Atopia: Strangeness in the Scholia to the Iliad

Atopia: “Strangeness,” from a-topos, “out of place”

*ἄτοπα· πονηρά, αἰσχρά: “wretched, shameful”
*ἀτοπία· αἰσχρότης. πονηρία: “shamefulness, wretchedness”

Etymologicum Genuinum
“Atopon: atopon is used in place of something that is amazing or illogical”
῎Ατοπον· τὸ ἄτοπον ἀντὶ τοῦ θαυμαστοῦ ἢ ἀλόγου τάττεται

E.g. Pherekratês fr. 91

“It is strange for [her] to be [his] mother and wife”

„ὡς ἄτοπόν ἐστι μητέρ’ εἶναι καὶ γυνήν”.

In the scholia vetera (the “old scholia”) to the Iliad, commentators declare something in the poem strange or specifically “not strange” over 100 times. below are some of my favorites.


Schol. T ad. Il. 6.168

“It would be strange for those who had discovered every kind of art to be illiterate.”
ἄτοπον γὰρ τοὺς πᾶσαν τέχνην εὑρόντας οὐκ εἰδέναι γράμματα

Schol. T. ad 6.222-223

“These two lines are strange, for “I do not remember Tydeus” nevertheless means “I remember the deed.”

ἄτοποι οἱ δύο στίχοι. | τὸ δὲ Τυδέα δ’ οὐ μέμνημαι (222) ὡς „μέμνημαι τόδε ἔργον” (Ι 527). T

Schol. aBT. ad 7.466

“Ox-slaughtering”: “cow-slaughtering is not sacrificing to the gods—for it would be strange to call a sacrifice a murder—but it is to slaughter oxen in preparation for dinner.”

ex. βουφόνεον: βουφονεῖν ἐστιν οὐ τὸ θύειν θεοῖς (ἄτοπον γὰρ ἐπὶ θυσίας φόνον λέγειν), ἀλλὰ τὸ φονεύειν βοῦς εἰς δείπνου κατασκευήν. A b (BCE3E4)T

Schol. T. ad 11.407–410 ex

“It would be strange to burn the ships of the men who were present.”

ἄτοπον γὰρ ἦν παρόντων καίεσθαι τὰς ναῦς. b(BCE3E4)

Schol. T. Il. 12.295-7 ex.

“For it is strange for gold to be outside.”

(296)· ἄτοπον γὰρ τὸν χρυσὸν ἔσωθεν εἶναι. T

Schol. bT ad Il. 15.95

“For among men many things are strange due to drinking”

παρὰ γὰρ ἀνθρώποις πολλὰ διὰ μέθην ἄτοπα γίνεται. b(BCE3E4)T

Schol. T ad. Il. 16.7 ex

“It is strange that [Achilles]  was weeping over a girl, but now he is calling Patroklos a little girl because he is crying over these terrible things.”

ἄτοπός ἐστιν αὐτὸς μὲν ἕνεκα παλλακίδος κλάων (cf. Α 348—57), τὸν δὲ Πάτροκλον κόρην καλῶν ἐπὶ τοιούτοις δεινοῖς δακρύοντα.

Schol. bT ad Il. 18.207b

“For [Aristarchus] claims it is strange to compare fire to smoke.”

καὶ γὰρ ἄτοπόν φησι πῦρ εἰκάζεσθαι καπνῷ.

Schol. T. ad Il. 20.40c

“He wrote “daughter of Zeus” instead of smile-loving [philomeidês]. For it would be strange to call a warring goddess smile-loving.”

φιλομειδής: γράφεται „Διὸς θυγάτηρ”· ἄτοπον γὰρ τὸ φιλομειδής ἐπὶ τῆς πολεμούσης. T

Schol. bT ad Il. 22.168

“For it is strange to mention Hektor but not Achilles.”

ἄτοπον γὰρ μεμνῆσθαι μὲν ῞Εκτορος, μή γε μὴν ᾿Αχιλλέως. b(BCE3)T

Image result for Greek vase homer strange

4 thoughts on “Atopia: Strangeness in the Scholia to the Iliad

  1. I just love this! I’m going to hang this one up in my class somewhere as a handy reference for my students who want to become engineers and therefore see no value in Humanistic study:
    ἄτοπον γὰρ τοὺς πᾶσαν τέχνην εὑρόντας οὐκ εἰδέναι γράμματα

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