A Commentary on the Homeric Batrakhomuomakhia, Part 16: 226-259

This is the sixteenth installment of our commentary on the Homeric “Battle of Frogs and Mice”.

226 ῾Υδρόχαρις δ’ ἔπεφνεν Πτερνοφάγον βασιλῆα,
227 Λιτραῖον δ’ ἀρ’ ἔπεφνεν ἀμύμων Βορβοροκοίτης,
228 χερμαδίῳ πλήξας κατὰ βρέγματος· ἐγκέφαλος δὲ
229 ἐκ ῥινῶν ἔσταξε, παλάσσετο δ’ αἵματι γαῖα.
230 Λειχοπίναξ δ’ ἔκτεινεν ἀμύμονα Βορβοροκοίτην,
231 ἔγχει ἐπαΐξας· τὸν δὲ σκότος ὄσσε κάλυψεν.
232 Πρασσαῖος δὲ ἰδὼν ποδὸς εἵλκυσε Κνισσοδιώκτην ,
233 ἐν λίμνῃ δ’ ἀπέπνιξε κρατήσας χειρὶ τένοντα.
234 Ψιχάρπαξ δ’ ἤμυν’ ἑτάρου περὶ τεθνειῶτος
235 καὶ βάλε Πρασσαῖον κατὰ νηδύος ἐς μέσον ἧπαρ,
236 πῖπτε δέ οἱ πρόσθεν, ψυχὴ δ’ ᾿Αϊδόσδε βεβήκει.
237 Κραμβοβάτης δὲ ἰδὼν πηλοῦ δράκα ῥίψεν ἐπ’ αὐτόν,
238 καὶ τὸ μέτωπον ἔχρισε καὶ ἐξετύφλου παρὰ μικρόν.
239 ὠργίσθη δ’ ἄρ’ ἐκεῖνος, ἑλὼν δ’ ἄρα χειρὶ παχείῃ
240 κείμενον ἐν δαπέδῳ λίθον ὄβριμον, ἄχθος ἀρούρης,
241 τῷ βάλε Κραμβοβάτην ὑπὸ γούνατα· πᾶσα δ’ ἐκλάσθη
242 κνήμη δεξιτερή, πέσε δ’ ὕπτιος ἐν κονίῃσι.
243 Κραυγασίδης δ’ ἤμυνε καὶ αὖθις βαῖνεν ἐπ’ αὐτόν,
244 τύψε δέ οἱ μέσσην κατὰ γαστέρα· πᾶς δέ οἱ εἴσω
245 ὀξύσχοινος ἔδυνε, χαμαὶ δ’ ἔκχυντο ἅπαντα
246 ἔγκατ’ ἐφελκομένῳ ὑπὸ δούρατι χειρὶ παχείῃ·
247 Τρωγλοδύτης δ’ ὡς εἶδεν ἐπ’ ὄχθῃσιν ποταμοῖο,
248 σκάζων ἐκ πολέμου ἀνεχάζετο, τείρετο δ’ αἰνῶς·
249 ἥλατο δ’ ἐς τάφρους, ὅππως φύγῃ αἰπὺν ὄλεθρον.
250 Τρωξάρτης δ’ ἔβαλεν Φυσίγναθον ἐς ποδὸς ἄκρον.
251 ἔσχατος δ’ ἐκ λίμνης ἀνεδύσετο, τείρετο δ’ αἰνῶς
252 Πρασσαῖος δ’ ὡς εἶδεν ἔθ’ ἡμίπνουν προπεσόντα,
253 ἦλθε διὰ προμάχων καὶ ἀκόντισεν ὀξύσχοινον·
254 οὐδ’ ἔρρηξε σάκος, σχέτο δ’ αὐτοῦ δουρὸς ἀκωκή·
255 οὐδ’ ἔβαλε τρυφάλειαν ἀμύμονα καὶ τετράχυτρον
256 δῖος ᾿Οριγανίων, μιμούμενος αὐτὸν ῎Αρηα,
257 ὃς μόνος ἐν βατράχοισιν ἀρίστευεν καθ’ ὅμιλον·
258 ὥρμησεν δ’ ἄρ’ ἐπ’ αὐτόν· ὁ δ’ ὡς ἴδεν οὐχ ὑπέμεινεν
ἥρωας κρατερούς, ἀλλ’ ἔδυνε βένθεσι λίμνης

226 Λιτραῖον (“worth a litra”, i.e. a pound”): Other options for this noun: Λιστραῖον (“digger” from λιστραίνω), φυτραῖον, φιλτραῖον (“of a love-charm), χυτραῖον (“earthen-pot”), φιτραῖον.

