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Headword: *(upe\r ta\ e)skamme/na
Adler number: upsilon,363
Translated headword: beyond the dug-up pit
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] beyond measure. The metaphor [comes] from the pentathletes. The expression is said to have been coined from Phayllos, the pentathlete from Croton.[1] The dug-up pits were previously fifty feet in length and Phayllos was the first to go beyond this in his jump, as the epigram on his statue says: "Phayllos jumped five and fifty feet and threw the discus one hundred less five feet." Plato too refers to the expression in the [dialogue] entitled Cratylus, concerning the correctness of names.[2]
[There is] also a proverb:[3] 'Leaping beyond the dug-up pit'; Phayllos was a pentathlete, from Pontus.[4] He seems to have thrown a discus and jumped very far. When he leaped beyond the fifty dug-up feet onto the hard ground, this event turned into a proverb.
Greek Original:
*(upe\r ta\ e)skamme/na: u(pe\r ta\ me/tra. a)po\ de\ tw=n penta/qlwn h( metafora/. le/getai de\ a)po\ *fau/+llou tou= penta/qlou tou= *krotwnia/tou ei)rh=sqai: o(\s penth/konta podw=n o)/ntwn pro/teron tw=n skamma/twn, pro/teros au)to\s u(pere/bale toi=s phdh/masi tau=ta, w(s to\ e)pi/gramma le/gei th=s ei)ko/nos au)tou=: pe/nt' e)pi\ penth/konta po/das ph/dhse *fa/u+llos: di/skeuse d' e(kato/n, pe/nt' a)poleipome/nwn. kai\ *pla/twn e)n w(=| h( e)pigrafh\ *kratu/los, peri\ o)noma/twn o)rqo/thtos. kai\ paroimi/a: *(upe\r ta\ e)skamme/na phdw=n: *fa/u+llos e)ge/neto pe/ntaqlos, o( *po/ntios: o(\s e)do/kei me/gista diskeu=sai kai\ a(/llesqai. e)pei\ ou)=n u(pe\r tou\s e)skamme/nous n# po/das ei)s to\ stereo\n h(/lato, to\ sumba\n ei)s paroimi/an e)ce/bh.
See also upsilon 364.
[1] For Phayllos the athlete and naval captain (phi 144), see Herodotus 8.47.5; Pausanias 10.9.2. For his leap, see also Aristophanes, Acharnians 208-214 and Wasps 1206; Zenobius 6.23; scholiast to Aristophanes, Acharnians 214; Golden 60-61; Miller 68; Tyrrell 212-213. For his significance concerning the social status of ancient Greek athletes, see Young 12-14, 160-161.
[2] Plato, Cratylus 413A: "I [Socrates] seem to ask more questions than is fitting and leap beyond the dug-up pit."
[3] Scholiast to Plato, Cratylus 413A (Greene): "This is a proverb regarding those who do something beyond what is proper as if one leaped beyond the dug-up pit. It came about from the following circumstance. A certain Phayllos, lightest of all in bearing himself through the air, leaped fifty-five feet, a distance contrary to anyone's opinion. For this reason those who were competing against him, admiring him for this leap, bequeathed to distant time their admiration in song by composing a line of verse: "five and fifty feet jumped Phayllos." Those who dig the trench of the pits point out that fifty feet is the farthest distance for the contest. Phayllos, having exceeded this by five feet, leaped beyond the [dug-up pit]."
[4] 'Pontios' (i.e. from the Black Sea) is the ethnikon transmitted here. Suggested alternatives, noted by Adler, are Opountios (so Aemilius Portus) and Metapontios (so F.W. Schneidewin). Whatever the correct reading, it seems necessary to suppose that Phayllos was not a citizen of Croton (kappa 2481) by birth, but recruited by that city to compete on its behalf.
William Chase Greene. Scholia Platonica. Philological Monographs 8. Haverford, PA: Haverford College, 1938. Reprint, American Philological Association, 1981
Mark Golden. Sport and Society in Ancient Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998
Stephen G. Miller. Ancient Greek Athletics. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004
Wm. Blake Tyrrell. The Smell of Sweat: Greek Athletics, Olympics, and Culture. Wauconda, IL: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2004
David C. Young. The Olympic Myth of Greek Amateur Athletics. Chicago: Ares Publishers, 1985
Keywords: aetiology; athletics; biography; daily life; definition; history; imagery; poetry; proverbs
Translated by: Wm. Blake Tyrrell on 19 September 2005@20:59:25.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics, status) on 21 September 2005@12:06:19.
Catharine Roth (added italics) on 24 September 2005@22:46:09.
David Whitehead (x-refs; more keywords; cosmetics) on 25 September 2005@05:17:45.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 18 October 2005@07:04:05.
David Whitehead (expanded n.4) on 16 August 2010@10:10:54.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 24 November 2013@06:33:19.


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