previous next

Top. XXVIII. The argument, ἀπὸ τοῦ ὀνόματος, significant names: “which draws an inference from the signification of a name.” Brandis. A dialectical topic akin to, but by no means identical with, this, (the one is confined to surnames, the other extends to all words in general,) occurs in Top. B 6, 112 a 32, to consider the derivation and signification of names with a view to applying them as suits the immediate purpose: which coincides more nearly with Cicero's topic, quum ex vi nominis argumentum elicitur, quam Graeci ἐτυμολογίαν vocant Top. VIII. 35 seq., than with the rhetorical form of it as it appears here; though both of the others may be regarded as including this special rhetorical application. But in the rhetorical treatise, the de Inv. II 9. 28, we have the same use of names (i. e. surnames) suggested as by Ari stotle: Nam et de nomine nonnumquam aliquid suspicionis nascitur... ut si dicamus idcirco aliquem Caldum vocari, quod temerario et repentino consilio sit.

Quintilian, V 10. 30, 31, thinks that an argument can seldom be drawn from a surname, except in the case of such significant names as are assigned for a reason, as Sapiens (Cato and Laelius), Magnus (Pompey), and Plenus (?): or where the name is not significant, but suggests a crime—as the name Cornelius, in the case of Lentulus, was suggestive of conspiracy (for a reason there given). The use of the name recommended by Aristotle's topic (which he does not mention) is pronounced, in the case of Euripides—who represents Eteocles as attacking the name of his brother Polynices, πολὺ νεῖκος, ut argumentum morum— as insipid and tasteless, frigidum. It is however ‘a frequent material for jokes; especially in the hands of Cicero, who freely employs it, as in the case of Verres’. The passage of Euripides referred to, is Phoen. 636—7; Eteocles terminates the altercation with his brother with the two lines, ἔξιθ᾽ ἐκ χώρας: ἀληθῶς δ̓ ὄνομα Πολυνείκῃ πατὴρ ἔθετο σοι θείᾳ προνοίᾳ νεικέων ἐπώνυμον. With this use of significant names all readers of the Greek Tragic poets are familiar. It is not to be regarded in them as a mere play on words, but they read in the significant name the character or destiny of its bearer: and thus employed they have a true tragic interest. It is singular therefore that Elmsley, who had certainly studied the Greek dramatists with care and attention, should, on Bacch. 508, after citing a number of examples, end his note with this almost incredible observation, “Haec non modo ψυχρά sunt” (is the epithet borrowed from Quintilian?), “verum etiam tragicos malos fuisse grammaticos. Quid enim commune habent Ἀπόλλων et ἀπολλύναι praeter soni similitudinem?” And this is all that is suggested by Ajax's pathetic exclamation, αἶ αἶ τίς ἄν ποτ᾽ ᾤετ̓ κ.τ.λ. Soph. Aj. 430, and the rest! Elmsley has omitted Aesch. S. c. T. 658, ἐπωνύμῳ δὲ κάρτα Πολυνείκη λέγω, from his list; and Eur. Antiope, Fr. 1 (Dind., Wagner), and Fragm. 2, Ibid. Agath. Fragm. Thyest. 1 ap. Wagn. Fr. Tr. Gr. III 74. Add from other sources, Dante Div. Com. Purg. XIII. 109, Savia non fui, avvegna che Sapia fossi chiamata. Shaksp. Rich. II., Act II. Sc. 1 73, Gaunt. O how that name befits my composition! Old Gaunt indeed; and gaunt in being old, &c. The king asks, Can sick men play so nicely with their names? No, is the reply, misery makes sport to mock itself, &c.: which is not a bad answer to Elmsley's objection. This tracing of the character or destiny in the name is particularly common in the Hebrew of the Old Test., as the well-known instance of Genesis xxvii. 36, ‘Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times.’ The practice, which seems to be a suggestion of nature itself, is thus shewn to have prevailed in various times, nations and languages.

The line of Soph. is from his Tyro, Fragm. 1 (Fr. Soph. 563), Dind. Sidero, Tyronis noverca: Fragm. IX, Wagn. Fragm. Trag. Gr. II 413, “Egregie Brunck. versum huc rettulit, quo haud dubie Sideronis crudelitas in Tyronem exagitatur.” On the Tragedy and its contents, Wagner u. s. p. 410. Victorius and Gaisford cite Eustath. ad Il. A p. 158, et ad Il. Γ 379=287. 35, καὶ εἰσὶν ἀληθῶς φερώνυμα τὸ σίντιες οἱ παρ᾽ Ὁμήρῳ...ὡς... κατὰ τὴν παροιμιαζομένην Σιδηρὼ θρασεῖαν ἐκείνην γυναῖκα, φοροῖεν τὸ οἰκεῖον ὄνομα. In the second passage the latter part of this is repeated.

καὶ ὡς ἐν τοῖς τῶν θεῶν ἐπαίνοις] “Fortasse intelligit iis nominibus vocari eos tunc solitos quae vim et potestatem eorum declararent.” Victorius. It may perhaps refer to the ‘significant names’ derived from their attributes or occupations, by which deities are designated, and which as special distinctions would naturally occur in the hymns addressed to them. These may sometimes be substituted for their proper names, and may furnish arguments of praise.

