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[347] “οὔ νυ τ᾽[οι] . . ἑκάστῳ”. Eustath. gives the sense well, “οὐ κεῖνται ὑπὸ αἰτίασιν οἱ ἀοιδοὶ τὰς δυσπραγίας τῶν ἀνθρώπων ᾁδοντες, οὐ γὰρ διότι αὐτοὶ ᾁδουοι διὰ τοῦτο τοιώσδε ἀπέβη τὰ πράγματα, ἀλλ᾽ ἔμπαλιν τοιώσδε συμπεσόντα, οἱ ἀοιδοὶ ᾁδουσι”. Translate, ‘It is not indeed minstrels that are to blame for it, but Zeus methinks is to blame, who dispenses to enterprising men severally as he will;’ sc. good or bad fortune. The interpretation of the word ἀλφηστής by the grammarians, sc. “συνετοί, εὑρετικοί, ἐπινοητικοί”, harmonises with the etymology which refers it to root “ἀλφ”, seen in Gk. “ἀλφ-άνω, ἀλφεσίβοιαι”, Germ. arb-eit (work), Skt. rabh, ‘to be eager,’ Lat. lab-or. With the form ἀλφηστής cp. “ὀρχηστής”. The passage quoted by Curt. (G. E. 264) from Aesch. S. c. T. 770ἀνδρῶν ἀλφηστῶν ὄλβος ἄγαν παχυνθείς” shows that Aeschylus interpreted it in a similar way. The notion of men as ‘hardworking,’ ‘gain-getting’ creatures, points an appropriate contrast to “θεοὶ ῥεῖα ζώοντες”. Others render ‘men that live by bread,’ deriving the word from the stem “ἀλφ” seen in “ἄλφιτον”, ‘meal,’ and “ἔδω”, ‘eat,’ and comparing this meaning of the word with the epithet “σιτοφάγος” applied to a man, Od.9. 191, and with the phrases “οἳ ἀρούρης καρπὸν ἔδουσι Il.6. 142, “ἐπὶ χθονὶ σῖτον ἔδοντες Od.8. 222; 9.89; 10.101. This seems also to be the interpretation intended by Sophocles,

οὐ φορβὰν ἱερᾶς γᾶς σπόρον, οὐκ ἄλλων
αἴρων τῶν νεμόμεσθ᾽ ἀνέρες ἀλφησταί


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hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes, 770
    • Homer, Iliad, 6.142
    • Homer, Odyssey, 10.101
    • Homer, Odyssey, 8.222
    • Homer, Odyssey, 9.191
    • Homer, Odyssey, 9.89
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 707
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