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Headword: Katatilai
Adler number: kappa,822
Translated headword: shits down on
Vetting Status: high
"Or he who shits down on the Hecataea[1] while singing in accompaniment to the cyclic choruses."[2] For he shat on the mysteries of Hecate. [Aristophanes] is making this joke at the expense of Cinesias the dithyramb-poet. For this man while singing shat on Hecate, either because he introduced a drama and pulled her to pieces(?);[3] or since he reddened[4] a poem after writing it on Hecate; or when, being a rhetorician,[5] he ripped off the pay of the poets. Shit on the mysteries of Hecate![6]
Greek Original:
Katatilai: ê katatilai tôn Hekataiôn kukliois choroisin hupaidôn. katetilêse gar tôn tês Hekatês mustêriôn. touto de eis Kinêsian ton dithurambopoion aposkôptei: houtos gar aidôn katetilêse tês Hekatês: ê hoti eisênenke drama kai katetilêsen autên: ê epeidê êruphiase poiêma grapsas eis Hekatên. ê tous misthous tôn poiêtôn rhêtôr ôn eit' apotrôgei. katatila tôn tês Hekatês mustêriôn.
This verb comes from the root of ti=los, for the loose, yellowish stool associated with diarrhoea; it is also used for bird droppings falling from above. Aristophanes mentions this event anonymously in the passage quoted here (Frogs 366: web address 1), where the Chorus lists those who should "stand aside from our sacred dances." In Gerytades (fr. 156 PCG vol.3.2) and Ecclesiazusae 329-30 (tau 693, cf. pi 3225) he names Cinesias the dithyramb poet (kappa 1639, cf. delta 1029, pi 3225, etc.), compared to a bird, as the culprit. By this time the comic playwrights were infuriated with Cinesias, who had persuaded (by sophistic rhetoric, it is suggested in this entry) the Athenian Council, shortly after 405 BCE, to cancel the privilege enjoyed by them of choregia, namely "public" expenditure (provided by well-to-do individual liturgists) on the members of the chorus and all aspects of the production of comedies. This is referred to in this entry as "the pay of the poets".
The entry derives from the scholia on Frogs. The various other explanations of the verb in this entry are hardly plausible. It omits the observation there that the verb that (in Aristophanes) means "to excrete diarrhoea stool" (to\ ko/pron dia/rruton e)kkri/nein) "now means to shed semen" (a)pospermai/nein, LSJ). This semantic equation suggests a devastatingly vulgar point to the "jest" about the color of Cinesias' stool. See also beta 487 and beta 488 for "jesting at the altar".
[1] These are the offerings laid at the foot of a statue of Hecate, perhaps principally during a ritual of this name. The line may imply that dithyrambic choruses were danced around the statues of Hecate; this would shake our normal assertion that the dithyramb was particular to the god Dionysus or Bacchus.
[2] kappa 2647.
[3] The phrase here is highly uncertain. The intention is probably to use an aorist verb of similar appearance, kate/tilen from katati/llw 'I tear to pieces, rip into'.
[4] The text incorrectly reads h)rufi/ase of unknown meaning because unknown in Greek, except for Hesychius' attempt to give it the meanings 'trampled under foot, shot (let fly)'. The scholion from which the sentence derives reads h)ruqri/ase from the adjective e)ruqros 'red'; perhaps this would refer to decorative coloring, for otherwise it is no explanation.
[5] The phrase implies here that to be a rhetor is to use sophistic arguments to deceive people. In classical Greek it means little more than a public speaker or teacher of public speaking (web address 2).
[6] This startling imperative of the verb 'to shit' is probably a mere error for the present indicative active with the iota-subscript (the headword), and the last sentence no more than a repetition of what went before. Let us dream for a moment, all the same, that Suda expresses for a moment some person's true feelings!
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: comedy; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; gender and sexuality; meter and music; poetry; religion; rhetoric
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 9 February 2002@17:34:33.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 11 September 2002@08:58:52.
David Whitehead (tweaking) on 6 February 2013@05:07:27.
Catharine Roth (tweaked links, cosmeticule) on 14 June 2019@21:23:18.


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