A Commentary on the Batrakhomuomakhia, Part 11: Lines 132-146

This is the eleventh installation of our working Commentary on the Homeric “Battle of Frogs and Mice.” As always, comments, corrections and additions are welcome.

132 Οὕτω μὲν μύες ἦσαν ἔνοπλοι• ὡς δ’ ἐνόησαν
133 βάτραχοι ἐξανέδυσαν ἀφ’ ὕδατος, ἐς δ’ ἕνα χῶρον
134 ἐλθόντες βουλὴν ξύναγον πολέμοιο κακοῖο.
135 σκεπτομένων δ’ αὐτῶν πόθεν ἡ στάσις ἢ τίς ὁ θρύλλος,
136 κῆρυξ ἐγγύθεν ἦλθε φέρων ῥάβδον μετὰ χερσίν,
137 Τυρογλύφου υἱὸς μεγαλήτορος ᾿Εμβασίχυτρος,
138 ἀγγέλλων πολέμοιο κακὴν φάτιν, εἶπέ τε τοῖα•
139 ῏Ω βάτραχοι, μύες ὔμμιν ἀπειλήσαντες ἔπεμψαν
140 εἰπεῖν ὁπλίζεσθαι ἐπὶ πτόλεμόν τε μάχην τε.
141 εἶδον γὰρ καθ’ ὕδωρ Ψιχάρπαγα ὅν περ ἔπεφνεν
142 ὑμέτερος βασιλεὺς Φυσίγναθος. ἀλλὰ μάχεσθε
143 οἵ τινες ἐν βατράχοισιν ἀριστῆες γεγάατε.
144 ῝Ως εἰπὼν ἀπέφηνε• λόγος δ’ εἰς οὔατα πάντων
145 εἰσελθὼν ἐτάραξε φρένας βατράχων ἀγερώχων•
146 μεμφομένων δ’ αὐτῶν Φυσίγναθος εἶπεν ἀναστάς•

Continue reading “A Commentary on the Batrakhomuomakhia, Part 11: Lines 132-146”

Commentary on the Batrakhomuomakhia, Part 6: Lines 67-81

This is installment five of a working commentary on the Homeric Battle of Frogs and Mice. We have posted a translation elsewhere and welcome comments or suggestions on any part of this project.

67 καὶ τὸ πρῶτον ἔχαιρεν ὅτ’ ἔβλεπε γείτονας ὅρμους,
68 νήξει τερπόμενος Φυσιγνάθου• ἀλλ’ ὅτε δή ῥα
69 κύμασι πορφυρέοισιν ἐκλύζετο πολλὰ δακρύων
70 ἄχρηστον μετάνοιαν ἐμέμφετο, τίλλε δὲ χαίτας,
71 καὶ πόδας ἔσφιγγεν κατὰ γαστέρος, ἐν δέ οἱ ἦτορ
72 πάλλετ’ ἀηθείῃ καὶ ἐπὶ χθόνα βούλεθ’ ἱκέσθαι•
73 δεινὰ δ’ ὑπεστενάχιζε φόβου κρυόεντος ἀνάγκῃ.
74 οὐρὴν μὲν πρῶτ’ ἔπλασ’ ἐφ’ ὕδασιν ἠΰτε κώπην
75 σύρων, εὐχόμενος δὲ θεοῖς ἐπὶ γαῖαν ἱκέσθαι
76 ὕδασι πορφυρέοισιν ἐκλύζετο, πολλὰ δ’ ἐβώστρει•
77 καὶ τοῖον φάτο μῦθον ἀπὸ στόματός τ’ ἀγόρευσεν•
78 Οὐχ οὕτω νώτοισιν ἐβάστασε φόρτον ἔρωτος
79 ταῦρος ὅτ’ Εὐρώπην διὰ κύματος ἦγ’ ἐπὶ Κρήτην
80 ὡς μῦν ἁπλώσας ἐπινώτιον ἦγεν ἐς οἶκον
81 βάτραχος ὑψώσας ὠχρὸν δέμας ὕδατι λευκῷ

67 ἔχαιρεν: Note the imperfect tense of the verb indicating the continuing action
καὶ τὸ πρῶτον: “At first” adverbial accusative.
ὅρμους: “harbors”; Some manuscripts have λίμνας

68 νήξει: from νήχω “swim”; a post-Homeric word
ῥα: Line-final ῥα is comparatively rare in Homer; τε seems to be aparticle of choice for concluding a line.

69 κύμασι πορφυρέοισιν: “dark waves”; a Homeric phrase, see Il.21.326 (πορφύρεον δ’ ἄρα κῦμα διιπετέος ποταμοῖο) and Od. 11.243 (πορφύρεον δ’ ἄρα κῦμα περιστάθη οὔρεϊ ἶσον). This specific phrase occurs in the probably late Homeric Hymn to Athena (κύμασι πορφυρέοισι κυκώμενος, ἔσχετο δ’ ἅλμη, 12)

ἐκλύζετο: “he was splashed by”; used in conjunction with “waves” in Homer, see Il. 23.61 (ἐν καθαρῷ, ὅθι κύματ’ ἐπ’ ἠϊόνος κλύζεσκον)

πολλὰ δακρύων: “weeping much”; for Homer, it is heroic to cry.

70 ἄχρηστον: “useless”
μετάνοιαν: This is a post-Homeric word, fairly common in Attic Greek and later. Thucydides describes the Athenians’ repentance of their decision to destroy Mytiline: καὶ τῇ ὑστεραίᾳ μετάνοιά τις εὐθὺς ἦν αὐτοῖς καὶ ἀναλογισμὸς ὠμὸν τὸ βούλευμα καὶ μέγα ἐγνῶσθαι, πόλιν ὅλην διαφθεῖραι μᾶλλον ἢ οὐ τοὺς αἰτίους. (Thucydides 3.36.4) Indeed, compounds with –νοια do not occur in Homer, but become popular in later philosophical and technical works.

τίλλε δὲ χαίτας: “he tore his hair”. Hair and clothing rending is part of a formulaic expression of grief. See Il. 22.406 where Hecuba tears her hair (τίλλε κόμην…)

ἐμέμφετο: “to reproach, find fault with” from μέμφομαι. This verb is found only in ἐπὶ- compounds in Homer, and seems to have a slightly different connotation.

71 ἔσφιγγεν: “he was squeezing”

ἦτορ πάλλετ’: “His heart was leaping”; from πάλλω which functions like an intransitive middle (i.e. πάλλομαι) in Homer. For this phrase, see Iliad 22.451-2: ἐν δ’ ἐμοὶ αὐτῇ / στήθεσι πάλλεται ἦτορ ἀνὰ στόμα, νέρθε δὲ γοῦνα.

72 πάλλετ’ ἀηθείῃ καὶ ἐπὶ χθόνα βούλεθ’ ἱκέσθαι: Some MSS omit this line

ἀηθείῃ: “the novelty” (lit, “unaccustomness”). Forms of this word do appear in Plato, but not earlier. For the form in epic poetry, See Apollonius Rhodius 2.1063-5 αὐτὰρ πασσυδίῃ περιώσιον ὄρνυτ’ ἀυτήν ἀθρόοι, ὄφρα κολῳὸν ἀηθείῃ φοβέωνται / νεύοντάς τε λόφους καὶ ἐπήορα δούραθ’ ὕπερθεν. The concept and lexical root was available, however: cf. Il. 10.493 (νεκροῖς ἀμβαίνοντες• ἀήθεσσον γὰρ ἔτ’ αὐτῶν)

ἱκέσθαι: from ἱκνέομαι, A good Homeric aorist infinitive in this position. Some MSS have ἰδέσθαι but in Homer with ἐπὶ this would be awkward.

73 δεινὰ: Adverbial, “terribly” used in the combination δεινὰ δ’ ὁμοκλήσας in the Iliad (e.g. 20.448).

ὑπεστενάχιζε: “groan beneath”; the compound is not Homeric, but στενάχιζε is.

φόβου κρυόεντος ἀνάγκῃ. “Chilling fear” is a Homeric combination (Il. 9.2) but the full phrase “by necessity of…” is a little tortured.

74 οὐρὴν μὲν πρῶτ’ ἔπλασ’ ἐφ’ ὕδασιν ἠΰτε κώπην
οὐρὴν: “tail”
ἠΰτε κώπην: “like a rudder”
ἐφ’ ὕδασιν: On this see above, 33: Homer does not use plural forms of ὕδωρ. Apollonius Rhodes does, see 3.876: οἵη δέ, λιαροῖσιν ἐν ὕδασι Παρθενίοιο

75 This line basically repeats the same thoughts as line 72
σύρων: “drag, draw” from σύρω
ἱκέσθαι: se on 72 above

76 ὕδασι πορφυρέοισιν: see above on line 69 for κύμασι πορφυρέοισιν. This particular image does not occur in Homer. Some MSS have κύμασι instead of ὕδασι here.

ἐκλύζετο: See on 69, the image is repeated.

πολλὰ: Adverbial accusative

ἐβώστρει: Related to βοάω (“to shout”); rare, but in the Odyssey (12.124). Other MSS have δ᾿ ἐβόα

77 καὶ τοῖον φάτο μῦθον ἀπὸ στόματός τ’ ἀγόρευσεν: This line is omitted by some texts. As a line of speech introduction it is a bit odd: ἀπὸ στόματός does not occur in Homer. ἀγόρευσεν occurs in the Iliad (8.29). Without the line, however, the following lines are indirect speech rather than direct.

78 ἐβάστασε: “to lift up”
φόρτον ἔρωτος: “cargo of love”; see Anacreon fr. 115.1 (φόρτον ῎Ερωτος)

79 ταῦρος ὅτ’ Εὐρώπην: Zeus, disguised as a bull, abducts Europe and takes her to Crete. She gave birth to Minos, Sarpedon and Rhadamanthys. See Apollodorus 3.1. In Homer, comparison to mythological examples (called paradeigmata) is a common motif. See Willcock XXXX and Edmunds XXXX.

80 ἁπλώσας: To make single, unfold, spread out as in ἱστία. Other MSS have instead ἐπιπλώσας
ἐπινώτιον: “on the back”

81 ὑψώσας: “raise on high”
ὠχρὸν δέμας: “pale skin”—perhaps the poet is thinking of the pale color of a frog’s skin

ὕδατι λευκῷ: This could be repunctuated as a question, but the word-order is imperfect. The phrase “white water” appears in Homer (see 23.282) but in connection with bathing.

Commentary on the Batrakhomuomakhia, Part 5: Lines 56-66

This is installment five of a working commentary on the Homeric Battle of Frogs and Mice. We have posted a translation elsewhere and welcome comments or suggestions on any part of this project.

 

56 Πρὸς τάδε μειδήσας Φυσίγναθος ἀντίον ηὔδα•
57 ξεῖνε λίην αὐχεῖς ἐπὶ γαστέρι• ἔστι καὶ ἡμῖν
58 πολλὰ μάλ’ ἐν λίμνῃ καὶ ἐπὶ χθονὶ θαύματ’ ἰδέσθαι.
59 ἀμφίβιον γὰρ ἔδωκε νομὴν βατράχοισι Κρονίων,
60 σκιρτῆσαι κατὰ γαῖαν, ἐν ὕδασι σῶμα καλύψαι,
61 στοιχείοις διττοῖς μεμερισμένα δώματα ναίειν.
62 εἰ δ’ ἐθέλεις καὶ ταῦτα δαήμεναι εὐχερές ἐστι•
63 βαῖνέ μοι ἐν νώτοισι, κράτει δέ με μήποτ’ ὀλίσθῃς,
64 ὅππως γηθόσυνος τὸν ἐμὸν δόμον εἰσαφίκηαι.
65 ῝Ως ἄρ’ ἔφη καὶ νῶτ’ ἐδίδου• ὁ δ’ ἔβαινε τάχιστα
66 χεῖρας ἔχων τρυφεροῖο κατ’ αὐχένος ἅμματι κούφῳ.

 

56 μειδήσας: “Grinning”, often appears in responses to speeches in Homer, e.g. Il. 23.555 ( ῝Ως φάτο, μείδησεν δὲ ποδάρκης δῖος ᾿Αχιλλεὺς). This masculine participle seems a bit more popular in the Hellenistic period, see Ap. Rhodes 2.61 and Gr. Anth. 12.126.3.

ἀντίον ηὔδα: “He responded, answered back”; a typical Homeric speech introduction for answering.

57 ξεῖνε λίην αὐχεῖς ἐπὶ γαστέρι
λίην: “excessively”, adv.
αὐχεῖς: “You brag about ..” with ἐπὶ γαστέρι. αὐχεῖς is not a Homeric word, but it does appear in Aeschylus (Ag. 1497; cf. Eur. Her. 31 Χο. εἰ σὺ μέγ’ αὐχεῖς).

ἐπὶ γαστέρι: “on your belly” with the sense of “because of”. See Smyth §1689.2c. This is not a typical use of the preposition in Homer. The phrase does appear in the Odyssey (7.216: οὐ γάρ τι στυγερῇ ἐπὶ γαστέρι κύντερον ἄλλο) but the sense there seems more one of addition or comparison (“there is nothing more shameful beyond a belly”).

ἔστι καὶ ἡμῖν: Dative of possession with subject enjambed in the next line.

58 θαύματ’ ἰδέσθαι: This plural (θαύματ’) does not occur in Homer. For the singular with this infinitive, see Hom. Od. 13.108: φάρε’ ὑφαίνουσιν ἁλιπόρφυρα, θαῦμα ἰδέσθαι. The phrase-pattern may have a certain antiquity, however. Cf. the plural at Hes. Th. 834. The rhythmic shape is the same with either ending.

59 ἀμφίβιον…νομὴν: “amphibious realm”; lit. “a double-lived pasture”
Κρονίων: “Son of Kronos”, Zeus, a typical Homeric epithet for Zeus in this position.

60 σκιρτῆσαι κατὰ γαῖαν, ἐν ὕδασι σῶμα καλύψαι: The verb δίδωμι (here, ἔδωκε) often takes an infinitive (i.e. “Zeus grants that we dance upon the earth”). But combined here with the object ἀμφίβιον…νομὴν it seems a bit forced. The chiastic structure of this line (infinitive-prepositional phrases-infinitive) seems rather characteristic of Hellenistic play. Note as well the possible humorous foreshadowing in “covering the body in water” (σῶμα καλύψαι).

61 στοιχείοις: “Parts, or elements”; this is a lengthened or diminutive of στοῖχος which means “row or rank”. The meaning “parts” or “elements” is rather common in philosophical prose. But it also appears more colloquially as well, and a few times in Aesop as in Fab 32.2.9 (“The story shows that no place, no land, no sky nor any part of the water safekeeps murders of men”, ὁ μῦθος δηλοῖ, ὅτι τοὺς φονεῖς τῶν ἀνθρώπων οὔτε γῆς οὔτε ἀέρος οὔτε ὕδατος στοιχεῖον οὔτε τόπος ἄλλος φυλάττει). The root noun certainly was available as early as Homer, cf. “in a ranked line” μεταστοιχί (Il. 23.358)
᾿Αναξίμανδρος Πραξιάδου Μιλήσιος. οὗτος ἔφασκεν ἀρχὴν
καὶ στοιχεῖον τὸ ἄπειρον, οὐ διορίζων ἀέρα ἢ ὕδωρ ἢ ἄλλο τι (Diog. Laert. 2.1)

διττοῖς: Un-Homeric. A word such διπλόος would be more common epic usage. Theognis has the non-Attic Δισσαί (837)

