εἰ τὰ μὲν φθίνει “κ.τ.λ.” The conjectures of various critics are recorded and classified in the Appendix. Here I will briefly state what seem the main points of the problem. (1) The antistrophic verses, 423—427 (“ἐξερῶ...πρόκειμαι”), appear sound. The changes which have been proposed in them have all been designed to suit some emendation in 405 ff., and would have no probability if verses 423 ff. were considered simply on their own merits. (2) There is only one real discrepancy of metre between the traditional text here and that of the antistrophe; viz., that τοῖσδ̓ in 406 answers to the τινα of “οὔτινα” in 424, where the “α”, being the last syllable of a verse, could be either long or short, and is here long. (Some, indeed, read “οὔτιν᾽ ἁ”: cr. n.) That is, instead of “τοῖσδ̓”, we require u-. As to “ἐξερέω” in 423, answering to “εἰ τὰ μὲν” in 405, we should write “ἐξερῶ”. With regard to the diction of 405 ff., the most suspicious point is the redundancy ὁμοῦ πέλας, suggesting that one of the words was a gloss upon the other. (3) If, then, we assume that the antistrophe is sound, we may conclude that the fault in the strophe lies within the words “εἰ τὰ μὲν φθίνει, φίλοι, τοῖσδ᾽ ὁμοῦ πέλας”. A very slight change will restore the metre, viz. τοιοῖσδ̓ for τοῖσδ̓: cp. the words of Ajax in 453 “ὥστ᾽ ἐν τοιοῖσδε χεῖρας αἱμάξαι βοτοῖς”. There he points to the slain cattle around him; and so he probably does here also. We could then understand the sense to be: ‘If those things (“τὰ μὲν”, his glories in the past) perish, my friends, “ὁμοῦ τοιοῖσδε”, along with (i.e., by the slaughter of) such creatures, “πέλας”, near me there.’ But “πέλας” may have been a marginal gloss (on “ὁμοῦ”), which has displaced some other word: e.g., the poet may have written τοιοῖσδ᾽ ὁμοῦ βοτοῖς (cp. v. 453). (4) Whatever may have been the original form of the words “εἰ τὰ μὲν φθίνει, φίλοι, τοῖσδ᾽ ὁμοῦ πέλας”, it is at least highly probable that their general sense was, ‘If my old renown is perishing.’ This is suggested by the other passages where we find the same sequence of ideas,—i.e., the thought of his past glory closely followed by that of his present disgrace; see (1) 421—427: (2) 437—456: (3) 612—621. (5) Those who believe that the antistrophic verses 423—427 are corrupt have a freer hand for emendation here; and, as will be seen in the Appendix, some of the proposed restorations have been very bold. But such remedies pass into the region of pure guess-work.
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