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Headword: *delfi/s
Adler number: delta,208
Translated headword: dolphin
Vetting Status: high
The fish [of that name].[1]
Also a naval engine of war [made from] iron, or lead. Aristophanes [writes]: "before he comes upon you, hoist up your dolphins in readiness and bring your boat alongside".[2] [He is referring to] a dolphin, an engine of war [made from] iron or lead, shaped into a dolphin. This they let go from a mast spar onto the enemy [ships] and they sink them. [Hence] 'dolphin-bearing ship'.[3] 'Bring your boat alongside': [used] instead of 'be ready', as if there were some danger from the wind for those who will embark on it [i.e. a ship].[4]
Greek Original:
*delfi/s: o( i)xqu/s. kai\ o)/rganon nautiko\n sidhrou=n, h)\ moli/bdinon. *)aristofa/nhs: pri\n e)kei=non prosike/sqai sou, pro/teron tou\s delfi=nas metewri/zou kai\ th\n a)/katon parabalou=. delfi/n, sidhrou=n kataskeu/asma h)\ moli/bdinon, ei)s delfi=na e)sxhmatisme/non. tou=to de\ e)k th=s kerai/as tou= i(stou= h)fi/esan ei)s ta\s tw=n polemi/wn kai\ katedu/onto. delfinofo/ros te h( nau=s. th\n a)/katon de\ parabalou=: a)nti\ tou= e(/toimon poi/ei, w(s ei)/ tis ki/ndunos e)k tou= a)ne/mou, e)s au)th\n e)mbhsome/nois.
[1] cf. Etymologicum Magnum 255.25 (plurals).
[2] Aristophanes, Knights 761-762 (web address 1), followed by comment from the scholia there. See further below.
[3] Thucydides 7.41.2 (web address 2); see already delta 207.
[4] The chorus in Aristophanes' Knights uses the metaphor of a naval battle to warn the sausage-seller to be prepared for the Paphlagonian's assault and sink his arguments. The Suda uses the nautical simile of sailors embarking on a ship having to prepare themselves for a dangerous change in the weather.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: aetiology; comedy; definition; history; imagery; military affairs; poetry; science and technology; trade and manufacture; zoology
Translated by: Tony Natoli on 4 May 2002@03:54:26.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (added keyword; cosmetics) on 5 May 2002@05:44:34.
Catharine Roth (added keyword) on 10 November 2005@18:55:44.
David Whitehead (tweaking) on 18 June 2012@07:31:09.
David Whitehead (another note) on 9 October 2015@10:14:38.
Catharine Roth (upgraded links) on 15 July 2016@19:14:56.


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