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[271] ἀάατον, a word of unknown derivation and meaning. Connexion with “ἀάω” is usually assumed as obvious; but (apart from the question whether the real form of the verb is not “ἀάζω”, see on 8.237) this explains neither form (“ἀα”- for “ἀνα”-), quantity (cf. “ἀϝάτη” with “α^-α^”), nor meaning. In Od. 21.91, Od. 22.5 we have “ἀάατος” (u-uu) applied to the contest of the bow; but that expression is equally unexplained. The word recurs in Greek only in Ap. Rhod.ii. 77κάρτος ἀάα^τος” , invincible in strength. The problem is beyond our powers of solution. For the oath by the Styx see on 2.755. The appeal to the nether gods does not reappear when Hera next swears (15.36 ff.); it seems to indicate the want of a more distinctly personal sanction than a river, even in the case of a god; for this purpose only the older dynasty was available. Men also appeal to the underworld in similar circumstances, 3.278. The touching of land and sea may be regarded as an inclusion of the entire order of nature among the witnesses, or perhaps as a physical means of calling the attention of the powers below; see 9.568.

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