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Λακεδαίμονα. Buttmann insists that here “Λακεδαίμων” signifies the name of the district of which the chief town was Sparta, as in Il.2. 581οἳ δ᾽ εἶχον κοίλην Λακεδαίμονα κητώεσσαν

Φᾶρίν τε Σπάρτην τε, κ.τ.λ.” The epithets moreover are suitable to a district but not to a town. κοίλην is distinct in meaning from κητώεσσαν. ‘The valley of Sparta is a deep depression between Taygetus and Parnon, 18 miles in length, by 4 or 5 in breadth, and intersected by the Eurotas, which flows down to it from the uplands of Arcadia, and its southern end passes through a narrow defile to the sea. This was the “hollow Lacedaemon” of Homer,’ Tozer, Classical Geogr. 87. Similarly, parts of Syria and of Elis, and Argos (Soph. O. C.378) have the epithet “κοῖλος”=‘mountain-pent.’ Strabo (8. 563) quotes the Cresphontes of Eurip. (Frag. 1. Dind.) “τὴν Λακωνικὴν ἔχων
πολλὴν μὲν ἄροτον ἐκπονεῖν δ᾽ οὐ ῥᾴδιον”,
κοίλη γὰρ, ὄρεσι περίδρομος, τραχεῖά τε”.
κητώεσσα, by the regular rule of the composition of adjectives in “-εις”, must come from “κῆτος”, ‘a gulf;’ root “καϝ”, Lat. cav-us; and thus means ‘cavernous.’ Ameis quotes from Plutarch, Cim.16 τε χώρα τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων χάσμασιν ἐνώλισθε πολλοῖς”, and Strabo 8. 367 “ὅτι οἱ ἀπὸ τῶν σεισμῶν ῥωχμοὶ καιετοὶ λέγονται . . εὔσειστος δὲ Λακωνική”.

Zenodotus' emendation “καιετάεσσαν” (which Buttmann thinks never existed as a real variant) would have this meaning equally, from “καῖαρ”, akin to which is the name of the best-known of those hollows, the “Καιάδας”, into which malefactors were thrown, Thuc.1. 134.Others again see in “κητώεσσα” merely a reference to the deep valley between Taygetus and Parthenius, in which Lacedaemon lies. Strabo also mentions μεγάλη, as one interpretation of the word, and calls this rendering “πιθανώτερον”. But without doubt the epithet refers to ‘the numerous rifts and fissures in the undulating ground.’ Tozer, ib.

3-19. The criticism given in Athenaeus (5. 180) on this place, is to the effect that Diodorus, “ Ἀριστοφάνειος”, expunged the whole passage (“ὅλον τὸν γάμον περιέγραψε”), which we are told he did on the supposition that the scene intended to be described was the full height of the festivity (“τοπάζων πρώτας ἡμέρας εἶναι”). Hennings (Die Telem. p. 178 foll.) adopts this view, and regards the passage as a later interpolation. But it must be remarked that the excision of vv. 3-19 makes the connection between v. 2 and 20 very awkward.

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hide References (4 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (4):
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.581
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 378
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.134
    • Plutarch, Cimon, 16
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