Aristotle ( Poet. 24) quotes the pursuit thrice round the city as an absurdity (“ἄλογον”) for the stage, but permissible to an Epic poet. The supposed impossibility of it was apparently the motive which induced some critics, in defiance of the plain and only possible sense of the words, to take “πόλιν πέρι δινηθήτην” to mean ‘make a circuit hard by the city’; comparing “περὶ πτόλιν μαρνάμενοι” 6.327 and similar phrases. Heyne, who adopted this idea, subsequently abandoned it, pointing out that the addition of “τρίς” removed all doubt as to the meaning of the words, which cannot be taken otherwise than in 24.16 “τρὶς ἐρύσας περὶ σῆμα Μενοιτιάδαο”. A triple circuit of the hill of Hissarlik, though a severe course, is by no means an absurd impossibility for a strong man; see Schliemann, Ilios, p. 142. So Virgil understood the words, while varying the application; “ter circum Iliacos raptaverat Hectora muros,” Aen. i. 483 . Erhardt suggests that the “ὥς” originally opened a new section of the tale, being followed by 208 immediately; only when the connexion had been severed by the long interpolation was the simile 162-64 added, and “ὥς” made to refer back to it. See Introd.
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