ἐλαῖαι: this is usually held to be corrupt, but no emendation is at all satisfactory; the conjectures, apart from their graphical eccentricity, err in endeavouring to introduce a person or persons (Demeter or the nymphs). But the categories “ἀθάνατοι” and “θνητοὶ ἄνθρωποι” are exhaustive, with the exception specified in 24. Any title of Demeter is peculiarly out of place: she heard the second and louder cry 38, 39, which sets her in motion. The reading of M “ἐλαῖαι” runs counter to the usual notions of Greek poetical taste. This, however, is no reason for suspecting the text. In late, especially Latin, poetry inanimate nature is often personified (e.g. Verg. Ecl.i. 38Verg. Ecl., x. 13, and many instances given by Forbiger). We have to learn that the idea was earlier than has been supposed. The sense here would be: “neither gods nor men heard her; and the trees were deaf” (J. H. S. xvii. p. 50). The nearest analogies in Greek poetry are Bioni. 31“τὰν Κύπριν αἰαῖ”“ὤρεα πάντα λέγοντι καὶ αἱ δρύες αἰαῖ” “Αδωνιν”
“καὶ ποταμοὶ κλαίουσι τὰ πένθεα τᾶς Ἀφροδίτας” and Theocr. vi. 74. So even in prose, Lycurgus 150 “νομίζοντες οὖν ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι ἱκετεύειν ὑμῶν τὴν χώραν καὶ τὰ δένδρα, δεῖσθαι τοὺς λιμένας”. If this view is thought untenable, we are thrown back on Ilgen's “Ἕλειαι” or “Marsh-nymphs” (= “νύμφαι ἑλειονόμοι” Apoll. Arg. 2.821, 3. 1219). In favour of this, it may be noted that the Nymphs form a class apart from gods and men; cf. h. Aphr. 259. But, as Tyrrell notes, “νύμφαι” seems absolutely required; cf. Theocr. v. 17 “τὰς λιμνάδας Νύμφας”.