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Headword: *nau/frakton ble/peis
Adler number: nu,88
Translated headword: you look like a warship
Vetting Status: high
Aristophanes [says]: "in the gods' name, man, [you look like a warship][1]." Because the eyes on triremes, through which they inserted the oars and rowed them, are large.
So that[2] the [phrase] "you look like a warship" is a riddling way of saying "you look[3] clear and broad and big".
Greek Original:
*nau/frakton ble/peis: *)aristofa/nhs: pro\s tw=n qew=n, a)/nqrwpe, nau/lhn. e)peidh\ mega/loi tai=s trih/resin oi( o)fqalmoi\ gi/nontai, di' w(=n ta\s kw/pas e)mba/llontes e)kwphla/toun. w(/ste to\ nau/frakton ble/peis, ai)/nigma/ e)sti tou= trane\s kai\ platu\ kai\ me/ga ble/peis.
A garbled version (see below) of one of several scholiastic explanations of Aristophanes, Acharnians 95 (web address 1). The Athenian ambassadors reporting to the Assembly on their mission to the King of Persia have just introduced a person they identify as "Pseudartabas, the King's Eye", who appears to have (among other peculiarities) a fantastic one-eyed mask, and the quoted line is the first reaction of Dikaiopolis to this character's appearance. Precisely in what way Pseudartabas could be said to "look like a warship" remains unclear, but the reference is most likely (so Olson 103) to be to the large eyes often painted on the prows of ships. The scholiast cited by the Suda -- for a different one see Photius nu65 Theodoridis -- thought that the reference was to oarports and that oarports were called "eyes"; this is possible (see Morrison & Williams 283-4) but less likely, since the eye on the mask would certainly look much more like the eyes painted on ships than like an oarport.
For nauphraktos in another Aristophanic passage see nu 89.
[1] The author, or a copyist, has created nonsense here by omitting (probably) two or three lines. The transmitted word nau/lhn is composed of the first three letters of nau/frakton ble/peis "you look like a warship" and the last three letters of a paraphrase found in the Aristophanic scholia, oi(=on ou)=n stratia\n ble/peis o(/lhn ("equivalent, therefore, to 'you look like a whole armada'").
[2] What now follows is preserved only in the Suda, not in the scholia of any Aristophanic manuscript.
[3] i.e. your eye looks.
Morrison, J.S., and R.T. Williams. Greek Oared Ships 900-322 B.C. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968
Olson, S. Douglas. Aristophanes: Acharnians. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: comedy; definition; military affairs; poetry
Translated by: Alan Sommerstein on 8 September 2003@07:48:58.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (added x-ref; cosmetics) on 8 September 2003@08:03:16.
David Whitehead (expansion to note; tweaking) on 5 June 2013@04:55:46.
Catharine Roth (added a link) on 16 October 2020@19:11:14.


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