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Headword: *fasianiko/s
Adler number: phi,124
Translated headword: phasianic
Vetting Status: high
Aristophanes in Birds [writes:] "me, I am a phasianic shitterling."[1] [sc. Meaning] an informer: from the [verb] fai/nein, being found with pheasants ["Phasian birds"]. But this is a [proper] name too.[2] But he played [sc. on words], from revealing [fai/nein] his excrement [skw=r].[3] So 'phasianos' [is] an informer, from the [noun] phasis, or from the [verb] phainein. There is also a city of Scythia [called] Phasis, homonymous with the river.[4]
Greek Original:
*fasianiko/s: *)aristofa/nhs *)/ornisin: e)pikexodw\s e)/gwge fasianiko/s. sukofa/nths: para\ to\ fai/nein, meta\ fasianw=n eu(risko/menos. e)/sti de\ kai\ tou=to o)/noma. e)/paice de/, para\ to\ fai/nesqai au)tou= to\ skw=r. fasiano\s ou)=n o( sukofa/nths, para\ th\n fa/sin, h)\ para\ to\ fai/nein. e)/sti de\ kai\ po/lis *skuqi/as *fa=sis, o(mw/numos tw=| potamw=|.
This entry, like the Aristophanic scholion from which it derives, attempts (with partial success) to separate out the three phas(i)- elements of the headword: juridical (the Athenian legal procedure of phasis, literally 'bringing to light/denunciation'), ornithological, and geographical. For this see already, in brief, phi 122, and again phi 125 (and phi 126).
The headword itself is an invented term extracted from the quotation given (see next note). LSJ s.v. *fasiano/s -o/n (from the river Phasis, see n. 4 below) points out the coined word's allusion to a *fasiano\s a)nh/r (Phasian man) as sukofantiko/s (informing, slandering, or falsely accusing at Aristophanes, Acharnians 725-6 (web address 1).
[1] Euelpides identifies himself with this allusion-laden reply to the Servant Bird at Aristophanes, Birds 68 (web address 2). The masculine nominative (and vocative) singular, perfect active participle e)pikexodw/s (see LSJ s.v.) is from the compound verb e)pixe/zw (I defecate upon. Here the participle functions as a substantive, continuing some earlier scatological humor (see n. 3) and serving as a sly mock name for a bird (see n. 2 and epsilon 2368). The translation given here is taken from LSJ; alternatives are Dungling (Dunbar, p. 157) and brownbottom (Henderson, Aristophanes: Birds, pp. 22-23).
[2] The Suda paraphrases a scholion to Aristophanes, Birds 68 (web address 2). For the Phasis River, see n. 4 below. The Suda omits a detail provided by the scholiast; bird-name references permeate the text, and the headword contains yet another: o( *fasiano\s o)/rnis, the Phasian bird, is a pheasant, Phasianus colchicus (Peterson, p. 108).
[3] Aristophanes, Birds 66 (web address 2): Euelpides' fellow-Athenian Peisetaerus hints that he has defecated from fright at the Servant Bird's appearance (Dunbar, p. 156-7). As informant, Euelpides confirms his companion's accident and confesses that he has suffered as much himself. The humor of befouling oneself upon being physically struck or frightened is an Aristophanic commonplace (Dunbar, p. 157; Henderson, Maculate Muse, p. 190).
[4] Phasis is an ancient coastal city near present-day Poti, Georgia; cf. phi 122, sigma 793, OCD(4) s.v., and Barrington Atlas map 87 grids G2-3. The eponymous river is the present-day Rioni, which flows westward through ancient Colchis (Kolchis, also Lazike; Barrington Atlas map 88 grid A2; cf. kappa 1979, alpha 112, and see OCD(4) s.v.) into the Black Sea.
N. Dunbar, ed., Aristophanes, Birds, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995
J. Henderson, ed. and trans., Aristophanes: Birds, Lysistrata, Women at the Thesmophoria, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000
R.T. Peterson, G. Mountfort, and P.A.D. Hollom, A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe, 4th edn., Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1983
J. Henderson, The Maculate Muse: Obscene Language in Attic Comedy, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1975
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; geography; imagery; law; zoology
Translated by: Ronald Allen on 15 July 2009@00:10:15.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (tweaks, upgraded links, status) on 16 July 2009@19:32:27.
David Whitehead (tweaked tr; augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 17 July 2009@04:04:10.
David Whitehead on 4 December 2013@08:06:16.
David Whitehead (updated some refs) on 6 August 2014@10:35:23.
Catharine Roth (tweaked links) on 15 January 2023@01:07:15.


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