δώματα ναίειν: “to inhabit homes”, still governed by ἔδωκε, i.e. “Zeus has granted that we inhabit…” Cf. Hes. Th. 303: ἔνθ’ ἄρα οἱ δάσσαντο θεοὶ κλυτὰ δώματα ναίειν and νῆσος δενδρήεσσα, θεὰ δ’ ἐν δώματα ναίει (Odyssey 1.51)

μεμερισμένα: “divided” from μερίζω, “to divide”. This participle does not occur in Homer, but it can be found in a scholion to The Odyssey, which says of the Aethiopians: Αἰθίοπες ἀνατολικοὶ καὶ δυσμικοί. κατοικοῦσι δὲ ἀμφότεροι πρὸς τῷ ὠκεανῷ. τούτου χάριν φησὶν “ἔσχατοι ἀνδρῶν.” E. νενέμηνται, μεμερισμένοι εἰσίν. (Scholia in Odysseam, Book 1 Line 23.)This gives the boast of Phusignathos a comic effect by extending his range between the real and semi-mythical worlds. See also line 20, where Okeanoio is a given as a variant of Eridanoio.

62 δαήμεναι: from δάω Homeric infinitive, “to learn”, often with a genitive direct object in Homer Cf. Il. 21.487 (εἰ δ’ ἐθέλεις πολέμοιο δαήμεναι…)

εὐχερές: Lit. “ready-to-hand”, i.e. “easy”

63 βαῖνέ… ἐν: tmesis is common in Homer; ἐμβαίνω is often used with getting on ships.

ἐν νώτοισι: “on my back”. The plural is often used metaphorically in Homer for the sea (e.g. Od. 17.146: οἵ κέν μιν πέμποιεν ἐπ’ εὐρέα νῶτα θαλάσσης.) but this dative form appears twice in references to portions of meat (Il. 7.321; Od. 14.437), although archaic poetry also uses it with horses (see Theognis 249: οὐχ ἵππων νώτοισιν ἐφήμενος• ἀλλά σε πέμψει)

κράτει δέ με μήποτ’ ὀλίσθῃς: from κρατέω (imperative singular, often confused with the third person indicative κρατεῖ); “Hold me tight so you don’t slip off”; The verb κράτει has no parallels in Homer but appears with a genitive object in Sophocles (Philokt. 1292: πρότεινε χεῖρα, καὶ κράτει τῶν σῶν ὅπλων).

64 γηθόσυνος: “Happy”, a Homeric adjective, e.g. Il. 4.272 ( ῝Ως ἔφατ’, ᾿Ατρεΐδης δὲ παρῴχετο γηθόσυνος κῆρ).

ὅππως …εἰσαφίκηαι: Uncontracted middle aorist optative from ὰφικνέομαι (optative because of ὅππως (lengthened from ὅπως for metrical reasons), object clause of effort). This is a Homeric form, though rare: μὴ καὶ ὑπὲρ μοῖραν δόμον ῎Αϊδος εἰσαφίκηαι, 30.336). In Homer, object clauses may take the subjunctive or optative where Attic might use future forms. See Smyth §2217.

65 ῝Ως ἄρ’ ἔφη καὶ: A typical speech conclusion, cf. Il. 1.584 (῝Ως ἄρ’ ἔφη καὶ ἀναΐξας δέπας ἀμφικύπελλον)

ὁ δ’: The particle δέ is frequently used to signal a subject change.

ἐδίδου: Imperfect, 3rd singular active. This form occurs once in Homer (Od. 11.289).

66 χεῖρας ἔχων τρυφεροῖο κατ’ αὐχένος:
τρυφεροῖο: Some manuscripts ἀπαλοῖο. Restored, the phrase recalls Iliadic battle language: ἀντικρὺ δ’ ἁπαλοῖο δι’ αὐχένος ἤλυθ’ ἀκωκή, Il.17.49.

κατ’ αὐχένος: “around, along the neck”. This combination is rare in the Classical period.

