κάψαλο

Aelialicinia

Senior Member
USA English
Excerpt from a famous ballad in Peloponnesus:

(η ελαφινα) "κι όπου βρει μαύρο κάψαλο, κάθεται να βοσκήσει"

What is κάψαλο? I assume it is something to eat but what? A root of some kind?
Many thanks
 
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  • sotos

    Senior Member
    Greek
    I believe it's something burned, black. But I don't understand that isolated line.
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Greek
    I believe it's something burned, black.
    Yes, that's it.

    Literally, "κι όπου βρει μαύρο κάψαλο, κάθεται να βοσκήσει" doesn't make any sense. It's an allegory used to deliver a broader message.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    After a forest fire (started accidentally or deliberately), and a little rain, lots of new juicy green shoots appear.

    Shepherds used to deliberately set fires so that their flocks could graze. A wild animal would know by experience that an area of burned vegetation would soon provide good grazing.
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Greek
    I didn't know that, and thanks for the information, but I doubt that this interpretation fits here. I think I've found the relevant folk song (δημοτικό τραγούδι), which is filled with figures of speech like personifications, metaphors, hyperboles etc. In this song a female deer, who behaves like a person, cannot be quiet at all, her mental health has been shaken. As we are informed by a dialogue between the mother deer and the Sun, she is in this ugly situation, because she has lost her only child after a hunter has killed it. The nature itsself is involved in the mother deer's drama, who behaves in an unreasonable way. Among other things, she blurs the water before drinking it, when she finds a black log, she sits on it and starts talking to nowhere or when she finds a burned thing (κάψαλο) she starts grazing. I believe that these actions are suggestive of a nervous breakdown.

    Με γέλασε μία χαραυγή τ' αστρί και το φεγγάρι
    και βγήκα νύχτα στα βουνά, ψηλά στα κορφοβούνια
    κι ακούω τα πεύκα να βογκούν και τις οξιές να τρίζουν,
    βλέπω τα 'λάφια να βοσκούν τ' αγρίμια ν' αρουλιώνται
    και μία λαφίνα ταπεινή δεν πάει κοντά με τ' άλλα,
    όλο τ' απόσκια περπατεί, τ' απόζερβ' αγναντεύει
    κι όπου βρει γάργαρο νερό θολώνει το και πίνει
    κι όπου βρει μαύρο κούτσουρο, κάθεται να μιλήσει
    κι όπου βρει μαύρο κάψαλο κάθεται να βοσκήσει
    κι ο Ήλιος την ερώτησε κι ο Ήλιος τη ρωτάει.
    Γιατί λαφίνα ταπεινή δεν πας κοντά με τ' άλλα;
    .....
    Ψάρι Κορινθίας
     
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    dmtrs

    Senior Member
    Greek
    behaves in an unreasonable way
    This interpretation (which I find most convincing) seems to solve the 'mystery':
    It's irrational for a deer to 'settle to graze (not just graze) in every area it finds that's been burned', since it is an open space that provides no cover or protection from danger.
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Greek
    This interpretation (which I find most convincing) seems to solve the 'mystery':
    It's irrational for a deer to 'settle to graze (not just graze) in every area it finds that's been burned', since it is an open space that provides no cover or protection from danger.
    I think the general sense of the poem alludes to an emotional and irrational atmosphere, and not to a normal/every day scene of the life of a wild animal.
     

    dmtrs

    Senior Member
    Greek
    That's what I mean, Perseas.
    The fact that the deer chooses the κάψαλα to graze is another irrational behaviour that adds up to the "emotional and irrational atmosphere".
     
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