There is a touch of foolhardiness in the attempts to establish a precise identification for the great majority of birds mentioned by the authors of classical antiquity. Only a small minority of the ancient references and descriptions contains features which are indisputably diagnostic, while a probably not much bigger minority of the Mediterranean avifauna possesses characteristics of appearance, behaviour, or voice that would have enabled an ordinary Greek or Roman immediately to distinguish a member of one species from absolutely all (...) others, using the sole aids of his eyes, ears, and the largely inaccurate medley of lore handed down from one generation to the next. Thus any modern attempt to pin down the identity of this or that bird in an ancient author is fraught with many dangers and difficulties which must be recognized at the outset. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is the discussion, and in some cases also, it is hoped, the clarification, of several passages in the fragments of the comic poet Alexis, where either the traditional text has been attacked because there occurred in it an allegedly objectionable split anapaest, or alternatively an excellent emendation has been rejected because laws framed by modern scholars have wrongly been applied to the passage being emended.
From these words of Athenaeus, the majority of scholars have come to the Dnclusion that the Asotodidaskalos was not, despite what Sotion says, composed by Alexis, but is a forgery; and some even go so far as to attribute the forgery to Sotion himself. Yet nowhere do they support their views with sufficient rguments; nowhere has the question, in the light of all the evidence, both sternal and internal, been fully considered. Meineke has indeed given clear reasons for his belief (...) that the play as not written by Alexis, in objecting to three usages in the cited fragment as unattic ; but these objections are not all justifiable, as Kock has lown in the case of , or together inclusive enough to make us reject the fragment out of hand. (shrink)
Professor Martin West's paper, titled ‘The Parodos of the Agamemnon’’, argues with characteristic learning and insight that Archilochus’’ fable of the fox and the eagle was a major source for Aeschylus’’ description of the portent of the eagles and the pregnant hare in the parodos of the Agamemnon . The portent is vividly described by the chorus: two eagles, one black and one white behind feed upon a pregnant hare. Poetry is not real life, and Aeschylus’’ picture is not a (...) naturalist's field-report. At the same time, an image's power increases in proportion to its precision, and I have no doubt that at some stage behind Aeschylus’’ description there was a personal sighting of a parallel incident by Aeschylus himself perhaps, or by Archilochus, or by an unknown figure who passed on his report. Fraenkel's commentary avers that ‘precise zoological identification of the species of eagle named by Aeschylus must not be attempted.’’ This is a fair warning, but not for the reason advanced by Fraenkel here: the plumage variation among different birds of the same species, which makes the identification of large raptors in the wilds of Greece today a problem for even the most expert ornithologists. There are two better reasons. One will emerge in the course of this note. The other is that no ancient writer using the Greek language came at all near to the modern classification of eagle species native to Greece. (shrink)
Sixty years have now passed since Lefebvre first published the Cairo papyrus of Menander , and Körte's still authoritative third Teubner edition appeared almost exactly halfway between then and now. It laid the coping-stone on the labours of many scholars, of whom four rose head and shoulders above the crowd.
When Moschion orders Daos up to him for punishment, Daos points to the spot by Moschion's had indicated , but then darts fearfully away. I wish I could name the originator of this attractive part-division, which makes the use of more precise; but in seminars the correct assignment of ideas is often very difficult.