Thursday, October 25, 2018


Abasement of Enemies?

Euripides, Bacchae 877-880 (tr. E.R. Dodds in his commentary):
Or what god-given right is more honourable in the sight of men than to keep the hand of mastery over the head of a foe?

                       ἢ τί τὸ κάλλιον
παρὰ θεῶν γέρας ἐν βροτοῖς
ἢ χεῖρ᾽ ὑπὲρ κορυφᾶς
τῶν ἐχθρῶν κρείσσω κατέχειν;
But cf. Warren E. Blake, "Euripidis Baccharum interpretatio secundum versus 877-881," Mnemosyne 60.4 (1933) 361-368, who puts an interrogation mark after βροτοῖς and reads instead of in the following line. Blake is followed by Valdis Leinieks, "Euripides, Bakchai 877-81=897-901," Journal of Hellenic Studies 104 (1984) 178-179, who translates:
What is the better gift of the gods among men? Is it to hold a stronger hand over the heads of enemies?
According to Blake and Leinieks, the implied answer to the second question is no. See also Valdis Leinieks, The City of Dionysos: A Study of Euripides' Bakchai (Stuttgart: Β.G. Teubner, 1996), pp. 370-372.

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