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This idyll like the fourth presents a living sketch of rough country character, without idealization or mere ornament of language. The characters are Comatas, a goatherd, and Lacon, a shepherd. The idyll opens with badinage between the two, with coarse rustic humour; then proceeds to a singing-match, in which Comatas is adjudged the winner. The scene is South Italian, vid. 16, 73, 124, 146. See further Introd. p. 37.

τῆνον, 'the rascally shepherd.'

τόνδε, 'here.'

[2] τό μευ νάκος for τὸ νάκος μευμου), a post-classical order, cf. Herondas, v. 7 τό μευ αἷμα: vi. 41 τήν μευ. γλῶσσαν: Callim. iii. 139 οἵ σευ πάντες ἄεθλοι.

[3] οὐκκράνας; sc. ἄπιτε, cf. v. 102, and the Aristophanic οὐκ ἐς κόρακας; cf. Frogs 185.

[5] τὰν ποίαν cf. Arist. Acharn. 62: “ Κ. οἱ πρέσβεις οἱ παρὰ βασιλέως:
Δ. ποίου βασιλέως. ῾᾽κινγ ινδεεδ!᾽̓

ποῖος is thus used with a word repeated from the previous speaker to express contempt. The article is generally omitted in this idiom; attached when information is really sought.

[7] καλάμας αὐλόν, 'a pipe of straw'; cf. Verg. Ecl. iii. 27'Stridenti miserum stipula disperdere carmen'”; Milton, Lycidas 'Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw.'

[10] ἐνεύδειν, 'even your master Eumaras had not a rag to sleep in'; cf. Odyss. iii. 349: “ οὔτι χλαῖναι καὶ ῥήγεα πόλλ᾽ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ,
οὔτ᾽ αὐτῷ μαλακῶς οὔτε ξείνοισιν ἐνεύδειν.

” This use of the infin. of a verb compounded with ἐν-, dependent on a substantive, is common even in prose; cf. Herod. vi. 102 χωρίον ἐπιτήδεον ἐνιππεῦσαι. Cf. also Hesiod, Opusc. 781 'the thirteenth day is φυτὰ ἐνθρέψασθαι ἀρίστη': Eurip. Bacchae 508 ἐνδυστυχῆσαι τοὔνομ᾽ ἐπιτήδειος εἶ.

[13] τὰ λοίσθια, 'now last of all.'

[14] τὸν ἄκτιον = τὸν ἐπὶ ταῖς ἀκταῖς ὑπὸ τῶν ἁλιέων ἱδρυμένον (Et. Mag.); cf. A. Pal. x. 10: “ Πᾶνά με τόνδ᾽ ἱερῆς ἐπὶ λισσάδος, αἰγιαλίτην
Πᾶνα, τὸν εὐόρμων τῶνδ᾽ ἔφορον λιμένων.

” Aesch. Persae 449: “      νῆσοςἣν φιλόχορος
Πὰν ἐμβατεύει, ποντίας ἀκτῆς ἔπι.

[15] …, 'or, if I did, may I go mad'; cf. Arist. Knights 410: “ οὔτοι μ᾽ ὑπερβαλεῖσθ᾽ ἀναιδείᾳ μὰ τὸν Ποσειδῶ,
μή ποτ᾽ ἀγοραίου Διὸς σπλάγχνοισι παραγενοίμην.

” Isocr. Dem. § 48 τοῖς δὲ σπουδαίοις οὐχ οἷόν τε ἀμελεῖν τῆς ἀρετῆς, πολλοὺς ἔχειν τοὺς ἐπιπλήττοντας.

[16] Κρᾶθιν a river flowing into the gulf of Tarentum near to Sybaris (Thurii, vid. v. 74).

[20] αἴπιστεύσαιμι, 'if I believe you, may I earn the sufferings of Daphnis.' For construction cf. xiv. 50; vii. 108; v. 150, etc.

[21] 'However, if you care (λῇς) to stake a kid,--it's no great thing, but still I'll sing against you till you cry enough.' The form of the sentence is broken, and altered by the parenthesis.

ἀλλά γε is an unusual combination of particles (cf. Plato, Rep. 331 b ἀλλά γε ἓν ἀνθ᾽ ἑνὸς οὐκ ἐλάχιστον ἔγωγε θείην ἄν: A. Pal. iii. 6 ἀλλά γε τόξῳ θῆρα καθαιμάσσει Φοῖβος ἀπὸ σκοπιῆς). A word usually intervenes, as Isocr. 95 d διαμαρτὼν δὲ τῆς προσδοκίας ἀλλ᾽ οὖνͅ τήν γε εὔνοιαν κτήσει.