The Conon and Thrasybulus here mentioned are doubtless, as may be inferred from the absence of any special designation, the Conon, the victor of Cnidus (394 B. C.), and the Thrasybulus, the expeller of the Thirty and restorer of the demus in 403: though there are several others bearing both of these names in Sauppe's Ind. Nom. ad Or. Att. III. pp. 63, 4, 81, 2. Thrasybulus is named by Demosth., de Cor. § 219, as one of the most distinguished orators among his predecessors, together with Callistratus, Aristophon, and Cephalus; the two first of these we have had mentioned in the Rhetoric. In de F. L. § 320, he is called τοῦ δημοτικοῦ (the popular Thrasybulus, the people's friend, καὶ τοῦ ἀπὸ Φυλῆς καταγαγόντος τὸν δῆμον. Conon and he were contemporaries. Conon died soon after 392 B. C., Clinton, F. H. sub anno 388. 3, Thrasybulus, “perhaps in the beginning of B.C. 389.” Ib. sub anno 390. His name, according to Conon, fitly represented the rashness of his counsels and character. Grote, H. G. IX 509 [chap. LXXV.], in describing the character of Thrasybulus, omits to notice this.

In like manner the name of Thrasymachus, the rhetorician, is significant of the hardihood and pugnacity which were combined in his character. The sketch given of him in the first book of Plato's Republic is in exact correspondence with this. “Always true to your name,” rash and combative, said Herodicus to him, doubtless provoked by some rudeness of the Sophist in the course of a dialectical disputation. There were two Herodicuses, both physicians; see note on I 5. 10. Doubtless this again is the better known of the two, Herodicus of Selymbria in Thrace; of whose medical practice Plato gives an account, Rep. III 406 A seq. In a similar dispute with Polus, another Sophist and Rhetorician, (whose character, in perfect agreement with this, is likewise sketched by Plato in his Gorgias, where he is said to be νέος καὶ ὀξύς1,) Herodicus again reminds him of the significance of his name, “Colt by name and colt by nature2.” And lastly this inveterate punster applies the same process to ‘Dracon the legislator’, declaring ‘that his laws were not those of a man, but of a dragon; so cruel were they’. Aristotle, Pol. II 12 sub finem, says of Draco's laws, that they had nothing peculiar, but χαλεπότης, διὰ τὸ τῆς ζημίας μέγεθος. Nearly every offence was made punishable with death. Hence Demades said of them that they “were written not in ink, but in blood.” Plut. Sol. 17. Tzetzes, Chil. 5, line 342 sqq. ap. Sauppe, Fragm. Demad. 17, Orat. Att. III 316; Grote, H. G. III 202 [chap. X.], whence our Draconian legislation.

The verse that follows is from Eur.'s Troades 990, where Hecuba is answering Helen, who had been arguing the invincible power of Love. “All follies are to mortals Aphrodite” (are attributed by men to this passion, ‘take the form of Aphrodite’ in their fancy), ‘and rightly does the goddess' name begin the word ἀφροσύνη.’ Ἀφροδίτη and Ἀφροσύνη have the first half of the word in common.

Πενθεύς, κ.τ.λ.] ‘Pentheus that bearest the name of thy future fortune’. Comp. Bacch. 367 and 508, and Theocr. Id. XXVI. 26, ἐξ ὄρεος πένθημα καὶ οὐ Πενθῆα φέρουσαι.

Probably from Chaeremon's Dionysus, quoted three times in Athenaeus (Elms. ad Eur. Bacch. 508), and also probably, like the Bacchae, on the story of Pentheus. Chaeremon's fondness for flowers and the vegetable creation in general, noticed by Athen. XIII. 608 D, appears throughout the fragments preserved. See infra III 12. 2 where he is spoken of as ἀκριβής, ὥσπερ λογογράφος, on which see note in Introd. ad loc. p. 325.

On Chaeremon see Müller Hist. Gr. Lit. XXVI 6, and the Art. in Smith's Dict. Biogr. s. v. He is a poet whose plays are more suited for reading than acting, ἀναγνωστικός, Rhet. III u. s. He is quoted again by Ar. Probl. III 16. In Poet. I 12, his Centaur is spoken of as a μικτὴ ῥαψῳδία, on the import of which see the two writers above referred to; and in Poet. 24. 11, this blending of heterogeneous elements is again alluded to. See also Meineke, Hist. Crit. Com. Gr. p. 517 seq. Chaeremon is one of those who have been erroneously included amongst the Comic poets. Wagner, Fr. Trag. Gr. III 127—147. Clint. F. H. Vol. II. Introd. p. xxxii.

1 [p. 463 E.] A very brief summary of the leading points of Polus' character as he appears in the Gorgias, is given amongst the ‘dramatis personae’ of the Introd. to transl. of Gorg. p. lxxvii.

2 This most ingenious rendering was given by Dr Thompson, then Greek Professor, in a lecture delivered Feb. 6, 1854. [Introd. to ed. of Gorg. p. v.]

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: