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[40] ἄγονος should mean childless, and so Augustus understood the line when he applied it to his daughter Julia; but this sense does not suit the passage, for it was not through his offspring that Paris harmed the Trojans; indeed we hear of no child of his by Helen except in an obscure tradition mentioned by Schol. A, and even that is inconsistent with Od. 4.12. The only good sense that could be got out of the word would be cursed by heaven (with sterility) as 9.454, which is too weak and indirect to suit the context. The alternative is to translate unborn; and so Eur. Phoen. 1598

καὶ πρὶν ἐς φῶς μητρὸς ἐκ γονῆς μολεῖν
ἄγονον Ἀπόλλων Λαΐωι μ᾽ ἐθέσπισε
φονέα γενέσθαι πατρός

For “τε .. τε” we should rather have expected “ .. ”: but as neither wish is possible of fulfilment there is a certain gain of rhetorical force, with the loss of logical accuracy, in combining both into one vehement wish.

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Euripides, Phoenician Women, 1598
    • Homer, Iliad, 9.454
    • Homer, Odyssey, 4.12
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