οὐδὲν ἱερόν παροιμία ἐπὶ τῶν μηδενὸς ἀξίων, Schol.

[24] τὸνἀμνόν sc. θές, understood from αἴκα λῇς θέμεν.

ἔρισδε, 'begin your challenge.' The command is repeated impatiently in l. 30; hence Lacon's answer there, μὴ σπεῦδε. The vulgata lectio ἀμνὸν ἔρισδε is not Greek: ἀμνὸν ἔρειδε (k corr. Db) is a very doubtful expression ('set your lamb against my kid'). Ahrens conj. ὅρισδε.

[25] κίναδος τύ, 'you fox.'

ἐξ ἴσω, 'how shall that be fair?'

[27] δήλετο = ἐβούλετο.

[28] The line forms an indirect answer to the question of Lacon: 'Why, such an one as trusts to beat his neighbour as you trust.'

σφάξ ('a hornet') is in apposition to the ὅστις clause.

πεποίθεις πεποίθω : the verb has to be supplied from subordinate to main clause; cf. Theognis, 541: “ δειμαίνω μὴ τήνδε πόλιν Πολυπαΐδη ὕβρις
     ἥπερ Κενταύρους ὠμοφάγους ὄλεσεν ῾σξ. ὀλέσᾐ:

” Megara, 45 σὺ δ᾽ ἠύτε λείβεται ὕδωρ (sc. λείβεαι): Thucyd. i. 82; iii. 68.

[29] ἀλλὰ γάρ, 'but since the kid is not enough see there's the goat. Begin.' (τυῖδε = τῇδε, Aeolic form.)

[34] στιβάς cf. vii. 67; Longus, ii. 31. 1 ἐκ φυλλάδος στιβάδας ὑποστορέσας.

[36] τοῖς ὀρθοῖσι, 'if you dare look at me with such bold eyes.' The article has deictic force, cf. iii. 13 βομβεῦσα μέλισσα: Soph. O. T. 1371: “      ὄμμασιν ποίοις βλέπων
πατέρα ποτ᾽ ἂν προσεῖδον:

ib. 1385 ὀρθοῖς ἔμελλον ὄμμασιν τούτους ὁρᾶν.

[37] ἴδ᾽ χάρις, 'see what becomes of kindness.' Cf. Theognis, 105 δειλοὺς εὖ ἔρδοντι ματαιοτάτη χάρις ἐστίν.

[38] θρέψαι, 'rear wolf cubs, and rear dogs--to be devoured by them.' We might expect either θρέψαι καὶ λυκιδεῖς καὶ κύνας, or θρέψαι λυκιδεῖς, θρέψαι κύνας (anaphora); but even when anaphora is used, an anticipatory καί (or τε) is occasionally found in the first clause: cf. Soph. Antig. 296: “      τοῦτο καὶ πόλεις
πορθεῖ, τόδ᾽ ἄνδρας ἐξανίστησιν δόμων:

” cf. ib. 673: “ αὕτη πόλεις τ᾽ ὄλλυσιν, ἥδ᾽ ἀναστάτους
οἴκους τίθησιν.

” So in Vergil, 'Iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna.' (See M. W. Humphreys, in Class. Rev. April, 1897.)

κύνας the dog in Greece was kept in a half wild state; cf. Odyss. xxi. 363; Xenoph. Agesil. i. § 22ὡς μήτε ὑπὸ κυνῶν μήτε ὑπὸ λύκων διαφθείροιντο.

[40] ἀνδρίον, 'contemptuous.'

αὔτως with an adjective bears the force of 'just' or 'as you are'; cf. ii. 133.

[44] ὕστατα, 'and you shall sing for the last time'; Verg. Ecl. iii. 51'efficiam posthac ne quemquam voce lacessas.'

[45] See note on i. 106. These lines of Comatas answer to Lacon's 31-34.

[48] οὐδὲν ὁμοία i. e. 'much better than'; Isocr. 179 e ἐκτῶντο γὰρ δύναμιν οὐδὲν ὁμοίαν τῇ πρότερον ὑπαρχούσῃ.

[49] κώνοις a great recommendation, because these pine cones were used for food.