Βορβοροκοίτης: “Sleeps in the mud”; some MSS have the accusative form instead.

227 ῾Υδρόχαρις: “Water-grace”.

ἔπεφνεν: See above, note 141.

Πτερνοφάγον: “Ham-eater”.

βασιλῆα: accusative singular of βασιλεύς.

228 χερμαδίῳ: “stone”; this word begins the line 5x in the Iliad (e.g. 4.518).

πλήξας: aorist of πλήσσω, “to strike” (in this form 1x in the Iliad).

βρέγματος: “forehead” from βρέγμα, which does not seem to appear before tragedy and comedy (in one fragment of Aeschylus, fr. 496.8 and in a fragment of the Old Comic poet Strattis: οἶσθ’ ᾧ προσέοικεν, ὦ Κρέων, τὸ βρέγμα σου;)

ἐγκέφαλος δὲ: “brains” appear several times in Homeric battle scenes in this position (e.g. 12.185).

229 ἐκ ῥινῶν: from ῥίς, “nose”; in the plural it means “nostrils”.

ἔσταξε: from στάζω “to drip”, this verb occurs without an augment once in the Iliad (19.39) and in a Hesiodic fragment, but it is rather popular in tragedy. In the Iliad and also appears with ῥινῶν (στάξε κατὰ ῥινῶν, ἵνα οἱ χρὼς ἔμπεδος εἴη, 19.39).

παλάσσετο δ’ αἵματι: “to be dyed with blood” appears in the Iliad (e.g. 5.100) but not with γαῖα. Instead, in Homer we find the earth “flowing with blood” (ῥέε δ’ αἵματι γαῖα, Il. 4.451). This line, then, appears to be a composite of the two Homeric images.

230 ἀμύμονα Βορβοροκοίτην: the shape of the name Borborokoitês is the same as Bellerophontes which shares the same epithet at Il. 6.216 (Οἰνεὺς γάρ ποτε δῖος ἀμύμονα Βελλεροφόντην). Some MSS have Leikhopinaks in the accusative and Borborokoitês in the nominative along with the epithet (ἀμύμων Βορβοροκοίτης). Some MSS also have Ἐμβασίχυτρος instead of Βορβοροκοίτης, which would be a bit confusing since the former is a mouse-name. The accusative Λειχοπίναχα would be unmetrical. The simplest MSS solution, then, is to retain the accusative Βορβοροκοίτην and nominative Λειχοπίναξ.

231 ἔγχει ἐπαΐξας: the verb is ἐπαίσσω and this participle appears several times in Homer, e.g. Il. 5.235. Some editors put a comma after Βορβοροκοίτην in line 230, thus construing ἔγχει as a dative instrument with the participle ἐπαΐξας using as support Homeric usage as at Il. 5.81 and 5.584. In both cases, however, the dative instruments in question are probably better taken with the main verbs. At 5.81, Eurypylos strikes the shoulder “with a sword after he leaps” (ἔλασ’ ὦμον / φασγάνῳ ἀΐξας; as opposed to “strikes the shoulder after he leaps with a sword”). Similarly, at 5.584, Antilokhos “struck his temple with a sword after leaping upon him” rather than “struck him after leaping upon him with a sword” (᾿Αντίλοχος δ’ ἄρ’ ἐπαΐξας ξίφει ἤλασε κόρσην). The poet of this parody has retained the shape of the line and the formula (dative instrument plus participle) with a less comprehensive grasp of the sense. Editors, by punctuating at the end of line 230, follow the poet.

