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πεῖράν τιν᾽ ἐχθρῶν ἁρπάσαι, to snatch (by vigilant and subtle craft) some means of attacking foes,—some moment when foes can be taken at a disadvantage. For the objective gen. ἐχθρῶν, cp. Diod. Sic. 14. 80καιρὸν εὔθετον εἰς τὴν τῶν πολεμίων ἐπίθεσιν”: for ἁρπάσαι, Plut. Philop. 15 “ἁρπάσας τὸν καιρόν”: Xen. An. 4. 6. 11 “τοῦ ἐρήμου ὄρους..κλέψαι τι..καὶ ἁρπάσαι φθάσαντας”. Like the verb (“πειρᾶν τῆς πόλεως”, Her. 6. 82), “πεῖρα” often denotes an enterprise against an enemy (Thuc. 3. 20, etc.).—Not, ‘to forestall (or baffle) some attempt by a foe.’ θηρώ- μενον with inf.: cp. Eur. Helen. 63 “θηρᾷ γαμεῖν με”: ib. 545 “ὅς με θηρᾶται λαβεῖν”.

Athena's words are illustrated by the action of Odysseus against Palamedes (Xen. Mem. 4. 2. 33),—by his capture of Helenus (Ph. 606),—his designs on Philoctetes,—his theft of the Palladium (Ov. Met. 13. 99),—and his nocturnal expedition with Diomedes (Il. 10).

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  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.80
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 13.99
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