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Headword: Τὰ Ταντάλου τάλαντα ταλαντίζεται
Adler number: tau,147
Translated headword: he tallies the talents of Tantalus
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
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:
Τὰ Ταντάλου τάλαντα ταλαντίζεται: διεβεβόητο ὁ Τάνταλος ἐπὶ πλούτῳ, ὡς καὶ εἰς παροιμίαν διαδοθῆναι. οὗτος γὰρ πλούσιος Φρὺξ ἐπὶ ταλάντοις διεβεβόητο, Πλουτοῦς καὶ Διὸς λεγόμενος. κέχρηται δὲ τῇ παροιμίᾳ καὶ Ἀνακρέων ἐν τρίτῳ. γέγονε δὲ παρὰ τὸ ὄνομα τάλαντα, ὡς καὶ παρὰ τῷ κωμικῷ εἴρηται: Ταντάλου τάλαντα τανταλίζεται. αὕτη οὖν ἡ παροιμία παρὰ τὴν ὁμοιότητα τῶν ὀνομάτων εἴρηται: ἐπείπερ παίζοντες πολλὰ τοιαῦτα καὶ ἄλλα πεποιήκασιν, οἷον ἀγαθῶν ἀγαθίδες, καὶ σοφώτερος σοφοῦ παρ' Ἐπιχάρμῳ.
Notes:
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 ταλαντίζεται of the headword is replaced by τανταλίζεται as a pun on the name of Tantalus.
[6] ἀγαθῶν ἀγαθίδες , lit. 'spools of good things'; comica adespota fr. 827 Kock, now 796 K.-A.
[7] Epicharmus fr. 226 Kaibel, now 233 K.-A.
Reference:
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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