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MISCELLANEA

In his study of 'legetai phrases' in Thucydides (this fascicle,


p. 347) Professor Westlake translates X1Xthx0q at II 48, 2 and
57, 1 by 'it was even said' (similarly J. de Romilly). The idea of
'even', however, does not seem to fit into the context. It is much
easier to connect X1Xtwith Mars and to take the particle as conveying
the idea of something factual or natural (in German 'denn auch'):
at 48, 2 it emphasizes the fact that after the sudden appearance
of the plague a special explanation was to be expected; at 57, 1 it
stresses the connection between the quick withdrawal of the
Peloponnesians and the infection of the city. For this use of cf.
Verdenius-Waszink, Aristotle, On Coming-to-be and Passing-azvay,
3 ff. ; for cf. Denniston, G.P., 299, Verdenius, Mnemos. IV
10 (1957), 298 (on Pl. Meno 96 d i). Some further examples are
Hdt. IX 94, 3 (at 61, I Mars X1Xtis to be preferred as the lectio
difficilioy), Thuc. I 2, 4 ('even' is less appropriate, for it was quite
common to send colonists to Ionia), Hipp. 7 irc fine (wrongly
translated by Jones and Diller), Arist. Met. 1046 a 17-18 (Tricot
wrongly 'meme'), Men. Dysc. 627 (S. L. Radt, Mnemos. IV 25,
1972, 144, seems to me wrong in taking x1Xtto emphasize 7t7t"rCXEV
only).
ZEIST, Homeruslaan 53 W. J. VERDENIUS

A HOMERIC AMBIGUITY

As soon as Odysseus returns from the Land of the Dead, Circe


gives him advice and warning about the adventures still ahead of
him (y 37 ff.), beginning with the Sirens. The means by which
these creatures lure men to their doom is their enchanting song-and
a sudden unnatural calm of the wind which impedes escape from
listening range. But what they offer, as distinct from their means
of attracting attention, is knowledge: at least for Odysseus, they
offer a full telling of the events at Troy and of all other matters:
18yev 8' oasa 'e7r'L\ 8 , (I9I).
The nature of the Sirens is much disputed 1), but their promise
is quite clear. It is possible that they might have offered different
allurements to different victims 2), but Homer does nothing to
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encourage such speculation. Total knowledge 3) focuses squarely on


Odysseus' weakness, curiosity. This has been the cause of his one
grievous mistake to date, namely going over to the island of the
Cyclopes, even though the small island where they first landed
offered all the resources needed for survival (t 152 ff.). As a result
of his curiosity, six crew-members were eaten by Polyphemus and
the curse of Poseidon invoked for the destruction of the rest. But
this time, with the Sirens, Odysseus will be more cautious-but he
still insists on hearing their song. His curiosity is as much a part
of his character as his resourcefulness 4).
Circe now warns him about the perils of heeding the Sirens, and
describes the evidence: 7toue;8' ocr"rE6cpLV6iS 7tuotL:vCv,
7 reP'8i Pwoi yvu8ovacv 45-6). The pile of men rotting on their
bones is a vivid enough touch, but 7tutLvCvpoints to another
idea as well. Despite the difference in the quantity of the u, one
can surely hear the participle of men who have found
the answer.
The ambiguity is, I believe, deliberate, and it is interesting that
these same two verbs were a source of uncertainty among the
ancients in another context: the name and all its derivatives.
The tradition of Apollo slaying the Python, which was then left
to rot, in the place where the oracle was subsequently to be located,
assumes that (and derived from 7tC,'rot': so the
account in h. Hom. AP. 370-74 develops the notion, and there are
many supporting witnesses thereafter 5). But the popular etymology
linked the name with the function of the Delphic oracle, and took
it to be derived from 7tu:cr1XL: cf. for example Soph. OT 70-1,
603-4, Ap. Rhod. IV 530-1, etc. There is the troublesome quantity
of the u, but Strabo (IX 419) touches on that: 3 q$qyov6qv
YEv:cr1XL cpa6i IYu6??, xEx?cr1XL 8i x1Xt X1Xt
<6xw &.7t 05 7tu:cr1XL, Exi?TOia6occ81 7tp<.0"rYjv 7tt
Tou a6ocvaTOUX1Xt x1 [.!xx6?ou. His explanation need not
be correct. It need only show the obvious association in the popular
mind between the two words. So too in Circe's advice to Odysseus
we hear 7tutLvCvas reflecting both notions: the bones of men
rotting away / the bones of men who have satisfied their curiosity.
Such word plays are very much in the spirit of the Odyssey.
The best example, of course, is Odysseus' deception of Polyphemus
about his name: 04 (c 366-70), where the ambiguity
resides in accentuation rather than quantity. The poet continues
his extended pun when the other Cyclopes ask I y( a'
xelvei 86xep (406), Polyphemus answers OvTis
and his neighbors go away saying d ae .... Odysseus
then rejoices w5 6voy' X1Xt A similar
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effect, this time also involving a difference in vowel quantity,


centers around the name Odysseus. As Athene pleads Odysseus'
case to Zeus in the first book, she concludes with Ti v6 oi "r6crov
?3cr1X0,ZEU; (1X62) 6).
The ambiguity-perhaps pun is a proper name for it-in Circe's
description of the Sirens thus adds emphasis to the link between
Odysseus' looming weakness, his curiosity which has already caused
several deaths; the acquisition of knowledge made possible (if
not inevitable) by the Sirens; and the death which both produce.
Those who heed the call of the Sirens and stop to learn, stay to die
and rot. The warning comes appropriately enough as Odysseus
returns from a trip to the Land of the Dead, the purpose of which
was likewise to gain knowledge, whatever the peril 7).

