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οὓς κεῖνός ποτεκ.τ.λ.” The point of the comparison, which has been prompted by the word “σπείρων”, is merely the rarity of the visits. ποτέ=‘at some time or other’ (cp. “ὀψέ ποτε, χρόνῳ ποτέ”), or perhaps ‘formerly’—while the labours for Eurystheus were going on: it could not, by itself, mean ‘only now and then.’ The sentence begins as if “ποτέ” were to be followed by some such general phrase as “διὰ χρόνου”:—“οὓς κεῖνός ποτε...διὰ χρόνου προσεῖδε”, ‘whom he saw only at uncertain intervals.’ The interposed simile, however, leads the poet to employ a phrase adapted to the special case of the “γῄτης”,—viz., σπείρων μόνον κἀξαμῶν ἅπαξ. The “γῄτης” sees his distant field only twice a year. But it is not meant that Heracles visits his home just twice a year. Nor has ἐξαμῶν any figurative application to him, such as ‘reaping the joy’ of seeing his children. It is an irrelevant detail. This is quite Homeric. See, e.g., Il.13. 62 ff., where Poseidon, soaring into the air, is likened to a bird which soars “διώκειν ὄρνεον ἄλλο”: though the sea-god is pursuing no one.

ἅπαξ seems best taken with ἐξαμῶν only.

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