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The Homeric Hymns

  • T. L. Agar (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 February 2009

These lines conclude the account of Hermes inventing the primitive method of producing fire by friction, and it is evident that the writer had in mind σ 308:

περ δ ξλα κγχανα θ;καν,

αὖα πλαι περκηλα, νον κεκεασμνα χαλκῷ,

cf. also ε 240. Gemoll accordingly in his edition (1886) read αὖα λαβών, and for so doing was rebuked by Messrs. S. and A. in their best dogmatic manner: ‘Gemoll's αὖα cannot be accepted; οὖλα is sound, though the meaning is not certain.’ In other words: ‘Whether οὖλα makes sense or nonsense, it is right.’ Finally, they say that οὖλα probably means ‘whole’, and this translation is, I think, confirmed by l. 137; but then it follows that the hymn-writer was flatly contradicting the κεκεασμνα in Homer's line, and knew no more about fire-lighting than these trenchant editors. Ignition fuel has a character of its own, and from this point of view Gemoll has the advantage.

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The Classical Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0009-8388
  • EISSN: 1471-6844
  • URL: /core/journals/classical-quarterly
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