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Headword: Ἐπὶ ξυροῦ
Adler number: epsilon,2498
Translated headword: on a razor
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] on the verge of danger,[1] at the very climax of the matter.[2]
"He was obviously vexed at the prediction, and the danger he was in was on a razor's edge, as the saying goes; the sailors and all the passengers were obviously not going to put up with delay on his part."[3] And elsewhere: "his power was on a razor's edge."[4]
Greek Original:
Ἐπὶ ξυροῦ: ἐπὶ κινδύνου, ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ τοῦ πράγματος ἐπιτάσει. ὁ δὲ περιαλγῶν ἐπὶ τῇ προρρήσει ἦν δῆλος, ἐπὶ ξυροῦ τε ἀκμῆς, τὸ λεγόμενον, ὁ τούτου κίνδυνος ὤν, οἵ τε ναῦται καὶ ὅσοι περίνεοι οὐκ ἀνεξόμενοι τῆς τούτου μελλήσεως δῆλοι ἦσαν. καὶ αὖθις: καὶ αὐτοῦ τὸ κράτος ἐπὶ ξυροῦ ἀκμῆς ἦν.
The illustrative quotations provided in this entry actually illustrate a slightly different figure of speech: ἐπὶ ξυροῦ ἀκμῆς ('on a razor's edge'), which was made popular by its appearance in Homer, Iliad 10.173 (web address 1), a passage cited by the Etymologicum Magnum in its entry on ἐπὶ ξυροῦ (see n. 2 below). See also xi 162.
[1] This gloss is shared by Hesychius epsilon5023, which diverges from the current entry in other respects.
[2] Up to this point the entry = Synagoge epsilon711 (Lexica Segueriana 231.5), and the beginning of the entry at Etymologicum Magnum 362.24-25 (cf. Etymologicum Genuinum alpha337 and Etym.Magn. 49.14-5).
[3] Aelian fr.84 Hercher, 87b Domingo-Forasté. Both editors collate this passage with other quotations from the Suda referring to trouble at sea: epsilon 1720, sigma 637, epsilon 3230, pi 1204, epsilon 3230.
[4] Aelian fr.129 Hercher, 132 Domingo-Forasté. Both editors follow a variant reading in this quotation: αὐτό for αὐτοῦ , yielding the sense "the power [or government] itself was on a razor's edge." Adler does not report this variant in her apparatus.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; daily life; definition; epic; imagery; politics; proverbs; religion; science and technology; trade and manufacture
Translated by: William Hutton on 27 November 2007@05:41:59.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (another x-ref; more keywords; cosmetics) on 27 November 2007@06:13:02.
David Whitehead on 16 October 2012@09:54:44.
William Hutton (corrected reference in note 2) on 30 August 2013@15:59:00.


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