Wednesday, February 06, 2019


The Vile Leading the Vile

Homer, Odyssey 17.217-218 (tr. A.T. Murray, rev. George E. Dimock):
Here now in very truth comes the vile leading the vile.
As ever, the god is bringing like and like together.

νῦν μὲν δὴ μάλα πάγχυ κακὸς κακὸν ἡγηλάζει,
ὡς αἰεὶ τὸν ὁμοῖον ἄγει θεὸς ὡς τὸν ὁμοῖον.
Joseph Russo on line 218:
This verse seems to be a proverb, and is quoted as such by later authors. All recent editors accept the MSS' ώς τὸν ὁμοῖον, while acknowledging that there is no evidence for ὡς = εἰς before Attic Greek. Stanford notes that Plato (Lysis 214a) and Hippocrates (Kühn 1, 390 and 392) quote the line with ὡς, and he suggests that their influence, together with 'Aristotle's citation of the line with ὡς τὸν' (Rh. i 11.25. 1371b), has eliminated an original Homeric ἐς τόν. I believe this is so (with one correction: Aristotle quotes not the line but just the proverbial phrase ώς αἰεὶ τὸν ὁμοῖον, the first hemistich). That a blatant Atticism has crept into our text is further suggested by Callimachus fr. 178 Pfeiffer, 9-10 (cited by von der Mühll and Stanford as fr. 8): ἀλλ' αἶνος Ὁμηρικός, αἰὲν ὁμοῖον | ὡς θεός, οὐ ψευδής, ἐς τὸν ὁμοῖον ἄγει. This final piece of evidence is sufficient, in my judgement, to warrant the unusual step of restoring ἐς to the text against all the MS testimony.
M.L. West in his Teubner edition prints ἐς.

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