IDES: Didymus the Blind

Some of you will recall that in earlier blog posts my ex-husband, the first Greek scholar, was nicknamed THE MOHEL, which is a minor SCANDAL sacerdotal officiant in Orthodox Judaism whose sole office is to perform the Rite of Circumcision on the 8th day of life of every male Jewish child.

This rather outré reference is best left as a private joke to which I here append the back story.

These events took place at Brigham Young, a MAR-MON university nestled in the lovely valley of the Wasatch mountains in Utah, where it is eternally 1955. We were young marrieds like nearly everyone in the department, I having been inducted into the classics Club as a result of this LUST affiliation and my own not-inconsiderable habit of taking classes in the classics.

The first class I took, the one where I met my husband, was “The Trojan War in Art and Literature” helmed by the unforgettable DR. DEBONAIR, who, as I recall, had gotten his Ph.D. in Greek at some mini-Ivy-Leaguey thingie that was really very fine, perhaps on the West Coast or something, and so was unfireable by the more status-conscious MAR-MONS as long as matters remained seemly.

Which they naturally did.

Now the University had acquired a scrap of ancient parchment as one of its gew-gaws and a marketing ploy, with DR. DEBONAIR at the helm of the ridiculous project.

This Qumran gizmo was part of a commentary on psalms authored by an Eastern Orthodox Saint named Didymus the Blind. It sounds impressive to the laity until some enterprising student of Greek takes a second look at that name and says, “Hmmm. Twins. I wonder if that means what I think it means.”

And it actually does. We can imagine that Didymus lost one of the boys in a soccer match or something. At least that is what the name implies, doesn’t it?

And here is our own Didymus, unspeakably lacking, right here at BYU.

I am always amazed at the capacity of MAR-MONS for victimization.

DR. DEBONAIR was on hand to lend an august elegance to the proceedings which would shortly be under lock and key, an errand of chivalry if there ever was one.

The entire folderol was too celebrated by yokels for anyone’s taste at the other end of the department, where the FUNDS would have been used for something solid, perhaps a Sabbatical in Etruria or even some source materials on the Samnite citizens and suo iure.

My husband would have no end of scoffing about it, while I secretly lapped up DR. DEBONAIR’s attention and wish I had investigated everything more thoroughly, like why not get the Greek myself instead of HOUSING with it?

Hubby was more in line for preferment in the realm of the competing professor PROPHET, whose Ph.D. hailed from some East Coast Ivy League institution that was not Harvard but actually better for his extremely focused and recondite field of study. One used to choose a school by the professor, not the logo!

(Whereas the Jewish professor had attended Oxford!)

The late sixties and early seventies were kind of skimpy in the classics department with the Flower Power Revolution calling for the end of the old crap and the better students going into the real world, so in scraping the bottom of the barrel they let in these intermountain arrivistes.

This was now the early 1980s, when the preparation of published material was not possible on home computers but required a large typesetting machine. My husband had been hired to typeset in Greek, so he had the run of the place every night after normal business hours.

The University rag had run a posh spread about DR. DEBONAIR’s brush with the antiquities that caused no end of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth in the Latin department.

It was not to stand uncontested!

So in the wee hours of the night my husband scripted and typeset a parody — in Latin of course, for how else would schoolboys conceptualize such a thing? — about this document, the author of whose name, “Didymus the Blind,” not only referred to the poor sot’s name as meaning “one testicle” in Greek but also an unfortunate collision with the Victorian belief that masturbation caused blindness. He printed it up with DR. DEBONAIR’s photograph and the entire setup of the original article, which he had access to in the typesetting milieu, and left a copy on the table in the Ancient Studies Room THE WAR ROOM.

Not a word was spoken.

Until now!

When the OWLS of the intelligentsia in THE CLUB are hooting in to PLAME him.

Thus the question of my darling mar-mon boy husband’s blog moniker is really either a two-thousand-year-old dirty joke from the Bible or a two-thousand-year-old dirty joke from the Bible.

He was called Shamusa. I was also called Shamusa.

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