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παρ᾽ ἦμαρ ἡμέρα, ‘the successive’ (not, ‘alternate’) ‘days’: the series formed by placing each new day at the side of its predecessors, as “ἀνὴρ παρ᾽ ἄνδρα” could be said of forming men in rank. The sense is: ‘When a man's miseries are unbroken, “τί τέρπειν ἔχει ἡμέρα παρ᾽ ἦμαρ”, what power to please him has each successive day, προσθεῖσα (“αὐτὸν”) “τῷ κατθανεῖν”, when it has brought him close up to death, “κἀναθεῖσα τοῦ κατθανεῖν”, and then again moved him back from death?’ Death is the boundary-line (“γραμμή”) on the field of life: Eur. El. 955πρὶν ἂν πέλας γραμμῆς ἵκηται καὶ τέλος κάμψῃ βίου” (mors ultima linea rerum). The man who is captive to evil fortune is like a “πεσσός” on the draughtboard, at one moment moved close up to the line, and then again withdrawn from it a little; but it is death, after all,—death and nothing else,—that awaits him (“τοῦ γε κατθανεῖν”). This is not the platitude, ‘all men must die’, but a thought sug gested by the case of the man ‘whose woes are unvarying.’ Life has nothing in store for him; the question is merely whether he is to die at once, or to have a short and wretched reprieve. This is brought out by v. 479: “καλῶς ζῆν” is denied to him; and that being so, the next best thing is to die honourably and quickly—“καλῶς τεθνηκέναι”.

προσθεῖσα: cp. I. A. 540 “πρὶν Ἅιδῃ παῖδ᾽ ἐμὴν προσθῶ λαβών”: Hec. 368Ἅιδῃ προστιθεῖσ᾽ ἐμὸν δέμας”. The dat. “τῷ κατθανεῖν” is easily supplied from the genitive, which is adapted to the nearer participle.

κἀναθεῖσα. Cp. “ἀνατίθεσθαι”, to ‘take back’ a move, to ‘retract’ an opinion ( Xen. Mem. 1. 2§ 44, etc.).

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Euripides, Electra, 955
    • Euripides, Hecuba, 368
    • Xenophon, Memorabilia, 1.2
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