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[8] The simile runs on as though ‘the mighty mouth of war’ were a natural phenomenon, differing about as much from a snow-storm as a snow-storm from a hail-storm. The idea may be that if the lightning is not accompanied by (1) rain, (2) hail, or (3) snow, it must be a portent of war. This seems to place a high importance on ‘summer-lightning.’ But it is hopeless to criticise such an incompetent piece of expression. For the phrase πτολέμοιο στόμα compare 19.313, 20.359. The origin of the metaphor is perhaps a comparison of the two lines of battle to the jaw of a wild beast, crushing what comes in between them. But the feeling of this origin has evidently died out and left a mere phrase. In Attic (e.g. Rhesos 491, Xen., etc.) “στόμα” means the ‘fighting line’ of the army — a sense evidently unsuitable here.

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