[51] ὕπνω μαλακώτερα cf. xv. 125; Vergil, Ecl. vii. 45'somno mollior herba'”; Herond. vi. 69: “ τὰ βαλλί᾽ οὕτως ἄνδρες οὐχὶ ποιεῦσι;
αὐταὶ γὰρ ἐσμέν, ὀρθά, κοὐ μόνον τοῦτο
ἀλλ᾽ μαλακότης ὕπνος, οἱ δ᾽ ἱμαντίσκοι
ἔρι᾽ οὐχ ἱμάντες.

[57] τῶνἀρνῶν brachylogical comparison; = τῶν παρὰ σοι δερμάτων τῶν ἀρνῶν, cf. ii. 15. The dialogue here shows strict correspondence between speaker and speaker even though this is before the match begins; cf. Id. viii. ad init.

[60] αὐτόθε, 'from where you stand.' Comatas seems at last to have succeeded in making Lacon lose his temper, as a first preliminary to making him lose the match.

[61] τὰν σαυτῶ sc. χώραν. Soph. Phil. 1060 χαῖρε τὴν Λῆμνον πατῶν. Cf. xviii. 20. ἔχε τὰς δρύας, 'and keep your blooming oaks.'

[65] τὰς παρὰ τίν, 'over yonder near you.'

[69] κρίνῃς sc. ἀρείω βουκολιαστὰν εἶναι.

ἐν χάριτι, 'as a favour'; cf. Plato, Phaedo 115 b τί δὲ ἐπιστέλλεις περὶ τῶν παίδων περὶ ἄλλου του, ὅτι ἄν σοι ποιοῦντες ἡμεῖς ἐν χάριτι μάλιστα ποιοῖμεν; Isocr. xviii. c τὰς κρίσεις ποίου μὴ πρὸς χάριν μηδ᾽ ἐναντίας ἀλλήλαις: Pseudo-Phocyl. ix. πᾶσι δίκαια νέμειν μηδὲ κρίσιν ἐς χάριν ἕλκε.

[71] τὸ πλέον ἰθύνῃς vid. Liddell and Scott under ἰθύνω: but the phrase is an intentional oxymoron, since ἰθύνειν can only be used strictly of a right judgement (opp. to σκολιὰ δίκη).

[72] 72, 73 Θουρίω, 'the Thurian.' Thurii was founded in 443 b. c., near the site of the once flourishing town, Sybaris, which had been destroyed in 510 B.C. If reliance is to be placed on this passage we must conclude either that the name Sybaris remained and that a new township had sprung up (so Meineke), or that such families as traced their descent from the ancient Sybarites retained this appellation to distinguish themselves from the newcomers.

[76] βέντιστε βέλτιστε). This seems to be the only place where οὗτος is attached to a vocative case. The nominative in apposition is usual; Soph. O. C. 1627 οὗτος οὗτος Οἰδίπους” or οὗτος alone; Arist. Clouds 723 οὗτος, τί ποιεῖς;

[78] εἴ τι λέγεις Verg. Ecl. iii. 52'quin age si quid habes'”; Plautus, Stich. v. 4. 35; Herond. vii. 47 φέρ᾽ εἰ φέρεις τι.

[79] ἦσθα cf. xxx. 16. The imperfect is used to express what was always true but is only now recognized. Usually with ἄρα. Plato, Gorgias 478 c οὐ τοῦτ᾽ ἦν εὐδαιμονία, κακοῦ ἀπαλλαγὴ ἀλλὰ τὴν ἀρχὴν μηδὲ κτῆσις.

[80] The match begins. Comatas, as challenger, opens with a couplet, to which Lacon has to respond in two lines similar in thought and expression, but better if possible than his rival's. This goes on to l. 137, where Lacon apparently is unable to cap Comatas' couplet and is ruled out.

[82] καὶ γάρ. 'Aye, the Muses may love you, for a greater than the Muses loves me.'

[83] Κάρνεα the great Dorian festival of Apollo.

καὶ δή temporal here. 'Here's the Feast just coming on.' For position of the words--not at head of clause--cf. Arist. Wasps 1483; Frogs 604 ὡς ἀκούω τῆς θύρας καὶ δὴ ψόφον.

[89] παρελᾶντα accus. masc. particip. παρελάω = παρελαύνω. -άοντα contracts to -ᾶντα as in i. 90 γελᾶντι = γελάοντι = γελάουσι.

