†ἐγὼ δὲ μάτηρ† μὲν οἷα φράζω. The words “ἐγὼ δὲ μάτηρ” (if no others) are unquestionably corrupt. They have been explained to mean:—‘I speak as a mother’ (or ‘her mother’) ‘might speak’: i.e., with all a mother's tender sympathy. If anything could increase the strangeness of such language, it would be the fact that the young maidens of Trachis are speaking of one who is old enough to be their mother. Or: (2) ‘I tell the story as her mother told it,’—a way of explaining how they can describe what they had not seen. This needs no refutation. The true key to this passage depends on observing the sequence of topics. (1) In 517—522, “τότ᾽ ἦν χερός...στόνος ἀμφοῖν”, we have a brief picture of the fight. (2) Then vv. 523—525, “ἁ δ᾽ εὐῶπις...ἀκοίταν”, mark Deianeira's suspense. (3) Next comes the obscure parenthesis, “ἐγὼ δὲ...φράζω”. (4) And then we return, at v. 527, to Deianeira's suspense,—not, however, in a form which adds anything new to vv. 523 —525, but in one which merely repeats their substance:—“τὸ δ᾽ ἀμφινείκητον...ἀμμένει”. Now, to justify such a repetition, it is manifest that (2) and (4) should be separated, not by a mere parenthesis, such as (3) now is, but by some further allusion to the fight. This inference is strengthened by the phrase, “τὸ δ᾽ ἀμφινείκητον ὄμμα νύμφας”, which gains point if a reference to the “νεῖκος” has immediately preceded. I believe that ἐγὼ has come from ἀγὼν, under the influence of φράζω. The sense of the verse was, ‘And the strife goes on raging, as I describe’ (referring to vv. 517—522). “ΜΑΤΗΡ” may well be a corruption of “ΜΑΡΓΑΙ”, a loss of “Ρ” having been followed by a change of “Γ” to “Τ”. This may have happened after “ἀγὼν” had become “ἐγὼ”, with help, perhaps, from a reminiscence of El.233“ἀλλ᾽ οὖν εὐνοίᾳ γ᾽ αὐδῶ”, | “μάτηρ ὡσεί τις πιστά”. Cp. Hesychius “μαργᾷ: μαργαίνει, ὑβρίζει, ἐνθουσιᾷ, μαίνεται”. Eur. H. F.1005“ὅς νιν φόνου μαργῶντος ἔσχε”. I would read, then, ἀγὼν δὲ μαργᾷ μέν, οἷα φράζω. The next words, τὸ δ᾽ ἀμφινείκητον κ.τ.λ., then fiftly turn from the stubborn fight to her continuing suspense.—For other views, see Appendix.
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