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Headword: Βωμολόχος
Adler number: beta,490
Translated headword: altar-ambusher
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
[Meaning one who is] an evildoer, sacrilegious. From those who lie in wait for the sacrifices placed on the altars, or for those who perform sacrifices, to ask them and take something.
Also [sc. attested is the phrase] βωμολόχοις ἔπεσι ["with altar-ambusher words"],[1] [meaning] those designed to please and flatter. The word has been taken as a metaphor from those who lie in wait around the altars and wish to get something. For these people used to beg a lot persistently at the altars, flattering to get something from people sacrificing.
Agathias [writes]: "'it is not my custom at least,' Narses said, 'to take pride in (offering) altar-ambusher and importunate hopes.'"[2]
And Damascius on the subject of Isidore,[3] "He was charming, the furthest imaginable from tricky wit[4] and altar-ambushing" (i.e. from ingratiation).
Greek Original:
Βωμολόχος: ὁ κακοῦργος, ἀσεβής. παρὰ τοὺς λοχῶντας τὰ ἐν τοῖς βωμοῖς ἐπιτιθέμενα θύματα, ἢ τοὺς θύοντας, ἵνα αἰτήσαντες λάβωσί τι. καὶ Βωμολόχοις ἔπεσι, τοῖς πρὸς χάριν καὶ ἀπὸ κολακείας. ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν λοχώντων περὶ τοὺς βωμοὺς καὶ βουλομένων τι λαβεῖν μετήνεκται ἡ λέξις. οὗτοι γὰρ ἐπὶ τῶν βωμῶν πολλὰ ἐλιπάρουν κολακεύοντες λαβεῖν τι τῶν θυόντων. Ἀγαθίας: οὐ γὰρ σύνηθες, ὁ Ναρσῆς, ἔμοιγε, ἔφη, βωμολοχίαις τε καὶ γλισχραῖς ἐλπίσιν ἐγκαλλωπίζεσθαι. καὶ περὶ Ἰσιδώρου Δαμάσκιος: ὁ δὲ ἐπίχαρις ἦν, εὐτραπελίας μὲν καὶ βωμολοχίας ὅτι πορρωτάτω.
Notes:
This entry is noticeably more uncompromising about the humor of "altar-ambushers" than all other related entries in the Suda: beta 486, beta 487, beta 488, beta 489, chi 296. The word seems, in the writers cited here, to have lost its visual image and to have become a dead metaphor for deceitful words and acts that a politician or other person uses to ingratiate himself into the favor of others.
[1] From Aristophanes, Frogs 358, cited more fully at theta 583 (web address 1). The scholiast ad loc. translates the clause in which the words appear as "or who takes pleasure in ill-timed foolish loquaciousness, πολυλογίαις φλυάροις , i.e. acting the altar-ambusher."
[2] Agathias [alpha 112], Histories p.26.24-25 Keydell (1.19 Niebuhr). This work is a continuation of Procopius (pi 2479) and covers the years 553-59 AD, during which Narses (nu 42), the Persian-Armenian eunuch, was reconquering Italy. The passage describes the generosity and magnanimity of Narses. He here denies that he speaks and acts to importune the Lucanians, whom he addresses, with unrealistic promises merely for self-serving political ends. The sentence with its high-sounding words and condensed thought is probably designed as a pastiche of Narses' style of speaking.
[3] Damascius, Life of Isidore fr. 311 Zintzen. For Isidore of Alexandria, see iota 631.
[4] For the two senses of εὐτράπελος , 'the socially adept wit who can turn a witty phrase, the tricky and self-serving jester', see beta 489, note 4; cf. on the very similar adjective ἀστεῖος , Beta 488 and notes 1, 5.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; Christianity; comedy; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; historiography; history; military affairs; religion
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 25 February 2002@11:58:10.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (added keyword; cosmetics) on 2 September 2002@08:24:00.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 20 November 2005@10:04:47.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 3 June 2012@06:59:43.
Catharine Roth (upgraded link) on 12 August 2012@00:59:25.
Catharine Roth (tweaked note 3) on 12 October 2014@00:59:45.
David Whitehead on 23 September 2015@08:29:22.

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