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The general sense is: ‘and on the heights of Parnassus thou holdest thy revels by night amid the Corycian Nymphs, who brandish torches.’

διλόφου πέτρας: i.e., two “πέτραι”, each with a “λόφος” (cp. 146δικρατεῖς λόγχας”, n.): two peaks, one of which stands on each side of a great recess in the steep cliffs above Delphi,—the cliffs called “Φαιδριάδες”, ‘gleaming,’ from their splendour in the morning sunshine (cp. Eur. Ion 86 ff.). These cliffs are about 2000 ft. above sealevel. The easternmost of the two peaks was called “Ὑάμπεια”: the westernmost, perh. “Ναυπλία”, but this is doubtful. Neither of them is the summit of Parnassus. That summit, called “Αυκώρεια”, rises high above them (about 8000 ft. above the sea). Misunderstanding “δικόρυφος”, the Roman poets gave a wrong impression by their ‘biceps Parnassus,’ which Lucan brings out when he says (5. 72) ‘Parnassus gemino petit aethera colle.’

By ὑπὲρ διλόφου πέτρας Soph. means the high ground above these two lower péaks, but below the summit of Parnassus. This high ground is what Eur. calls the “δικόρυφος πλάξ” (Eur. Bacch. 307). It consists of uplands stretching about 16 miles westward from the summit, and affording pasturage, interspersed with firs, and with pieces of arable land: wheat, oats, and barley are now grown there. These uplands were the scene of a Dionysiac “τριετηρίς”, a torch-festival, held every second year, at the end of winter, by women from the surrounding districts; even Attic women went to it (Paus. 10.4.3). Cp. Lucan 5. 73Mons Phoebo Bromioque sacer, cui numine misto | Delphica Thebanae referunt trieteria Bacchae:” and Macrobius Sat. 1. 18. 3. Here, however, the poet alludes, not to the human festival, but to supernatural revels.

λιγνύς is a smoky flame, such as a resinous pine-torch gives; στέροψ finely expresses the lurid and fitful glare flashing through the smoke.

ὄπωπε, gnomic perf., ‘hath (oft) seen thee’: i.e., when the Nymphs brandish their torches, Dionysus is in the midst of them. It was the popular belief that dancing fires could be seen by night on Parnassus, when the god was holding his revels. Eur. Ion 716 (Parnassus) “ἵνα Βάκχιος ἀμφιπύρους ἀνέχων πεύκας λαιψηρὰ πηδᾷ νυκτιπόλοις ἅμα σὺν Βάκχαις”: cp. ib. 1125: Bacch. 306: Phoen. 226: I. T. 1243.

ΚωρύκιαιΝύμφαι: Nymphs who haunt the “Κωρύκιον ἄντρον” and its neighbourhood. The name is from “κώρυκος”, ‘a wallet’ (and so, a hollow thing), and was given also to a cave on the Cilician coast. The Parnassian cave is near the top of a hill on the high table-land which lies at the base of the central cone,— about 7 miles N. E. of Delphi, and as many N.W. of Aráchova. E. Itis a large stalactite cavern, consisting of an outer chamber of some 200 ft. in length, and an inner one of about 100 ft.; the greatest breadth is about 200 ft., and the greatest height, E. It 40.In 480 B.C., when the Persians were coming, many of the Delphians took refuge in it (Her. 8.36). An old place of sacrifice can still be seen in it; and an inscription found there shows that it was sacred “Πανὶ καὶ νύμφαις” (C. I. G. 1728). Aesch. Eum. 22σέβω δὲ νύμφας, ἔνθα Κωρυκὶς πέτρα κοίλη, φίλορνις, δαιμόνων ἀναστροφή”.

The simple transposition, στείχουσι νύμφαι for “νύμφαι στείχουσι”, satisfies the metre, and is far more probable than the change of “στείχουσι” into “στίχουσι”,—a form which, though noticed by Hesychius, is not known to have been used by any Attic writer of the classical age.

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hide References (14 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (14):
    • Aeschylus, Eumenides, 22
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 306
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 307
    • Euripides, Ion, 1125
    • Euripides, Ion, 716
    • Euripides, Ion, 86
    • Euripides, Iphigeneia in Taurus, 1243
    • Euripides, Iphigeneia in Taurus, 40
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 226
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.36
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.4.3
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 146
    • Lucan, Civil War, 5.72
    • Lucan, Civil War, 5.73
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