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The ὄλβος, ϰόϱος, ὓβϱις, ἂτη Sequence

  • Robert Schmiel (a1)

Gildersleeve gave ὄλβος, ϰόϱος, ὓβϱις, and ἂτη as the genealogy of evil characteristic of archaic Greek thought. Greene observed a fifth item at the end of the sequences in Solon 13. Commenting on Aeschylus, Agam. 757–62 Denniston and Page note that ‘ϰόϱος—ὓβϱις—ἂτη are often linked together as successive elements in the downfall of man.’ More recently Doyle has challenged the very existence of a ‘canonical tetralogy.’ He concludes that there were three triads (ὄλβος—ὓβϱις—ἂτη; ὄλβος—ϰόϱος—ἂτη; ϰόϱος—ὓβϱις—ἂτη); and that they occur too infrequently to be seen as ‘a central doctrine of Greek thought’ (Doyle 302/45).

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1 Gildersleeve, B. L., Pindar: The Olympian and Pythian Odes (New York 1885) xxxi.

2 Greene, W. C., Moira: Fate, Good, and Evil in Greek Thought (Cambridge, Mass. 1944) 37; cf. 75–76.

3 Denniston, J. D. and Page, D., Aeschylus: Agamemnon (Oxford 1957) 136.

4 Richard Doyle, E., Ὄλβος, Κόρος, Ὕβρις, and Ἃτη from Hesiod to Aeschylus,’ Traditio 26 (1970) 293303. This article reappears as chapter 3 of Doyle's Ἃτη, Its Use and Meaning (New York 1984) with some minor changes and one major. The 1970 article did not take account of Solon 4.30–39, and Doyle therefore concluded that there were two triads instead of the tetralogy. Solon 4 forced Doyle to recognize a third triad if the hypothesis was to be saved. (Where there have been changes, I have followed the 1984 version; references to the article/book are given by page numbers separated by slashes.) In his review (Gnomon 60 [1988] 388–89), Gruber, J. accepts Doyle's conclusion that the sequence never occurs in the complete form ὄλβος, κόρος, ὔβρις, ἅτη, but he offers no discussion. [See Editors’ n. 10, infra.]

5 Burton, R. W. B., Pindar's Pythian Odes (Oxford 1962) 116.

6 Chantraine, P. considers the etymology ‘inadmissible’ (Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque [Paris 1968–80] 1150 ὔβρις). ὑπέροπλος is in any case virtually the adjective of ὔβρις in meaning. See also Gerber, D. E., Pindar's Olympian One: A Commentary (Toronto 1982) 93–95. Gerber questions Doyle's conclusion that the four-element sequence did not exist, but too readily concedes that ‘the four stages … are not explicitly combined anywhere as a tetralogy.’

7 The punishment is discussed in the commentaries of Fraenkel, E. and of Denniston and Page ad loc.

8 Chantraine 132 ἀτάσθαλος.

9 Compare Doyle's chart (1984) 45.

10 In the interests of broadening the discussion of this study's topic, we wish to apprise our readers of a recent development. It is particularly to be regretted that our late colleague Doyle, Richard E. did not live to contribute to it. Scholars who wish to consider all the aspects of this topic will want to consult J. Gruber's review of Ἄτη, Its Use and Meaning in Gnomon 60 (1988) 388–89, in which he calls attention to significant bibliographical lapses — especially involving German-language works — on Professor Doyle's part and sets the discussion in a wider scholarly context. As Professor Schmiel observes (n. 4, supra) in regard to his own criticisms, Gruber accepts Doyle's position that the commonly postulated sequence ὄλβος, κόρος, ὔβρις, ἄτη never appears in this full form. — THE EDITORS

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  • ISSN: 0362-1529
  • EISSN: 2166-5508
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