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Headword: *si/sufos
Adler number: sigma,490
Translated headword: Sisyphus, Sisyphos
Vetting Status: high
A proper name.
Aristophanes [writes]: " but expose those machinations of Sisyphus, as this contest allows no excuse. Now is the time to have a staunch spirit."[1] The poets have portrayed Sisyphus as someone clever and rascally, taught [to do so] by a single mention in Homer: "there lived Sisyphus, who was the craftiest of men."[2]
Also [sc. attested is the phrase] "of the line of Sisyphus," [meaning] that of Odysseus.[3] [This] is said in reference to those who are rascally and malicious; for Odysseus descended from the line of Sisyphus. Sisyphus was a king of Corinth, a rascally man, about whom Homer says: "[he was] the craftiest of men." He scratched the initials of his name into the nails and hooves of his animals. But Autolycus surpassed him in thievery and [sc. false] oaths,[4] and he changed the appearance of the things he had stolen. So he stole animals even from Sisyphus, and changed them, but he did not fool Sisyphus, who recognized them from the monograms.[5] Once Sisyphus had been propitiated in the matter, [Autolycus] entertained him and provided his own daughter Anticlea as his bedmate; a pregnancy resulted, and the daughter born to them was given in marriage to Laertes; hence Odysseus [was of the line] of Sisyphus.
Greek Original:
*si/sufos: o)/noma ku/rion. *)aristofa/nhs: a)ll' e)ca/noige mhxana\s ta\s *sisu/fou, w(s skh=yin a(gw\n ou(=tos ou) prosde/cetai. w(/ra 'sti\n h)/dh kartera\n yuxh\n labei=n. drimu/n tina kai\ panou=rgon paradedw/kasin oi( poihtai\ *si/sufon, dia\ mia=s le/cews par' *(omh/rw| dedidagme/noi: e)/nqa de\ *si/sufos e)/sken, o(\ ke/rdistos ge/net' a)ndrw=n. kai\ *sisufidw=n genea=s, th=s tou= *)odusse/ws. ei)/rhtai de\ e)pi\ tw=n panou/rgwn kai\ kakoh/qwn: e)k ga\r *sisu/fou kata/gei to\ ge/nos o( *)odusseu/s. o( de\ *si/sufos *kori/nqou basileu/s, panou=rgos a)nh/r: peri\ ou(= fhsin *(/omhros: o(\ ke/rdistos ge/net' a)ndrw=n. o(/stis u(po\ tou\s o)/nuxas kai\ ta\s o(pla\s tw=n zw/|wn e(autou= monogra/mmata e)/grayen o)no/mata. *au)to/lukos de\ kat' e)kei=no kairou= e)ke/kasto kleptosu/nh| q' o(/rkw| te, kai\ ta\ klepto/mena par' au)tou= th\n morfh\n h)/llasse. kle/yas ou)=n kai\ *sisu/fou qre/mmata kai\ metabalw\n o(/mws ou)k e)/laqe to\n *si/sufon: e)pe/gnw ga\r au)ta\ dia\ tw=n monogramma/twn. e)pi\ tou/tois de\ e)ceumenizo/menon to\n *si/sufon e)ce/nisen au)to\n kai\ th\n qugate/ra au)tou= *)anti/kleian sugkate/klinen au)tw=| kai\ e)/gkuon e)c au)tou= genome/nhn th\n pai=da sunw/|kise *lae/rth|: dio\ *sisu/fou o( *)odusseu/s.
OCD4 s.v. 'Sisyphus' (and 'Autolycus').
[1] Aristophanes, Acharnians 391-3 (web address 1), with scholion.
[2] Homer, Iliad 6.153 (web address 2).
[3] Sophocles, Ajax 190 (web address 3), with scholion.
[4] A phrase borrowed from Homer, Odyssey 19.395-6.
[5] Compare the version of this story in Polyaenus, Stratagems 6.52: "Since Autolycus was stealing his oxen frequently, Sisyphus poured lead in their hooves, to which he fitted marks stamping the letters "Autolycus stole [me]". Autolycus drove away the oxen during the night, and next day Sisyphus showed the neighbouring farmers the oxen-tracks accusing Autolycus of theft". For this see also Hyginus, Fabulae 201.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: children; comedy; definition; epic; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; mythology; proverbs; religion; tragedy; women; zoology
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 23 July 2000@14:34:22.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (modified translation; added notes, bibliography, keywords) on 22 May 2001@06:41:19.
Catharine Roth (added keyword, adjusted links) on 16 May 2007@10:56:22.
Catharine Roth (tweaked notes, coding) on 24 October 2013@01:45:54.
David Whitehead (expansions to notes; more keywords; tweaking) on 29 December 2013@05:33:09.
David Whitehead on 9 August 2014@11:23:54.


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