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Headword: Aêdôn. kai aêdous
Adler number: alpha,651
Translated headword: nightingale, songstress
Vetting Status: high
And [in the genitive singular] a)hdou=s; such [was] Sappho according to Mytilenians.[1] Sophocles [writes]: "ill-starred, she will not sing the lament of the piteous nightingale, but she will sing shrill dirges and the thuds of her hands hitting fall upon her chest."[2]
And elsewhere: "not even to the extent that nightingales sleep." [sc. A proverbial phrase] in reference to those who lie awake.[3]
And elsewhere: "but those sighing strains please my heart, those which the bird, the sad messenger of Zeus, always wails 'Itys'."[4] In Attic a)/rare/ me. She herself is equal to my heart, meaning we are in harmony, the nightingale and I, on account of mourning. It is fitting to my thoughts, that is, I emulate that one sighing likewise for Itys. The nightingale [is] the messenger of Zeus, because it indicates spring or day-time. And Homer [says]: "the greeny-brown nightingale."[5] Either because she announces her own miseries and her babbling message and her suffering. Or a messenger like an omen who comes from him as a marvel of nature. And Sappho [writes]: "spring's messenger, day-voicing nightingale."[6]
But a)hdw/n [has a genitive] a)hdo/nos; it shortens [the omega].
Greek Original:
Aêdôn. kai aêdous: hôs Sapphô kata Mitulênaious. Sophoklês: oud' oiktras goon ornithos aêdous aisei dusmoros: all' oxutonous ôidas thrênêsei, cheroplêktoi de sternois pesountai doupoi. kai authis: Oud' hoson aêdones hupnôousin. epi tôn agrupnountôn. kai authis: all' eme g' ha stonoess' arare phrenas ha Itun aien olophuretai ornis atuzomena Dios angelos. Attikôs arare me. hautê isê moi tais phresin, anti tou sumphôna prassomen egô te kai hê aêdôn heneka tou thrênein. hoion hêrmostai mou tais phresi, toutestin ekeinên zêlô tên axiôs ton Itun stenazousan. Dios de angelos hê aêdôn, hoti to ear sêmainei ê hoti tên hêmeran. kai Homêros: chlôrêïs aêdôn. ê hoti ta heautês angellei kaka kai tên thruloumenên angelian kai to pathos. ê angelos hoion teras to par' autou ginomenon eis terateian tês phuseôs. kai Sapphô: êros angelos hêmerophônos aêdôn. Aêdôn de aêdonos, sustellei.
[1] A scholiast to Lucian, Portraits [Imagines] 18, describes Sappho (sigma 107, sigma 108, and quoted below) as 'looking small and dark, and exactly like a nightingale with misshapen wings enfolding a tiny body'.
[2] Sophocles, Ajax 629-634 (web address 1 below), with comment from the scholia there.
[3] cf. omicron 828.
[4] Sophocles, Electra 147-9 (web address 2, and cf. alpha 3735, alpha 4397), with comment from the scholia there. The nightingale was Procne transformed and wailing for her son Itys, whom she killed and served as dinner to take revenge on her husband Tereus. See the OCD(4) entry on Philomela (p.1133).
[5] Homer, Odyssey 19.518 (web address 3).
[6] Sappho fr. 136 Page (but the adjective is i(mero/fwnos "lovely-voiced").
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: biography; daily life; definition; epic; gender and sexuality; imagery; mythology; poetry; proverbs; tragedy; women; zoology
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 18 March 2001@18:47:19.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 10 May 2002@09:45:21.
David Whitehead (modified tr at two points; betacoding) on 5 August 2004@04:08:14.
Jennifer Benedict (updated links) on 16 March 2008@03:39:01.
David Whitehead (modified tr at one point) on 4 April 2010@05:22:58.
David Whitehead (again, this time competently) on 4 April 2010@06:42:00.
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 13 January 2012@04:14:36.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 30 July 2014@03:32:46.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 1 May 2015@22:14:13.


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