Proverbs in the Scholia to the Odyssey

Occasionally, marginal notes on Homeric manuscripts (scholia) will attempt to explain a passage by appealing to a proverb or assert a proverb’s derivation from one of the epics. Several of the proverbs that appear in the scholia to the Odyssey don’t appear outside of the commentary tradition.

Schol. ad. Od. 8.17 (On why Odysseus is only responsible for the companions in his particular ship)

“According to the proverb “Common ship, common safety”
κατὰ τὴν παροιμίαν “κοινὴ ναῦς κοινὴ σωτηρία,”

Schol. ad. Od. 3.36

“Why is Peisistratos first? The proverb goes: “The same age delights the same age”
διὰ τί πρῶτος ὁ Πεισίστρατος; παροιμία ἐστὶν ἡ λέγουσα, ἧλιξ ἥλικα τέρπει. E.

Schol. ad Od. 3.32

“Problem: Why do they dedicate tongues to the gods? Solution: Some say it is because the tongue is the strongest of the limbs; others claim that it is because it is right to be careful about what is said at a drinking party. This is where the proverb “I have the drinking buddy who doesn’t forget” comes from.

᾿Απορία. διὰ τί τοῖς θεοῖς ἀπένεμον τὰς γλώσσας; Λύσις. οἱ μὲν ὅτι κράτιστον τῶν μελῶν ἡ γλῶσσα, οἱ δὲ ὅτι δεῖ τὰ ἐν συμποσίοις λεχθέντα τηρεῖν. ὅθεν καὶ παροιμία “μισῶ μνάμονα συμπόταν.” B.

Schol. ad Od. 7.36

“Or like a thought: this is where the proverbial saying comes from: “It flew like a thought”

ἠὲ νόημα] ἐντεῦθεν τὸ παροιμιῶδες “διέπτατο δ’ ὥστε νόημα.”

Schol. ad. Od. 8.285

“He was not blind, according to the common proverb, “the blind man saw it”
οὐδ’ ἀλαοσκοπίην] οὐ τυφλὸς ἦν, κατὰ τὴν κοινὴν παροιμίαν, ὁ τυφλὸς ἐσκόπησεν.

Schol. ad Od. 8.329

“A gnomic phrase” through the idea “the slow overtakes the swift, there is a popular proverb “a race of cripples.”
γνωμικόν. διὰ δὲ τοῦ “κιχάνει τοι βραδὺς ὠκύν” ἡ παρὰ πολλοῖς παροιμία ἐστὶν “καὶ χωλῶν δρόμος·”

Schol. ad Od. 9.80

“Maleia”: “But when he was about then to come to the steep peak of the Maleains”. It is a rather high mountain in Laconia. It is a rather high, dangerous peak in Laconia, this is where we get the proverb “after rounding Malea, you forgot everything at home.”
Μάλειαν] “ἀλλ’ ὅτε δή ῥα ἔμελλε Μαλειάων ὄρος αἰπὺ ἵξεσθαι” (Od. δ, 514.). ἔστι δὲ ἀκρωτήριον τῆς Λακωνικῆς. B.E.Q. ἀκρωτήριον τῆς Λακωνικῆς λίαν ἐπικίνδυνον. ὅθεν ἡ παροιμία “Μαλέαν δὲ κάμψας ἐπιλαθοῦ τῶν οἴκαδε.” MS. Barnes.

Schol. ad Od. 14.214

“But still the reed.” There is also the proverb, “grain from the reed”
ἀλλ’ ἔμπης καλάμην] καὶ ἡ παροιμία, ἀπὸ τῆς καλάμης τὸν στάχυν. Q.

Schol ad Od. 22.9-12

“For the men…” Dionysus Thrax says in his Thoughts that the proverb “there are many things between the cup and the tip of the lip” comes from this scene. For after raising the cup, Antinoos was struck. Aristotle says this about the proverb. Angkaios, the son of Poseidon and Astupalaia, who was Samian by birth had a household servant from Krete and ordered him to bring him a drink to drink. When he saw that he was not able to drink where the grapes happened to be, Ankaios himself threatened the servants, took the cup and raised it. After he said “there are many thinks between a cup and the tip of its lip”, a curse of a great boar came to ravage the land of Ankaios. After he heard this, he pulled the cup from his lips, put it down, and ran out to face the beast, where he died. Aristotle says that the proverb developed from this story.”

