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Headword: Κύρβεις
Adler number: kappa,2745
Translated headword: kyrbeis, kurbeis, crested stelae, crested tablets
Vetting Status: high
Those containing [sc. lists of] the festivals of the gods; being a sort of secret sources,[1] in which the matters of the gods were to be hidden away. Asclepiades[2] [says] that [the term comes] from Kurbes,[3] who 'defined the [?]natures [of the gods?]', as Phanias the Ephesian[4] says. By him these [matters] were validated in writing. Eratosthenes[5] says they were three-cornered. Aristophanes[6] says they are like the 'axles', except that the axles contained the laws but the kyrbeis the [?]natures.[7] Of both types the construction is like this: a kind of large slab the height of a man, fitted with rectangular pieces of wood, having flat sides and full of writing; and having pivots on both ends, so that they can be moved and turned by readers.
And [there is] a proverb: 'kyrbeis of evils'. [Kyrbeis] are four-angled tablets among the Athenians, on which they used to write the laws, as well as prescribe the punishments of the wrong-doers. The proverb thus applied to the very evil.[8]
So [they are called] 'crested stelae' from their extending to a crest on top. Or from the Corybantes.[9] For Apollodorus says they are their invention.[10]
Greek Original:
Κύρβεις: αἱ τὰς τῶν θεῶν ἑορτὰς ἔχουσαι: κρύβιές τινες οὖσαι, ἐν αἷς τὰ τῶν θεῶν ἀποκρυπτόμενα ἔδει εἶναι. Ἀσκληπιάδης, ὅτι ἀπὸ Κύρβεως τοῦ τὰς οὐσίας ὁρίσαντος, ὥς φησι Φανίας ὁ Ἐφέσιος. ἀπὸ τούτου ταῦτα κυρωθῆναι τοῖς γράμμασιν. Ἐρατοσθένης δὲ τριγώνους αὐτάς φησιν εἶναι: Ἀριστοφάνης δὲ ὁμοίας εἶναί φησι τοῖς ἄξοσι, πλὴν ὅτι οἱ μὲν ἄξονες νόμους, αἱ δὲ κύρβεις οὐσίας εἶχον. ἀμφοτέρων δὲ τὸ κατασκεύασμα τοιοῦτον: πλινθίον τι μέγα, ἀνδρόμηκες, ἡρμοσμένα ἔχον τετράγωνα ξύλα, τὰς πλευρὰς πλατείας ἔχοντα καὶ γραμμάτων πλήρεις: ἑκατέρωθεν δὲ κνώδακας, ὥστε κινεῖσθαι καὶ μεταστρέφεσθαι ὑπὸ τῶν ἀναγινωσκόντων. καὶ παροιμία: Κύρβεις κακῶν. σανίδες εἰσὶ παρ' Ἀθηναίοις τετράγωνοι, ἐν αἷς τοὺς νόμους ἔγραφον, καὶ τὰς κατὰ τῶν ἀδικούντων τιμωρίας ἐποίουν. ἐπὶ τοίνυν τῶν σφόδρα πονηρῶν ἡ παροιμία. Κύρβεις οὖν παρὰ τὸ κεκορυφῶσθαι εἰς ὕψος ἀνατεταμένα. ἢ ἀπὸ τῶν Κορυβάντων. ἐκείνων γὰρ εὕρημα φησὶ καὶ Ἀπολλόδωρος.
For the headword see already kappa 2744, which concerns these objects and gives significant references. The first paragraph of the present entry is an expanded version of Aristophanes of Byzantium fr.76 Nauck.
[1] The Suda gives an otherwise unattested Greek word κρύβιες , which the lexicographer took to be related to a stem indicating something secret or hidden (as in English 'cryptic'). The Latin translation in the Gaisford-Bernhardy edition evades the matter by leaving the word in Greek.
[2] For Asclepiades (of Tragilus, C4 BCE: OCD(4) s.v. 'Asclepiades(1)') see alpha 3407 and (esp.) alpha 4173, gamma 132, delta 1598. His writings survive only in fragments.
[3] Asclepiades seems to have regarded this otherwise unknown Kurbes or Kurbeus as the eponymous originator of this sort of stele.
[4] So the transmitted text, but this is actually fr.22 (Wehrli) of Pha(i)nias the Eresian, a pupil of Aristotle: see generally phi 73.
[5] A third/second century BCE scholar and historian, preserved only in fragments: see generally epsilon 2898.
[6] More accurately, the scholia on Aristophanes, Birds 1354 (resumed in para.3 below). For the 'axles' see alpha 2833.
[7] Here, for the second time in four lines, the noun οὐσίας is transmitted, but (as Adler notes, following Kuster) by a change of a single letter it can become θυσίας 'sacrifices'.
[8] Likewise in Zenobius (4.77), a compiler of proverbs in the second century CE, and doubtless the Suda's source here.
[9] In mythology the Corybantes accompanied Dionysus from infancy on and were known for their orgiastic dancing: see generally kappa 2114 (and cf. kappa 2115, kappa 2116); OCD(4) s.v..
[10] The Hellenistic scholar and historian Apollodorus of Athens, another writer surviving only fragments; this one is FGrH 244 F107. See generally OCD(4) s.v. 'Apollodorus(6)'.
Thomas Gaisford, Suidae lexicon, rev. by Gottfried Bernhardy, 2 vols. Halle, 1843
Keywords: comedy; constitution; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; historiography; law; mythology; proverbs; religion; science and technology; trade and manufacture
Translated by: Oliver Phillips ✝ on 26 December 2002@17:09:22.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 27 December 2002@12:14:51.
Catharine Roth on 27 December 2002@12:19:18.
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 30 December 2002@04:34:40.
David Whitehead (more keywords) on 11 November 2005@08:01:31.
David Whitehead (another note; tweaking) on 22 March 2013@08:17:31.
David Whitehead (more tweaking) on 2 April 2014@07:54:05.
David Whitehead on 4 August 2014@07:58:12.
David Whitehead (typo) on 2 May 2016@13:07:08.
David Whitehead on 10 September 2016@06:40:07.


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