ἅμματι κούφῳ: “ghostly brine”; Some manuscripts have ἀλματι καλω̣῀,

 

Commentary on the Batrakhomuomakhia, Part 1 (lines 1-8)

We are near completing draft commentary on the Homeric Battle of Frogs and Mice. Starting this week, we will be posting it in sequence on this website. We welcome additional comments and suggestions. For our translation, go here.

  1. ᾿Αρχόμενος πρώτης σελίδος[1] χορὸν ἐξ ῾Ελικῶνος
  2. ἐλθεῖν εἰς ἐμὸν ἦτορ ἐπεύχομαι εἵνεκ’ ἀοιδῆς
  3. ἣν νέον ἐν δέλτοισιν ἐμοῖς ἐπὶ γούνασι θῆκα,
  4. δῆριν ἀπειρεσίην, πολεμόκλονον ἔργον ῎Αρηος,
  5. εὐχόμενος μερόπεσσιν ἐς οὔατα πᾶσι βαλέσθαι
  6. πῶς μύες ἐν βατράχοισιν ἀριστεύσαντες[2] ἔβησαν,
  7. γηγενέων ἀνδρῶν μιμούμενοι ἔργα Γιγάντων,
  8. ὡς λόγος ἐν θνητοῖσιν ἔην· τοίην δ’ ἔχεν ἀρχήν.

1 ᾿Αρχόμενος: “Beginning from”, a rather common motif in epic and hymnic poetry. Ap. Rhodes starts: ᾿Αρχόμενος σέο Φοῖβε παλαιγενέων κλέα φωτῶν (cf. Glei 112 ad loc.)

πρώτης σελίδος: translate as “page”. This phrase is associated with Homeric poetry in later writing as in the Gr. Anth (4.2: ῎Ανθεά σοι δρέψας ῾Ελικώνια καὶ κλυτοδένδρου / Πιερίης κείρας πρωτοφύτους κάλυκας / καὶ σελίδος νεαρῆς θερίσας στάχυν ἀντανέπλεξα …) or in the Vita Homeri (Plutarch) where the works of Homer are refered to as the “double pages of heroes” (δισσὰς ἡμιθέων γραψάμενος σελίδας / ὑμνεῖ δ’ ἡ μὲν νόστον ᾿Οδυσσῆος πολύπλαγκτον / ἡ δὲ τὸν ᾿Ιλιακὸν Δαρδανιδῶν πόλεμον) Cf. also Photius 187 (μηδ’ ἐς ῾Ομηρείην σελίδ’ ἔμβλεπε μηδ’ ἐλεγείην / μὴ τραγικὴν Μοῦσαν, μηδὲ μελογραφίην).Some texts have πρῶτον μουσῶν instead of πρώτης σελίδος but the phrase seems rather bland and, with the parallels above adduced, less engaged with poetic traditions.

χορὸν ἐξ ῾Ελικῶνος: see Hesiod Th. 1 (Μουσάων ῾Ελικωνιάδων ἀρχώμεθ’ ἀείδειν) . Heliconian Muses are special to Hesiod but not to be differentiated from the Olympian Muses. Mt. Helicon is in Thrace, but this epithet may have been brought by Thracians to Olympus; see West 1966, 152.

2 ἐλθεῖν εἰς ἐμὸν ἦτορ ἐπεύχομαι: introduces indirect statement, accusative subject χορὸν. In Homer ἐπεύχομαι means something closer to “boast” or “threaten” (cf. Il. 21.109; see Od. 15.353 for accusative plus infinitive construction). Here it means more like “to pray or hope”, which is also possible in Homer; see Muellner 1976, 17-67.

