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Homeric Epithets in Greek Lyric Poetry


One of the ways in which a poet may show his quality is by discrimination and originality in his choice of adjectives. Poetry likes to adorn the bare noun; a noun such as ‘the sky’ calls out for an attribute. But in practice the poet has to take care to avoid the cliche. He can seldom write ‘the blue sky’; even ‘the azure sky’ has become trite. He has to search for the epithet which will be both apt and original.

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1 Leumann M., in Mus. Helv. iv (1947), pp. 119 ff., well describes the phenomenon, but does not consider its implications.

1 Homer would have said inline-graphic is post-Homeric. But the effect is no more original for that.

1 Buss Hermann, De Bacchylide Homeri Imitatore (Giessen, 1913), p. 27. On Bacchylides' original coinages see Eberhard's of this in B.Ph.W. xxxiv (1914), col. 1225.

2 The distinction is carefully formulated by Page D. L., Sappho and Alcaeus, pp. 65 f.

3 Diehl's observation, ‘carmen conditum esse ad exemplum Hectoris inline-graphic (ω 265 ss.)’, is misleading. Cf. Page , op. cit., p. 71.

4 Cf. Z 396 f. inline-graphicinline-graphic(i.e. the birthplace of Andromache). There is no known place, river, or monument called inline-graphic except a Pelasgian colony near the Mysian Olympus, a long way to the north-east of Thebes (which is at the foot of Mt. Ida). According to Dicaearchus (Schol. Venet. A Z 396), inline-graphicinline-graphic was an epithet of inline-graphic, owing to Thebes' propinquity to inline-graphicinline-graphic. Now it seems unlikely that Sappho had direct geographical knowledge of the area: it is more probable that she picked up the name from Homer, in which case there are two possibilities. Either inline-graphic conceals a noun, and inline-graphic is correctly used as an adjective (this is barely conceivable); or else Sappho misdivided inline-graphicinline-graphic in Z 397 as inline-graphic, in which case the last word in the line will be a purely ornamental epithet for something inline-graphic which never existed.

1 Fränkel H., G.G.N. 1924, p. 64, points out that in Homer the phrase inline-graphic would be used in closer syntactical connexion with the rest of the sentence; but I cannot agree with him that in Sappho the phrase is full of meaning. Cf. inline-graphic, Sappho fr. 27 a 10.

1 Kl. Schr., p. 375, Qu. Epicae, p. 289, followed by Boisacq, s.v.

2 Et. Mag. 603. 26 inline-graphic Cf. Hesychius, s.v.

1 For another instance of a word losing its precision, compare inline-graphic. This occurs once in Homer (ψ 583) of a whip, in Sappho of a plant; and its root meaning is doubtless something like ‘pliant’. But even in the archaic period its vagaries are notable. Stesichorus (19 D) writes inline-graphicinline-graphic, Anacreon (165 B4) uses the word of horses, to mean ‘swift’, and Ibycus (58 B4) inline-graphic

1 I cannot agree with Wilamowitz and Diehl that inline-graphic The following lines must be understood as an answer to the imputation that he, Anacreon, is not sufficiently skilful. The point is made by Snell B. in Philologus, xcvi (1944), pp. 285 f.

2 B 592 inline-graphic

3 Cf. Soph. EL 707 inline-graphicinline-graphic. Here the whole passage—the list of competitors in the Pythian games—is tinged with epic vocabulary.

1 Fr. 104 inline-graphicinline-graphicis a striking combination of the literal and figurative uses of inline-graphic in Homer, and might be added as a further example. Archilochus' particular interest in Homeric words is discernible in 54, 56, 116 D, 186 B4. See also Hauvette , Archiloque, pp. 269–72.

1 I have therefore allowed a separate category for them in the analyses below.

2 Soph. Ant. 1115 ff. is another example.

3 The context of these four is also that of a hymn. Here, as elsewhere, some overlapping of the categories is inevitable, but immaterial.

