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ἂνᾤεθ̓, ‘could have thought’; cp. 119τίς ἂν..ηὑρέθη;

ἐπώνυμον here goes closely with ξυνοίσειν, ‘would agree so significantly’ with my woes. Hence in 914 he is called “δυσώνυμος”. For the verb, cp. Ar. Eq. 1232καὶ μήν σ᾽ ἐλέγξαι βούλομαι τεκμηρίῳ”, | “εἴ τι ξυνοίσεις τοῦ θεοῦ τοῖς θεσφάτοις”, i.e., ‘agree’ with the description of the person mentioned in them. For the adj., cp. Hom. Od. 7. 54Ἀρήτη δ᾽ ὄνομ᾽ ἐστὶν ἐπώνυμον”: ib. 19. 409 “τῷ δ᾽ Ὀδυσεὺς ὄνομ᾽ ἔστω ἐπώνυμον”: where in each case “ἐπώνυμον” means that the name is significant (the queen was the ‘desired one’; the child was to be ‘a man of wrath’). This usage of “ἐπώνυμος”, with ref. to the aptness of a name (or surname), is different from that in which a person or thing is said to be “ἐπώνυμός τινος”, either as (1) being named from it, or (2) giving a name to it. Cp. 574.

Pindar adopts the derivation of “Αἴας” from “αἰετός”: I. 5. 53 “καί νιν ὄρνιχος φανέντος κέκλετ᾽ ἐπώνυμον εὐρυβίαν Αἴαντα”. This was the popular etymology (schol. Apoll. Rh. 1. 1289; schol. Theocr. 13. 37: Apollod. 3. 12 § 7). But the association of “Αἴας” with “αἶ αἶ” appears in the legend that a hyacinth (on whose petals the letters AI were supposed to be legible, Moschus 3. 6) sprang from the blood of Ajax, as it had sprung from that of Hyacinthus: Ov. Met. 13. 397:Littera communis mediis pueroque viroque | Inscripta est foliis; haec nominis (Ajax), illa querelae” (the wail of Hyacinthus).

So Odysseus was associated with “ὀδύσσομαι” ( Od. 1. 62τί νύ οἱ τόσον ὠδύσαο, Ζεῦ”; imitated by Soph. , fr. 880): Pentheus, with “πένθος” ( Eur. Bacch. 507): Polyneices, with “νεῖκος” ( Aesch. Th. 577, etc., Soph. Ant. 110 f.): Meleager, with “μελέα ἄγρα” ( Eur. fr. 517): Sidêro with “σίδηρος” ( Soph. fr. 597): and Helen is “ἐλέναυς”, etc. ( Aesch. Ag. 689).

Such play on names did not seem to the Greeks unworthy of grave poetry, because to them the omens conveyed by words (“ὀμφαί, κληδόνες”) were so serious. In modern poetry, too, it has sometimes been used with tragic pathos. Thus Dante Purg. XIII. 109 “Savia non fui, avvegna che Sapía Fossi chiamata:” and Shakesp. Rich. II. act 2 sc. 1. 73 (Gaunt) “O how that name befits my composition! | Old Gaunt indeed; and gaunt in being old” etc. The king asks, “Can sick men play so nicely with their names? No”, is the reply, “misery makes sport to mock itself.

The real etymology of “Αἴας” is uncertain. Vase-inscriptions show that the original form was “Αἴϝας”, and Sonne (in Kuhn's Zeitschr. 10 p. 126) compares Indog. aiva, Skr. eva (‘course’)—a derivation which Brugmann approves (Stud. z. griech. u. lat. Gramm. 4. 180). The sense, ‘swift runner,’ would suit “Οἰλῆος ταχὺς Αἴας” better than the son of Telamon: and it is not improbable (as Fleischer suggests in Roscher's Lex.p. 139) that the names of the two heroes, though identical in form, were of distinct origin.

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hide References (14 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (14):
    • Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 689
    • Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes, 577
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.12.7
    • Aristophanes, Knights, 1232
    • Euripides, Bacchae, 507
    • Homer, Odyssey, 1.62
    • Homer, Odyssey, 7.54
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 119
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 574
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 110
    • Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 1.1289
    • Theocritus, Idylls, 13
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 13.397
    • William Shakespeare, Richard II, 2.1
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