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Headword: *th/nella
Adler number: tau,518
Translated headword: tenella! hooray!
Vetting Status: high
An imitation of a certain sound of the pipe. Archilochus: "tenella, glorious in victory, hail, king Heracles, you and Iolaus,[1] spearmen both." Aristophanes: "But if you win by shouting louder, you are the 'Hail the champion',"[2] instead of 'victorious'.[3] Tenella is a musical phrase for victory. Or tenellos, a mode of a lyre.[4] If, therefore, you outdistance them in shouting, you are the best musician.[5] "If you outstrip his shamelessness, we take the honey-cake."[6] The honey-cake (pyramous) is a kind of cake made from boiled honey and roasted wheat (pyros),[7] as a sesamous is from sesame. These they offered as prizes for those who stayed awake at drinking-parties, and he who had stayed awake until dawn took the honey-cake. But the mind, if you are not defeated by him in shouting but overcome his elaborate trickery and shamelessnesses, is our winning mark, i.e. victory.[8]
Greek Original:
*th/nella: mi/mhma fwnh=s krou/matos au)lou= poia=s. *)arxi/loxos: th/nella, kalli/nike xai=re a)/nac *(hra/kleis, au)to/s te kai\ *)io/laos, ai)xmhta\ du/w. *)aristofa/nhs: a)ll' e)a\n nikh/sh|s th=| boh=|, th/nellos ei)=. a)nti\ tou= nikhfo/ros. th/nella de\ krouma/tion e)pini/kion. h)\ th/nellos, a(rmoni/a lu/ras. e)a\n toi/nun u(perakonti/sh|s au)tou\s th=| boh=|, mousikw/tatos ei)=: h)\n d' a)naidei/a| pare/lqh|s, h(me/teros o( puramou=s. o( de\ puramou=s ei)=dos plakou=ntos e)k me/litos e(fqou= kai\ turw=n pefrugme/nwn, w(s shsamou=s o( dia\ shsa/mhs. tau=ta de\ e)ti/qesan a)=qla toi=s diagrupnhtai=s: ei)w/qasi ga\r e)n toi=s sumposi/ois a(milla=sqai peri\ a)grupni/as: kai\ o( diagrupnh/sas me/xri th=s e(/w, nikh/sas e)la/mbane to\n puramou=nta. o( de\ nou=s, o(/ti mh\ nikhqh=|s u(p' au)tou= th=| boh=|, perige/nh| de\ tai=s periergi/ais kai\ a)naisxunti/ais ou)de\n h(=tton, h(me/teron to\ terma/tion, toute/stin h( ni/kh.
This mimetic word (cf. epsilon 2807) was used to imitate a musical chord on the pipe or lyre before the opening lines of each of the three stanzas of the Hymn to Heracles. This hymn, perhaps from Thasos, was attributed to the poet Archilochus (fr. 324 West = 298 Lasserre = 119 Bergk) by Pindar (Olympian 9.1ff., under the name kalli/nikos, web address 1) and the authorities cited in the scholia there, but this attribution is today questioned. According to Pindar it was sung as a victory chant for winners at the Olympic Games, presumably at the evening procession, and it seems to have become the ancient equivalent of "See the conquering hero come" (B.L. Gildersleeve in his edition ad loc.).
Erastosthenes (epsilon 2898; OCD(4) 533-4) explained the use of tenella as follows: "When the piper or lyre-player was not present, the leader of the chorus, taking over in his place, used to say it without the music, and the chorus of revelers followed with 'kalli/nike (glorious in victory)', and thus 'tenella, kallinike' became a connected saying" (scholia k to Pindar, loc.cit.).
Aristophanes makes comedy from the use of the saying, at Acharnians 1228-33, Knights 276, and Birds 1764 (web addresses 2-4), but with kalli/nikos, the name of the hymn, in the place of its first word.
