Classical Quarterly 33 (02):69- (1939)
AbstractThe following lines are a famous crux: τ μν τι βασιλες σσ μεγαλν πολων ει συγγενς φθαλμς αδοιτατον γρας τε τοτο μειγνμενον φρεν. The reading is that of all MSS., save for the necessary correction αδοιτατον for αδοιςτατον, which will not scan. I have purposely left it without punctuation. The core of the difficulty of course is the word φθαλμς Farnell, it seems to me, has made it abundantly clear that this cannot be literal, for, apart from the oddity of the epithet συγγενς in such a context, to take it as meaning the actual physical eye of Arkesilas involves giving ει the impossible meaning ‘sees’. But the metaphorical meaning is not much easier. A person or group of persons can be the ‘eye’, that is to say the most precious part, of something, as the Emmenidai were the ‘eye of Sicily’, Ol. ii, 10, Amphiaraos the ‘eye’ of Adrastos' army, Ol. vi, 16, the eldest or only son, or even the presence of the master, the ‘eye’ of the house , a child the ‘eye’—we should perhaps say ‘light’—of his mother's life, Eurip. Andr., 406, and perhaps, for the interpretation is not too certain, a chosen band of Athenians the ‘eye’ of Theseus' land, Aesch., Eumen., 1025. In these instances we may I think acquiesce in Groeneboom's remark on Pers., loc. cit., that ‘eye’ is used to signify the most precious or noble part of something, its glory
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