The sense of νομός is obscure, and is not explained by the Hesiodean “ἀχρεῖος δ᾽ ἔσται ἐπέων νομός” ( Opp. 403), nor by Hym. Ap. 20 “πάντηι γάρ τοι, Φοῖβε, νομοὶ βεβλήαται ὠιδῆς” (?). This may point to the ‘field of words’ as the sense, lit. the pasture-ground, the region in which they can find sustenance. With this metaphor Fäsi compares “ἔπεα πτερόεντα”, where words are conceived as winged creatures flying from man to man. The idea will then be that there is a wide region (of insulting thoughts) wherein words may be reared for the tongue — the range of insults is very wide. The scholiasts prefer to explain by “νέμησις”, ‘the portioning out of words is abundant on either side,’ which leads to the same result. But there is no trace of any sense of the noun in H. except pasture. The more familiar “νόμος” (law) is not Epic at all. (“νέμειν” = to divide; “νέμεσθαι” = to get divided, of land, to get as a lot; hence to inhabit, of men etc., as in l. 8 above, or cultivate land, and of animals to graze, trans. as Od. 9.449, intrans. as 15.631. A further extension is to consume 2.780, 23.177, where the idea of land has completely vanished. Thus we have a wide range to choose from, and either apportionment or pasturage is in itself possible.)
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