Hollow praise

“A rather dull love-poem,” this is, although it possesses some wholly unexpected nuance:

Tell me, Eutresia, since my fate
And thy more powerfull Forme decrees
My heart an Immolation at thy Shrine,
. . .

Who is Eutresia? What is she? Who the heck knows?

In the “Notes on the Text” in the back of the book (516), [Peter] Davidson records that some manuscripts call the addressee “Eutresia”, at least one “Utrechia”. The note below the text reads: “1 Eutresia ‘Utrechia’ MS (Greek) ‘beautiful hair'”, which is a bit confusing: which name is supposed to mean “beautiful hair”? Could “Utrechia” be meant for “Eutrichia” or something similar?

“Eutresia,” however, means nothing of the sort:

I see no way to make that mean anything to do with hair. It would be a properly-formed Greek noun meaning “well-holedness”, the quality of being equipped with one or more excellent holes or orifices: not a name anyone this side of Lord Rochester, or Martial in one of his darker moods, would give to an enemy, much less a mistress. Neither “eutresia” nor for that matter “dystresia” is included in the OED, but “atresia”, “from Greek ἄτρητος not perforated”, is attested with the meaning “occlusion or closure of a natural channel of the body” since 1807. Biliary atresia is a common birth defect.

Rochester, who died at 33, possibly from a combination of STDs, might have had a passing familarity with holes, but let’s leave it at that.


  1. fillyjonk »

    1 November 2013 · 9:54 am

    Am now wondering what the Greek word for “ass” is, and how one would combine it with that other root there.

  2. fillyjonk »

    1 November 2013 · 9:54 am

    Or really, more correctly, what the Greek word for “Arse” is, so I don’t wind up with some kind of “semper ubi sub ubi” monstrosity.

  3. Dr. Weevil »

    2 November 2013 · 11:10 am

    Since you asked: euproctia (as in proctologist) if you’re referring specifically to the orifice, eupygia if you’re talking about the entire rear end (cf. ‘callipygian’, an adjective that means ‘having a beautiful behind’, referring to Miss America contestants), euonia (with a short o), if you’re bragging about the quality of your donkey(s). You probably want eupygia (noun) or eupygian (adjective).

  4. Dr. Weevil »

    2 November 2013 · 10:00 pm

    Sorry, I dropped a few words: ‘callipygian’ is a word that William F. Buckley used to describe Miss America contestants.

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