τὸν δὲ σκότος ὄσσε κάλυψεν: A formulaic passage for death from Homer (see. E.g., 6.11) “Darkness covered his eyes”. ὄσσε is dual.

231a: The MSS also have a full line from Homer: δούπησεν δὲ πεσών, ἀράβησε δὲ τεύχε’ ἐπ’ αὐτῷ, Il. 13.187. But this line also appears at 205.

232 Πρασσαῖος: “Green-stalk”, most likely a frog name. The variant Πρασσοφάγος (“stalk-eater”) strengthens the identification with a frog-diet; yet, ¬phage-compounds are more common among the murine set. See ᾿Αρτοφάγος, 210; Κοστοφάγον, 217; Τυρόφαγος, line 223; Πτερνοφάγον, 227.

Κνισσοδιώκτην: “Smoke-Hunter” an appropriate name for vermin lurking near sacrifices. The double-sigma is most likely a hyper-archaism for κνίση. Some MSS offer instead νεκρὸν ἐόντα which has a few strikes against it. Syntactically, the νεκρὸν ἐόντα would grammatically refer back to the last object, in this case Βορβοροκοίτην and would seem to imply frog-on-frog violence; or, this could refer to an unnamed mouse without grammatical antecedent. As far as sense goes, this reading would have Prassaios leaping upon and drowning a corpse, an image other commentators have found absurd. It is possible that the absurdity is instead a depiction of the ferocity of the frog’s attack. Stylistically, however, the reading νεκρὸν ἐόντα would effect a ringing rhyme with the following line (χειρὶ τένοντα) which is almost always avoided. However, Ludwig who has Ἐμβασίχυτρος instead of Βορβοροκοίτης at line 230 offers in his apparatus the variant νεκρόσαντα, providing the sense that Prassaios, once he has witnessed Leikhopinaks in the act of making someone else into a corpse, drags him by the foot to his drowning death. This works as well with the sense of the battle where frogs kill mice by drowning.

233 ἀπέπνιξε: On this verb, see above line 99 and 119. Some MSS present the rather bland and weak variant ἀπέθηκε which is probably rather familiar to a later Greek reader, but is not Homeric.

κρατήσας: “to overpower”; κρατέω often takes a genitive object but can function absolutely (“to prevail”) or with an accusative of the person prevailed against. In this case “he overpowered [him] as he reached out with his hand”.

234 Ψιχάρπαξ: “Crumbthief” here makes a reappearance. We are left to conclude (1) that there is a manuscript problem, (2) that another mouse-hero shares his name as in the two Ajaxes (in which case, it would be stylistically expected to disambiguate using patronyms) or (3) that the dead mouse prince has resurrected (see Kelly’s (2009) note on this where he argues that the parody here takes Homeric battle scenes and their repetitive ambiguity to task). MSS variants to solve this problem include: (1) A variant Λειχάρπαξ instead (a compound of two verbs, meaning “Lick-Snatch”); (2) Ludwig’s conjecture Λυχνάρπαξ (“Oil-Thief”) based on the lacuna in the MSS (Λ[…]άρπαξ) and the content of line 180 (στέμματα βλάπτοντες καὶ λύχνους εἵνεκ’ ἐλαίου). For (1), we have already the compound Λειχομύλη: “Millstone licker”—but here the combination of two verbal-roots generates a name with little sense. (2) is attractive enough

ἑτάρου περὶ τεθνειῶτος: Some MSS have the plural ἑτάρων…τεθνειώτων
ἤμυν’: The augmented form of ἀμύνω is less common that the unaugmented in Homer (see Christensen 2013). The verb can “ward off” danger from an object in the genitive as at Il.13.109-110 whereas the use of the preposition περὶ is more common as at 18.173 (οἳ μὲν ἀμυνόμενοι νέκυος πέρι τεθνηῶτος)
ἑτάρου περὶ τεθνειῶτος: Some MSS have the plural ἑτάρων…τεθνειώτων.

235 βάλε: unagumented, “he struck”.

