Friday, May 13, 2016


A Prayer for Protection Against Foreign-Language Speakers

Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes 166-170 (tr. Alan H. Sommerstein, with his note):
O gods, you almighty defenders,
O gods and goddesses with decisive power
to guard the walls of this land,
do not betray this city in the toils of battle
to an enemy of alien speech!25

25 The enemy, of course, spoke Greek (though a different dialect or dialects), and worshipped the very same gods; but Aeschylus seems to be inviting the audience to compare Theban fears to their own when facing the Persian invasion of 480.

ἰὼ παναλκεῖς θεοί,
ἰὼ τέλειοι τέλειαί τε γᾶς
τᾶσδε πυργοφύλακες,
πόλιν δορίπονον μὴ προδῶθ᾿
ἑτεροφώνῳ στρατῷ.

169-170 προδῶθ᾿ ἑτεροφώνῳ στρατῷ codd.:
προδῶθ᾿ <ὧδ'> ἑτερόφρονι στρατῷ Tucker,
προδόντες ἑτεροθρόῳ στρατῷ Headlam,
προδῶθ᾿ ἑτερόφωνον ἐς στρατὸν Rogers,
προδῶθ᾿ ἑτερογήρυϊ στρατῷ West
Sommerstein's "enemy" is actually "army." The conjectures (from R.D. Dawe's Repertory of Conjectures on Aeschylus, p. 27, plus M.L. West's Teubner edition of the play, p. 12) attempt to repair the responsion (with 178) and/or the sense. West's ἑτερογήρυϊ (only in his apparatus, not in his text) supposes a word not otherwise extant in Greek, but he compares Homer, Iliad 4.437 οὐ γὰρ πάντων ἦεν ὁμὸς θρόος οὐδ᾿ ἴα γῆρυς ("for they had not all like speech or one language," tr. A.T. Murray, rev. William F. Wyatt).

Update: Additional conjectures from N. Wecklein's appendix to this play (1893), p. 16:

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