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τέγγει δ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ὀφρύσιδειράδας. Though “ὀφρύς” and “δειράς” could be said of a mountain, Soph. is here thinking simply of the human form. “παγκλαύτους” (L) might be proleptic (cp. n. on “ἀδίκους”, Soph. 791), but “παγκλαύτοις” is better, since “ὀφρύσι” seems to need an epithet.

The Niobe of Sipylus has usually been identified with a colossal rock-image on the N. side of the range. It is rudely carved in relief, within a rectangular niche on the face of a limestone cliff, and represents a woman seated on a throne. (See Stark, Niobe, pl. 1, Leips. 1863: cp. Baumeister, Denkm. p. 1029). Prof. W. M. Ramsay, however, holds that this image is the ‘very ancient’ “ἄγαλμα” of Cybele mentioned by Paus. 3.22.4. In two respects it differs from the ancient accounts of the Niobe (quoted below): (a) it does not ‘weep,’—for the rainwater drops from the front of the niche, clear of the figure; and (b) the likeness to a human form grows, instead of vanishing, as one approaches. (Journ. Hellen. Studies III. 61 ff., 1882.) This has been confirmed by another traveller, Herr Schweisthal (as reported in the Berl. Phil. Wochenschr., May 28, 1887, p. 704). He finds the true Niobe at no great distance from the Cybele, but nearer Magnesia, and in the vicinity of a stream (the Jarikkaia) which Humann, in his ‘Excursion into Sipylus’ (1881), had already identified with the Achelous of Il. 24.616. It is a natural phenomenon,—the semblance—as seen from a distance—of a draped woman, seated high on the rocks; she looks towards the right, and lifts her right arm, as if in lament.

The best ancient description is by a poet whose native place was in that neighbourhood,—Quintus Smyrnaeus (1. 293— 306):—‘Her streaming tears still fall from the heights of the rugged cliff; and in sympathy with her the sounding waters of the Hermus make lament, and the lofty peaks of Sipylus, over which the mist that shepherds dread floats evermore. A great marvel is she to passers by, because she is like a sorrowful woman, who mourns some cruel grief, and weeps without stint. Such verily seems the figure, when thou gazest at it from afar; but when thou drawest near, lo, 'tis but a sheer rock, a cliff of Sipylus’ (“φαίνεται αἰπήεσσα πέτρη, Σιπύλοιό τ᾽ ἀπορρώξ”).

Nonnus was thinking of the effect from the road, when he wrote (2. 160), “ἕσσομαι ὡς Νιόβη καὶ ἐγὼ λίθος, ὄφρα καὶ αὐτὴν λαϊνέην στενάχουσαν ἐποικτείρωσιν ὁδῖται”. Pausanias, too, says that, at a certain distance from the cliff, “δεδακρυμένην δόξεις ὁρᾶν καὶ κατηφῆ γυναῖκα”, but that the illusion vanishes on a nearer approach (1. 21 § 3).

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.22.4
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 791
    • Homer, Iliad, 24.616
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