κατὰ νηδύος ἐς μέσον ἧπαρ: on this see above note 203 (κατὰ γαστέρα ἐς μέσον ἧπαρ). Here we have the genitive as opposed to the accusative, but the different noun is strange: νηδύς can mean “womb” but also just means a cavity in the stomach. For a wound in the νηδύς, see Il. 20.486 (τὸν βάλε μέσσον ἄκοντι, πάγη δ’ ἐν νηδύϊ χαλκός). Instead of ἧπαρ, some MSS have ἦτορ.

236 πῖπτε: Unaugmented imperfect.

ψυχὴ δ’ ᾿Αϊδόσδε βεβήκει: This line is most likely influenced by images in the Iliad as at 22.362 (ψυχὴ δ’ ἐκ ῥεθέων πταμένη ῎Αϊδος δὲ βεβήκει ), although it is somewhat shortened.

237 Κραμβοβάτης δὲ ἰδὼν: The pattern that happens three times in this battle section (name + δὲ ἰδὼν) is not Homeric. The epics often have the sequence τὸν δὲ ἰδὼν.

Κραμβοβάτης: “Cabbage-walker”; some MSS have Πηλοβάτης (“Mud-walker”). The name Κραμβοβάτης might be a mouse-name, and following the sense of the passage would have a mouse attacking a mouse (here Ψιχάρπαξ from line 230) unless we provide another object-pronoun without antecedant.

πηλοῦ δράκα: “Handful of mud”; cf. drachma, which means a handful.

238 καὶ τὸ μέτωπον: here, “face”.

ἔχρισε: χρίω, “to rub on, annoint”; One manuscript has ἔπληξε instead. The sense with ἔχρισε is more vivid. The verb exists in Homer more of the sense of annoint (16.670).

ἐξετύφλου: Other MSS have ἐξετύφλωσε (“to blind”) instead.

παρὰ μικρόν: Adverbial: “more than a little” which comes to mean “almost”. μικρόν as an adverb does not appear in Homer. This phrase appears in Eur. Heracl. 295 ( ὡς δείν’ ἔπαθεν καὶ παρὰ μικρὸν), Isocrates 4.59. See the LSJ entry III.5.b. See Smyth §1692.3c παρὰ μικρόν for “narrowly” or almost. This phrase seems to rise in usage during the fifth century, appearing in tragedy, oratory and then philosophy (e.g. Aristotle Phy. 1.97.92).

239 ὠργίσθη: from ὀργίζω: “to make angry”. Some MSS have ὀργισθείς instead. Others have forms like θυμώθη, μουνώθη, γουνώθη, and συνώθη.
χειρὶ παχείῃ: “with a thick hand”, a Homeric formula, see e.g. 21.424: καί ῥ’ ἐπιεισαμένη πρὸς στήθεα χειρὶ παχείῃ.

240 ἐν δαπέδῳ: “earth”. Some variants include γαίη̣ and πεδιω̣ but this is a good Homeric form and the phrase appears in the Odyssey 11.577: κείμενον ἐν δαπέδῳ. ὁ δ’ ἐπ’ ἐννέα κεῖτο πέλεθρα.

λίθον ὄβριμον: “Strong rock”. The adjective obrimos is most often combined with spear (ἔγχος).

ἄχθος ἀρούρης: “a burden of the earth”, Another Homeric formula which, in its most famous occurence is used by Achilles to describe how useless he has been in sitting out the battle (ἀλλ’ ἧμαι παρὰ νηυσὶν ἐτώσιον ἄχθος ἀρούρης, 18.104). The pairing appears as well at Od. 20.379 (ἔμπαιον οὐδὲ βίης, ἀλλ’ αὔτως ἄχθος ἀρούρης) where it is used insultingly to refer to Odysseus. If the poet of the parody does know the Homeric passages and is thinking of them here, then the allusion may humorously trivialize the Homeric scene.

241 Κραμβοβάτην: This could be the variant Πηλοβάτην instead, but it seems that the sceneis describing th blinding of a mouse who, in rage hurls the first thing at hand against his assaillant.

