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πτύσας προσώπῳ. Haemon is momentarily insane with despair and rage: the very words “αὑτῷ χολωθείς”, 1235, indicate the transport of frenzy which these verses were meant to depict. Nothing could do more violence to the language, or more injury to the dramatic effect, than the Scholiast's theory that “πτύσας προσώπῳ” has a merely figurative sense, ‘with an expression of loathing on his face.’ When the figurative sense of a word (like “πτύσας”) is to be marked by a qualifying addition (like “προσώπῳ”), that addition must not be such as equally to suggest the literal sense. Thus a socialist riot might be called ‘a fire not of Hephaestus’ (Eur. Or. 621); but it would not be equally happy to describe it as ‘a fire kindled by the tables of the rich.’ “πτύσας προσώπῳ”, instead of “ἐπιπτύσας προσώπῳ” (“πατρός”), is merely an instance of the boldness with which poetry could use a simple dative to express the object to (or against) which an action is directed. Such a dat. is often equivalent to (a) “ἐπί” with dat., (b) “ἐπί, πρός”, or “εἰς”, with acc., —in various relations, and with various shades of meaning. Thus we have such phrases as “κακοῖς γελῶν” (Ai. 1042)=“κακοῖς ἐπεγγελῶν”: Ph. 67λύπην...Ἀργείοις βαλεῖς ἐμβαλεῖς”: Eur. Suppl. 322τοῖς κερτομοῦσι γοργὸν ὡς ἀναβλέπει”, how she looks up sternly at her revilers: Il. 7.101τῷδε δ᾽ ἐγὼν αὐτὸς θωρήξομαι”, against him: ib. 23. 635ὅς μοι ἀνέστη”, against me: and below 1236ἤρεισε πλευραῖς ἐπήρεισε”. Prose would have “πτύσας εἰς” (or “ἐπὶ”) “πρόσωπον”.


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hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Euripides, Orestes, 621
    • Euripides, Suppliants, 322
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 1042
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 1236
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 67
    • Homer, Iliad, 23.635
    • Homer, Iliad, 7.101
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