[90] λεῖος Cratidas meeting me in his fair beauty. λεῖος belongs of course to the predicate.

[91] ἐκμαίνει A. Pal. vii. 99 ἐκμαίνει χείλη με ῥοδόχροα.

λιπαρὰ δέ, κ.τ.λ. Eurip. Bacchae 456: “ πλόκαμός τε γάρ σου ταναός, οὐ πάλης ὕπο,
γένυν παρ᾽ αὐτὴν κεχυμένος, ποθου πλέως.

[92] 92, 93 'Dog-rose and anemone are not to be compared with roses; the rose-bed grows beside the garden wall.'

πεφύκειπεφύκωἄνδηρα: cf. Odyss. vii. 127 πρασιαὶ πεφύασι: ib. v. 72; Achill. Tat. i. 1. 5 αἱ δὲ πρασιαὶ τῶν ἀνθέων ὑπὸ τὰ πέταλα τῶν φυτῶν στοιχηδὸν ἐπεφύκεσαν νάρκισσος καὶ ῥόδα καὶ μυρρίναι.

[94] ὁμομαλίδες. Comatas had said 'dog-roses are not to be compared with roses, because dog-roses are inferior.' Lacon alters the order of comparison awkwardly and says, 'medlars are not to be compared with acorns, because medlars are superior.'

αἱ μέν sc. ἄκυλοι.

[95] Join ἀπὸ πρίνοιο λεπύριον, as ἐκ κριθῶν μέθυ. Aesch. Suppl. 931, etc. The comparison in both cases refers of course to Clearista and Cratidas, in the first couplet to appearance (cf. Nonnus, viii. 210 καὶ ῥόδα τίς μετάμειψεν ἐς ὠκυμόρους ἀνεμώνας;) in the second to disposition.

[98] ἐς χλαῖναν, 'for a cloak'; cf. i. 40; Arist. Clouds 612: “ ὠφελοῦσ᾽ ὑμᾶς ἅπαντας
πρῶτα μὲν τοῦ μηνὸς ἐς δᾷδ᾽ οὐκ ἔλαττον δραχμήν.

[100] σίττ᾽ ἀπό cf. iv. 45.

[101] The verse is repeated from i. 13, but there is absolutely no ground for rejecting it as spurious in either place.

[103] ποτ᾽ ἀντολάς, 'to the eastward' (ἀντολα^ς, acc. plural); Thucyd. vi. 2. 5 τὰ πρὸς βορρᾶν τῆς νήσου. Tr. ὡς, 'where,' as in 101.

[105] Πραξιτέλευς 'Si Praxitelis nomen et fama ad pastores illos pervenerat, poterat ille bonorum suorum iactator craterem quem habebat pro illustrissimi illius sculptoris opere habere. Cf. i. 32. Minime igitur cogitandum de iuniore aliquo Praxitele neque credendum nobilissimi illius artificis cuius statuae maximi aestimabantur opus aliquod penes hos pastores fuisse.'--Wuestemann. (The existence of a 'iunior aliquis Praxiteles' is stated circumstantially by the Scholiast.) Praxiteles' fame was vigorous throughout Greece in Theocritus' day, and his sons also were noted as sculptors; Herond. iv. 23.

[109] μὴ λωβασεῖσθε, 'You shall not spoil.' Soph. Antig. 84 ἀλλ᾽ οὖν προμηνύσῃς γε τοῦτο μηδενί: Eurip. Medea 822 λέξεις δὲ μηδὲν τῶν ἐμοὶ δεδογμένων: Aesch. S. c. T. 250 οὐ σῖγα μηδὲν τῶνδ᾽ ἐρεῖς κατὰ πτόλιν. In the last case to print οὐ σῖγα τῶνδε, makes σῖγα very awkward and only defers the explanation. In the first two the aorist subj. is often read against the MSS. Others keep the indicative and make the sentences questions, weakening the command unnaturally. In favour of taking all as emphatic negative proclamations (μή repudiantis) we have the similar οὐ μή construction, and most of all an example in Xen. Hell. ii. 1. 22προεῖπεν ὡς μηδεὶς κινήσοιτο.” This can only represent μηδεὶς κινήσεται, or μὴ κινήσεσθε, in direct speech: and cannot represent an interrogative clause (μηδεὶς κινήσεται;).