URBANA, University of Illinois DAVID F. BRIGHT

1) For a full review of evidence and theories see Zwicker's art. 'Sirenen'
in RE III A (1927), 288-308. See also G. K. Gresseth, The Homeric Sirens,
TAPA 101 (1970), 203-18.
2) W. B. Stanford, The Ulysses Theme2 (Ann Arbor 1968), 124, implies
that the song's sweetness in itself might have been enticement enough for
some, or that a Roman might have turned more readily at an offer of power
than knowledge. Cicero (de fin. V 18, 49) saw the offer as geared to Odysseus'
nature: vidit Homerus probari fabulam non posse, si cantiunculis tantus vir
irretitus teneretur ; scientiam pollicentur ... ; but at the same time he describes
the Sirens' usual lure as curiosity: ut homines ad earum saxa discendi cupidi-
tate adhaerescerent.
3) G. Germain, The Sirens and the Temptation of Knowledge (in G. Steiner
& R. Fagles, Homer. A Collection of Critical Essays [Englewood Cliffs 1962],
91-97) works from the association of iand i,the bee, to link
these creatures to the widespread cult of bees as sources of knowledge and
inspiration. Certainly there are enough terms suggesting bees to make the
idea plausible: their name, their , the meadow of flowers in
which they live; perhaps the hypnotic quality of their song is related to the
drone of the bee (note , 326: i should
refer properly to the swarming of bees), and we should not forget that
Odysseus uses wax (beeswax?) to protect his crew from hearing. The Sirens
are presumably not envisioned as winged (else they could pursue their
victims), but something of the old association with bees remains. The
Thriae whom Apollo offers to Hermes (h. Hom. Merc. 552-563) are even
more clearly in this tradition. In the Eastern traditions which Germain
cites, the associations with both knowledge and death are prominent.
4) Note the opening verses of the poem, where three points are made
about Odysseus: his wanderings, how much he learned about others, and his
sufferings at sea: each of these, incidentally, points to a possible meaning
of ooo.
5) See Lauffer's exhaustive treatment of etymological problems in his
article 'Pytho', RE XXIV (1963), 569-580. It seems likely that the place
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was called Pytho before any Apolline association: hence the aetiology to
link the place-name to Apollo.
6) Cf. G. E. Dimock, The Name of Odysseus in Steiner & Fagles (above,
n. 3), 106-121 (originally in The Hudson Review 9.1 [Spring 1956], 52-70).
See further L. Ph. Rank, Etymologiseering en verwante verschijnselen bij
Homerus (Assen 1951), esp. 52 ff.
7) I should like to thank my colleague W. R. Schoedel for his helpful
suggestions on this note.

NOTES ON EUNAPIUS 1)

"Stilo et oratione utitur (ut omnes fatentur) affectata, inepta,


putida, et (quod pessimum est) obscura et caliginosa". Thus
Cobet 2), who devoted more time to Eunapius than most. I suspect
his verdict is congenial to those who have had much to do with
the Vitae Sophistayum. However, there are lexical gleanings to be
had.
Photius 3) condemned Eunapius' mania for adjectives ending
in Two of the examples cited do not occur in the extant
writings of Eunapius; they will have been in lost parts of his
historical work.
One of these two examples is It is used of tears.
LS] cite only this reference. The other epithet is This
one is not in LS] at all. Cobet regarded it as a variant on
which is employed by Polybius (34, 10, 8).
Hence, a new word for the Lexicon. There is more. At VS 459,
Eunapius has recourse to the adjective ELC3"fJ (in the compara-
tive). Cobet missed this one. LSJ give only the adverbial form
(used in the sense of 'by divine decree'), encountered in a late
papyrus. To this lonely reference (and the citation of LSJ is in-
accurate) 4), one can add the present passage of Eunapius, and
also an example (again in the comparative) from Justin Martyr 5).
Cobet accumulated a number of these adjectives under the
rubric "Eunapius finxit de suo". One of these is which
occurs in a fragment of Eunapius preserved by the Suda 6). In
point of fact, this particular example can be seen in Philo judaeUS 7)
(2, II7).
Another word missing from LSJ is tLLcrOCPL6croqo. It crops up
at VS 481, in a passage reporting Priscus on the subject of philo-
sophical disputations. Perhaps the adjective was a coinage by
Priscus?
The verb 7tpOX1X"r1XXC is registered by LSJ as a falsa lectio for
in Galen (13, 598 K). Kfhn, however, retained the
7tpOcrX1X"r1XXC
form condemned by the Lexicon. The problem recurs in a passage