1 I cannot believe that in this verse inline-graphic also goes with inline-graphic. The name of some divinity must have preceded.

2 Hesych., s.v. inline-graphicinline-graphic

3 Cf. Suidas, s.v. inline-graphicinline-graphic

4 There may be traces of this in the mythical and vague personage inline-graphic (Paus. io. 6. 4) who seems to have chthonic associations, and in the cult-title inline-graphic in Phigalaea (Paus. 8. 5. 8; 8. 42. 1). Cf. Gruppe O., Gr. Mythologie, p. 103 n. 10, also Schol. Eur. Or. 1094, Callim., fr. 52 Pf.

1 At least until the fifth century. Pindar (0. 9. 50) and Bacchylides (13. 153) each only use the phrase once, and inline-graphicinline-graphic (Pindarfr. 33 b Sn.) looks like a conscious elaboration on it.

2 Cf. Treu Max, ‘Von Homer zur Lyrik’ (Zetemata, xii [1955]), pp. 175 ff., for a valuable discussion of the lyric poets' use of these words.

1 This is probably not an indication of a particular colour so much as a suggestion of rich, varied colour in general, cf. Weber , Anacreontea, p. 65,Deroy L. in Ét. classiques, xvi (1948), pp. 3 ff.Marzullo B. even argues (Maia, 1950, pp. 132 ff.) that inline-graphic is an old cult-title for Aphrodite meaning ‘marina’.

2 The ball of the Phaeacian dancers in θ 372 was inline-graphic ( = versicolor?), and this may also have been in Anacreon's mind. Eustathius, ad loc, says inline-graphicinline-graphic: it is more the brilliance of the ball than its colour which is suggested, the fact that it was coloured rather than its specific hue.

3 Aeschylus, it has long been believed (Schol. P. V. 128), learnt the ionic metre from Anacreon: did he also learn this trick with colours from the same poet ? Cf. Hik. 529 f. inline-graphic

1 It is possible that these heroic phrases are used of the girls deliberately, as in the passages of Anacreort discussed above, pp. 211 ff.

1 Alcman and Alcaeus used this word differently, Eust. Il. 314. 41.

3 See above, p. 217.

4 inline-graphic may have implied exceptional beauty as well as colour: Eust. in I1. 432. 27 inline-graphic

5 Alcaeus probably understood π 148–9 inline-graphicinline-graphic as giving the colour, not the names, of Achilles' horses.

1 It is possible that a second substantive stood in v. 2 and went with inline-graphic. In Homer this adjective is used only of islands; but Alcaeus' use of it is not much more original for that. inline-graphic, however, has a certain freshness (v. 6).

2 Cf. also sub ‘Incertum utrius auctoris’ L.P.: inline-graphic.

3 Leumann M., Homerische Wörter, p. 340, argues that this phrase derives from a misdivision of inline-graphic in some passage of the Homeric poems now lost.

4 See above, p. 220, n. 2.

5 Out of conservatism, I attribute no more than the following elegiac fragments to Anacreon: 96–99, 101, 102, 107, 108, 110–12. Cf. Weber, pp. 31 ff., Wilamowitz, S.u.S., p. 107, Trypanis C. A. in C.Q. xlv (1951), pp. 31 ff.

1 Anacreon fr. 21:



Cynulcus (Athen. 671 f) comments inline-graphicinline-graphic —and indeed the question much exercised the grammarians Hephaestion even wrote a book called inline-graphicinline-graphic and many learned theories were advanced to explain why Megistes wore such an ‘odd’ garland. But surely it is just as odd that he should have drunk inline-graphic, which means either new, unfermented wine, or the dregs, the lees of wine; neither of which could be described as inline-graphic. There is one perfectly simple answer: Anacreon is mocking Megistes for wearing a rustic wreath (inline-graphicinline-graphic Athen. I.e.) and drinking cheap raw wine. inline-graphic are used with irony.

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