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Headword: *)/onou po/kai
Adler number: omicron,399
Translated headword: a donkey's fleeces
Vetting Status: high
The proverb is spoken by Attic authors in reference to things that are unattainable and non-existent,[1] as are the following: "washing a brick", "plucking a wineskin", "painting a cookpot", "burning incense on manure". But Aristarchos [derives the saying] from the fact that Kratinos portrays someone braiding a rope in Hades, and a donkey eating what has been braided, i.e. shearing it off.[2]
Thus, inasmuch as things in Hades are unattainable, this was invented.[3]
Greek Original:
*)/onou po/kai: e)pi\ tw=n a)nhnu/twn kai\ mh\ o)/ntwn le/getai h( paroimi/a u(po\ tw=n *)attikw=n: w(/sper ai( toiau=tai, pli/nqon plu/nein, a)sko\n ti/llein, xu/tran poiki/llein, ei)s ko/pron qumia=n. *)ari/starxos de\ dia\ to\ *krati=non u(poqe/sqai e)n a(/|dou tina\ sxoini/on ple/konta, o)/non de\ to\ pleko/menon a)pesqi/onta, oi(=on a)pokei/ronta. par' o(/son ou)=n ta\ e)n a(/|dou a)nh/nuta/ ei)si, tou=to e)pla/sqh.
See also alpha 1998, alpha 4176, epsiloniota 284, pi 1776, tau 655, chi 135, chi 610.
[1] cf. Zenobius 5.38, Apostolius 12.89 etc.; Tosi [cited under alpha 378] no.1940. LSJ s.v. po/kos, II, compares 'pigeon's milk'.
[2] Cratinus fr. 348 Kock (367 K.-A.). The entry thus far = Photius, Lexicon omicron363 Theodoridis (with other references there); also ascribed by Erbse to Pausanias the Atticist (omicron13). Erbse, however, emends the lemma for the entry to *)/o[k]nou p[l]okai/ ('braidings of Oknos') on the basis of the description in Pausanias (the Periegete) of the depiction of the unfortunate rope-braider, evidently captioned with the name 'Oknos' ('Balky'), in the paintings of Polygnotus in the Cnidian Lesche at Delphi (10.29.1), roughly contemporary with Cratinus (this, or a similar painting is also alluded to by Plutarch On Tranquility of Mind 473c, and Pliny NH 35.137 ascribes the same scene, with the character named 'Ocnus', to a later painter as well). Pausanias (the periegete) offers an interpretation of the painting as an illustration of an Ionian proverb 'tighten the cord of Oknos', in reference to people who do things that bring no benefit. It is possible, as Dover (214-215) suggests, that there were originally two proverbs that are conflated in this entry, though the notion of two separate but similar-sounding proverbs referring to scenes in the underworld (see the next note for the underworld context of the Aristophanic reference), gives one pause. See also Photius omicron360 Theodoridis.
[3] From the scholia to Aristophanes, Frogs 186.
K. Dover (ed.). 1993. Aristophanes Frogs. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Keywords: agriculture; comedy; daily life; dialects, grammar, and etymology; economics; food; imagery; mythology; poetry; proverbs; religion; science and technology; stagecraft; zoology
Translated by: William Hutton on 17 October 2006@08:24:31.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (notes) on 17 October 2006@08:43:13.
David Whitehead (augmented n.1) on 18 October 2006@04:19:14.
David Whitehead (expanded n.1) on 17 August 2012@06:42:30.
David Whitehead on 4 July 2013@05:39:46.
David Whitehead on 4 July 2013@05:49:07.
Catharine Roth (typo) on 4 July 2013@22:31:25.
David Whitehead (coding) on 19 May 2016@10:59:39.
William Hutton (augmented n. 2, added bibliography) on 14 June 2016@12:05:49.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticule) on 23 January 2021@00:06:08.


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