ἇβαι the abstract noun is used attributively, as δρόσοι, Aesch. Agam. 141, for 'lion-cubs'; ἕρσαι--'young lambs'--Odyss. ix. 222; cf. Theocr. x. 37. So Odyss. v. 69 ἡμερὶς ἡβώωσα. The reading of k, αὖαι, makes no sense, and is a mere misreading. β in minuscule is written ω.

[116] μέμνᾳ ὅκα, 'remember the time when'; cf. Eurip. Hec. 239 οἶσθ᾽ ἡνίκ᾽ ἦλθες ᾿Ιλίου κατάσκοπος; Iliad xiv. 71, etc.

[119] ἐκάθηρε a slang term; 'dusted you down.'

[121] τίλλειν infin. for imperative; cf. x. 48.

γραίας gen. sing. 'from an old wife's tomb.'

σκίλλας, 'squills'; a remedy for melancholy madness. Herbs plucked from a tomb have double efficacy; especially if the tomb be that of a person who has died unnaturally. Similarly in Brit. Mus. Papyrus (see on Idyll ii) a lead tablet is to be suitably inscribed and buried, εἰς ἀώρου μνῆμα.

[122] τινά as above, referring to a definite person; cf. Arist. Frogs 606 ἥκει τῳ κακόν, 'there's trouble for some one.' Note how the following line corresponds in Chiasmus with 121. “ σκίλλαςκυκλάμινον: τίλλεινὄρυσσε:
ἰὼνἐνθών: ἀπὸ σάματοςἐς τὸν ῎Αλεντα.

” Join ἐνθὼν ἐς τὸν ῎Αλεντα. The Aleis here is a river of the Sybaris district; contrast vii. 1, note.

[124] ῾Ιμέρα another unknown stream.

γάλα is cognate accusative; cf. v. 126; Lucian, V. Hist. i. 7 ποταμῷ οἶνον ῥέοντι: Theocr. xxv. 15. The dative is less commonly used, Ap. Rhod. iii. 223 μὲνκρήνηἀναβλύζεσκε γάλακτι”: Eurip. Bacchae 142: “ ῥεῖ δὲ γάλακτι πέδον, ῥεῖ δ᾽ οἴνῳ, ῥεῖ δὲ μελισσᾶν νέκταρι.

[126] Συβαρῖτις sc. πηγή.

τὸ πότορθρον, 'at dawn.'

[127] βάψαι, 'draw honey in place of water.' On this sense of βάπτω see Dr. Rutherford on Babrius, lxxi, and cf. Nicand. Alex. 514 τὴν ἅλα βάπτε.

[131] πολλὸς δέ, 'and dog-roses flourish here like any rose.' (The Vulg. ῥοδοκισσός is apparently a vox nihili.

ἐπανθεῖ affords a good example of the fondness of the Alexandrian poets for compound verbs instead of simple; Theocritus has, e. g. εἰσαΐω, κατασμύχω, ἀγκλέπτω, ἐνδιαθρύπτομαι (Legrand). Attic would use ἀνθεῖ or have a dative with ἐπανθεῖ.

[133] τῶν ὤτων Tibullus, ii. 5. 92 'oscula comprensis auribus eripiet.'

[138] παύσασθαι. Lacon apparently hesitates over his capping verse; is beginning tardily, but is at once stopped by the umpire and declared beaten.

[143] ὅττι πόκ᾽ ἤδη, 'since now at last I have won the lamb' (cf. l. 24).

[144] ὔμμιν, 'you shall see me leap sky high.'

[145] κερούτιδες a word recovered by Ahrens; it is feminine of κερουτής, a noun formed from the verb κερουτιάω (κερουτιᾷ = γαυριᾷ, Hesych.), 'wanton.' So in 147 κορυπτίλος = κορύπτης as ναυτίλος = ναύτης (Ahrens in Philolog. vii. p. 446).

[148] πρὶν γ᾽ ἐμέ the emphatic form of the pronoun is required, not με which has been 'restored' by recent editors. The clause belongs as the use of the accus. and infin. shows to εἴ τιν᾽ ὀχευσεῖς not to φλασσῶ τυ.


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    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 1627
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 2.1.22
    • Xenophon, Agesilaus, 1.22
    • Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica, 3.223
    • Plautus, Stichus, 5.4
    • Vergil, Eclogues, 3
    • Vergil, Eclogues, 7
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