S. Douglas Olson (ed.), Broken Laughter: Select Fragments of Greek Comedy
pg 152Editor’s NoteD2. Aristophanes fr. 233, from Banqueters (427 bc)
(Α.) πρὸς ταύτας δʼ αὖ λέξον ̔Ομήρου γλώττας· τί καλοῦσι κόρυμβα;
Editor’s Note2 τί καλοῦσʼ ἀμενηνὰ κάρηνα;
D2. The plot of Banqueters (Aristophanes' first comedy; second place in 428/7) involved an old countryman and his two sons, referred to by the chorus (speaking for 'the poet') at Ar. Nu. 529 as ὁ σώφρων τε χὠ καταπύγων ('the decent one and the depraved one'). The depraved son studied law and rhetoric with the sophists, while the decent son got a traditional education, which in the late fifth century meant memorizing old-fashioned poetry (cf. D13 introductory n.; Ar. Nu. 966–7)—one of Xenophon's characters claims to have learned all of Homer by heart (Smp. 3. 5)—but also, this passage makes clear, the meaning of obscure items of epic vocabulary. These verses come from a scene in which the father (Speaker A) questions his depraved son (Speaker B) in a style reminiscent of a teacher examining a student, and asks him to gloss a series of Homeric words and phrases (1–2). Rather than doing so, the depraved son demands that his brother give the meaning of a number of archaic legal and forensic terms (3–4). For the play, see A. C. Cassio, Aristofane Banchettanti (Pisa, 1977).
Preserved at Galen, Hippocratic Glosses xix. 65 Kühn, as part of an attempt to show that γλῶττα in the sense 'obscure word requiring explanation' was a traditional if rare usage. Galen has preserved only those portions of the passage that serve his immediate purposes, and more may have been lost than our text implies. In addition, Pollux ii. 109 preserves 1 as evidence that 'they called poetic words γλῶτταιʼ.
Anapaestic tetrameters catalectic; probably from the agon.
1. γλώττας: 'obscure terms'.
τί καλοῦσι κόρυμβα;: 'What do (the poets) refer to as κόρυμβα?', i.e. 'What does κόρυμβα mean?'; cf. 2, 3 ('What do (the ancient authorities) refer to as … ?'). κόρυμβα appears in Homer only at Il. 9. 241, where it seems to have the sense 'stern-posts'; subsequently at A. Pers. 411; E. IA 258.
2. ἀμενηνὰ κάρηνα: 'strengthless heads'; used of the dead in the Underworld at H. Od. 10. 521, 536; 11. 29, 49.
3 ἰδύους Seidler: ἰδοῦσί τε vel sim. Gal.
3. ὁ … σός: 'your (son)'.
τί καλοῦσιν;: see 1 n.
ἰδύους: 'witnesses'; an obscure word said by late sources to have been used in the law-codes attributed to Draco (late seventh century) and Solon (early sixth century).
4 ποτʼ ἐστὶν ὀπύειν Kaibel: ποτέ ἐστι τὸ εὖ ποιεῖν Gal.
4. ὀπύειν: 'to wed'; an archaic verb supposedly used in one of Solon's laws—although also attested in Homer (e.g. Il. 13. 379; cf. Orph. 22. 2 F).