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Headword: Μῆλα
Adler number: mu,917
Translated headword: sheep
Vetting Status: high
[sc. The term comes] from the [verb] μέλω ["I care"], [meaning] I take thought for, μέλα and μῆλα , those which are worthy of attention [epimeleia]. Homer [writes]: "herding his fine-fleeced sheep".[1] Meaning having herded them.
Μῆλα [are] also the breasts; "at any rate Menelaus, on seeing the μῆλα of the naked Helen, threw away, I think, his sword".[2]
Greek Original:
Μῆλα: παρὰ τὸ μέλω, τὸ φροντίζω, μέλα καὶ μῆλα, τὰ ἐπιμελείας ἄξια. Ὅμηρος: καλλίτριχα μῆλα νομεύων. ἀντὶ τοῦ νομεύσας. Μῆλα καὶ οἱ μασθοί: ὁ γοῦν Μενέλαος τῆς Ἑλένης τὰ μῆλά που γυμνῆς παρευιδὼν ἐξέβαλ', οἰῶ, τὸ ξίφος.
See also mu 916.
[1] Homer, Odyssey 9.336 (web address 1).
[2] Aristophanes, Lysistrata 155-6 (in Doric dialect). A scholiast thereto identifies this as an allusion to Euripides, Andromache 629ff. In any event, the objects here are not sheep but fruit: see LSJ μῆλον (B) rather than μῆλον (A); cf. mu 934.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; gender and sexuality; imagery; tragedy; women; zoology
Translated by: Ioannis Doukas on 13 May 2009@05:26:26.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 13 May 2009@08:37:53.
David Whitehead on 21 May 2013@06:44:07.
Catharine Roth (upgraded link) on 22 May 2013@00:26:12.


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