ὑπὸ γούνατα: “under the knees”. The stout stone described in line 240 cannot be too large if it is managing to fit in between the mouse’s knees and feet. The image, obviously somewhat absurd, reveals the extent of the parody.

ἐκλάσθη: “sounded out” from κλάγγω. This form appears once in Homer (Il. 11.584)

242 κνήμη δεξιτερή: “Right greave”

πέσε δ’ ὕπτιος ἐν κονίῃσι: “He feel from high into the dust”. The image and language is taken from Homer (ἑσταότ’ ἄγχ’ Αἴαντος· ὃ δ’ ὕπτιος ἐν κονίῃσι, Il. 15.434) but the verb is often enjambed into the next line (νηὸς ἄπο πρυμνῆς χαμάδις πέσε…)

243 Κραυγασίδης: A patronymic without any clear antecedant or noun.

ἤμυνε: see above on Line 234.

αὖθις: “in turn”

ἐπ’ αὐτόν: Another object without a clear antecedent, but it must refer to the subject of 234 (here Ψιχάρπαξ) who kills in that line and is attacked in 237 (ἐπ’ αὐτόν) with mud in the face. Once angered by this (ὠργίσθη δ’ ἄρ’ ἐκεῖνος), he picks up his boulder and strikes his adversary (241). The new subject at 243 can only have that adversary to strike in 244.

244 κατὰ γαστέρα: On this phrase, see above on line 203

245 ὀξύσχοινος: “sharp reed”(see above, 164) is modified by πᾶς (244)

ἔκχυντο: “poured out”; the subject is in the next line

246 ἔγκατ’: “Innards, guts”

ἐφελκομένῳ: dative of possession “all his guts poured out, around the spear from the stout hand”

ὑπὸ δούρατι: the dative here is a bit strange. With ὑπὸ, the dative can mean “under the force of” or merely “under”.

χειρὶ παχείῃ: The repeition so close to 239 is a little suspect.

247 Τρωγλοδύτης: “Hole-dweller”; see above on 52
This phrase is Homeric, see Od. 6.97: δεῖπνον ἔπειθ’ εἵλοντο παρ’ ὄχθῃσιν ποταμοῖο.

ὡς εἶδεν: “When he noticed” cf. Il. 4.149 (ὡς εἶδεν μέλαν αἷμα καταρρέον ἐξ ὠτειλῆς)

248 σκάζων ἐκ πολέμου ἀνεχάζετο, τείρετο δ’ αἰνῶς: This line seems a little like “cut-and-paste” poetry. Each of the three parts appears in Homer in exactly the same position; but only all together here.

σκάζων ἐκ πολέμου: “limping from battle” σκάζω. This phrase occurs only at Il. 11.811 (σκάζων ἐκ πολέμου· κατὰ δὲ νότιος ῥέεν ἱδρὼς).

ἀνεχάζετο: “to retreat” from ἀναχάζω “to cause to retreat”; this verb appears frequently in this form and position in Homer Il. 5.600, 11.461, 16.710, 17.108

τείρετο δ’ αἰνῶς: from τείρω “to wear down”; here “to suffer”. αἰνῶς “dreadfully, terribly” This phrase occurs at Il. 5.352 ῝Ως ἔφαθ’, ἣ δ’ ἀλύουσ’ ἀπεβήσετο, τείρετο δ’ αἰνῶς·

249 ἥλατο δ’ ἐς τάφρους: some MSS have ἐς τάφρον Ludwig shows ἐς λίμνην as well, but it would not make sense for the character (a mouse) to retreat to the pond. In Homer, the plural never occurs. The singular appears in the same metrical position at Il. 18.215 (στῆ δ’ ἐπὶ τάφρον ἰὼν ἀπὸ τείχεος, οὐδ’ ἐς ᾿Αχαιοὺς). Allen may prefer the plural for metrical reasons.

250 Τρωξάρτης: This is Psikharpaks’ father who speaks at 109.

