Commentary on the Batrakhomuomakhia, Part 7: Lines 82-98

This is the seventh installment of our working commentary on the Homeric “Battle of Frogs and Mice”. As always, we look forward to comments and suggestions.

82 ῞Υδρος δ’ ἐξαίφνης ἀνεφαίνετο, πικρὸν ὅραμα
83 ἀμφοτέροις• ὀρθὸν δ’ ὑπὲρ ὕδατος εἶχε τράχηλον.
84 τοῦτον ἰδὼν κατέδυ Φυσίγναθος, οὔ τι νοήσας
85 οἷον ἑταῖρον ἔμελλεν ἀπολλύμενον καταλείπειν.
86 δῦ δὲ βάθος λίμνης καὶ ἀλεύατο κῆρα μέλαιναν.
87 κεῖνος δ’ ὡς ἀφέθη, πέσεν ὕπτιος εὐθὺς ἐφ’ ὕδωρ,
88 καὶ χεῖρας ἔσφιγγε καὶ ὀλλύμενος κατέτριζε.
89 πολλάκι μὲν κατέδυνεν ὑφ’ ὕδατι, πολλάκι δ’ αὖτε
90 λακτίζων ἀνέδυνε• μόρον δ’ οὐκ ἦν ὑπαλύξαι.
91 δευόμεναι δὲ τρίχες πλεῖον βάρος εἷλκον ἐπ’ αὐτῷ•
92 ὕδασι δ’ ὀλλύμενος τοίους ἐφθέγξατο μύθους•
93 Οὐ λήσεις δολίως Φυσίγναθε ταῦτα ποιήσας,
94 ναυηγὸν ῥίψας ἀπὸ σώματος ὡς ἀπὸ πέτρης.
95 οὐκ ἄν μου κατὰ γαῖαν ἀμείνων ἦσθα κάκιστε
96 παγκρατίῳ τε πάλῃ τε καὶ εἰς δρόμον• ἀλλὰ πλανήσας
97 εἰς ὕδωρ μ’ ἔρριψας. ἔχει θεὸς ἔκδικον ὄμμα
97α ποινήν τ ἀντέκτισίν τ᾿ ὀρθήν ὅς κ᾿ ἀποδώσει,
98 τοῖς τίσουσί σε μυῶν στρατὸς οὐδὲ ὐπαλύξεις
98a ποινήν αὖ τείσεις σὺ μυῶν στράτῷ οὐδὲ ὐπαλύξεις

82 ῞Υδρος: :Water-snake”

ἐξαίφνης: “Suddenly”, some MSS ἐξαπίνης which appears in this position in Homer (e.g. 5.91). ἐξαίφνης does occur, but less frequently (Il. 17.738 and 21.14
with the same participle ὄρμενον ἐξαίφνης).

ὅραμα: “sight, spectacle”. Not Homeric. See Demosthenes, Exordium 55.1.7:
ἀλλ’ ὅραμα τοῦτ’ ἐποιεῖθ’ ὁ δῆμος αὑτοῦ καλόν, ὦ ἄνδρες ᾿Αθη-
ναῖοι, καὶ λυσιτελὲς τῇ πόλει.

83 ἀμφοτέροις: “a bitter sight for them both”
ὀρθὸν: adverbial with ὑπὲρ ὕδατος “straight up above the water”
τράχηλον: “throat”

84 κατέδυ: “he went under”, Aorist 3rd singular.
οὔ τι νοήσας: “he wasn’t thinking at all about… οἷον ἑταῖρον”

85 οἷον ἑταῖρον: “What kind of companion”, i.e. his species/ability
ἀπολλύμενον: “who is being killed”; some MSS have the infinitive ἀπολλύμεναι

86 δῦ δὲ βάθος λίμνης: Unagumented aorist: “Entered the depth of the sea” seems to be an adaptation of the Homeric αὐτὴ δ’ ἂψ ἐς πόντον ἐδύσετο κυμαίνοντα.

κῆρα μέλαιναν: “black death”, a typical Homeric phrase (e.g. Il. 2.859). Most of this line is similar to Il. 3.360 (ἔγχος• ὃ δ’ ἐκλίνθη καὶ ἀλεύατο κῆρα μέλαιναν). Noun forms like βάθος are not common in Homer. Consider, however, the related βένθος in Il. 18.38 (πᾶσαι ὅσαι κατὰ βένθος ἁλὸς Νηρηΐδες ἦσαν)

87 ἀφέθη: aorist passive, 3rd singular of ἀφίημι.
πέσεν ὕπτιος εὐθὺς ἐφ’ ὕδωρ: πέσεν ὕπτιος is a common collocation in Homer (see 15.647). ὕπτιος: “sprawled out; supine”

88 ἔσφιγγε: see on line 71 (“he was squeezing”)
κατέτριζε: “squeaked”, according to Fusillo, a word used only of beasts

89 πολλάκι μὲν …πολλάκι δ’ αὖτε: the single-line anaphora is clever, but un-Homeric.

