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τὰ δείν̓, adv., ‘so wondrously’: cp. 312 n. τότε, olim: cp. 1240: 1377: Ant. 391: El. 278.

βαφῇ σίδηρος ὥς, sc.καρτερὸς γίγνεται”, supplied from “ἐκαρτέρουν”. The “βαφή” is the cold bath (lacus) into which the hot iron is plunged, and from which it receives the temper of steel. Cp.

ὡς δ᾽ ὅτ᾽ ἀνὴρ χαλκεύς πέλεκυν μέγαν ἠὲ σκέπαρνον
εἰν ὕδατι ψυχρῷ βάπτῃ μεγάλα ἰάχοντα
φαρμάσσων: τὸ γὰρ αὖτε σιδήρου γε κράτος ἐστίν

: where Eustathius says, “στομοῦται σίδηρος τοιαύτῃ βαφῇ καὶ κράτος ἔχει, ἐστι κρατερὸς γίνεται πυκνούμενος εἰς πλέον”. So Galen compares the tonic effect of a cold bath on the human body with the effect of the “βαφή” upon iron (Meth. Med. x. 10, vol. x. 717 Kuhn), “καὶ γὰρ ψυχόμεθα καὶ τονούμεθα, καθάπερ ἐκεῖνος” (iron) “ἐπειδὰν διάπυρος γενόμενος ἐμβάπτηται τῷ ψυχρῷ”. Lucr. 6. 968umor aquae ferrum porro condurat ab igni (i.e., ‘after fire’). Hence “βαφή”=the ‘temper’ of steel, and is often used figuratively. Arist. Pol. 4.(7.) 14 § 22 “τὴν γὰρ βαφὴν ἀφιᾶσιν, ὥσπερ σίδηρος, εἰρήνην ἄγοντες”: Plut. Mor.p. 988 D “τῆς μὲν ἀνδρείας οἶον βαφή τις θυμός ἐστι καὶ στόμωμα” (‘wrath gives, as it were, a temper and an edge to courage’).— This passage has been discussed by R. Paehler, in an essay on ancient steel (1885), and by Prof. H. Blümner in his work on Greek and Roman technology (1887): see Appendix.

ἐθηλύνθην στόμα. The aor. is like “ἐπῄνεσα” in 536 (n.): i.e., it refers, like “οἰκτίρω”, to the present, not to the time at which Tecmessa spoke. (Verses 594 f. suffice to prove this.) στόμα, standing so close to βαφῇ σίδηρος ὥς, necessarily suggests the sense of a sharp, hard edge. At the same time, it refers, in its literal sense, to the “γλῶσσα τεθηγμένη” (584) by which his purpose was announced. Just so the father in Aristophanes (Nub. 1107), who wishes his son to be made both acute and fluent, says, “μέμνησ᾽ ὅπως εὖ μοι στομώσεις αὐτόν”. Hence “στόμα” cannot be completely translated; and it is the literal sense which should here be sacrificed to the other. For the verb, cp. Anth. 5. 251. 6 “οὔπω ἐθηλύνθης” (‘softened’), “οὐδὲ μαραινομένη”.

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hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Aristotle, Politics, 7.1334a
    • Homer, Odyssey, 9.391
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 1240
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 312
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 391
    • Sophocles, Electra, 278
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 6.968
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