ὀλίγιστον, a superl. used not only in epic poetry but also by Attic writers (as Ar. and Plat. ), is right here. The MS. ὀλιγοστόν cannot be defended by Aristoph. Pax 559 “πολλοστῷ χρόνῳ”, which is merely another form of “πολλοστῷ ἔτει” (Cratinus jun. “Χείρ”. 1); i.e. “πολλοστός” has its proper sense, ‘one of many’ (multesimus), and the “χρόνος”, like the “ἔτος”, is conceived as the last of a series. So “ὀλιγοστὸς χρόνος” would mean, not, ‘a fraction of time,’ but, ‘one in a small number of “χρόνοι”’ or periods. In Arist. Metaph. 9. 1. 14 most MSS., and the best, have “ὀλίγιστον...χρόνον”: while Ab (cod. Laur. 87. 12) is the only MS. cited in the Berlin ed. (p. 1053 a 9) for “ὀλιγοστόν”. And otherwise “ὀλιγοστός” occurs only in later Greek, as Anton. 51 “καταβὰς ὀλιγοστός”, ‘having gone to the coast with a small retinue’; Caes. 49 “ὀλιγοστῷ τοσαύτην ἀμυνομένῳ πόλιν” ‘fighting so great a State with a small force.’— πράσσει … ἐκτὸς ἄτας, like “πράσσει καλῶς”: so “πράσσειν κατὰ νοῦν” (Plat. Rep. 366B, Aristoph. Eq. 549). ἄτας is here ‘calamity’ (as in 584, 614), while in the last verse “ἄταν” is rather ‘infatuation.’—Donaldson changed “ἄτας” here to “ἄλγους”, because the strophe (614) also ends with “ἐκτὸς ἄτας”. On the other hand Dindorf ejects “ἐκτὸς ἄτας” from 614 (leaving a lacuna). But I believe “ἐκτὸς ἄτας” to be genuine in both places, as “οὐδὲν ἕρπει” also is both in 613 and in 618. We have to remember, first, that Soph. (like other ancient poets) easily tolerated repetition of words (see on O. C. 554); secondly, that tragic lyrics could admit refrains, and might, by a kindred instinct, permit such verbal echoes as these.
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