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Headword: Σαμίων δῆμος
Adler number: sigma,77
Translated headword: the demos of the Samians, the Samian populace
Vetting Status: high
Aristophanes [uses this phrase] in Babylonians, mocking the tattooed men;[1] for the Samians were exhausted by the tyrants and, for want of civic numbers, decreed equal civic membership [isopoliteia] to the slaves for five staters,[2] as Aristotle [writes] in the Samian Constitution.[3] Alternatively [it is used] because the Samians were the first people among whom the 24 letters were discovered by Kallistratos, as Andron [writes] in Tripod.[4] He persuaded the Athenians to use the letters of the Ionians, but of Archinos the Athenian in the archonship of Eukleides.[5] Aristophanes directed the Babylonians with Kallistratos [as producer] 25 years before Eukleides, in the [year of] Eukles.[6] The source for the man who did the persuading is Theopompos.[7] But some say [the phrase arose] because while the Athenians tattooed the Samians captured in war with an owl, the Samians [tattooed the Athenians] with a Samaina (it is a two-banked ship built first by Polykrates, the Samian tyrant, as Lysimachos [says] in Book 2 of Returns).[8] And the fiction [is] Douris’s.[9] But some say the Samaina is a coin. [The phrase] is applied to those fearing certain irreparable calamities of evils, in that the Athenians tattoed the Samians.
Greek Original:
Σαμίων ὁ δῆμος: Ἀριστοφάνης Βαβυλωνίοις, ἐπισκώπτων τοὺς ἐστιγμένους: οἱ γὰρ Σάμιοι καταπονηθέντες ὑπὸ τῶν τυράννων σπάνει τῶν πολιτευομένων ἐπέγραψαν τοῖς δούλοις ἐκ πέντε στατήρων τὴν ἰσοπολιτείαν, ὡς Ἀριστοτέλης ἐν τῇ Σαμίων πολιτείᾳ. ἢ ὅτι παρὰ Σαμίοις εὑρέθη πρώτοις τὰ κδ# γράμματα ὑπὸ Καλλιστράτου, ὡς Ἄνδρων ἐν Τρίποδι. τοὺς δὲ Ἀθηναίους ἔπεισε χρῆσθαι τοῖς τῶν Ἰώνων γράμμασιν Ἀρχίνου δ' Ἀθηναίου ἐπὶ ἄρχοντος Εὐκλείδου. τοὺς δὲ Βαβυλωνίους ἐδίδαξε διὰ Καλλιστράτου Ἀριστοφάνης ἔτεσι πρὸ τοῦ Εὐκλείδου κε#, ἐπὶ Εὐκλέους. περὶ δὲ τοῦ πείσαντος ἱστορεῖ Θεόπομπος. οἱ δὲ ὅτι Ἀθηναῖοι μὲν τοὺς ληφθέντας ἐν πολέμῳ Σαμίους ἔστιζον γλαυκί, Σάμιοι τῆς σαμαίνης [ἐστὶ πλοῖον δίκροτον, ὑπὸ Πολυκράτους πρῶτον κατασκευασθὲν τοῦ Σαμίων τυράννου, ὡς Λυσίμαχος ἐν β# Νόστων]. τὸ δὲ πλάσμα Δούριδος. οἱ δὲ τὴν σάμαιναν νόμισμα εἶναι. τάττεται δὲ ἐπὶ τῶν δεδιότων τινὰς ἀνηκέστους κακῶν συμφοράς, παρόσον Ἀθηναῖοι τοὺς Σαμίους ἔστιξαν.
Apart from a few differences, the first and principal part follows Photius, Lexicon s.v. Σαμίων ὁ δῆμος (sigma61 Theodoridis), and appears again in Apostolius 15.32 with some additional commentary. Erbse ascribes it to Pausanias the Atticist (sigma3). Compare also Hesychius sigma150, who comments differently on the same Aristophanes passage (see note 1 below).
[1] Aristophanes fr. 64 Kock (71 Kassel-Austin). A fuller quotation, which appears in Photius and Hesychius, clarifies the pertinence of the subsequent commentary: Σαμίων ὁ δῆμός ἐστιν, ὡς πολυγράμματος ('It is the Samian populace, how multi-lettered!' [or 'multi-marked']). The longer quotation appears in the marginalia of Suda ms M.
[2] A stater (sigma 1008, sigma 1009) is two drachmas and was a standard coin of East Greece.
[3] Aristotle fr. 575 Rose.
[4] Andron of Ephesus FHG II p.348 fr.7 (not in FGrH); ?fourth century BC.
[5] The text is corrupt here, as it is (differently) in Photius and Apostolius. Jacoby ap. FGrH 76 [Douris of Samos] F66, following in the footsteps of Taylor and Bernhardy (and indeed others, emends to make Archinos the subject of the sentence. Likewise, latterly, Theodoridis on Photius. (This is an allusion to 403/2 BC, the year when the Athenians adopted the Ionian alphabet, using the long vowels eta and omega, in their public inscriptions. See under alpha 4360.) For another attempted solution see Armand J. d'Angour, 'Archinus, Eukleides and the reform of the Athenian alphabet', BICS 43 (1999) 109-130, at 114: he retains 'Archinos the Athenian' in the genitive, with an implicit τότε πείσαντος , and understands the subject of 'persuaded' to be the previously-mentioned Kallistratos; cf. Ephorus FGrH 60 F106, 'Kallistratos, a Samian, changed the lettering during the Peloponnesian War and presented it to the Athenians in the archonship of Eukleides, as Ephorus says'. If this Kallistratos really did propose a decree in the Athenian assembly, he can only (as d'Angour notes) be a 'Samian' in origin, but his whole existence is thrown into some doubt by the proximity of Aristophanes' didaskalos of the same name, about to be mentioned.
[6] 427/6 BC.
[7] Theopompus FGrH 115 F155.
[8] For the historical context (the end of the Samian rebellion against Athens in 440/439 BCE), see Thucydides 1.116-17 (web address 1), who, however, mentions nothing about the tattooing. The story circulates among late authors, the most historiographically respectable being Plutarch, Perikles 26 (where, as also at tau 142, the tattoos inflicted are wrongly reversed). See Gomme ad 1.117, who doubts the authenticity of the story (as does Karavites 1985), but also see Stadter (1989: 250), who thinks there might be something to it. The same story is also referred to at sigma 75 and tau 142, and, among others, Aelian Varia Historia 2.9. Cf. also epsilon 3225.
[9] See note 5 above.
[10] At this point the version of Photius stops. For the rest cf. tau 142.
Karavites, P. 1985. "Enduring Problems of the Samian Revolt." RhM 128: 40-56.
Stadter, P. 1989. A Commentary on Plutarch's Pericles. Chapel Hill.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: chronology; comedy; daily life; economics; geography; historiography; history; imagery; military affairs; poetry; proverbs; science and technology; stagecraft
Translated by: D. Graham J. Shipley on 10 July 2003@02:33:40.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (modified translation at various points; augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 10 July 2003@04:20:39.
David Whitehead (added x-ref) on 10 July 2003@08:06:05.
David Whitehead (augmented note 7) on 10 July 2003@10:30:36.
D. Graham J. Shipley (corrected two typos in translation) on 12 July 2003@01:53:49.
William Hutton (augmented and rearranged notes and bibliography, added keyword, set status.) on 27 January 2008@09:07:46.
William Hutton (typos and cosmetics; added more keywords) on 28 January 2008@02:52:42.
David Whitehead (updated and expanded notes) on 29 August 2013@08:03:14.
David Whitehead (expanded n.4) on 30 August 2013@07:59:00.


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