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Headword: *)axra/s
Adler number: alpha,4713
Translated headword: achras, wild pear
Vetting Status: high
A type of pear. Aristophanes [writes]: "some wild pear must be obstructing [the passage of] my food. -- Is it the one Thrasyboulos talked about to the Lakonians?"[1] The wild pear is blocking the stomach. This Thrasyboulos intended to reply to the Lakedaimonian ambassadors who had come concerning the treaties, but then, after taking bribes, pretended that he had eaten wild pears and was unable to speak.[2]
Greek Original:
*)axra/s: ei)=dos a)pi/ou. *)aristofa/nhs: a)xra/s tis e)gklei/sas' e)/xei ta\ siti/a. mw=n h(\n *qrasu/boulos ei)=pe toi=s *lakwnikoi=s; h( a)xra\s e)pe/xei th\n gaste/ra. ou(=tos de\ o( *qrasu/boulos a)ntile/gein me/llwn toi=s *lakedaimoni/ois pre/sbesi peri\ spondw=n e)lhluqo/sin, ei)=ta dwrodokh/sas, a)xra/das prosepoih/sato bebrwke/nai kai\ mh\ du/nasqai le/gein.
[1] Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae 355-356 (web address 1 below), with scholion. On this and other defecation/constipation jokes on the comic stage see J. Henderson, The Maculate Muse (New Haven 1975) 187-92. Note, however, that it is misleading to refer to the a)xra/s as a 'prickly-pear' as Henderson does on p.189. The cactus commonly known as the prickly-pear (genus Opuntia) was not known in ancient Greece. In explanation of the humour in Aristophanes, TN has it on good authority that the wild-pear tends to harden the stool, particularly when eaten to excess. See also omicron 27.
[2] The date is 393 or 392 BCE. For Thrasyboulos see generally OCD(4) s.v. (pp.1471-2). Since there is a similar story, in a later context, about Demosthenes (Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights 11.9.1), the way the scholiast explained the present passage has been doubted; instead, it may refer to some kind of military blockade that Thrasyboulos had advocated. See on this Aristophanes, Ecclesiazusae, edited by R.G. Ussher (Oxford 1973, reprinted Bristol 1986) 126, following van Leeuwen.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; botany; comedy; definition; economics; ethics; food; history; medicine
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 6 June 2001@13:34:00.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (modified translation; augmented notes) on 7 June 2001@05:17:55.
David Whitehead on 29 August 2002@05:59:49.
Tony Natoli on 28 February 2003@23:05:21.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 2 March 2003@04:59:35.
David Whitehead (tweaked tr; other cosmetics) on 30 March 2012@06:29:44.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 31 July 2014@05:11:35.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 9 January 2016@14:40:41.


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