previous next

In στὰς δ᾽ ὑπὲρ μελάθρων there is a momentary return to the image of the flying eagle,—‘having stayed his flight above my dwellings,’—before swooping. The words do not mean that the Argive army was posted on hills around Thebes: the only hills available were to the N. of the town. The “Ἰσμήνιος λόφος” (Paus. 9.10.2), on which Donaldson places the Argives, was merely a low eminence close to one of the city gates. Thebes stood on a low spur of ground projecting southward, and overlooking the plain. Sophocles has elsewhere described the Argive besiegers, with topographical correctness, as having ‘set their leaguer round the plain of Thebes’ ( O. C. 1312τὸ Θήβης πεδίον ἀμφεστᾶσι πᾶν”). Struve's πτάς (a participle not found elsewhere except in composition with a preposition) seems improbable, and also less forcible.

The words φονώσαισιν ἀμφιχανὼν... λόγχαις once more merge the image of the eagle,—as at v. 115,—in literal description of a besieging army, save in so far as the figurative “ἀμφιχανών” suggests a monster opening its jaws. The word was perh. suggested by Il. 23.79ἐμὲ μὲν κὴρ ἀμφέχανε στυγερή” (hath gaped for me—i.e. ‘devoured me’). These transitions from clear imagery to language in which the figure is blurred by the thought of the object for which it stands, are thoroughly Sophoclean: cp. n. on O. T. 866.

φονώσαισιν: the word is not rare in later writers, but in classical Greek occurs only here and Ph. 1209φονᾷ, φονᾷ νόος ἤδη”. Cp. “τομάω” (Ai. 582).

ἑπτάπυλον στόμα, prop. the access afforded by seven gates: fr. 701 “Θήβας λέγεις μοι τὰς πύλας ἑπταστόμους” (sevenmouthed as to its gates). Nauck changes “στόμα” to “πόλισμ᾽” to avoid hiatus: but cp. O. T. 1202βασιλεὺς καλεῖ ἐμός”, n.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.10.2
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 582
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1312
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 1202
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 866
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 1209
    • Homer, Iliad, 23.79
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: