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πικρᾶς, in its bitterness. Elsewhere “πικρός”, said of persons, means ‘embittered,’ and so ‘hostile,’ etc. (as Ai. 1359). But there is no reason why “πικρός” should not also mean ‘embittered’ in the sense, ‘with a bitter feeling of anguish.’ There is a pathos in this which is lost by reading “πικρῶς”, ‘shrilly.’ Nor could “πικρᾶς” mean merely ‘piercing,’ as if the epithet of the cry were given to the bird itself. In O. C. 1610φθόγγος πικρός”, and in Ph. 190πικρὰ οἰμωγή”, mean not merely a ‘shrill,’ but a ‘bitter,’ cry; and so conversely here, the epithet “πικρά”, while primarily denoting anguish, also suggests the shrill sound.


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  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 1359
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1610
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 190
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