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Headword: Lalagêma
Adler number: lambda,74
Translated headword: babbling, prattling
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning an] utterance, sound.[1]
"To you a holy refuge -- as a thank-offering for my life -- and a babbling [...] I dedicate."[2]
Greek Original:
Lalagêma: to anaphônêma, to êchêma. hirên soi thalamên, zôagria kai lalagêma antithemai.
cf. generally lambda 73, lambda 75, lambda 76, lambda 77, lambda 78, lambda 79, lambda 80.
[1] A standard, reference-book definition of the headword, a neuter noun (see LSJ s.v.) -- which the following quotation perhaps belies: see next note.
[2] Abbreviated from an epigram in the Greek Anthology (6.220.15-16); see more fully under theta 6. For further extracts from this epigram, see epsilon 4078, theta 198, mu 1394, omicron 374, and tau 1167. Dioscorides is writing of the castrato Atys (= the 'Attis' of alpha 3822 and, famously, of Catullus' more effective epyllion, no.63), called a Gallus (devotee of the Phrygian goddess Cybele; gamma 41). He takes refuge in a cave only to find he has been followed by a lion, but he manages to fend off the beast by the noise of his tambour. This instrument -- apparently called a 'babbling', though the term seems inappropriate for a small drum -- and the place of refuge, his qala/mh, he dedicates to the goddess, at least according to the interpretation of Gow and Page, vol. 2, pp. 246-48. Paton, the Loeb translator (vol.1 p.414) regards qala/mai as 'the receptacles in which the organs of these castrated priests were deposited', like the "pao" of eunuchs in Imperial China. For these see the references to Anderson below. This is, however, doubtful, and the cave may imply a 'nook' here.
For 'thank-offering for my life' see generally zeta 112.
Mary M. Anderson, Hidden Power: The Palace Eunuchs of Imperial China, 1990, 15-18, 307-11 (web address 1)
A. S. F. Gow and Denys Page, edd., Hellenistic Epigrams, 1965
W. R. Paton, ed. and tr., The Greek Anthology, 1969
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; gender and sexuality; medicine; meter and music; mythology; poetry; religion; zoology
Translated by: Oliver Phillips ✝ on 26 April 2007@16:45:24.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 27 April 2007@01:02:08.
David Whitehead (augmented and rearranged notes; another keyword; tweaks and cosmetics) on 27 April 2007@03:29:39.
David Whitehead on 28 March 2013@04:25:48.
Catharine Roth (tweak) on 28 March 2013@16:10:18.
Ronald Allen (added cross-references n.2) on 23 November 2021@13:47:33.


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