm: (i) , Merry and Riddell, , Homer's Odyssey, Oxford, 1876 (2nd edn., 1886), vol. I, appendix II; (ii) Frazer, Sir J.G., Apollodorus (Loeb edn.), 1921, appendix XIII. This valuable appendix of Frazer's contains 36 Polyphemus variants and many useful references. Unfortunately his version of the Tepegöz story is rather remote from the original.

page 285 note 1 The word which I have rendered ‘ spit ’ is read by Gökyay as sünülügi. He was evidently doubtful of the reading, for he gives at the bottom of the page the spelling in the original:Sünülügi would be the definite accusative of a noun sünülük(-lik), which I cannot trace. Sünü is a lance or spear; sünülük would logically be a place or receptacle for keeping spears (which is impossible here), but it might conceivably be used of a spear-haft. In that case the phrase would mean ‘ put the spear-haft in the fire ’—for grammatically the noun must be definite. This does not suit the context, for there has been no previous mention of any spearhaft. It seems probable therefore that is to be read süğleki, from σουγλáKL;, diminutive of σογλi (σουβλi), ‘ spit ’. This word was used in Old Ott. in the form suğlr, with back vowels (Helîmî's dictionary, sub pelesg; the word is variously spelt and in two MSS in my possession. See also Tarama sözüğü, II and III, under suğlu). The frontalized form süğleki may perhaps be due to the termination áKL of the Greek word. I am fairly confident about this conjecture: the two men with whom Basat was conversing were cooks, and there were spits at hand. The use of this Greek loanword is not to be taken as evidence for a Greek original of the text; it was clearly part of the current vocabulary of Old Ottoman.—The word σουβλi occurs as far back as Suidas.

page 285 note 2 In the original the word I have rendered as ‘ moved off’ is spelt , Gökyay has read this as sōndi, and in a footnote he suggests sevindi. Neither of these will do. I think the word is probably savrndi (savundi). This verb is not recorded in Tarama sözlüğü, but it is a logical formation from the root sav, and it would be comparable to other derivatives of the same root (e.g. savulmak) in Old Ottoman but it is possible that is a corruption of savuldi. Rossi makes a different suggestion.

page 286 note 1 Al şol yüzügi, barmağuna tak. Kilisli Rifat and Gökyay consider this sentence incomplete, and insert barmağumdaki (more correctly -daği) before yüzügi: ‘ take this ring which is on my finger ’. This seems to me very unlikely.

page 286 note 2 The text has Basatun üzerine kodi, which can hardly be right. I would change kodi to koyuldi; the phrase üzerine koyuldi occurs elsewhere in the text, e.g. in the story of the plundering of the home of Salur Kazan.

page 286 note 3 The wording here suggests that there may be an omission. The text has hançerile çaldi kesdi, which means that he smote and cut. But cut what ? Rossi has noticed this point, and suggests that the blow cut off Basat's finger, i.e. the one which held the ring. This does not agree with the function of the ring in this tale. It is interesting that in some of the variants of the folktale (e.g. that in Dolopathos), Basat bites or cuts off his own finger, but the circumstances are different.

page 286 note 4 Here the MS has which is impossible. Kilisli Rifat and Gökyay read sarsdi ‘shook’. I have little doubt that it should be kakdi (or () ‘pushed’ or ‘struck’.

page 287 note 1 MS , emended to by Kilisli Rifat, given as kardaṣiz by Gökyay (it should be kardaṣuz). I think we ought to read kardaṣlaruz, which is a slighter emendation. The suffix -ler would be impossible in such cases in modern Turkish, but in Old Ott. it does occur.

page 287 note 2 A general account of Greek giants is given by S. Kiriak00ED;dhis (Kyriakides), ‘ Λaoγpaøía: Mépos A': Tà µνŋµєîa. λóγoυ, Athens, 1922.

page 288 note 1 SeeDawkins, E.M., More Greek folktales, Oxford, 1955, chapter 4.

page 291 note 1 It might be suggested that the series of four is an Islamic feature; but this tale is not basically Islamic in character.

page 294 note 1 This point has been noticed by Rossi and others.

page 299 note 1 See W. Ruben, op. cit., 246–7, for variations of this theme.

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