ἐς ποδὸς ἄκρον : “Top of his foot”. This scene may play upon Paris’ wounding of Diomedes’ foot in the Iliad 11.377ff. Diomedes taunts Paris for wounding him in this way, but then limps off the battlefield. The scene likely resonates with the death of Achilles at Paris’ hand in the mythical tradition. The use of the preposition ἐς with ἔβαλεν is a little odd (a misreading might lead one to understand that the mouse throws at the foot but does not necessarily hit it), but it is not without some precedent: intensifying or directional prepositions are used with βάλλω, see Il. 17.517 (καὶ βάλεν ᾿Αρήτοιο κατ’ ἀσπίδα πάντοσ’ ἐΐσην).

251 ἔσχατος δ’ ἐκ λίμνης ἀνεδύσετο, τείρετο δ’ αἰνῶς: There are several MSS variants for this line including:

ὦκα δὲ λίμνην ἤλατο τειρόμενός περ δεινῶς
ὦκα δὲ τειρόμενος ὲς λίμνην ἤλατο φεύγων
ὦκα δ᾿ ἐς λίμνην εἰσᾶλτο τειρόμενον δ’ αἰνῶς

None of the variants seem more convincing than the others and they all express the same general idea. When it comes to content, this line does not really contribute to the order of the action which would have Physignathos exiting the pond in suffering. Instead, there is logic in having Prassaios noticing his fall and then entering into action.

252 Πρασσαῖος: Ludwig has Τρωξάρτης instead. Prassaios here makes more sense because the latter has just been wounded.

ὡς εἶδεν: A typical Homeric phrase for a character noticing something; see Il. 15.484: ῞Εκτωρ δ’ ὡς εἶδεν Τεύκρου βλαφθέντα βέλεμνα.

ἡμίπνουν: “half-alive”.

προπεσόντα: from πίπτω.

252a καὶ οἱ ἐκέδραμεν αὖθις, ἀποκταμεναι μενεαίνων: Ludwig includes this variant; Glei does not.

ἀποκταμεναι μενεαίνων: This phrase is similar to Il. 20.165 (σίντης, ὅν τε καὶ ἄνδρες ἀποκτάμεναι μεμάασιν) . ἀποκταμεναι: from ἀποκτείνω. μενεαίνων: “longing for”.

253 ἦλθε διὰ προμάχων: “He went through the forefighters”; this is similar to Il. 17.88 (βῆ δὲ διὰ προμάχων κεκορυθμένος αἴθοπι χαλκῷ).

ἀκόντισεν: from ἀκοντίζω “to hurl a spear”. This form appears in this position at Il. 4.490 (Πριαμίδης καθ’ ὅμιλον ἀκόντισεν ὀξέϊ δουρί).

ὀξύσχοινον: on this, see line 164

253-256: Various MSS omit these lines

254 ἔρρηξε: ῥήγνυμι “to break”

σάκος: “shield”

δουρὸς ἀκωκή: “Tip of the spear”, often appears at the end of the line, cf. Il. 23.821 (αἰὲν ἐπ’ αὐχένι κῦρε φαεινοῦ δουρὸς ἀκωκῇ).

σχέτο: intransitive aorist of ἔχω, cf. Il. 7.248 (ἐν τῇ δ’ ἑβδομάτῃ ῥινῷ σχέτο· δεύτερος αὖτε).

255 Some MSS omit both lines 255 and 256. The sense of line 255 (οὐδ’ ἔβαλε τρυφάλειαν ἀμύμονα καὶ τετράχυτρον) seems a bit off in its context. With 254: “He didn’t break the shield, but the tip of the spear stuck in it / and he also didn’t hit the helment, blameless and four-pots-thick”. Switching the order of the two lines might make more sense. However, there is probably a subject change at 255 with the nominative δῖος ᾿Οριγανίων postponed to 256. According to a scholiast, these obejcts are actually names, Tetrakhutros and Truphaleios of the victims here (the “strong heroes” reflected in ἥρωας κρατερούς at 259).

