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ἐὰν γὰρὕδρας. The gen. τῶν ἐμῶν σφαγῶν depends on the prep. in ἀμφίθρεπτον, ‘coagulated around the wound.’ ἐνέγκῃ χερσίν: for the midd., cp. 558ἀνειλόμην” (n.). The phrase seems to imply a careful collecting of the blood with a cioth. μελαγχόλους κ.τ.λ.: ‘at the part (of the wound) where the monstrous hydra has tinged the arrow with black gall’: i.e., ‘where the hydra's gall, with which the arrow is tinged, can be traced,’—by a darker tint in that portion of the blood with which it has mixed. When the arrow was withdrawn from the wound, there would be a gush of blood, but some parts of the blood would have been more affected by the venom than others; and Nessus wishes her to take the most envenomed parts. The stress is on μελαγχόλους, and the whole phrase is a compressed way of saying, “ μέλας χόλος ἐστίν, <*> ἰοὺς ὕδρα ἔβαψεν” (cp. O. T.1451 n.). For the proleptic adj., cp. Ant.475ὀπτὸν...περισκελῆ”: for the plur. ἰούς (referring to the single arrow of 567), Ai.231ξίφεσιν”, El.196γενύων”. The double barb makes such a plur. intelligible. Heracles cannot have shot twice.

θρέμμαὕδρας: cp. 508 n.: so “θρέμμα” refers to a monster in 1093 and 1099. For the periphrasis, cp. Legg. 790 D “τὰ νεογενῆ παίδων θρέμματα.—Λερναίας”: dwelling in the marsh of Lerna, on the Argolic coast, s. of Argos. Apollod.2. 5. 2τὸ δὲ σῶμα τῆς ὕδρας ἀνασχίσας τῇ χολῇ τοὺς ὀϊστοὺς ἔβαψεν”.

Others explain thus:—‘If thou gather the blood from my wound, clotted around (the arrow), at the place where the hydra has tinged it,’ etc., i.e., at the arrow's head. This is quite possible, but is open to objections. (1) The language in 557 f. (“παρὰ Νέσσου...ἐκ φονῶν”) implies that she obtained the blood directly from the body, not from the arrow-head. (2) The phrase ἐνέγκῃ χερσίν here favours the same view.

If we adopted the conjecture μελάγχολοςἰός, the latter word would mean ‘venom,’ and θρέμμα ‘issue’ (cp. 834ἔτρεφε δ᾽ αἰόλος δράκων”): the object of ἔβαψεν would be “αὐτάς” (the wound), The objection is that the wily monster does not wish to draw Deianeira's attention to the venom;—as he would then do very pointedly. He is content to speak of the dark colour (“μελαγχόλους”).

Ovid describes the incident thus:—The arrow is withdrawn, and the blood flows from the wound, “mixtus Lernaei tabe veneni:” Nessus then presents Deianeira with a garment steeped in the blood (“velamina tincta cruore”): Met.9. 129 ff.

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hide References (9 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (9):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 2.5.2
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 231
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 475
    • Sophocles, Electra, 196
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 1451
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 508
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 558
    • Sophocles, Trachiniae, 834
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 9.129
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