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Λύκιόν τε ποτόν. There can be no doubt that Λύκιον is the true reading: the corruption γλύκιον, facilitated by the use of a small “λ” as initial, may have been due simply to the fact that the Greeks, like ourselves, spoke of ‘fresh’ water as ‘sweet’ (“γλυκύ”, as dist. from “ἁλμυρόν”). The “Λύκιον ποτόν” must be a spring, or fount, in Lemnos, so called after Apollo “Λύκιος”. There was a more elaborate legend,—that this god, wishing to alleviate the sufferings of Philoctetes, had caused two fountains to arise in the island,—one of wine, and the other of honey. (Zenobius 4. 99, etc.: cp. Hermann's note here.) We do not know whether this “Λύκιον ποτόν” had been mentioned by any poet before Sophocles, —by Lesches, for example: but the way in which the name is introduced favours that supposition. Perhaps, indeed, a ‘Lycian’ fount at Lemnos may have been well known to Athenians in the poet's day.

Traces of Apollo “Λύκιος” in Lemnos are not surprising. From early times he had been worshipped under that title, not only in the valley of the Xanthus, but also in the Troad (cp. Il. 4. 101, with Leaf's note). A gloss in Hesychius (s.v. “Λυκαῖον”) points to a cognate worship of Apollo in the neighbouring islet of Chrysè. “Λύκιος” and “Λύκειος” may both alike be referred to “λυκ”, as designating the god of light. In actual Greek usage, while “Λύκειος” was usually connected with the idea of “λυκοκτόνος” ( O. T. 203 n.), “Λύκιος” was chiefly associated with Lycia. But, instead of the title “Λύκιος” being derived thence, it is more likely that the country of the people once called Trem[icaron]lae took its name from the cult of the “Λύκιος”. (Cp. Preller, I. 202.)

It has been objected to the mention of “κρῆναι” that at v. 717 Ph. was described as having only “στατὸν ὕδωρ”: but that was merely the conjecture of the Chorus. Cp. 21ποτὸν κρηναῖον”.

hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Homer, Iliad, 4.101
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 203
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 21
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