More Byzantine Etymologies: Kas(s)andra


From the introduction to the Scholia to Lykophron’s Alexandra by John Tzetzes and his brother Isaac:

“That is a sufficient beginning. Let us talk now about the title. Why did Lykophron call this poem the Alexandra? It stands apart from the rest of his collective writings. For I said before that he wrote many plays in the tragic form. The name Kasandra is said to derive from “manly helmet” [kasis + anêr] Hektor has—and is written in the Aeolic dialect with two sigmas. Alexandra is from avoiding or fleeing the company of men [aluksô+andras] or otherwise from warding off and helping men [aleksô+andras] and human beings through oracles. But these things are rather [cold?]; still, we have to record them because there are fools who are at a loss about these trifles. Here’s another: what is the reason that he is called Lykophron? They say it is because he is riddling and cunning; wolves are also wise, you see.”

᾿Αλλὰ ταῦτα μὲν ἀρκούντως ἐρρέθη, λέξωμεν δὲ καὶ  περὶ τῆς ἐπιγραφῆς· διὰ τί Λυκόφρονος ᾿Αλεξάνδρα ἐπεγράφη τὸ παρὸν ποίημα; πρὸς ἀντιδιαστολὴν τῶν λοιπῶν τοῦ Λυκόφρονος συγγραμμάτων· εἶπον γὰρ ὅτι ξδ′ ἢ μϚ′ τραγωδιῶν ἐποίησε δράματα. Κασάνδρα δὲ λέγεται παρὰ τὸ κάσιν ἀνδρεῖον ἔχειν τὸν ῞Εκτορα αἰολικῶς δὲ γράφεται διὰ δύο ςσ ᾿Αλεξάνδρα δὲ ἢ παρὰ τὸ ἀλύξαι καὶ ἐκφυγεῖν τὴν τῶν ἀνδρῶν συνουσίαν ἢ παρὰ τὸ ἀλέξειν καὶ βοηθεῖν τοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἤτοι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις διὰ τῶν χρησμῶν. ταῦτα δὲ καὶ ψυχρά εἰσιν, ὅμως διά τινας τῶν μωρῶν τῶν τοιαῦτα λῆρα ἀπορούντων γραπτέον καὶ ταῦτα. *ὡς* καὶ τὸ διὰ τί λέγεται Λυκόφρων; διὰ τὸ αἰνιγματωδῶς καὶ πανούργως λέγειν· καὶ γὰρ οἱ λύκοι πανοῦργοι.Cassandra

Zeus, Beginning, Middle and….

Orphic Hymn, fr. 46

“Zeus came first; white-lightning Zeus came last;
Zeus is the beginning; Zeus is the middle; everything came from Zeus.”

Ζεὺς πρῶτος γένετο, Ζεὺς ὕστατος ἀργικέραυνος,
Ζεὺς κεφαλή, Ζεὺς μέσα, Διὸς δ’ ἐκ πάντα τέτυκται



This fragment is preserved in the introduction to the Scholia to Lykophron’s Alexandra by Isaac Tzetzes (or his father John). The commentary is introduced by a rather modest epigram:


“I, Lykophron’s thick book, though full of songs,
was once obscure, possessing unseeable visions.
But now by means of Hermean craft Isaac Tzetzes
Has set me free, once he loosened my well-woven restraints.”

ἡ βίβλος τελέθουσα Λυκόφρονος ἀσματοκόμπουσα
ἦν ἀλαὸς προπάροιθεν ἀδερκέα δέργματ’ ἔχουσα·
νῦν δέ με δορκαλέην ῾Ερμείῃ θήκατο τέχνῃ
Τζέτζης ᾿Ισαάκιος ἐύστροφα πείσματα λύσας.