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νάρκισσος. As the epithet shows, some thickly-flowering variety is meant: cp. Vergil's “"comantem Narcissum,"Geo. 4. 122. Wieseler (Narkissos, pp. 114 ff., Gött. 1856) thinks that a lily is meant here. Bentham (British Flora, 4th ed., p. 473) says that the narcissus poeticus of the Mediterranean region “"has usually a solitary flower of a pure white, except the crown, which is yellow, often edged with orange or crimson."” This does not suit “καλλίβοτρυς”. There is a like doubt about the classical “ὑάκινθος”, variously taken as iris, gladiolus, or larkspur—at any rate, not our hyacinth. But, whatever the true identification here may be, the symbolism of νάρκισσος in Greek mythology is clear. It is the flower of imminent death, being associated, through its narcotic fragrance, with “νάρκη”,—the pale beauty of the flower helping the thought. It is the last flower for which Persephone is stretching forth her hand when Pluto seizes her,—Earth having put forth a wondrous narcissus, with a hundred flowers, on purpose to tempt her:

δ᾽ ἄρα θαμβήσασ᾽ ὠρέξατο χερσὶν ἅμ᾽ ἄμφω
καλὸν ἄθυρμα λαβεῖν: χάνε δὲ χθὼν εὐρυάγυια

. Paus. 9.31.9 (quoting an ancient hymn by the legendary poet Pamphos) says that Cora was seized “οὐκ ἴοις ἀπατηθεῖσαν ἀλλὰ ναρκίσσοις”. So Euphorion (220 B.C.) fr. 52 “Εὐμενίδες ναρκίσσου ἐπιστεφέες πλοκαμῖδας”. Artemidorus (160 A.D.), interpreting dreams of crowning the head, says, “στέφανοι ναρκίσσων πεποιημένοι πᾶσι κακοί” (Oneirocr. I. 77). Narcissus is the fair youth cold to love, whose face seen by himself in the water was the prelude of death (cp. Artemid. 2. 7).

μεγάλαιν θεαῖν: Paus. 8.31.1 (at Megalopolis) “θεῶν ἱερὸν τῶν μεγάλων: αἱ δέ εἰσιν αἱ μεγάλαι θεαὶ Δημήτηρ καὶ Κόρη”. In Attic usu. “τὼ θεώ”, and so Andoc. or. 1 § 32 (of these goddesses) “πρὸς τοῖν θεοῖν” is now read (v.l.ταῖν θεαῖν”). Indeed “θεά” is rare in Attic prose except in such phrases as “θεοὺς καὶ θεάς”. But here, in a lyric passage, and with an epithet added, the poet may have preferred the less familiar “θεαῖν”. The schol. was wrong in desiring “τᾶν μεγαλᾶν θεᾶν” (meaning the Eumenides).

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hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (5):
    • Andocides, On the Mysteries, 32
    • Homeric Hymns, Hymn 5 to Aphrodite, 15
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.31.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.31.9
    • Vergil, Georgics, 4.122
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