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Headword: Barbiton
Adler number: beta,110
Translated headword: barbitos, long-armed lyre
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning a] psaltery, kithara. A kind of musical instrument.
"O friend, you who loved the dear barbitos".[1] This is said about Anakreon.[2]
[sc. The barbitos features in] a saying in reference to dissimilar things.[3] Aristophanes [writes]: "What [does] the dress [mean]? What the confused lifestyle? What does the barbitos prattle to the saffron-robe? What the lyre to the head-dress? What [does] the oilflask and girdle [mean]? How inappropriate! What do a mirror and a sword have in common?"[4]
Greek Original:
Barbiton: psaltêrion, kithara. eidos organou mousikou. ô to philon sterxas, phile, barbiton. peri Anakreontos ho logos. paroimia epi tôn anomoiôn. Aristophanês: tis hê stolê; tis hê taraxis tou biou; ti barbitos lalei krokôtôi; ti de lura kekruphalôi; ti lêkuthos kai strophion; hôs axumphoron. tis de katoptrou kai xiphous koinônia;
For the barbitos (the neuter form barbiton in the present entry is late) see already beta 107; and cf. mu 20.
[1] Greek Anthology 7.23b1. Followed by another extract from the Anthology at delta 705, this line begins a couplet that in both the Anthologia Palatina and the Anthologia Planudea was inserted--without any ascription in either text--between 7.23 (Antipater of Sidon; see alpha 3777, mu 437, tau 393, and chi 518) and 7.24 (attributed to Simonides; see gamma 192, eta 304, and lambda 126); cf. Gow and Page (43). Gow and Page note (ibid.) that the distich was appended to 7.23 by Huetius (Pierre Daniel Huet, 1630-1721, French churchman and classical scholar). However, they contend that it is incoherent there as a fourth couplet to 7.23 and endorse Joseph Justus Scaliger's (1540-1609) argument that these lines belong as the opening of another epigram otherwise lost (ibid.). Although Gow and Page allow (ibid.) that the couplet might be ascribed to the Sidonian, they do raise a doubt, gesturing to the presence here of the late neuter form to\ ba/rbiton (see principal note). This form is first securely attested in Dionysius of Halicarnassus (fl. ca. 20 BCE) Roman Antiquities 7.72.5 (in the plural, web address 1). It then finds instances in later writers, whereas Antipater's floruit is close to 150 BCE; cf. Gow and Page (46).
[2] alpha 1916.
[3] From the scholia on the passage of Aristophanes about to be quoted.
[4] Aristophanes, Thesmophoriazusae 136-40 (web address 2).
A.S.F. Gow and D.L. Page, eds., The Greek Anthology: Hellenistic Epigrams, vol. II, (Cambridge 1965)
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: clothing; comedy; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; meter and music; poetry; proverbs
Translated by: David Whitehead on 26 July 2001@04:08:48.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics, link) on 13 December 2001@20:31:34.
David Whitehead (added keyword) on 17 September 2002@06:09:17.
David Whitehead (another keyword; cosmetics) on 21 May 2012@07:00:47.
Catharine Roth (coding, upgraded link) on 6 June 2012@00:13:55.
David Whitehead on 26 January 2014@06:36:08.
David Whitehead on 16 September 2015@10:17:34.
Ronald Allen (expanded n.1, added bibliography, added cross-references) on 12 June 2021@14:33:56.
Ronald Allen (further expanded n.1, added link) on 16 June 2021@14:10:24.
Ronald Allen (my typo n.1) on 3 July 2022@12:31:01.
Catharine Roth (corrected translation as noted by James McKeown) on 22 June 2024@00:46:23.


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