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ποικιλοστόλῳ, ‘with gaily decked prow’: not simply ‘gaily drest’ (like “λευκόστολος”, etc.). Cp. Aesch. Pers. 408εὐθὺς δὲ ναῦς ἐν νηῒ χαλκήρη στόλον” | “ἔπαισεν”, where “στόλος” poetically=“ἔμβολον”, the beak or ram, which was attached to the ship below the prow. The term “ἀκροστόλιον” was sometimes applied to the ‘figure-head’ (such as the head and neck of a swan). Here, “ποικιλοστόλῳ” seems to denote some special adornment, intended to mark the solemnity of the mission. These envoys came, not only to announce the death of Achilles, but to salute his heir. Cp. Pind. P. 2. 62εὐανθέα δ᾽ ἀναβάσομαι στόλον”: where (whether “στόλον” be taken as ‘prow,’ or, more tamely, as ‘voyage’) the epithet refers to the adorning of the ship with garlands on a festal occasion. So, too, when the Salaminia was about to leave Athens on the annual “θεωρία” to Delos, the priest of Apollo crowned the stern with garlands ( Phaed. 58C).—Others regard “ποικιλοστόλῳ” as merely a constant epithet, equiv. to the Homeric “μιλτοπάρῃος” (now explained by some as referring ‘to a literal painting of a face upon the bows’; Leaf, Il. 2. 637). The v. l. ποικιλοστόμῳ is merely a prosaic corruption.

hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Aeschylus, Persians, 408
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.637
    • Pindar, Pythian, 2
    • Plato, Phaedo, 58c
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