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ἔφεδρος was said of an athlete who ‘sat by’ at a match between two other men, prepared to engage the winner (cp. “suppositicius” in Mart. 5. 24. 8). Thus in Aristoph. Ran. 792Sophocles proposes “ἔφεδρος καθεδεῖσθαι”, while the two other poets contend, and to encounter Euripides if the latter should vanquish Aeschylus. To the Chorus (“χρόνῳ τρυχόμενος”), Ajax is an “ἔφεδρος”, as being a fresh trouble in reserve. Schol.: “πρὸς τοῖς πρώτοις κακοῖς ὥσπερ δεύτερόν ἐστί μοι κακὸν τὸ τοῦ Αἴαντος ξυνεστηκός”: where the last word is happily chosen to mark that “ἔφεδρος” implies a trouble with which they have to grapple: see on Soph. O. C. 514ἀλγηδόνος, ξυνέστας”. For the fig. sense, cp. Philo vol. 2 p. 527 “μετὰ πάσας τὰς αἰκίας..αὐτοῖς τελευταία καὶ ἔφεδρος τιμωρία σταυρὸς ἦν”, ‘after all their torments, the final doom reserved for them was the cross.’ The technical sense of the word was so familiar (cp. Pind. N. 4. 96, Aesch. Cho. 866) that it would be understood here without direct help from the context.

Prof. Campbell pronounces this interpretation ‘untenable,’ and renders “ἔφεδρος” ‘fixed at my side,’ because ‘Ajax had remained sitting throughout the previous scene,’ and had now apparently relapsed into sullen inaction within his tent.


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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Aeschylus, Libation Bearers, 866
    • Aristophanes, Frogs, 792
    • Pindar, Nemean, 4
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 514
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