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Headword: *)epi/tonos
Adler number: epsilon,2713
Translated headword: backstay
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] the thong binding the yardarm to the mast.
Greek Original:
*)epi/tonos: o( desmeu/wn i(ma\s pro\s to\n i(sto\n to\ ke/ras.
= Synagoge epsilon767; Photius, Lexicon epsilon1767; and the first part of Apollonius Sophistes, Homeric Lexicon 74.30 -- evidently in reference to Homer, Odyssey 12.423 (web address 1), where the headword occurs (in the metrically unusual position of the beginning of the line). Defined differently in scholia ad loc., Hesychius epsilon5343, and (post-Suda) Eustathius ad loc.
Modern scholars differ on whether to interpret the term as 'backstay' (e.g. Casson 1986: 260-1), or something else (e.g. Morrison and Williams 1968: 55). Until the publication of the papyri P. Col. Zen. 100 and P. Cairo Zen. 59754 (inventories of ships' rigging from the third century BCE), the word was attested only in Homer and in commentary to Homer (and commentary to Aristophanes: see epsilon 2714). These new documents seem to support the interpretation of the word as 'backstay' (Casson 1986: 261).
Casson, L. 1986 [1971]. Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World. Princeton
Morrison J.S. and R.T. Williams. 1968. Greek Oared Ships from 900 - 332 B.C. Cambridge.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; epic; meter and music; poetry; science and technology
Translated by: William Hutton on 12 December 2007@04:54:11.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 12 December 2007@06:11:56.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 22 October 2012@05:09:21.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 7 April 2015@17:46:12.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 8 April 2015@02:47:29.


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