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Headword: Εὐράξ
Adler number: epsilon,3674
Translated headword: on the blind side; on the open side
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
[Meaning] from the flank.
Greek Original:
Εὐράξ: ἐκ πλαγίου.
Notes:
This word attracted much commentary. Heraclides says that it was an Ionian and Aeolian dialect form (fr. 19 line 47). Herodian (De Prosodia Catholica 3,1. 510.6) lists it among adverbs ending in -x that have the oxytone (acute) accent on the final syllable (cf. epsilon 2807).
It is used twice in Homer of a warrior who attacks unseen from the blind side of his enemy (Iliad 11.251, 15.541: web addresses 1 and 2). As W. Leaf saw long ago in his edition of the Iliad (ad 11.251), it is a military term, referring to an outflanking maneuver -- or, in naval warfare, to an attack to ram the exposed broadside of a ship. (NB: these two contexts are reflected in the suggested translation of the headword, above, but Prof J C McKeown points out that in rugby they are opposites.)
The jingle used by Pisthetaerus [probably better Pisetaerus as in Dunbar and other editions] to Iris the Rainbow in Aristophanes, Birds 1258 (web address 3), εὐράξ πατάξ 'On the blind side! Ram!' (epsilon 2807 note 10), appears to reflect a proverb or command on seeing an enemy exposed to attack on the blind side or broadside. In context it counts as sexual harassment, and Iris threatens to report it as hybris to her father Zeus.
The etymology is unclear. Risch hesitantly follows the majority of scholia, lexica and commentaries in deriving it, by analogy with other adverbs in -ax, from εὐρύς 'wide (as the horizon stretching before us is wide)' and εὖρος 'width' (Wortbildung der homerischen Sprache, p. 308, §128 a). Tichy, followed by Lexikon des frühgriechischen Epos fasc. 12. 792, is even less certain.
References:
Aristophanes, Birds. N. Dunbar, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995
Tichy, Eva. Onomatopoetische Verbalbildungen des Griechischen (1983), 170ff.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; epic; gender and sexuality; military affairs; mythology; proverbs
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 26 March 2002@17:12:37.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (Cosmetics, added keyword, raised status) on 26 March 2002@21:30:49.
William Hutton on 27 March 2002@08:03:09.
David Whitehead (tweaks and cosmetics) on 14 November 2012@05:36:40.
William Hutton (cosmeticule) on 23 October 2014@07:51:50.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticule) on 15 December 2014@16:19:11.
David Whitehead (added a note) on 10 September 2016@07:52:04.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 25 February 2018@01:11:36.

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