previous next


καὶ οἱ ἐπίδεξιοι] Arist. has changed his construction from the accus. to the nomin., from the objects to the subjects of liking—for love is here out of the question: these are men who are popular and agreeable in society. We may supply φιλοῦνται, or ῥαδίως φίλοι γίγνονται. ‘And those who are dexterous at replying and submitting to raillery—who can take, as well as give, a joke, gibe—’ (for here again there is community of sentiment, another instance of fellow-feeling ταὐτὸ φαίνεται ἀγαθόν, the foundation of friendship) ‘for the mind of each party is set upon (their efforts are directed to, σπεύδουσι) the same thing (mutual amusement, a friendly reciprocity in amusing each other) as (that of) his neighbour, (the opposite in the ‘wit-combat’ or jesting-match), and each of them is equally capable of taking a joke, and returning the taunt, but neatly, gracefully, with propriety’.

ἐπιδέξιος is one of those adjectives compounded with ἐπί, in which the preposition expresses either the tendency or inclination (lit. direction), or the liability to anything, which is defined in the second part of the compound. ἐπιδέξιος is a man that has a tendency to the use of his right hand, the sign of skill and dexterity; the right and left hand being severally the symbols of dexterity or cleverness and awkwardness; dexter, laevus; δεξιός, δεξιότης, σκαιός, ἀριστερός; gauche.

Another secondary notion, propitious and unpropitious, belonging to these terms, is derived from the observations of augury, according as the omens appear on the right or left hand: but in Latin, at all events, the notion of ‘awkwardness’ conveyed by laevus, and the opposite by dexter, cannot have been suggested by this, because in their practice omens on the left, laeva, sinistra, were favourable.

ἐπιδέξιος is therefore one who has a tendency to δεξιότης, and follows the analogy of ἐπικίνδυνος, ἐπιθάνατος (liable to danger and death), ἐπαίτιος, ἐπίδικος, ἐπίκαιρος or ἐπικαίριος, ἐπιλήσμων, ἐπιζήμιος, ἐπίμομφος, ἐπίλυπος, ἐπίνοσος, ἐπίκλοπος, ἐπιμελής, ἐπίμαχος, ἐπαναγκής, ἐπιεικής, ἐπίδοξος (‘one who is expected to’... liable to that expectation, Isocr. Areop. § 48). ὑπό in comp. has very nearly the same signification, derived from the ‘subjection’ which it implies. So ὑπεύθυνος (subject or liable to a scrutiny), ὑπόδικος, ὑπόλογος (amenable to an account, accountable, responsible), by metaphor from the analogy of ὑπόσκιος ‘under the shade of’, ὕποσμος, Arist. de Anima, II 9, 421 b 12. ὑπόστεγος, ὑπαίθριος, ὕπομβρος, ὑπόφορος, ὑπόσπονδος.

τωθάζειν is a variety of σκώπτειν, to gird at, mock, jeer at, some one in particular; both of them (as well as others of the same class) being distinguished from other forms of wit or pleasantry by their personal direction, or personality. The word occurs in Plato and Aristophanes, Vesp. 1362 and 1368, and once in Herodotus [II 60]. It is plain from the application of it, for instance in the passages of Aristophanes, that its special meaning is what we now call ‘chaffing’ or ‘poking fun at’, the repartees, or witticisms, mostly of a highly personal character, which pass between the combatants in what is also nowadays called ‘a slanging match’. This is confirmed by the use of the word in Arist. Pol. IV (VII) 17, 1336 b 17. The author is there condemning the practice of αἰσχρολογία, ‘indecent language’, which should not be tolerated in a model state. An exception however is made in favour of certain seasons of especial licence, as at the Eleusinian mysteries, and the orgies of particular deities to whose worship this τωθασμός ‘licentious raillery’ was appropriate, and permitted by law, οἷς καὶ τὸν τωθασμὸν ἀποδίδωσιν νόμος: such were Dionysus during the celebration of the Bacchanalia, Aphrodite, Priapus, Hermaphroditus, Ilythia, and others; see Schneider ad loc. Comp. Addenda p. 509, and Eaton.

All this is abundantly illustrated in the Chorus of the Ranae, 316— 430. It is descriptive of the wild license that prevailed, and of the indecent language of the τωθασμός that was then allowed—see particularly the application of the τωθασμός, in the shape of indecent personalities, 416—430; and the τωθασμός is there represented by various phrases indicative of its character, τὰν ἀκόλαστον φιλαπαίγμονα τιμάν, 334; βωμολόχοις ἔπεσι, ‘scurrilous’ phrases, 358; κἀπισκώπτων καὶ παίζων καὶ χλευάζω<*>, 375; παίσαντα καὶ σκώψαντα; and finally (as already mentioned) by the specimen given at the end. Comp. Vesp. 1362, ἵν᾽ αὐτὸν τωθάσω νεανικῶς οἵοις ποθ̓ οὗτος ἐμὲ πρὸ τῶν μυστηρίων. This license of language, allowed during the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries, reached its height at the bridge over the Cephissus, which was crossed and recrossed by the initiated on their way to and from Eleusis; where they were doubtless also awaited by a very numerous mob quite ready to take part in the fun. Hence γεφυρίζειν and γεφυρισμός, ἐξ ἁμάξης λέγειν. Bentl. Phal. I p. 335, Monk's Ed. [p. 307, ed. Wagner]. See on this also Müller, Hist. of Gk. Lit. c. XI § 5, p. 132, Engl. Tr.

A similar license of language and conduct was permitted at the Roman Saturnalia, ‘the slaves' holiday’: and was also illustrated by the Fescennina, or Fescennine verses (Liv. VII 2), in which the countryfolk (and afterwards the townsfolk) assailed and ridiculed one another in extemporaneous verses. Fescennina per hunc inventa licentia morem, versibus alternis opprobria rustica fudit, Hor. Ep. II 1. 145; procax Fescennina locutio, Catull. 61. 124; Victorius ad Arist. Pol. IV (VII) 17, u. s. quotes Athenaeus, XIV 622 E, of the φαλλοφόροι, εἶτα προστρέχοντες ἐτώθαζον οὓς προέλοιντο.

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: