Tau is for Tuesday: Tattoos, Talents, and Tithonos

Three more proverbs from the Suda:


“You’re expecting the Samians’ fate.” This proverb is used for those who are fearing insurmountable betrayals of evil.  It developed from the terrible things the Samians suffered at the Athenians’ hands. When the Athenians captured them, they killed some and tattooed a sign called the “Samê” on the others. This is itself a type of Samian suffering. Later, the Samians tattooed the Athenians they captured in vengeance.

Τὰ Σαμίων ὑποπτεύεις: παροιμία αὕτη λέγεται ἐπὶ τῶν δεδιότων τινὰς ἀνηκέστους κακῶν προδοσίας. παρῆλθε δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν γενομένων ὑπὸ Ἀθηναίων εἰς Σαμίους αἰκισμῶν: ἑλόντες γὰρ αὐτοὺς οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι τοὺς μὲν ἀπέκτειναν, τοὺς δὲ ἔστιξαν τῇ καλουμένῃ σάμῃ, ἥ ἐστιν εἶδος πάθους Σαμιακοῦ: ἀνθ’ ὧν καὶ οἱ Σάμιοι τοὺς ἁλόντας μετὰ ταῦτα Ἀθηναίων ἔστιξαν.


“He tilts the talents of Tantalus”: Tantalos had so much wealth that it became proverbial. For this wealthy Phrygian was famous for his talents* and was rumored to be a son of Plouto and Zeus.  Anacreon uses this proverb in his third book. This plays on the word talent and is used as well by the comic poet: “he touts the talents of Tantalus”. People compose these words, toying in this way with the sound and the form of talent in the same way as a “good deal of goodies” or “wiser than wise” in Epicharmus.”

*talent is a term for a weight of gold or silver, a large amount of money.

Τὰ Ταντάλου τάλαντα ταλαντίζεται: διεβεβόητο ὁ Τάνταλος ἐπὶ πλούτῳ, ὡς καὶ εἰς παροιμίαν διαδοθῆναι. οὗτος γὰρ πλούσιος Φρὺξ ἐπὶ ταλάντοις διεβεβόητο, Πλουτοῦς καὶ Διὸς λεγόμενος. κέχρηται δὲ τῇ παροιμίᾳ καὶ Ἀνακρέων ἐν τρίτῳ. γέγονε δὲ παρὰ τὸ ὄνομα τάλαντα, ὡς καὶ παρὰ τῷ κωμικῷ εἴρηται: Ταντάλου τάλαντα τανταλίζεται. αὕτη οὖν ἡ παροιμία παρὰ τὴν ὁμοιότητα τῶν ὀνομάτων εἴρηται: ἐπείπερ παίζοντες πολλὰ τοιαῦτα καὶ ἄλλα πεποιήκασιν, οἷον ἀγαθῶν ἀγαθίδες, καὶ σοφώτερος σοφοῦ παρ’ Ἐπιχάρμῳ.


“The old age of Tithonos”: A proverb applied for people who live a long time and are extremely old. The myth is that Tithonos, led by a desire to escape his old age, changed shape into a cicada. Aristophanes has: “ripping, hassling, and disturbing a Tithonos-man.”

Τιθωνοῦ γῆρας: παροιμία. ἐπὶ τῶν πολυχρονίων καὶ ὑπεργήρων τάσσεται. ἱστορεῖται δὲ ὅτι ὁ Τιθωνὸς ἐπιθυμίᾳ τοῦ τὸ γῆρας ἐκδύσασθαι εἰς τέττιγα μετέβαλεν. Ἀριστοφάνης: ἄνδρα Τιθωνὸν σπαράττων καὶ ταράττων καὶ κυκῶν.

Eos and (a young) Tithonos

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