τετράχυτρον: “Four-pots thick”, modifying τρυφάλειαν, “helmet”. The epithet τετράχυτρον only appears here in all of Greek literature, a clear parodic neologism. Bowmeister suggests that this may be a direct parody of the compound at 5.743 describing Athena’s helmet (κρατὶ δ’ ἐπ’ ἀμφίφαλον κυνέην θέτο τετραφάληρον). Cf. the similar form at Ap. Rhodes 2.920 (τετράφαλος φοίνικι λόφῳ ἐπελάμπετο πήληξ). In addition this form may also be built on the “four-layered” shield that appears at Il. 15.479 (αὐτὰρ ὅ γ’ ἀμφ’ ὤμοισι σάκος θέτο τετραθέλυμνον).

256 δῖος ᾿Οριγανίων: “Shining/Glorious Oregano” the common Homeric epithet here is humorous and functional.

μιμούμενος αὐτὸν ῎Αρηα,: μιμούμενος: see on line 7 and 149. The participle of μιμέεσθαι here and at line 7 highlights the parodic detachment between the world of real actors, such as the Giant and Ares, and the ridiculous mice, who merely mimic the exploits of great actors on a small scale. This is underscored by the fact that we encounter Zeus ἡδὺ γελῶν in line 172, but also is discordant with the fears expressed by Athena (194) and even Zeus himself (272-273).

257 ὃς μόνος ἐν βατράχοισιν ἀρίστευεν καθ’ ὅμιλον· : “he alone among the frogs had his aristeia through the throng”. In Homer, καθ’ ὅμιλον usually indicates movement through the throng (e.g. Il. 12.468: κέκλετο δὲ Τρώεσσιν ἑλιξάμενος καθ’ ὅμιλον); here this makes more sense if the verb ἀρίστευεν is understood as having a sense of movement, i.e. “he had his aristeia all through that crowd”. This turns out to be funny shortly—he is said to be the only one who has an aristeia but the jumps into the water when he notices that everyone else is fleeing.

ἀρίστευεν: “to have an aristeia”, “to be the best”; this verb appears in Homer, e.g. 11.784 (αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν καὶ ὑπείροχον ἔμμεναι ἄλλων).

καθ’ ὅμιλον: “Throughout the throng”.

258 ὥρμησεν: ὁρμάω is comparatively rare in Homer but common in prose authors after the fifth century BCE.

δ’ ὡς ἴδεν: Note the unaugmented form to contrast with the earlier ὡς εἶδεν at 247.

259 This line is left out by several MSS.

ἥρωας: In early epic poetry the term “hero” can be marked to refer to the race of heroes who perish at Troy. In Hesiod’s Works and Days the race of heroes (ἀνδρῶν ἡρώων θεῖον γένος, 159) are those who perish fighting around Thebes and Troy (159-165). From Hesiod’s perspective, the word Hero is restricted to this generation (see Nagy 1999, 159). In the Iliad, all participants are referred to generically as heroes, see Iliad 1.3-4. Obviously, this is parodic because the mice are being depicted as heroes in a mythical—even Homeric sense—but there is another possible level of meaning. More than once in this poem, the combatants are compared to mythical beasts such as Giants (line 7), Centaurs (170-171) or kosmic threats like the Titans (280-283). Here, they are compared to men: this may indicate interpolation (insofar as it doesn’t conform to the earlier strategy) or amplifies and complicates the parodic move.

ἥρωας κρατερούς: The adjective κρατερούς in the masc. accusative plural is not found typically in Homer (but is in later authos such as Ap. Rhodes and Quintus Smyrnaeus). One MS preserves κραταιοὺς.

ἔδυνε: from δύνω (cf. δύω; the former is a parallel formation with the present infix –n- ) lit. “to put on”, but used frequently in Homer to describe putting on clothing (e.g. Il. 11.19: δεύτερον αὖ θώρηκα περὶ στήθεσσιν ἔδυνε) but also of entering water (cf. Od. 4.425: ὣς εἰποῦσ’ ὑπὸ πόντον ἐδύσετο κυμαίνοντα·).

βένθεσι λίμνης : “in the depths of the pond”. This is a Homeric formula, see Il. 13.21: Αἰγάς, ἔνθα δέ οἱ κλυτὰ δώματα βένθεσι λίμνης .

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