But Aristophanes the grammarian, in his Commentary on the Tablets of Callimachus, laughs at those who do not know the difference between the two expressions, κατὰ χειρὸς and ἀπονίψασθαι; for he says that among the ancients the way in which people washed their hands before breakfast and supper was called κατὰ χειρὸς, but what was done after those meals was called ἀπονίψασθαι. But the grammarian appears to have taken this observation from the Attic writers, since Homer says, somewhere or other—
Marshall'd in order due, to each a sewerAnd somewhere else he says—
Presents, to bathe his hands (νίψασθαι), a radiant ewer;
Luxuriant then they feast.
The golden ewer a maid obsequious brings,And Sophron, in his Female Actresses, says—
Replenish'd from the cool translucent springs,
With copious water the bright vase supplies,
A silver laver of capacious size;
They wash (ὕδωρ ἐπὶ χεῖρας ἔχευαν). The tables in fair order spread,
They heap the glittering canisters with bread.
O hard-work'd Cæcoa, give us water for our hands (κατὰ χειρὸς),And among both the tragic and comic writers the word χερνίβα is read with an acute accent on the penultima. By Euripides, in his Hercules—
And then prepare the table for our food.
Which great Alcmena's son might in the basin (χερνίβα) dip.And also by Eupolis, in his Goats—
Here make an end of your lustration (χερνίβα).[p. 645] And χέρνιψ means the water into which they used to dip a firebrand which they took from the altar on which they were offering the sacrifice, and then sprinkling the bystanders with it, they purified them. But the accusative χερνιβα ought to be written with an acute accent on the antepenultima; for all compound words like that, ending in ψ, derived from the perfect passive, preserve the vowel of the penultima of that perfect tense. And if the perfect ends its penultimate syllable with a double μμ, then the derivative has a grave on the ultima, as λέλειμμαι αἰγίλιψ, τέτριμμαι οἰκότριψ, κέκλεμμαι βοόκλεψ (a word found in Sophocles and applied to Mercury), βέβλεμμαι κατώβλεψ (a word found in Archelaus of the Chersonese, in his poem on Things of a Peculiar Nature: and in the oblique cases such words keep the accent on the same syllable. And Aristophanes, in his Heroes, has used the word χερνίβιον.