ἀνδράσιν] Διονύσιος ὁ Θρᾷξ ἐν ταῖς Μελέταις φησὶ τὴν παροιμίαν “πολλὰ μεταξὺ πέλει κύλικος καὶ χείλεος ἄκρου” ἀπὸ τούτου διαδε-δόσθαι. προστιθέμενος γὰρ ᾿Αντίνοος τὸ ἔκπωμα βάλλεται. λέγει δὲ ᾿Αριστοτέλης περὶ τῆς παροιμίας οὕτως. ᾿Αγκαῖος ὁ Ποσειδῶνος καὶ ᾿Αστυπαλαίας Σάμιος ὢν τὸ γένος ἔχων οἰκέτην ἀπὸ Κρήτης ἐκέ-λευσεν αὐτῷ προσφέρειν ποτὸν πίνειν. εἰπόντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ὡς οὐ δυνήσεται πιεῖν ὅθεν ἐντεῦθεν αἱ ἄμπελοι τυγχάνουσιν, αὐτὸς ὁ ᾿Αγκαῖος κατακερτομήσας τοὺς θεράποντας ἔλαβε τὴν κύλικα καὶ προσέθετο.λέξαντος δὲ ἐκείνου “πολλὰ μεταξὺ πέλει κύλικος καὶ χείλεος ἄκρου” ἄφνω συνέβη χρῆμα συὸς μεγάλου ἐπιζαρῆσαι τοῖς τοῦ ᾿Αγκαίου χωρίοις. ἀκούσαντα δὲ αὐτὸν ἀπὸ τῶν χειλέων τὴν κύλικα καταθεῖναι καὶ δραμεῖν ὡς τὸν ἄγριον ὗν, συμβαλόντα δὲ τῷ κάπρῳ τελευτῆσαι. ἔνθα φησὶ κατανοῆσαι τὴν παροιμίαν. V.


This version is not very clear. Here is the account from Zenobius

Zenobius, 5.71

“There are many things between the cup and the tip of the lip”. This proverb was coined for the following reason. Ankaios was a child of Poseidon who planted vines and was mean to his servants. One of his servants said that the master would have no part of the harvest. Ankaois, once the fruit had ripened, he delighted, living luxuriously, and he ordered his servant to mix [wine] for him. When he was about to raise the cup to his mouth, he reminded him of the speech. Then he spoke the line which had been uttered. While these things were being said, another servant arrived and announced that a super-big board was destroying the vineyard. Ankaos dropped his drink and rushed to the boar; he was struck by him and died. This is where the proverb comes from.

Dionysius claims that it refers to the fate of Antinoos after he was wooing Penelope. For he deid as he was lifting a cup to his lips, shot by Odysseus’ bow.”

Πολλὰ μεταξὺ πέλει κύλικος καὶ χείλεος ἄκρου: παροιμία λεχθεῖσα ἐξ αἰτίας τοιαύτης· ᾿Αγκαῖος παῖς Ποσειδῶνος φυτεύων ἀμπελῶνα βαρέως ἐπέκειτο τοῖς οἰκέταις. Εἷς δὲ τῶν οἰκετῶν ἔφη, μὴ μεταλήψεσθαι τὸν δεσπότην τοῦ καρποῦ. ῾Ο δὲ ᾿Αγκαῖος ἐπειδὴ ὁ καρπὸς ἐφθάκει, χαίρων ἐτρύφα, καὶ τὸν οἰκέτην ἐκέλευσε κεράσαι αὐτῷ. Μέλλων δὲ τὴν κύλικα προσφέρειν τῷ στόματι, ὑπεμίμνησκεν αὐτὸν τοῦ λόγου· ὁ δὲ ἔφη τὸν εἰρημένον στίχον. Τούτων ἔτι λεγομένων οἰκέτης ἦλθεν ἀπαγγέλλων,  ὡς ὑπερμεγέθης σῦς τὸν ὄρχατον λυμαίνεται. ῾Ο δὲ ᾿Αγκαῖος ἀποβαλὼν τὴν πόσιν ἐπὶ τὸν σῦν ὥρμησε καὶ πληγεὶς ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐτελεύτησεν. ῞Οθεν ἡ παροιμία. Διονύσιος δέ φησιν εἰρῆσθαι αὐτὴν ἀπὸ τῆς ᾿Αντινόου μνηστευσαμένου τὴν Πηνελόπην συμφορᾶς. Προσαγόμενος γὰρ τὸ ἔκπωμα ἐτελεύτησε τοξευθεὶς παρὰ τοῦ ᾿Οδυσσέως.

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2 thoughts on “Proverbs in the Scholia to the Odyssey

  1. In retirement, you and I should open a bar for the sole purpose of including μισῶ μνάμονα συμπόταν above the door.

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