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Headword: Phrastêres
Adler number: phi,692
Translated headword: indicators
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] the teeth calibratory of ages.[1] Aristophanes [writes]: "[despite] being seven years old, Archedemos[2] has not cut his kinsmen."[3] Instead of saying "[cut] the teeth, the indicators," he said "kinsmen", that is to say, of the same kin. The metaphor comes from children, who when they are around seven years old have all their teeth. Thus he is saying that [Archedemos] grew up without having been able to be enrolled into the citizen-body.[4] "And now he is a demagogue among the corpses up above, and [holds] a position of primacy for the mischief there." Instead of saying citizenship or demagoguery, he said mischief: humorously [speaking] against their wicked deeds. He is not saying the Athenians are corpses on account of their misdeeds; rather, down below they plausibly call the living up above corpses.
Greek Original:
Phrastêres: hoi gnômones tôn hêlikiôn odontes. Aristophanês: heptetês ôn Archedêmos ouk ephuse phratoras. anti tou eipein odontas: phrastêras, phratoras eipe, toutesti sungeneis. hê metaphora apo tôn paidôn, hoitines ontes peri ta hepta etê echousi pantas tous odontas. legei oun, hoti chronisas en tais Athênais ouk êdunêthê anagraphênai eis tous politas. kai nun dêmagôgei en tois anô nekrois kasti ta prôta tês ekei mochthêrias. anti tou eipein politeias ê dêmagôgias, mochthêrias eipe: charientôs pros ta kaka autôn. ou legei de dia tên kakopragian nekrous tous Athênaious: alla pithanôs hoi katô tous zôntas anô nekrous phasi.
The headword is the masculine nominative plural form of frasth/r: teller, expounder, informer, indicator (see generally LSJ s.v., and cf. already phi 691). The Suda apparently takes the headword from the scholia to Aristophanes, Frogs 418-421 (web address 1), on which see further below. See also delta 411, epsilon 2872.
[1] The frasth=res o)do/ntes are the adult (permanent, secondary) teeth that a child typically acquires by age seven (cf. epsilon 2872).
[2] Archedemos (Develin, person no. 300) was a popular leader in late-fifth-century Athens; he managed the two-obol fund that alleviated war-time stress, and prosecuted (406 BCE) Erasinides (Develin, no. 1057; cf. epsilon 2895), an Athenian general at the battle of Arginusae (cf. alpha 3778; alpha 3111 note; epsilon 1136 note; delta 234; epsilon 3234; epsilon 3657 note; omicroniota 101). Xenophon, Hellenica 1.7.2 recounts these events (web address 2).
[3] A close approximation of Aristophanes, Frogs 418-421 (web address 1). The passage plays upon the headword frasth=res (indicators) and the phonologically similar Attic Greek word fra/toras (masculine accusative plural form of fra/twr) for men of the same fratri/a (kin group, brotherhood, phratry). It is difficult to render the pun into English, but Henderson suggests "At seven he still hadn't cut his kinsdom teeth" (Henderson, p. 81). On Greek phratries generally see OCD(4), s.v.
[4] A father would not normally delay the introduction of his male infant to the phratry, unless there was a question of the child's legitimacy (Dover, p. 248; Lambert, p. 162).
R. Develin, Athenian Officials 684-321 BC, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989
J. Henderson, ed. and trans., Aristophanes, Frogs Assemblywomen Wealth, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002
K.J. Dover, Aristophanes Frogs, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993
S.D. Lambert, The Phratries of Attica, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1993
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: biography; children; comedy; constitution; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; history; imagery; medicine; military affairs; politics
Translated by: Ronald Allen on 6 August 2007@23:53:49.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 7 August 2007@00:07:50.
David Whitehead (more x-refs; modified keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 7 August 2007@03:15:21.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 12 November 2010@22:37:33.
David Whitehead on 17 December 2013@10:06:36.
David Whitehead on 7 August 2014@03:55:21.


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