εἵνεκ’ ἀοιδῆς: trans as “song” . In Homer, aoidê indicates the action of a performing bard. Cf. Od. 1.340-341. (οἶνον πινόντων• ταύτης δ’ ἀποπαύε’ ἀοιδῆς / λυγρῆς, ἥ τέ μοι αἰὲν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι φίλον κῆρ)

ἣν νέον ἐν δέλτοισιν ἐμοῖς : which I just recently wrote on my tablets” νέον, neuter singular adjective used as adverb. This line is close to a fragment from Callimachus’ Aetia (1.21-22: καὶ γὰρ ὅτε πρώτιστον ἐμοῖς ἐπὶ δέλτον ἔθηκα / γούνασιν, ᾿Α[πό]λλων εἶπεν ὅ μοι Λύκιος•) The earliest appearance of writing with delt- is in Aeschylus. Cf. Prometheus Bound, 789: ἣν ἐγγράφου σὺ μνήμοσιν δέλτοις φρενῶν. Cf. also Eur. Iphigenia Taurica : ἐς τήνδε δ’ ὤικισ’ αἶαν. αἵδ’ ἐπιστολαί, / τάδ’ ἐστὶ τἀν δέλτοισιν ἐγγεγραμμένα. For additional association between delt- and Homer, see Gr. Anth 12.2.1-2: Μὴ ζήτει δέλτοισιν ἐμαῖς Πρίαμον παρὰ βωμοῖς

3 ἐπὶ γούνασι θῆκα: Tmesis with unagumented aorist. Homeric poetry drops augments frequently.

4 δῆριν ἀπειρεσίην: “endless strife”; cf. Il. 17.158 for the stife in war; cf. Od. 24.515: υἱός θ’ υἱωνός τ’ ἀρετῆς πέρι δῆριν ἔχουσι.” δῆριν: line-initial on Hes. Scutum (251 and 306). Cf. Nicander 450. In this position, ἀπειρεσίην appears at Il. 20.58 and Od. 11.621

πολεμόκλονον ἔργον ῎Αρηος: transfered epithet from Ares to the work. Epithet applied to Athena at Anacreonta fr. 55.33

5 εὐχόμενος μερόπεσσιν ἐς οὔατα πᾶσι βαλέσθαι : See line 2 for indirect statement.μερόπεσσιν: “mortals” (see μερόπεσσι βροτοῖσιν, 2.285). The term only appears in the plural and has its origins in meromai plus ops (literally “dividing the voice”, meaning “articulate” or having language). In Homer, the word is only used as an adjective for brotos or anthrôpos. For the imagery of sound striking the ears, see Il. 10.535 ἵππων μ’ ὠκυπόδων ἀμφὶ κτύπος οὔατα βάλλει.

6 πῶς μύες ἐν βατράχοισιν : Used here as an indirect interrogative, i.e. “tell you how the Mice went amog the frogs”. The indirect interrogative use of this form is not common in Homer (though the direct use is).

ἀριστεύσαντες ἔβησαν: various MSS have the future ἀριστεύσοντες instead. The aorist form of this particple does not occur in early poetry. The form ἔβησαν is used with the aorist participle at Od. 5.107. But here the periphrasis has the effect of a progressive aspect: “they went about triumphing among the frogs”.

7 γηγενέων ἀνδρῶν μιμούμενοι ἔργα Γιγάντων
γηγενέων, “earth-born”; Mice live in the earth and are born from it. For the giants, see Hes. Th. 185 and fr. 43a 65 (ἐν Φλέγρηι δ]ὲ Γίγαντας ὑπερφιάλους κατέπεφ[νε). For the connection between the Giants and Mice, both were children of the earth. The comparison to giants is also likely pejorative (giants were arrogant and challenged the cosmic order). And thus absurd. μιμούμενοι is later than Homer (the participle does not occur in hexameter poetry).

8 ὡς λόγος ἐν θνητοῖσιν ἔην• τοίην δ’ ἔχεν ἀρχήν.
Some MSS have epos instead of λόγος (which would be more Homeric). Homeric heroes “enjoy stories” (ἧστό τε καὶ τὸν ἔτερπε λόγοις, ἐπὶ δ’ ἕλκεϊ λυγρῷ, 15.393).
τοίην δ’ ἔχεν ἀρχήν: “this sort of beginning”. This creates a ring structure with the beginning of the proem (᾿Αρχόμενος) and creates the general sort of introduction that is not uncommon to the transition to the actual narrative.