90 λακτίζων: “kicking”. This form appears twice in the Odyssey of opponents in duress (18.99 and 22.88).

ὑπαλύξαι: “avoid”; used in Homer with death. For this aorist, see 12.327

91 δευόμεναι δὲ τρίχες πλεῖον βάρος εἷλκον ἐπ’ αὐτῷ•: The image is likely based on the human experience of being dragged down by wet clothing. Furred animals are not so encumbered.

πλεῖον βάρος: The comparative in early Greek usually uses a partitive genitive (e.g. Theogn. 1.606 μοίρης πλεῖον). Some MSS have πλεῖστον which is more common as a straight modifier.

92 ἐφθέγξατο:”uttered”; the combination τοίους ἐφθέγξατο μύθους is rather generalized for a speech introduction.

ὀλλύμενος: “perishing”; cf. Iliad 11.83

93 δολίως: “trickily”; some MSS have γε θεοὺς as the object. The verb λανθάνω takes a supplementary participle, here “you won’t get away with doing these things!”. The variant posits the gods as witnesses of the deeds. In Homer, this verb often appears with the person deceived as an object, see Od. 13.393. For λανθάνω with a participle, see Od. 22.198. It would be natural to call upon the gods here, as our mouse does in line 97. The adverb δολίως is a little late; we prefer the variant.

94 ναυηγὸν: “shipwreck”; some MSS provide instead ὲς λίμνην με. The adjective is a later appearing word.

ῥίψας ἀπὸ σώματος ὡς ἀπὸ πέτρης: The double ἀπὸ seems inelegant and needn’t be translated. Compare to Euripides, Cyclops 166: ῥίψας τ’ ἐς ἅλμην Λευκάδος πέτρας ἄπο .

95 οὐκ ἄν…ἦσθα: With the past tense indicative, most often the aorist, ἄν indicates past potential, translate “you couldn’t be better than me on land” vel sim.
κατὰ γαῖαν: “on land”. See Smyth §1784.

96 παγκρατίῳ: The pankration is a post-Homeric sport. According to Herodotus (9.105), it was one in which the Athenians in particular excelled: ᾿Εν δὲ ταύτῃ τῇ μάχῃ ῾Ελλήνων ἠρίστευσαν ᾿Αθηναῖοι, καὶ ᾿Αθηναίων ῾Ερμόλυκος ὁ Εὐθοίνου, ἀνὴρ παγκράτιον ἐπασκήσας•

πάλῃ: Unlike the pankration, wrestling is a thoroughly Homeric sport.
πὺξ μὲν ἐνίκησα Κλυτομήδεα ῎Ηνοπος υἱόν,
᾿Αγκαῖον δὲ πάλῃ Πλευρώνιον, ὅς μοι ἀνέστη• (Iliad 23.634-5)
εἰς δρόμον: “in the footrace”, another good archaic competition.

97 ἔκδικον ὄμμα: “an eye for vengeance”; Zeus is often worshipped as a god who upholds justice. The phrase is not quite archaic and it may echo what the Frog says in the Aesopic tradition: ἐγὼ μὲν ὑπό σου νεκρωθήσομαι, ἐκδικήσομαι δὲ ὑπὸ ζῶντος (“I am being killed by you but I will be avenged by the living”)

97-98: Two lines are considered to be Byzantine interpolations. The sense of both is reflected in the current line 98/99.

97a ποινήν τ ἀντέκτισίν τ᾿ ὀρθήν ὅς κ᾿ ἀποδώσει
ἀντέκτισίν: is un-Homeric and a gloss for ποινήν which is a very Homeric word. Cf. Glei ad loc.

ὀρθήν: “straight” is often associated with justice in Hesiod, but usually using different vocabulary (e.g., ithus).

98 τοῖς τίσουσί σε μυῶν στρατὸς οὐδὲ ὐπαλύξεις or
ποινήν αὖ τείσεις σὺ μυῶν στράτῷ οὐδὲ ὐπαλύξεις: The paying back of penalties is common in Homer but usually in exchange for harm done to honor or the like (see Wilson 2002). In the Odyssey, punishment for a crime is more usually marked with terms of tisis. Yet, in describing his treatment of the Cyclops, the narrator combines the thematic terms (23.313):

ἠδ’ ὅσα Κύκλωψ ἕρξε, καὶ ὡς ἀπετείσατο ποινὴν
ἰφθίμων ἑτάρων, οὓς ἤσθιεν οὐδ’ ἐλέαιρεν•

“And however many things the Kyklops did, even then he paid the exchange for my strong companions, the men he ate and did not pity.”

τοῖς τίσουσί σε μυῶν στρατὸς: There may be a noun/subject agreement probablem with this phrase.


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