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Headword: *mu/wy
Adler number: mu,1430
Translated headword: horse-fly; goad, spur
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] the gadfly.[1]
A kind of fly which irritates cattle.[2]
The word occurs in Callimachus in Hecale, "a horse-fly certain [with] cattle"; [meaning] a horse-fly scaring away and pursuing the cattle.[3]
Also called a mu/wy is the horse's spur, the iron thing which they wear on the foot and goad horses.
Polybius [writes]: "but he applied the spurs from both sides [sc. of his horse] and drove on triumphant."[4]
Also in the Epigrams: "Lysidice [sc. dedicates] to you, o Cyprian,[5] her horse-training spur, the golden goad she wore on her well-greaved leg."[6] And elsewhere: "[sc. he dedicates] his ox-guiding, sharp-ironed, threatening goad."[7] And elsewhere: "[sc. he dedicates] the bloodied points of his horse-driving goad."[8]
Greek Original:
*mu/wy: o( oi)=stros. mui=a/ tis e)reqi/zousa ta\s bou=s. le/getai para\ *kallima/xw| e)n *(eka/lh|, bou=s sw=os mu/wy: tou\s bou=s sobw=n kai\ diw/kwn mu/wy. le/getai *mu/wy kai\ h( ma/stic tou= i(/ppou, to\ sidh/rion, o(\ e)pi\ tou= podo\s forou=si kentou=ntes tou\s i(/ppous. *polu/bios: o( de\ prosqei\s tou\s mu/wpas e)c a)mfote/roin toi=n meroi=n h)/laune katakra/tos. kai\ e)n *)epigra/mmasi: *lusidi/kh soi, *ku/pri, to\n i(ppasth=ra mu/wpa, xru/seon eu)knh/mou ke/ntron e)/qhke podo/s. kai\ au)=qis: boustro/fon a)krosi/daron a)peilhth=ra mu/wpa. kai\ au)=qis: ke/ntra t' e)naimo/enta diwci/ppoio mu/wpos.
The headword is a masculine noun in the nominative (and vocative) singular. It has three meanings according to LSJ s.v.: (1) a species of biting fly, probably from the genus Tabanus, that pesters livestock; (2) a spur; and (3) metaphorically, an incentive; cf. Chantraine s.v. (1).
[1] The first gloss is a masculine noun in the nominative singular; see LSJ s.v., which tentatively identifies it as Tabanus bovinus. Also see the scholia to Homer, Odyssey 22.299 (web address 1); Hesychius mu2017; Etymologicum Gudianum s.v.; omicroniota 180; and omicroniota 181. The mu/wy is distinguished from the oi)=stros at Aristotle, History of Animals 490a20 and 596b14. [In her critical apparatus, Adler notes that mss AGF omit this gloss and that ms M inserts it above the passage.]
[2] Same glossing of the headword in Photius' Lexicon (mu641 Theodoridis), Hesychius mu2017, and the Synagoge; cf. Lexica Segueriana 305.16, ps.-Zonaras 1380.3, and Etymologicum Magnum 596.21 (Kallierges). Adler also cites Etymologicum Genuinum.
[3] A garbling of a phrase in Callimachus, Hecale fr. 301 Pfeiffer (accusative case there), with comment from the scholia there.
[4] Polybius fr. 61 Büttner-Wobst. An example of the headword's sense as a spur also occurs at Polybius 11.18.4 (web address 2): prosqe/nta tou\s mu/wpas (having applied the spurs). [Adler notes that mss GM preferred the genitive plural a)mfote/rwn tw=n merw=n (from either of the sides) for the Suda's dual number; cf. Büttner-Wobst, p. 523.]
[5] Epithet of the goddess Aphrodite, born in the east, and traditionally linked to the island of Cyprus, where her most prominent cults were located; see OCD(4) s.v. Aphrodite, kappa 2738, and alpha 974 (end).
[6] Greek Anthology 5.202.1-2, Asclepiades' epigram to the hetaera Lysidice (Gow and Page, Hellenistic Epigrams, vol. I, p. 45; vol. II, pp. 120-1). [This and the next two excerpts from the Greek Anthology were omitted by ms. F (so Adler).]
[7] Greek Anthology 6.95.1, Antiphilus' epigram to the plowman Parmis (Gow and Page, The Garland of Philip, vol. I, pp. 100-1; vol. II, pp. 126-7).
[8] Greek Anthology 6.233.5 (Maikios/Maecius/Maccius), the horseman Stratius's dedication of equestrian equipment to Poseidon; cf. Gow and Page (Garland of Philip, vol. I, 282-283 and vol. II, 314-6), and further excerpts from this epigram at gamma 373, kappa 1520, mu 266, and psi 66.
P. Chantraine, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque, ed. 2. Paris 2009.
T. Büttner-Wobst, ed., Polybii Historiae, vol. IV, (Leipzig, 1904)
A.S.F. Gow and D.L. Page, eds., The Greek Anthology: Hellenistic Epigrams, vol. I, (Cambridge, 1965)
A.S.F. Gow and D.L. Page, eds., The Greek Anthology: Hellenistic Epigrams, vol. II, (Cambridge, 1965)
A.S.F. Gow and D.L. Page, eds., The Greek Anthology: The Garland of Philip and Some Contemporary Epigrams, vol. I, (Cambridge, 1968)
A.S.F. Gow and D.L. Page, eds., The Greek Anthology: The Garland of Philip and Some Contemporary Epigrams, vol. II, (Cambridge, 1968)
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: agriculture; biography; clothing; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; epic; gender and sexuality; historiography; history; imagery; military affairs; poetry; religion; trade and manufacture; women; zoology
Translated by: Ronald Allen on 11 August 2009@01:54:09.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 11 August 2009@03:53:46.
David Whitehead (tweaking) on 29 May 2013@06:22:40.
David Whitehead on 9 August 2014@09:20:45.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 11 July 2015@15:11:28.
David Whitehead (coding) on 18 May 2016@11:26:35.
Ronald Allen (expanded n.8, added cross-references, cosmetics) on 8 August 2019@22:26:20.
Catharine Roth (updated bibliography) on 11 August 2019@17:53:09.
Catharine Roth (tweaked links) on 29 September 2020@23:15:50.


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