Scholion to Lycophron, Alexandra 1 (Analysis of the Word “Truthfully”)

“νητρεκῶς (ne-trekos = “Truthfully”): This is aptly rendered from the privative particle “ne” (not) and the verb “tresso” (to fear). For those who speak the truth feel no fear of condemnation, unlike liars.”

ἀληθῶς παρὰ *τὸ* νη στερητικὸν μόριον καὶ τὸ τρέσω τὸ
φοβοῦμαι• οἱ γὰρ τἀληθῆ λέγοντες οὐ δειλιῶσι κατάγνωσιν
ὡς οἱ ψευδόμενοι.

4 thoughts on “Scholion to Lycophron, Alexandra 1 (Analysis of the Word “Truthfully”)

  1. I have to be honest. νητρεκῶς looks like someone took Homeric νημερτέα and ἀτρεκέως and simply smashed them together. Both also mean ἀληθῶς.

    This is why I cannot abide Hellenistic poetry

    1. Oh, it’s the worst thing going. I read that common belief holds that this is a “showpiece” poem – Lycophron was admired for his use of extremely rare words and hyper-obscure myths. (Similarly, the Roman poet Manilius was admired chiefly for his ability to render mathematical computations into hexameter.)

      I have begun to think that this sort of meaningless arms race of wordplay in the Hellenistic tradition may count as strong evidence in favor of considering the Batrachomyomachia as a Hellenistic work: especially in the several lines of crab-epithets at the end, it does seem that a part of the poet’s program was the inclusion of extremely contrived animal names into hexameters.

      I do agree with you, as far as aesthetic criticism is concerned. The fact that the poetic “art” of the time consisted chiefly of puzzling out ways to fill out a simple verse form with increasingly preposterous lexical curiosities and combinations suggests that the Hellenistic poets were drunk on erudition without having any substantial poetic feeling.

  2. I mean, honestly, doesn’t some of the following just look like Greek word-salad poetry?

    Λέξω τὰ πάντα νητρεκῶς, ἅ μ’ ἱστορεῖς,
    ἀρχῆς ἀπ’ ἄκρας• ἢν δὲ μηκυνθῇ λόγος,
    σύγγνωθι, δέσποτ’• οὐ γὰρ ἥσυχος κόρη
    ἔλυσε χρησμῶν, ὡς πρίν, αἰόλον στόμα•
    ἀλλ’ ἄσπετον χέασα παμμιγῆ βοὴν
    δαφνηφάγων φοίβαζεν ἐκ λαιμῶν ὄπα,
    Σφιγγὸς κελαινῆς γῆρυν ἐκμιμουμένη.

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