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φθέγμα κ.τ.λ. The phrase, ‘man has taught himself speech,’ should not be pressed as if the poet was thinking of a theory on the origin of language. It was the Eleatic view that language came “θέσει”, not “φύσει”, and Soph, may have known that; but by his “ἐδιδάξατο” he meant simply, ‘developed for his own benefit, by his own effort.’ So Isocrates (or. 3 § 6) conceives primitive man as living in a brutal state, and emerging from it by the development of speech and thought,— “λόγος” being one of the human faculties (“τῶν ἐνόντων ἐν τῇ τῶν ἀνθρώπων φύσει”), and the distinctive one:—“ἐγγενομένου δ᾽ ἡμῖν τοῦ πείθειν ἀλλήλους καὶ δηλοῦν πρὸς ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς περὶ ὼ̂ν ἂν βουληθῶμεν, οὐ μόνον τοῦ θηριωδῶς ζῆν ἀπηλλάγημεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ συνελθόντες πόλεις ᾠκίσαμεν καὶ νόμους ἐθέμεθα καὶ τέχνας εὕρομεν”. Cp. Hor. Sat. 1. 3. 103 (men fought,) “Donec verba, quibus voces sensusque notarent, Nominaque invenere: dehinc absistere bello, Oppida coeperunt munire et ponere leges.” The Aeschylean Prometheus ( P. V. 444) claims to have made men “ἔννους...καὶ φρενῶν ἐπηβόλους”, but not (like Shelley's Prometheus) to have also given them language. Cp. Peile's chapter ‘On the Nature of Language’ (Primer of Philology), p. 156: ‘In this way then we may conceive of the

beginnings of speech...Speech is the development, through imitation, of a capacity of man—the capacity of making a noise.’ This is quite compatible with “ἐδιδάξατο.

ἀνεμόεν φρόνημα: cp. Il. 15.80ὡς δ᾽ ὅτ᾽ ἂν ἀΐξῃ νόος ἀνέρος... ὣς κραιπνῶς μεμαυῖα διέπτατο”: Od. 7.36τῶν νέες ὠκεῖαι ὡσεὶ πτερὸν ἠὲ νόημα”: O. C. 1081ἀελλαία ταχύρρωστος πελειάς”: fr. 621 “ἀελλάδες φωναί”. Not ‘lofty,’ in which sense “ἀνεμόεν” could be said only of a high place. Cp. Shelley, Prometheus: ‘He gave man speech, and speech created thought, Which is the measure of the universe.’ Soph. does not imply that speech created thought; he is rather thinking of them as developed (in their riper forms) together.

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hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (6):
    • Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, 444
    • Homer, Odyssey, 7.36
    • Isocrates, Nicocles or the Cyprians, 6
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1081
    • Homer, Iliad, 15.80
    • Horace, Satires, 1.3.103
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