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ἐπικέσθαι μάστιγι = μαστιγῶσαι, hence with double accusative. For ἐφικέσθαι cf. Plat. Hipp. Maj. 292 Α ἂν τύχῃ βακτηρίαν ἔχων . . . εὖ μάλα μου ἐφικέσθαι πειράσεται: cf. also Soph. O. T. 809.

Clearly to H. the implication was that the Hellespont was a slave to be scourged and chained; cf. Juv. x. 183, Mayor ad loc. The scourging, has, however, been interpreted (Spiegel, Eranisch. Alter. ii. 191) as a religious ceremony, or an attempt by magical rites to compel the Hellespont to submit. Again, the chains have been supposed to be an over-literal interpretation of Aeschylus' figurative description of the bridges (Pers. 746) ὅστις Ἑλλήσποντον ἱρόν, δοῦλον ὥς, δεσμώμασιν ἤλπισε σχήσειν ῥέοντα, Βόσπορον, ῥόον θεοῦ, | καὶ πόρον μετερρύθμιζε, καὶ πέδαις σφυρηλάτοις περιβαλὼν πολλὴν κέλευθον ἤνυσεν πολλῷ στρατῷ (Thirlwall, Stein, &c.). But H., who found the supposed branding suspicious, considered the other punishments (again alleged, ch. 54. 3; viii. 109. 3) a natural trait in Xerxes, in consonance with other rewards and punishments bestowed or inflicted by Persians on irrational or inanimate things iii. 16; vii. 54, 88). Religious and legal survivals show us how common the idea once was. Thus at Athens animals which had killed a human being, as well as inanimate instruments of death, were tried for murder (Ath. Pol. 57, ad fin.; Dem. Aristocr. 76, p. 645), and this old-world practice is approved by Plato (Laws, pp. 873-4). So Pausanias has recorded the punishment of two statues for accidental homicide (v. 27. 10; vi. 11. 6). The same point is illustrated by the ritual of the Bouphonia, Paus. i. 24. 4 (Frazer ad loc.), i. 28. 11; the guilt of slaying the ox is cast on the inanimate axe or knife. In the Zendavesta (Vendid. xiii. 5. 31) a dog (cf. Plut. Sol. 24), in the Jewish law an ox (Exodus xxi. 28), might be punished for murder. Animals were frequently tried in courts on the continent of Europe from A.D. 1120 to 1740. Finally, ‘an Old English law only repealed in the reign of Victoria ordained that a beast that killed a man, a cartwheel that ran over him, or a tree that fell on him and killed him, was deodand, given to God, i. e. forfeited and sold for the benefit of the poor’ (Tylor, P. C. i. 286; Frazer, Paus. ii. 371. 2).

ἤδη δὲ ἤκουσα: of a variant or additional story not credited by the author; cf. iv. 77. 2 n.

στιγέας. Runaway slaves were branded on the forehead as a punishment; cf. Arist. Av. 760δραπέτης ἐστιγμένος”, and Diphilus, ap. Athen. 225; and for Roman parallels Juv. xiv. 24 with Mayor's note. The branding of the Thebans (ch. 233. 2 n.) is probably a malicious tale.

θύει: as to other water and rivers (i. 131. 2, 138. 2; cf. vii. 113. 2). The contempt for salt water, compared with the fertilizing water of springs and rivers, seems a genuinely Iranian view.

ποταμῷ. The narrow land-locked Hellespont, with a stream running some three knots an hour, presents to a person sailing in it the appearance of a river: hence to Homer it is ἀγάρροος, and (for a river) πλατύς and ἀπείρων.

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hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (5):
    • Aristophanes, Birds, 760
    • Aristotle, Constitution of the Athenians, 57
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.24.4
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 809
    • Plutarch, Solon, 24
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