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Tiresias, ap. Phoen. 968, ὅστις δ᾽ ἐμπύρῳ χρῆται τέχνῃ μάταιος: ἢν μὲν ἐχθρὰ σημῄνας τύχῃ, πικρὸς καθέστηχ̓ οἷς ἂν οἰωνοσκοπῇ. ψευδῆ δ̓ ὑπ̓ οἴκτου τοῖσι χρωμένοις λέγων ἀδικεῖ τὰ τῶν θεῶν, is compared by Victorius1 with the example in the second topic. This second topic of consequences differs from the preceding in these particulars. In the first, which is simple, the consequences of the thing which is in question are twofold—bad and good, and these are unconnected by any reciprocal relation between them. The second is more complicated, and offers contrary alternatives, which are set in opposition ἀντιτίθεται τἀναντία, as δίκαια and ἄδικα λέγειν in the example—and then, ‘proceed as before’, τῷ πρότερον εἰρημένῳ τρόπῳ; that is, state the consequence of each, (favourable in exhortation or recommendation, unfavourable in dissuasion,) and bring the two into comparison in order to strike the balance of advantage or disadvantage between them. In public speaking, for instance, the alternatives are, true and fair, and false and unfair, words and arguments: if your object is to dissuade from it, you adduce the ill consequences of both, and contrast them, so as to shew which is the greater. ‘But that is all one with the proverb, to buy the marsh with the salt’: i. e. to take the fat with the lean; the bad with the good; the unprofitable and unwholesome marsh (palus inamabilis, Virg. G. IV 479, Aen. VI 438) with the profitable salt which is inseparably connected with it. An argument pro and con, but only of the first kind, Top. XIII, by comparing the good and the bad consequence, according as you are for or against the purchase. An Italian proverb to the same effect is quoted in Buhle's note, comprare il mel con le mosche; and the opposite, the good without the bad, appears in the Latin, sine sacris haereditas, Plaut. Capt. IV 1. 5 (Schrad.). [We may also contrast the proverb μηδὲ μέλι, μηδὲ μελίσσας: ἐπὶ τῶν μὴ βουλομένων παθεῖν τι ἀγαθὸν μετὰ ἀπευκτοῦ (Diogenianus, cent. vi, 58). Cf. Sappho, fragm. 113.] There is an evident intention in the association of ἕλος and ἅλας: the alliterative jingle, as in so many other proverbs (παθήματα μαθήματα, safe bind safe find), sharpens the point, and helps its hold on the memory. Some MSS have ἔλαιον for ἕλος, which is expressed in the Vet. Tr. Lat., ‘olim (oleum) emi et sales,’ and by other interpreters; and also adopted by Erasmus, Adag., oleum et salem oportet emere; ‘to be in want of oil and salt,’ implying insanity, against which this mixture was supposed to be a specific. Victorius, referring to the Schol. on Arist. Nub. 1237, ἁλσὶν διασμηχθεὶς ὄναιτ᾽ ἂν οὑτοσί, who notes τοὺς παραφρονοῦντας ἁλσὶ καὶ ἐλαίῳ διέβρεχον, καὶ ὠφελοῦντο, supposes that some copyist having this in his mind altered ἕλος into ἔλαιον. At all events the proverb in this interpretation has no meaning or applicability here. In the following paragraph (καὶ ἡ βλαίσωσις...ἑκατέροις) the meaning of βλαίσωσις, the application of the metaphor, and its connexion with what follows, which appears to be intended as an exemplification or explanation of the use of βλαίσωσις, are, and are likely to remain, alike unintelligible. The Commentators and Lexicographers are equally at fault; Spengel in his recent commentary passes the passage over in absolute silence: Victorius, who reasonably supposes that βλαίσωσις (metaphorically) represents some figure of rhetorical argument, candidly admits that nothing whatsoever is known of its meaning and use, and affords no help either in the explanation of the metaphor, or its connexion with what seems to be the interpretation of it. Buhle, and W. Dindorf, ap. Steph. Thes. s. v. praevaricatio; Vet. Lat. Tr. claudicatio; Riccoboni inversio. Vater discreetly says nothing; and Schrader that which amounts to nothing. After all these failures I cannot hope for any better success; and I will merely offer a few remarks upon the passage, with a view to assist others as far as I can in their search for a solution. βλαισός and ῥαιβός, valgus and varus, all of them express a deformity or divergence from the right line, or standard shape, in the legs and feet. The first (which is not always explained in the same way2) seems to correspond to our ‘bow-legged’, that is having the leg and foot bent outwards: for it was applied to the hind legs of frogs, βλαισοπόδης βάτραχος, poet. ap. Suidam. And Etym. M. (conf. Poll. 2. 193,) interprets it, ὁ τοὺς πόδας εἰς τὰ ἔξω διεστραμμένος (with his feet distorted so as to turn outwards) καὶ τῷ Λ στοιχείῳ ἐοικώς; so that it seems that it may represent the act of straddling. The adj. itself and some derivatives not unfrequently occur in Ar.'s works on Nat. Hist.; likewise in Galen, once in Xenophon, de re Eq. I 3, and, rarely in other authors; but βλαίσωσις appears to be a ἅπαξ λεγόμενον. ῥαιβός is the opposite defect to this, ‘bandy-legged’, where the legs turn inwards. And to these correspond valgus and varus: the first, qui suras et crura habet extrorsum intortas, of which Petronius says, crura in orbem pandit; and Martial, crura... simulant quae cornua lunae. Huic contrarius est varus, qui introrsus pedes et crura obtorta habet. “Vari dicuntur incurva crura habentes.” Festus (ap. Facc.). Heindorf ad Hor. Sat. I. 3, 47. G. Dindorf (in Steph. Thes.) explains it by praevaricatio, quoting Cic. Orat. Partit. XXXVI 126, (praevaricator definitur) ex nomine ipso, quod significat eum qui in contrariis caussis quasi vare (Edd. varie) esse positus videatur3. If we revert to the derivation, and apparently the original meaning, of the word, following Cicero, and understand it as ‘a deviation from the right’ course or path, by a metaphor from bent or distorted legs, praevaricatio might be taken as expressing by a similar metaphor the general meaning of βλαίσωσις; but in its ordinary acceptation of ‘the betrayal of his client by an advocate, and collusion with his opponent’—in which Buhle and the Translators must be supposed to understand it, since they offer no other explanation—it seems altogether inappropriate. So however Rost and Palm, in their Lexicon. The translation, as the passage stands, is ‘and the βλαίσωσις is, or consists in, this, when each (either) of two contraries is followed (accompanied) by a good and an ill consequence, each contrary to each’, (as in a proposition of Euclid). This is a generalisation of the example in Top. XIV: the two contraries are the fair and unfair speaking; each of which has its favourable and unfavourable consequence; truth, the love of God and hatred of men; falsehood, the love of men and hatred of God. But how this is connected with βλαίσωσις I confess myself unable to discover. The nearest approach I have been able to make to it—which I only mention to condemn—is to understand βλαίσωσις of the straddling of the legs, the Λ of the Etymol. M., which might possibly represent the divergence of the two inferences pro and con deducible from the topic of consequences: but not only is this common to all rhetorical argumentation, and certainly not characteristic of this particular topic, but it also loses sight of the deviation from a true standard, which we have supposed this metaphorical application of the term to imply.
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