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νῦν γὰρ ἐσχάτας κ.τ.λ. (1) The first question is,—are we to read τέτατο or ἐτέτατο? If “ἐτέτατο”, then the sentence is complete at “δόμοις”. A new sentence beginning with κατ᾽ αὖ would be intolerably abrupt: yet neither “κᾆτ᾽” nor “καὶ ταύταν” appears probable. This difficulty would be avoided by changing ὑπέρ to ὅπερ: but then “ῥίζας φάος” must mean, ‘the comfort (or hope) afforded by the “ῥίζα”,’—a strange phrase. And “τέτατο” confirms “ὑπέρ” as well as “φάος”. I therefore prefer τέτατο. (2) The next point concerns νιν. Reading “ τέτατο”, Wecklein still refers “νιν” to “ῥίζας”, not to “φάος”, saying that the constr. is as though “ἇς ὑπὲρ ἐσχάτας ῥίζας” had preceded. This is a grammatical impossibility. With “ τέτατο, νιν” can refer only to φάος. Can this be justified? Thus, I think. The ἐσχάτη ῥίζα of the family is the last remaining means of propagating it. A light of hope (φάος) was ‘spread above’ this ‘last root,’—as sunshine above a plant,—because it was hoped that the sisters would continue the race. The sisters themselves are, properly speaking, the “ἐσχάτη ῥίζα”. But as the word “ῥίζα” can also have an abstract sense, denoting the chance of propagation, the sisters can here be identified with the hope, or “φάος”, which shines above the “ῥίζα”. In Greek this is the easier since “φάος” was often said of persons, as Il. 18.102οὐδέ τι Πατρόκλῳ γενόμην φάος”, Eur. Hec. 841 δέσποτ᾽, μέγιστον Ἕλλησιν φάος”. To say “καταμᾶν φάος” (“δόμων”) is like saying, ‘to mow down the hope of the race,’—in this case, the two young lives. A further reason against referring νιν to “ῥίζα” is that the verb should then be, not “καταμᾷ”, but “ἐξαμᾷ”, as Ai. 1178γένους ἅπαντος ῥίζαν ἐξημημένος”: a root is not ‘mowed down,’ in such a case, but cut out of the ground. The proposed change of φάος into θάλος, though not difficult in a palaeographical sense, is condemned by τέτατο, which does not suit “θάλος”, but exactly suits “φάος”. Cp. Ph. 831τάνδ᾽ αἴγλαν τέταται τανῦν”. Od. 11.19ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ νὺξ ὀλοὴ τέταται δειλοῖσι βροτοῖσι”: Hes. Op. 547ἀὴρ πυροφόρος τέταται μακάρων ἐπὶ ἔργοις” (rich men's fields): Theogn. 1077 “ὄρφνη γὰρ τέταται”. Plat. Rep. 616Bδιὰ παντὸς τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ γῆς τεταμένον φῶς”. As to the proposed substitution of “θάλος” for “ὑπέρ”, (with “φάος” retained,) it would be as violent as needless.—For ῥίζας cp. Pind. O. 2. 46ὅθεν σπέρματος ἔχοντα ῥίζαν”: El. 765πρόρριζον...ἔφθαρται γένος”: Lucian Tyr. 13πανωλεθρία παντὸς τοῦ γένους καὶ ῥιζόθεν τὸ δεινὸν ἅπαν ἐκκεκομμένον”.

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hide References (9 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (9):
    • Euripides, Hecuba, 841
    • Hesiod, Works and Days, 547
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.19
    • Pindar, Olympian, 2
    • Plato, Republic, 616b
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 1178
    • Sophocles, Electra, 765
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 831
    • Homer, Iliad, 18.102
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