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Headword: Êmbroten
Adler number: eta,286
Translated headword: missed (the mark or goal)
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning he/she/it] failed to hit.
Greek Original:
Êmbroten: apetuchen.
For this entry cf. Lexicon Ambrosianum 335, Hesychius eta437-439, and the Homeric scholia, e.g. to Iliad 5.287 and 3.18b1.5, and to Odyssey 7.292.
This odd Homeric aorist of a(marta/nw became fixed in Greek language and culture as an antonym of succeeding or hitting the mark through its use in two proverbs. Eustathius describes them as follows. " 'You missed and did not hit' (h)/mbrotes oud’ e)/tuxes, Iliad 5.287) is proverbial for those who fail to achieve their purpose. The two verbs [sc. the positive of the one and the negative of the antonym] have pleonastically the same meaning" (Commentary on the Iliad 2.74.4-7, cf. 3.886.23-887.3). "For if the stranger [sc. Odysseus in disguise] does not accuse Telemachus, he certainly does accuse the suitors of not being able to shoot this way; the phrase 'he did not miss his aim in the slightest' (ou)de/ ti tou= skopou= h)/mbrote, Odyssey 21.426, where it is in the first person, as spoken by Odysseus) has become proverbial for those who hit the mark of their wish (tw=n eu)stoxou/ntwn tou= qelhtou=, Commentary on the Odyssey 2.267.40-43, cf. 1.274.44-46)." Under this lasting influence, neither of the two antonyms (tugxa/nw, a(marta/nw) fully loses its military image of hitting or missing the target (R.R. Dyer, "Hamartia in the Poetics and Aristotle's model of failure," Arion [Author, Myth] 4, 1965, 658-64), a fact sometimes ignored in translations of the verbs and of the related concepts of tu/xh (tau 1234, tau 1232, tau 1233, sigma 1650) as 'chance' and of a(marti/a as 'misdeed, sin' (alpha 1496, alpha 1497, delta 641). On the meaning of the verb in the gloss, a)potugxa/nw, also 'miss the mark', see alpha 3591 and LSJ.
For the verb titu/skomai for aiming at the mark, from the same root as e)/tuxen, see tau 697.
The form of the aorist is a Mischform (Lexikon des frühgriechischen Epos 1.607), Aeolic only insofar as it drops the rough breathing and treats vocalic r in the root *amrt (unexplained in etymology) as ro rather than Attic-Ionic ar (h(/marton), thus creating the usual intrusion of beta between mu and a liquid (cf. me/mblwka from the aorist molei=n). But the augment in eta is purely Homeric; cf. the Aeolic form a)/mbrote in Sappho (fr.5.5 Lobel-Page). The resulting dactyl is a metrically convenient form of the verb in epic composition. See also the odd Homeric deverbative a)brota/comen 'we may miss each other on the way', dropping the mu of the stem in favour of the intrusive beta, at Iliad 10.65 (alpha 90).
Keywords: daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; epic; military affairs; poetry; proverbs
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 19 January 2003@11:02:05.
Vetted by:
Robert Dyer (x-ref to tau 697) on 27 May 2003@06:08:10.
David Whitehead (added keyword; cosmetics) on 27 May 2003@06:15:11.
Catharine Roth (betacode cosmetics) on 22 September 2006@19:56:40.
David Whitehead on 16 December 2012@07:16:10.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 19 December 2012@21:06:54.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 15 December 2014@16:30:19.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 24 January 2015@00:31:23.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 8 April 2015@18:26:02.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticule) on 19 August 2018@22:15:52.


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