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Headword: *drape/ths klh=ros
Adler number: delta,1504
Translated headword: runaway lot
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] the one that happened with wicked trickery. This has been told in the history of Cresphontes and the sons of Aristodemus: that Cresphontes wickedly threw a moist lump of earth into the water-pot when lots were cast for Messenia. Sophocles [writes]: "not tossing the lot as a runaway down in the middle [...], but [one] which was going first to make a light leap [out] of the plumed helmet."
Also [sc. attested is] "in Drapetides" ["Runaway Women"] in the feminine form in Cratinus.[1]
Greek Original:
*drape/ths klh=ros: o( meta\ panourgi/as gino/menos. tou=to de\ i(sto/rhtai peri\ *kresfo/ntou kai\ tw=n *)aristodh/mou pai/dwn: o(/ti panou=rgos o( *kresfo/nths bw=lon u(gra\n ei)s th\n u(dri/an e)ne/bale klhroume/nwn peri\ *messh/nhs. *sofoklh=s: ou) drape/thn to\n klh=ron e)s me/son kaqei/s: a)ll' o(\s eu)lo/fou kunh=s e)/melle prw=tos a(/lma koufiei=n. kai\ *drape/tisi qhlukw=s para\ *krati/nw|.
Two stories are combined here as they are in the (slightly abridged) quotation describing the courage of Ajax: Sophocles, Ajax 1285-87 (web address 1). Late sources (Apollodorus 2.8.4; Pausanias 4.3.3) tell of how Cresphontes (kappa 2377), Temenus and the sons of Aristodemus cast lots to divide the Peloponnese among themselves. The first of the three lots to pop out of the hydria would assign Argos [Myth, Place], the second Laconia, the last Messenia. Cresphontes wanted Messenia, so he placed a lot of moist earth in the pot, knowing it would never jump out of the hydria (either because it dissolved in water in the pot or because it was simply limp and soggy). Teucer, in Sophocles' play, is talking of the lots that the Greek heroes cast in a helmet at Homer, Iliad 7.175ff. (web address 2), to choose one to fight the duel with Hector. Teucer reports the allegation that Agamemnon threw in a "runaway lot" (or perhaps the lot "of a runaway"), and points out that Ajax, the winner, did not cast such a lot but the sort of lot that would lightly leap first.
Scholars have been worried that the division of the Peloponnese is chronologically later than the Trojan War, but W.B. Stanford in his edition ad loc. points out that the "runaway lot" was probably a traditional, proverbial trick.
[1] Cratinus wrote a comedy of this name (frs. 53-68 PCG vol.4, p.147ff.), probably about the women of Sybaris. The present addendum is cited from alpha 1499 and/or alpha 3468.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: aetiology; clothing; comedy; daily life; dialects, grammar, and etymology; epic; ethics; history; imagery; military affairs; proverbs; tragedy
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 14 March 2002@07:44:44.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes; cosmetics) on 4 September 2002@10:03:57.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics) on 18 July 2012@04:17:21.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 15 November 2015@07:57:06.


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