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Headword: Bekeselêne
Adler number: beta,229
Translated headword: bekeselene
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] old, that is, most/very foolish. It is formed from prose/lhne. For they called the Arcadians prose/lhnoi ["before the moon"] because they claimed to be the oldest [people] and to have arisen before the moon. So bekese/lhne [is] like prose/lhne. But also bekese/lhne by itself is derived from a story like this. When Psammetikhos became king of the Egyptians, he wanted to know which of all men were the eldest and arose first. But as even after much investigation he was not able to find out the accurate truth because many were contentious in this matter, he devised something like this. Taking two newborn infants he shut them up in a house absolutely isolated. And some say that he sent she-goats to them, which suckled and nourished the infants; others say that he assigned wet-nurses, cutting out their tongues so that the infants would not hear their voices. Psammetikhos did this because he wanted to know what sound the children would first utter, apart from meaningless whimpering. So as the third year passed of this form of nurture, he sent into the house one of his closest friends bidding him go by in silence. But when he opened the doors, stretching out their hands the children called out "bekos." The Phrygians call bread by this name. And so Psammetikhos found and felt confident that the Phrygians had arisen first. But if the first story is true, that goats nursed the children and not a woman, it is no wonder that hearing the goat they imitated her voice, and it is a coincidence that such an expression occurs among the Phrygians. Thus then bekese/lhne indicates that which is old, the expression being compounded from be/kos, according to the story which has been told, and from prose/lhne, because the Arcadians were called "before the moon" [prose/lhnoi].
Greek Original:
Bekeselêne: archaie, toutestin anoêtotate. parêktai de apo tou proselêne. tous gar Arkadas archaiotatous kai pro tês selênês phaskontas gegonenai proselênous ekaloun. bekeselêne oun hôs proselêne. echetai de kai auto kath' hauto to bekeselêne historias toiautês. Psammêtichos Aiguptiôn basileusas êthelêse gnônai, tines pantôn anthrôpôn presbuteroi kai prôtoi genointo. hôs de panu polupragmonôn ouch hoios te ên aneurein to akribes dia to pollous peri toutou philoneikein, mêchanatai ti toiouto. labôn artitoka duo paidia eis oikêma katekleisen anakechôrêkos pantapasi. kai hoi men legousin, hôs aigas hupepempen autois, has thêlazonta etrepheto ta paidia: hoi de, hôs trophous parestêse tas glôssas autôn ektemôn hôste tês phônês autôn mê akouein ta paidia. tauta de ho Psammêtichos epoiei boulomenos eidenai, tina pote ta paidia prôtên proêsousi phônên, apallagenta tôn asêmôn knuzêmatôn. hôs oun trietês autois diegegonei chronos: tês toiautês trophês, eisepempsen eis ton oikon tina tôn philtatôn enteilamenos siôpêi parelthein. tou de aneôixantos tas thuras, oregonta tas cheiras ta paidia bekos ekaloun. Phrugas de ton arton houtôs kalein. kai houtô men Psammêtichon heurein te kai pisteusai gegonenai prôtous Phrugas. ei de ho prôtos logos alêthês, hoti exethrepsan ta paidia hai aiges kai ou gunê, thaumaston ouden, katakouonta tês aigos mimêsasthai tên ekeinês phônên, sumpesein de kai para Phruxi to toiouton rhêma. houtôs oun kai to bekeselêne to archaion dêloi, sunkeimenês tês lexeôs ek tou bekous, dia tên eirêmenên historian: kai tou proselêne, dia to tous Arkadas proselênous kaleisthai.
From the scholia to Aristophanes, Clouds 398, where this vocative singular occurs (but spelled with double kappa there); see already beta 228, and again alphaiota 68 and pi 2634. The story is told by Herodotus 2.2 (see web address 1).
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: aetiology; biography; children; chronology; comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; food; geography; historiography; history; women; zoology
Translated by: Catharine Roth on 21 July 2000@01:12:46.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented note and keywords; cosmetics) on 30 August 2002@07:32:04.
Catharine Roth (shortened link) on 31 August 2002@01:33:04.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 16 November 2005@08:08:00.
Catharine Roth (added betacode) on 16 November 2005@12:00:42.
David Whitehead (another x-ref; more keywords; tweaking) on 28 May 2012@04:31:32.
Catharine Roth (upgraded link) on 28 May 2012@16:21:38.
Catharine Roth (tweaked note) on 22 August 2013@20:59:52.
David Whitehead on 20 September 2015@04:22:02.
Catharine Roth (my typo) on 14 February 2016@01:22:20.


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