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OSTRACINDA

OSTRACINDA (ὀστρακίνδα), a game which Greek boys played as follows:--Two sets stand opposite, divided by a line drawn on the ground: a boy throws up a shell or a dish, white on one side and coloured black with pitch on the other, and each set of boys has one or other of these colours allotted to them. As he throws the shell, he calls νὺξ ἡμέρα: and if the white (i. c. day) side falls uppermost, the set which represents the day pursues, and the other set runs away; if the “night” side falls uppermost, the fugitives and pursuers are reversed. As soon as any boy is caught he is called ὄνος, and is out of the game (ὄνος κάθηται, Plat. Theaet. p. 146 A: see also BASILINDA). It is not precisely stated whether the game went on until all the fugitives were caught, nor whether there was a point of safety to be reckoned, but it is very likely that the game was played with varying rules at different times and places. It is not probable that there was the slightest political symbolism in the game, as Becq de Fouquiëres somewhat too fancifully suggests. The connexion of ὀστρακίνδα and ὀστρακισμός, as in Aristoph. Kn. 855, is merely verbal punning.

The expression ὀστράκου περιστροφὴ seems to have become proverbial for a turn of fortune: see especially Plat. Rep. vii. p. 521 C; where there is also an allegory formed from the idea of νὺξ ἡμέρα. The game itself supplies an allegory in Plat. Phaedr. p. 241 B. Our authorities for ὀστρακίνδα are Pollux, 9.111; Eustath. ad Il. 18.543; Plato, Com. in Meineke, Fr. Com. 2.2, 664: see also Becq de Fouquières, Jeux des Anciens, p. 79; Grasberger, Erziehung, p. 57; Becker-Göll, Charikles, 2.37.

[G.E.M]

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