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κάκιστα καὶ πανωλέθρους: Aesch. Th. 552πανώλεις παγκάκως τ᾽ ὀλοίατο”.

The last two of these four verses are certainly spurious, as three things show.

(1) The poet would not have made the dying Ajax pray that the Atreidae may die ‘at the hands of their offspring,’ unless there had been some legend that they so died. But, according to the current mythology, Agamemnon was slain by his wife and her paramour, while Menelaüs and Helen passed, without dying, to Elysium ( Od. 4. 561). It is only in later times that we meet with the story of Menelaüs and Helen having been sacrificed by Iphigeneia in the land of the Tauri (Ptolemy Heph. 4, cp. Roscher, Lex. p. 1951): a myth which the author of these verses may have had in view. Odysseus, indeed, was slain by Telegonus; but he does not come into account here, unless we make the improbable change of “Ἀτρειδῶν” to “Ἀχαιῶν” in 838. [As to the double sense of “αὐτοσφαγής”, with ref. to one who is slain (1) by himself, (2) by a kinsman, see on Ant. 56αὐτοκτονοῦντε”.]

(2) These two verses confuse the construction, since “ὥσπερ εἰσορῶσ᾽ ἐμέ” (sc.ξυναρπασθέντα”) refers to what precedes: while “τὼς” in 841 refers to “ὥσπερ”.

(3) The form “φίλιστος” occurs nowhere else, except as a proper name.

τώς” is not elsewhere found in Soph. or Eur. : it is, however, used by Aesch. , not only in lyrics ( Aesch. Th. 484, Suppl. 69, 670, 691), but once, at least, in a trimeter, Th. 637 ζῶντ᾽ ἀτιμαστῆρα τὼς ἀνδρηλάτην”. We should not, then, insist on “τώς” as a mark of spuriousness: and “ὀλοίατο” is, of course, free from objection ( O. T. 1274γνωσοίατο” n.). But the case against 841 f. seems conclusive without them.

A more difficult question is whether vv. 839, 840 are also spurious. The schol. in L on v. 841 is as follows:—“τὼς αὐτοσφαγεῖς”: “ταῦτα νοθεύεσθαί φασιν ὑποβληθέντα πρὸς σαφήνειαν τῶν λεγομένων”. As the lemma, “τὼς αὐτοσφαγεῖς”, clearly indicates, “ταῦτα” refers only to the two verses 841 f., and not (as Dindorf and others have assumed) to all the four verses 839—842. The surmise was, says the scholiast, that vv. 841 f. were added ‘to make the meaning clearer’; i.e., to explain the elliptical phrase, “ὥσπερ εἰσορῶσ᾽ ἐμέ”. Such a surmise itself shows that vv. 839, 840 were believed to be older than 841 f. It is indeed plain that all four verses are not by the same author. The incoherent construction noticed above, under (2), was possible for an interpolator whose attention was fixed on “ὥσπερ εἰσορῶσ᾽ ἐμέ”, but hardly for one who was forging vv. 839—842 as a whole. If, then, all four verses are condemned, we must assume two independent interpolations.

I incline to think that the two verses 839 and 840 are genuine; because, otherwise, the imprecation on the “πάνδημος στρατός” (844) would follow too abruptly on v. 838. The prayer for the destruction of his chief foes, uttered in 839 f., leads up to the more sweeping denunciation of the Greek army.

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hide References (6 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (6):
    • Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes, 484
    • Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes, 552
    • Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes, 637
    • Homer, Odyssey, 4.561
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 56
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 1274
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