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Headword: *ta\ *tanta/lou ta/lanta talanti/zetai
Adler number: tau,147
Translated headword: he tallies the talents of Tantalus
Vetting Status: high
Tantalus was renowned for his wealth, so much so that it was handed down as a proverb.[1]
For this wealthy Phrygian was renowned for [his] talents,[2] and is said to be the son of Plouto[3] and Zeus. Anacreon uses the proverb in the third [book].[4] It is a play on the word "talent", as is also the saying found in the comic poet: "he tantalizes the talents of Tantalus."[5]
This proverb, therefore, arises from the similarity of the words; and indeed the poets have playfully produced many other such things as well, such as 'bundles of bounties',[6] and 'wiser than wise' in Epicharmus.[7]
Greek Original:
*ta\ *tanta/lou ta/lanta talanti/zetai: diebebo/hto o( *ta/ntalos e)pi\ plou/tw|, w(s kai\ ei)s paroimi/an diadoqh=nai. ou(=tos ga\r plou/sios *fru\c e)pi\ tala/ntois diebebo/hto, *ploutou=s kai\ *dio\s lego/menos. ke/xrhtai de\ th=| paroimi/a| kai\ *)anakre/wn e)n tri/tw|. ge/gone de\ para\ to\ o)/noma ta/lanta, w(s kai\ para\ tw=| kwmikw=| ei)/rhtai: *tanta/lou ta/lanta tantali/zetai. au(/th ou)=n h( paroimi/a para\ th\n o(moio/thta tw=n o)noma/twn ei)/rhtai: e)pei/per pai/zontes polla\ toiau=ta kai\ a)/lla pepoih/kasin, oi(=on a)gaqw=n a)gaqi/des, kai\ sofw/teros sofou= par' *)epixa/rmw|.
See already tau 81. I have translated the headword in a way that preserves some of the alliteration and wordplay of the original. A more literal translation might be 'he balances [with his own wealth] the talents of Tantalus'.
[1] For "handed down as a proverb" cf. Strabo 6.3.4 (269).
[2] That is, his money, not his skills, though 'scales' is another possible translation.
[3] Not the god of the underworld, but a mythical female whose name means "wealth".
[4] Anacreon fr. 355 PMG.
[5] Here (Comica adespota fr. 602 Kock = now Aristophanes fr. 963 Kassel-Austin, in the 'dubious' category) the talanti/zetai of the headword is replaced by tantali/zetai as a pun on the name of Tantalus.
[6] a)gaqw=n a)gaqi/des, lit. 'spools of good things'; comica adespota fr. 827 Kock, now 796 K.-A.
[7] Epicharmus fr. 226 Kaibel, now 233 K.-A.
OCD(4) 1430
Keywords: comedy; daily life; dialects, grammar, and etymology; economics; geography; mythology; poetry; proverbs; science and technology
Translated by: William Hutton on 3 February 2001@00:25:43.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes; added bibliography; cosmetics) on 4 February 2001@06:44:32.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 4 December 2005@09:38:09.
David Whitehead (x-ref) on 29 April 2011@09:58:01.
David Whitehead (another keyword; cosmetics) on 7 January 2014@05:22:30.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 5 August 2014@07:31:44.
David Whitehead (updated n.7) on 21 December 2014@11:33:09.
David Whitehead (expanded n.5) on 22 December 2014@10:59:55.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 29 December 2014@08:46:21.
David Whitehead (coding) on 27 May 2016@08:12:14.
David Whitehead (cosmeticule) on 10 September 2016@07:00:39.


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