I have to admit, I’ve not always been particularly kind to the memory of Attikos Bradua, because Herodes Attikos himself was not kind to him and his memory. He was the only child of Herodes that survived to later adulthood, and actually outlived his father; but, Herodes disinherited him, and they never seemed to get along. As I’ve said previously, I suspect that because Herodes was renowned as a sophist and a teacher, and Attikos Bradua seemed to have some sort of learning disability, it was probably unthinkable to Herodes that such ill fortune would fall upon him, and all his hopes for a surviving male heir were therefore dashed. No matter what he did to help out–including adopting the Alphabet Boys (of whom the Trophimoi were probably members)–it didn’t seem to help, though it did end up endearing the Trophimoi to Herodes. Thus, we can be thankful for Attikos’ learning disability…
[And, being dyslexic myself, especially when it comes to learning non-English and non-Latinate languages, I can certainly empathize with Attikos Bradua!]
So, here is my attempt to address some of that imbalance.
We have no idea who this ancient statue depicts, and there is utterly no reason at all to think it is Attikos Bradua. I found it by putting “bearded Greek guy” into Google and seeing what came up! But, it looks to me like it could be what Attikos Bradua, in his adult frustrations, might have looked like.
The poem that follows is Attikos Bradua’s rather feeble attempt to remember the Trophimoi by enumerating all of the Alphabet Boys that were his childhood friends. (Yes, Edward Gorey was certainly an influence in this format!) In his adulthood, Bradua’s literary style has not much improved beyond child-like nonsense rhymes; but, he’s recounting the adulthood of all of those youths and what they’ve gone on to do. I used the Greek letter-names and order (obviously!), and for a few of the names, I had to make things up out of nouns that sounded cool to me; but for most of the others, I used Homeric names, since that seems to have been a trend for Herodes’ Alphabet Boys (e.g. Memnon and Achilles!). So many letters in Greek seem to be letters that generally only begin feminine names, so that’s why I had to get creative with some of the letters–I don’t have a “Big Index o’ Greek Names” here to consult, alas. That “Kastor” is a “seller of fishes” in this poem is due to something I said of another theorized Alphabet Boy in another poem I wrote in 2010 (but which has not yet been published…but I hope is eventually!).
Also, note: for both epsilon, eta, and upsilon, I’ve chosen names or words that start with “h” in English, but in Greek, this would have been a rough-breathing mark at the beginning of the word that begins with a vowel, so keep that in mind as you read. And, the meter is extremely rough, though the rhyme is infallible.
Without further ado…
The Alphabet Boys
Alpha for Achilles, the hero departed,
Beta for Bythos, the broken-hearted;
Gamma for Glaukos, a shooter of darts,
Delta for Diomedes, a baker of tarts;
Epsilon for Hektor, a discus-thrower,
Zeta for Zelos, philosophy’s knower;
Eta for Hedymos, an orator prudent,
Theta for Thersites, an archery student;
Iota for Imbrius, a dreamer that wishes,
Kappa for Kastor, a seller of fishes;
Lambda for Lykos, a cur and a fool,
Mu for Memnon, Ethiopia’s jewel;
Nu for Nestor, a trainer of dogs,
Xi for Xanthos, a herder of hogs;
Omicron‘s Odysseus, whose fate wasn’t sealed,
Pi for Polydeukion, virtue revealed;
Rho for Rhodos, importer of oils,
Sigma for Sarpedon, looter of spoils;
Tau for Teukros, a cutter of wood,
Upsilon for Hyperion, works hard–as he should;
Phi for Philippos, lover of horses,
Chi for Chiron, a runner of courses;
Psi for Psychos, too young when he wed,
Omega for Okys, not old, but now dead.
You can see why Herodes didn’t like him, I think.
Nonetheless, May the Trophimoi and Herodes Attikos be honored by this work, and may the memory of Attikos Bradua not depart from the earth!