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Headword: *(ws th\n e)n *)/argei a)spi/da kaqelw/n
Adler number: omega,245
Translated headword: like one capturing the Aspis in Argos
Vetting Status: high
[sc. A proverbial phrase] in reference to the haughty. Some say that a sacred place in Argos [Myth, Place] is called Aspis ["shield"] [because it is] strong and difficult to capture,[1] but others say it to be a lochos ["military company"] in Argos composed of youths in their very prime, which is called Aspis.[2]
Greek Original:
*(ws th\n e)n *)/argei a)spi/da kaqelw/n: e)pi\ tw=n megalofro/nwn. oi( me\n i(era/n fasin e)n *)/argei ei)=nai a)spi/da kaloume/nhn o)xura\n kai\ duska/qekton, oi( de\ lo/xon fasi\n ei)=nai e)n *)/argei tw=n pa/nu a)kmazo/ntwn neani/skwn, o(\n *)aspi/da kalei=sqai.
= Zenobius 6.52, except that Zenobius finishes off the phrase with the verb semnu/netai ('he/she puts on airs').
On the general sources of the proverbs in the Suda see Adler vol.I p.XIX.
[1] Often modern scholars have understood the Aspis to be the northern and lower of the two hills which overlooked the ancient site of Argos [Myth, Place] to the north and east, the present-day Profitis Ilias. Archaeological investigation has demonstrated that the hill contained religious sanctuaries as well as an important Bronze Age settlement (Tomlinson, pp. 16-17, and in brief OCD(4) p.149) and that it was fortified in the archaic and classical periods. If this identification is correct, there is perhaps some sarcasm in the proverb, in that capturing the Aspis would be a less daunting task than conquering the much higher neighboring citadel called Larisa. Congratulating one's self on that feat would therefore be something like killing a gecko and proclaiming one's self a dragonslayer. Unfortunately, the bulk of scholarly opinion (follwing Lambrinoudakis, Piérart, and others) now identifies "Aspis" as simply another name for the Larisa, or for part of it; cf. Plutarch, Agis & Cleomenes 38, 42, and Pyrrhus 32, where "Aspis" is the evidently the term used for the primary Argive citadel and is described as difficult to scale (which is hardly true of the gentle slopes of Profitis Ilias).
[2] This may be a reference to the picked 1000-man company which Thucydides refers to separately from the main Argive army in his account of the battle of Mantineia in 418 BCE (Thuc. 5.67.2, web address 1; cf. Tomlinson, pp. 176-84, on fifth-century-BCE Argive military organization). Thucydides does not refer to this company by any specific name other than 'the thousand picked men' but states in addition that "the state had given [them] a long course of military training at the public expense".
Lambrinoudakis, V.K. (1969-70) "Problh/mata peri\ th\n a)rxai/an topografi/an tou= *)/Argous." Athena 71: 47-72
Piérart, M. (1982) "Deux notes sur l'itinéraire argien de Pausanias." BCH 106: 139-152
Tomlinson, R.A. (1972). Argos and the Argolid from the End of the Bronze Age to the Roman Occupation. London
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: children; daily life; definition; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; history; military affairs; philosophy; proverbs; religion
Translated by: John Hyland on 11 April 2000@11:26:04.
Vetted by:
Helma Dik on 23 May 2000@12:18:48.
David Whitehead (augmented note; added keywords; cosmetics) on 11 May 2001@05:59:15.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 25 July 2012@11:10:50.
William Hutton (modified n. 1, tweaked other notes, added more bibliography and keywords, raised status) on 24 September 2013@12:06:15.
David Whitehead (tweaking) on 3 November 2013@08:12:18.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 5 August 2014@04:24:20.
David Whitehead (betacode) on 10 September 2016@07:30:23.


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