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Headword: Ἁλσὶ διασμηχθεὶς ὄναιτ' ἂν οὑτοσί
Adler number: alpha,1409
Translated headword: this man might be helped if he were rubbed with salt
Vetting Status: high
[sc. A saying] in reference to those committing follies; metaphorically from jars and wine, into which salt is thrown so that it won't turn and smell like vinegar too easily. Since we are accustomed to treat men deranged by strong drink with olive oil mixed with salt. So then Strepsiades is not settled, but delirious even, refusing to honor the terms of the agreement; that is how he used the metaphor. This man is therefore not speaking randomly when he says he might be improved if [the other] were soaked in salt. It is as if he were making a statement about a wineskin, which become better when rubbed with salt. At the same time we treat madmen with salt and olive oil and they are helped. Alternatively he is mocking him for being stupid;[1] for thick kinds of hides are softened with salted lard and then are stretched out. So "he might be helped", he says, if he were cured of his thickness.
Greek Original:
Ἁλσὶ διασμηχθεὶς ὄναιτ' ἂν οὑτοσί: ἐπὶ τῶν παραπαιόντων: μεταφορικῶς ἀπὸ τῶν κεράμων καὶ τοῦ οἴνου, ὅσοις ἅλες βάλλονται, ὑπὲρ τοῦ μὴ ἐξίστασθαι μηδὲ ὀξίζειν εὐχερῶς. ἐπειδὴ τοὺς ὑπὸ μέθης ὥσπερ παραφρονοῦντας ὑποβρέχειν εἰώθαμεν ἐλαίῳ ἁλσὶ μεμιγμένῳ. ὡς οὖν τοῦ Στρεψιάδου μὴ καθεστηκότος, ἀλλὰ καὶ παραφρονοῦντος, ὃς ἐπὶ ὡμολογημένοις ἔξαρνός ἐστιν: οὕτω τῇ μεταφορᾷ ἐχρήσατο. φησὶν οὖν οὐ τὰ τυχόντα οὗτος ὠφεληθείη διαβρεχθεὶς ἁλσίν. ὡς ἐπὶ ἀσκοῦ τὸν λόγον ποιούμενος, οἵ τινες σμηχόμενοι ἁλσὶ βελτίονες γίνονται. ἅμα δὲ καὶ παραφρονοῦντας βρέχομεν ἐλαίῳ καὶ ἁλσὶ καὶ ὠφελοῦνται. ἢ ὡς παχύδερμον αὐτὸν χλευάζει: τὰ γὰρ παχέα ὑπὸ πιμελῆς τῶν δερμάτων ἁλσὶ μαλαττόμενα εὐρύτερα γίνεται. ὄναιτο οὖν, φησίν, ἀποκαθαρθεὶς τὴν παχύτητα.
The headword phrase quotes Aristophanes, Clouds 1237 (web address 1), and the substance of the entry is from the longwinded scholia there. (See also the paroemiographer Apostolius (2.34), confirming the idea implicit here that the phrase become proverbial.) Compare the brevity of Dover (below) ad loc.: "Strepsiades pats the creditor's belly, pretending that one could make a good wineskin out of it; hides were salted as a preliminary to tanning (R.J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology [Leyden 1955-] v.3.19)".
See also alpha 4177 (end), pi 830.
[1] Literally, "thick-skinned" (παχύδερμος ), for which cf. mu 94 (end).
Aristophanes, Clouds, edited with introduction and commentary by K.J. Dover (Oxford 1968)
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: comedy; daily life; definition; food; imagery; medicine; proverbs; science and technology
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 12 June 2000@10:28:50.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (Altered wording, added keywords) on 12 June 2000@17:34:35.
Elizabeth Vandiver (minor cosmetic changes) on 5 July 2000@23:32:47.
David Whitehead (augmented note; cosmetics) on 23 February 2001@09:25:36.
David Whitehead (added note) on 3 July 2002@03:21:17.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 18 October 2005@05:43:55.
Catharine Roth (added note) on 7 May 2008@10:33:18.
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 10 February 2012@07:27:54.
Catharine Roth (typo, upgraded link) on 15 March 2012@00:35:14.
David Whitehead on 13 June 2015@08:59:36.


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