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οἷς γὰρκακούς: ‘for when a man's mind has (once) become a mother of evil deeds, it trains him to be evil in everything else,’—i.e., in all subsequent deeds. For κακούς as proleptic predicate, cp. Ant. 475 n.; Eur. Med. 296παῖδας περισσῶς ἐκδιδάσκεσθαι σοφούς”.

A decision between the conject. κακούς and the MS. κακά demands care. I prefer κακούς, for these reasons. (1) κακά, if retained, would naturally suggest this sense:—‘When a man's mind has once given birth to evil (counsels), it trains the rest also (i.e., his actions) to be evil.’ But the antithesis here is between the earlier and the later bad deeds; not between bad counsels and bad deeds. (2) The effect of κακούς is to indicate that τἄλλα stands in antithesis, not with κακῶν only, but with the whole preceding clause, and thus to suggest its true sense, viz., ‘in all that follows.’ (3) It is true that the image, μήτηρ γένηται, is then no longer consistently maintained; but this very failure to persevere with a metaphor is Sophoclean (cp. n. on O. T. 866). μήτηρ γένηται is a poetical equivalent for, ‘make a beginning of.’ Hence the poet felt that he did not require “ἅπαξ”, though we should naturally add ‘once.’ The same delicate economy may be observed in Ant. 584οἷς γὰρ ἂν σεισθῇ θεόθεν δόμος, ἄτας” | “οὐδὲν ἐλλείπει”: ‘For when a house hath (once) been shaken from heaven, there the curse fails nevermore.’ The change of κακούς into κακά might easily have been caused by τἄλλα.—See Appendix.

hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Euripides, Medea, 296
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 475
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 584
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 866
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