previous next

This is perhaps the strongest profession of faith in oracles to be found in H., often as he delights to notice the fulfilment of prophecy (cf. ch. 20. 1 n., 96; ix. 43). His faith is in marked contrast with the scepticism of Thucydides (ii. 17, 54; v. 26). Probably the ordinary Athenian leaned to the side of faith. During the Peloponnesian war, oracles attributed to ancient seers, above all to Bacis (ch. 20. 1 n.), were widely current at Athens (Thuc. ii. 8, 21). The keenness of the conflict between superstition and scepticism is shown by the frequent parodies of oracles in Aristophanes (Eq. 120 f., 997 f.; Pax 1060 f.; cf. inf.).

The beginning ἀλλ᾽ ὅταν was common in oracles (i. 55. 2; iii. 57. 4; vi. 77. 2), and was therefore (with the variation ἀλλ᾽ ὅποταν) affected by the parodist, Arist. Eq. 197; Av. 967; Lysis. 770.

χρυσαόρου: an epithet of Apollo ‘of the golden sword’ (Il. v. 509; xv. 256) transferred to his sister.

ἱερὸν ἀκτήν: in Hesiod, Ἔργα 597, 805 = the holy corn of Demeter, here ‘the hallowed shore’.

γεφυρώσωσι. The great Persian fleet might seem to stretch like a bridge across the straits, either (1) at Salamis, which H. plainly understands the oracle to mean, there being temples of Artemis both at Salamis itself (Paus. i. 36. 1) and at Munychia on the Attic shore (Paus. i. 1. 4); or (2) if the oracle referred to the fighting off Euboea, (a) at Artemisium (vii. 176), or (b) between Euboea and Attica, or finally across the bay of Marathon from Cynosura to Halae Araphenides and Brauron, the sites of two temples to Artemis (Eur. Iph. Taur. 1450 f.; Strabo 399). But the oracle is best regarded as a vaticinium post eventum of Salamis.

Ὕβριος υἱόν: cf. vi. 86. γ 2; Pind. Ol. xiii. 10ὕβριν κόρου ματέρα θρασύμυθον”, Aesch. Ag. 766 f. Conversely, Solon, fr. 8; Theogn. 153 τίκτει γὰρ κόρος ὕβριν.

ἀνὰ πάντα πιθέσθαι seems meaningless, yet ἀνατίθεσθαι is strange, and ἀναπίεσθαι, ‘swallow up,’ rare and late. The concluding sentence rather clumsily resumes and repeats in another form the opening words of the chapter.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide References (9 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (9):
    • Aristophanes, Birds, 967
    • Aristophanes, Knights, 197
    • Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 770
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.1.4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.36.1
    • Pindar, Olympian, 13
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.8
    • Homer, Iliad, 5.509
    • Aeschylus, Agamemnon, 766
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: