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τῶν ὀρείωνκ.τ.λ.” The Σελλῶν ἄλσος is the sacred precinct at Dodona, including the temple of Zeus, with its temenos; its limits have been traced by Carapanos (Dodone, pp. 16— 23): see Appendix, note on this passage, § 2.

The name “Σελλοί”, or “Ἑλλοί” (akin to “Ἕλλην, Ἑλλάς”), denoted a prehistoric tribe, dwelling at and around Dodona: see Appendix, § 4. The priests of Zeus, furnished by this tribe, are said to have been called “τόμουροι”, from Mount Tomāros (Orphic Argon. 268 “Τομαρίας ἔκλυε φηγός”), which towers above Dodona on W.S.W. In early times these priests were the direct interpreters of the oracle; hence the “Σελλοί” are called “ὑποφῆται” in Il.16. 235.Afterwards, when the cult of Dionè was associated with that of Zeus, the office of interpretation was transferred to the priestesses called Peleiades (172: Strabo 7. 329). Here, as in 171 f., the poet says that the oak gave the oracle; but he does not here mention the expositors. He mentions the “Σελλοί” only to define the “ἄλσος”.

ὀρείων refers to the site of Dodona in a valley, more than 1600 feet above sea-level, surrounded by hills. See Appendix, § 1.

χαμαικοιτῶν, a trait of barbarism, surviving as a mark of sanctity. According to Philostratus (Imag. 2. 33), the Selli were ‘men of a rude life’ (“αὐτοσχέδιοί τινες”), who held that their austerities were pleasing to Zeus. Cp. Il.16. 235ἀνιπτόποδες χαμαιεῦναι”: Eur. fr. 355 “ἐν ἀστρώτῳ πέδῳ” | “εὕδουσι, πηγαῖς δ᾽ οὐχ ὑγραίνουσιν πόδας”. Callimachus Del.284 calls them “Πελασγοὶ...γηλεχέες”.

εἰσεγραψάμην, i.e., wrote for his own use in the “δέλτος” (157). Cp. Her.8. 135, where Greeks accompany the Carian Mŷs on his visit to the oracle of Apollo at Ptôon, “ὡς ἀπογραψομένους τὰ θεσπιεῖν ἔμελλε”: then Mŷs snatches the “δέλτος” from them, and makes an abstract for himself (“συγγραψάμενον”). Ar. Av.982(“χρησμὸς”) “ὃν ἐγὼ παρὰ τἀπόλλωνος ἐξεγραψάμην”. At Dodona, in later times at least, the inquirer gave his question in writing to the Peleiades, and received a written answer: many of the leaden plates thus used have been found (Carapanos, pp. 68—83): Appendix, § 6.

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  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Aristophanes, Birds, 982
    • Herodotus, Histories, 8.135
    • Homer, Iliad, 16.235
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