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θεοί τ᾽ ἐπόψιοι, gods who look upon the deeds of men, noting the good and the evil. The name “ἐπόψιος” was specially given to Zeus,—primarily in reference to the fact that, as “ὕψιστος”, he was so often worshipped on mountain summits,—as on Parnassus, Cithaeron, Parnes, Hymettus, Ida, the heights near Cenaeum ( Tr. 238 n.), etc. Hence his epithets “ἐπάκριος, ἀκραῖος”, and in Boeotia “καραῖος”.

Thus the invocation of πατρῴα γῆ, in connection with ἐπόψιοι, is peculiarly appropriate for Ph. , in whose country Zeus was worshipped on Oeta (cp. 728 n.). The secondary sense of “ἐπόψιος”—‘watching over’ human life—is associated with the first by Callimachus in his Hymn to Zeus, 82 ff.:δῶκας δὲ πτολίεθρα φυλασσέμεν: ἵζεο δ᾽ αὐτὸς ἄκρῃς ἐν πτολίεσσιν, ἐπόψιος οἵ τε δίκῃσι λαὸν ὑπὸ σκολιῇς, οἵ τ᾽ ἔμπαλιν ἰθύνουσιν”. Apoll. Rhod. 2. 1125 “ἀντόμεθα πρὸς Ζηνὸς ἐποψίου”: and ib. 1182 “Ζεὺς αὐτὸς τὰ ἕκαστ᾽ ἐπιδέρκεται” (as Soph. El. 175Ζεὺς ὃς ἐφορᾷ πάντα καὶ κρατύνει”). As the vindicator of right, Zeus was also called “δικαιόσυνος, ἀλάστωρ, τιμωρός”. Acc. to Hesych. s. v. “ἐπόψιος”, the epithet was also given to Apollo. But, next to Zeus, the deity whom “ἐπόψιος” most directly suggests is Helios “πανόπτης,—θεῶν σκοπὸς ἠδὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν” (Hom. hym. 5. 62).

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  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Sophocles, Electra, 175
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 728
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 238
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