[1] The text here is usually kio/laos, normally emended to a crasis of kai\ *)Io/laos. Iolaus appears in myth and cult as a companion of Heracles (iota 411, upsilon 57; OCD(4) s.v.).
[2] Aristophanes, Knights 276, concerning the cry of victory that the chorus promises the Sausage-seller if he wins by shouting louder than Cleon, the Paphlagonian. I here follow LSJ and the editors in taking th/nellos as a word invented for a victor to whom the saying 'tenella, kallinikos' is applied and the hymn is sung, against the evidence of the Aristophanes scholia in the following sentences, that it refers to a superior "mode of the lyre" (see notes 4 and 5).
[3] From this phrase on, the entry follows, with some textual differences and a different ordering of points, the scholia on this line and the following.
[4] The Suda has a number of names for "harmonies" or modes of the lyre and pipe, but it is implausible that this is one of them, unless the Greek a(rmoni/a (alpha 3977, web address 5) is to be taken in a sense unknown to us, such as 'a tune'.
[5] This paraphrase of line 276 is implausible. It arises from the two definitions of th/nella, th/nellos as a musical phrase or mode of the lyre, and tries unsuccessfully to integrate one or other of them into an interpretation of the line.
[6] This quotation is the following line, 277 (web address 3). From this point on, the entry has nothing more to do with the headword. It is in part identical to pi 3192 and tau 439. It adds from the scholia, however, an important paraphrase of line 277 that has been ignored by recent editors. The text of the line is disputed. Most mss read, as the Suda and web address 6 do, pare/lqh|s 'if you (i.e. the Sausage-seller) outrun (his shamelessness)'. Modern editors prefer the reading of one important ms, pare/lqh| s' ' if he surpasses you (in shamelessness)', i.e. if Cleon surpasses the Sausage-seller. The problem lies in the interpretation of the dative after pare/lqh|s. We naturally assume that to surpass someone (lit. 'run past someone, overtake someone in a race') in shamelessness we need to be more shameless. But nothing in Greek usage demands this interpretation. To get past a politician using shameless tactics we do not need to use the same tactics ourselves but merely to run faster, outsmart him. The paraphrase in the Suda and the scholia clarifies the issue, for it defines correctly why the chorus will "take the victors' honey cake." If the Sausage-seller wins, the real winners will be the Chorus, for their minds will be put at ease and receive the rewards of his victory, namely that he has saved them also from being overpowered by the shouting and trickery of Cleon. The grammatical rule for the objects of the verb perigi/gnomai in the paraphrase -- genitive of the person overcome, dative of thing overcome (web address 6) -- should also be applied to the verb perie/rxomai in Aristophanes for the object of the thing outrun.
[7] I translate the correct reading, purou= pefrugme/nou, taken from pi 3192 and the scholia. The reading at this point in the text of this entry is turw=n pefrugme/nwn 'of roasted cheeses', but these do not have the etymological (or culinary) relationship to the honey cake puramou=s called for by the analogy to shsamou=s. The reading in the Suda must then be definitively emended.
[8] There is here another problem of reading. The Suda reads terma/tion, a word found only here, but, as a diminutive of te/rma, clearly a word for a 'little marker that marks the end or outer limit' and appropriate to the metaphor from javelin-throwing present in the entry. The mind is the marker of the winning throw. It is probably better, however, to accept the reading in the scholia, e(rmai=on 'windfall of good luck' (common in Plato): "the state of our minds is our great good fortune."
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4,
Web address 5,
Web address 6
Keywords: athletics; comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; food; imagery; meter and music; mythology; poetry; proverbs; religion
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 17 May 2002@18:15:22.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 11 September 2002@07:01:50.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 28 November 2005@10:40:57.
Catharine Roth (tweaked betacode, upgraded some of the links) on 11 January 2014@01:05:50.
Catharine Roth (tweaked links) on 11 January 2014@17:52:47.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 13 January 2014@04:12:51.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 2 August 2014@11:21:59.
David Whitehead on 5 August 2014@07:56:36.


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