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Headword: *kw/|dion
Adler number: kappa,2216
Translated headword: small fleece, small sheepskin rug (for sleeping on) or cloak (against rain)
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] a sheep skin.[1]
Aristophanes [writes]:[2] "if I do not hate you, may I become one little fleece of a sheep[3] and be taught to join in singing a tragedy of Morsimus."[4] A sheepskin rug is a skin prepared with the wool left on. May I become, he is saying, a sheepskin rug in the house of Cratinus,[5] so that he may piss on me, if I do not hate you. So he is attacking Cratinus as a pisser and a drunkard. With his name accented acute on the penultimate syllable for this reason,[6] although retired from competing in contests and writing scripts,[7] he is again competing and writes the theatre piece Pytine against himself and his drinking. Cratinus made up the comedy to be that his wife both stopped wanting marital relations with him and took him to court for abuse,[8] but friends happening to show up asked Cratinus not to take any precipitate action but to learn the reason for her animosity: she blamed him on the grounds that he no longer did comedies or collaborated in writing them but hung around getting drunk. Cratinus belonged to Old Comedy and was older than Aristophanes, among the very famous.
[Who does not know] that Anaxagoras at the Olympic Games, attending the stadium under a sheepskin rug when it was not raining at all, is said to have done this in forecast of a shower.[9]
Greek Original:
*kw/|dion: proba/teion de/rma. *)aristofa/nhs: ei) mh/ se misw=, genoi/mhn e(\n proba/tou kw/|dion kai\ didaskoi/mhn prosa/|dein *morsi/mou tragw|di/an. kw/|dio/n e)sti to\ a(/ma toi=s e)ri/ois skeuazo/menon de/rma. genoi/mhn, fhsi/n, e)s th\n oi)ki/an *krati/nou kw/|dion, w(/ste mou katourei=n e)kei=non, ei) mh/ se misw=. w(s e)nourhth\n ou)=n kai\ me/quson diaba/llei to\n *krati=non. o(/qen kai\ parocunqei\s e)kei=nos, kai/toi tou= a)gwni/zesqai a)posta\s kai\ suggra/fein, pa/lin a)gwni/zetai kai\ gra/fei dra=ma th\n *puti/nhn, e)s au(to/n te kai\ th\n me/qhn. oi)konomi/a| de\ ke/xrhtai toiau/th|: th\n kwmw|di/an e)pla/sato o( *krati=nos ei)=nai au(tou= gunai=ka kai\ a)fi/stasqai tou= sunoikesi/ou tou= su\n au)tw=| qe/lein kai\ kakw/sews au)tou= di/khn labei=n, fi/lous de\ paratuxo/ntas tou= *krati/nou dei=sqai mhde\n propete\s poiei=sqai, kai\ th=s e)/xqras a)nerwta=n th\n ai)ti/an, th\n de\ me/mfesqai au)tw=|, o(/ti mh\ kwmw|dei= mhke/ti mhde\ suggra/fei, sxola/zei de\ th=| me/qh|. h)=n de\ o( *krati=nos th=s a)rxai/as kwmw|di/as, presbu/teros *)aristofa/nous, tw=n doki/mwn a)/gan. o(/ti *)anacago/ras *)olumpia/sin, o(po/te h(/kista u(/oi, proelqw\n u(po\ kw|di/w| e)s to\ sta/dion e)pi\ prorrh/sei o)/mbrou le/getai tou=to pepraxe/nai.
The headword is a diminutive in –idion of kw=as (or kws), 'sheepskin, fleece', as in Golden Fleece, and hence should be written with an iota subscript. It is, however, frequently found in our mss and modern texts without it, perhaps through the ancient explanation (found in Etymologicum Magnum 550.2ff.) that takes it as a sleeping mattress and associates it with kwdei/a, the poppy head (kappa 2213) used as an opiate, and kw=ma, 'sleep, coma'; cf. the scholia to Homer, Iliad 9.661 and 657 (on which see further, next note).
[1] Same or similar definition in the scholia to Homer, Iliad 9.661 and 657, Hesychius kappa4779 (cf. nu42, 44, mu911, etc.), Photius, Lexicon kappa1285 Theodoridis (cf. his entries at delta657, sigma525 and alpha2847; also Photius, Bibliotheca 250.443a.15), Ambrosian Lexicon 2057 and Anecdota graeca, ed. L. Bachmann, 286.7.
[2] The passage is Knights 399-400, but with a manifestly incorrect reading. The following material here corresponds for the most part to the scholia ad loc., but with the sentences often in a different order.
[3] The text here reads e(\n proba/tou kw|/dion, instead of the correct e)n *krati/nou kw|/dion 'a little fleece (sheepskin rug) in the house of Cratinus'. As the scholion below is based on the latter, it goes to show that the two commentaries are not based on the same single source, but rather on the use of various, partially identical, sources.
[4] Morsimus (mu 1260, mu 1261, mu 1262), a great-nephew of Aeschylus and an eye-doctor, is also criticised by Aristophanes at Peace 802 and Frogs 151; see OCD(4) 968-9. We have no evidence for the nature of his tragedies or choral music, but the verb prosa|/dein 'to sing towards' here probably has a technical sense of singing in counterpoint, in a fashion known in the new dithyramb of his day (see delta 1029, kappa 2647 and links).
[5] The scholiast and the Suda here use a paraphrase rather than the text for 'in the house of Cratinus'.
[6] In the genitive case, as here in Knights, the name of Cratinus (kappa 2344) is naturally paroxytone (with an acute accent on the penultimate). The odd nominative phrase in the scholion and the Suda may be intended to make a punning connection between this accentuation of the playwright’s name and the rhyming paroxytone accent of the play *puti/nh, described below. It begins, however, 'For this reason' (o(/qen); if we accept the logic of the entry, this connective refers backwards to Cratinus' drinking. It would then be a pun on krati/nion, found in Athenaeus (Deipnosophists, Epitome for a drinking-cup made of cornel-wood.
[7] The English does not capture the distinction between entering a dramatic contest and writing the script of a comedy. The title of Cratinus' last play refers to a container covered or disguised by plaited osier (pi 3260, delta 1054; schol. Aristophanes, Birds 798), usually a wine-flask (Hesychius pi4486, beta1352, Photius Lexicon s.v., Pollux 7.175), but here probably a chamber pot or a)mi/s (Hesychius pi4486), appropriate to the references to pissing on his bed-mat.
[8] The clause uses technical legal terms for marital relations and abuse.
[9] Quoted here from the Anaxagoras entry alpha 1981. We owe this story (fr.6 Diels/Kranz) to Philostratus, Life of Apollonius of Tyana 1.2.22-26, here cited in an odd variation of the original: "Who does not know that (with the accusative and infinitive of indirect speech) Anaxagoras at the Olympic Games, attending the stadium, when it was not raining at all, under a sheepskin rug in forecast of a shower and after saying in advance to his house that it was going to rain, did not lie?" See also Photius, Bibliotheca 241.331b.3-5.
Keywords: athletics; biography; botany; clothing; comedy; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; gender and sexuality; law; meter and music; philosophy; tragedy; women; zoology
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 18 November 2003@10:04:08.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented keywords; added more x-refs; cosmetics) on 19 November 2003@04:15:52.
David Whitehead (typo (my own)) on 19 November 2003@04:21:22.
Robert Dyer (Brought translation into line with alpha 1981) on 25 November 2003@03:53:48.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 14 March 2013@07:28:38.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 2 August 2014@07:11:34.
David Whitehead (coding and other cosmetics) on 2 May 2016@06:24:49.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticules) on 12 January 2020@18:31:48.


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