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φορβῆς νόστον. The defence of this much-impugned phrase depends on three points. (1) “νόστος” is poetically used in the general sense of “ὁδός”: I. A. 1261 (speaking of the Greeks), “οἷς νόστος οὐκ ἔστ᾽ ᾿Ιλίου πύργους ἔπι”. (2) In “φορβῆσ-νόστος”, a food-journey, the gen. denotes the object of the “νόστος”: the principle is the same as in I. T. 1066 “γῆς πατρῴας νόστος”, ‘a fatherland-return,’ i.e. a return to it: Orph. Argon. 200 “ἐπὶ πλόον Ἀξείνοιο”, on a voyage to the Euxine. (3) The poet has not said, “ἐξελήλυθε φορβῆς νόστον” (‘cognate’ acc.), but “ἐξελήλυθεν ἐπὶ φορβῆς νόστον”, thus marking that “νόστον” denotes, not merely the act of going out, but the purpose of that act, viz., a quest. In other words, the presence of “ἐπὶ” before it already tinges “νόστον” with the sense of “ζήτησιν”: cp. Her. 4. 140ὑπέστρεφον ἐπὶ ζήτησιν τῶν Περσέων”.—The conjecture “ἀλλ᾽ ᾿πὶ φορβὴν νόστον ἐξελήλυθεν” seems, then, needless; but it is also open to a strong positive objection, viz. that “νόστον” then becomes a mere pleonasm. A cognate acc. added to “ἐξελήλυθεν” ought here to qualify it in some manner (cp. Soph. Ai. 287ἐξόδους ἕρπειν κενάς”).

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  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.140
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 287
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