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Headword: Ἤμβροτεν
Adler number: eta,286
Translated headword: missed (the mark or goal)
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning he/she/it] failed to hit.
Greek Original:
Ἤμβροτεν: ἀπέτυχεν.
For this entry cf. Lexicon Ambrosianum 335, Hesychius eta437-439, and the Homeric scholia, e.g. to Iliad 5.287 and 3.18b1.5, and to Odyssey 7.292.
This odd Homeric aorist of ἁμαρτάνω became fixed in Greek language and culture as an antonym of succeeding or hitting the mark through its use in two proverbs. Eustathius describes them as follows. " 'You missed and did not hit' (ἤμβροτες ουδ’ ἔτυχες , Iliad 5.287) is proverbial for those who fail to achieve their purpose. The two verbs [sc. the positive of the one and the negative of the antonym] have pleonastically the same meaning" (Commentary on the Iliad 2.74.4-7, cf. 3.886.23-887.3). "For if the stranger [sc. Odysseus in disguise] does not accuse Telemachus, he certainly does accuse the suitors of not being able to shoot this way; the phrase 'he did not miss his aim in the slightest' (οὐδέ τι τοῦ σκοποῦ ἤμβροτε , Odyssey 21.426, where it is in the first person, as spoken by Odysseus) has become proverbial for those who hit the mark of their wish (τῶν εὐστοχούντων τοῦ θελητοῦ , Commentary on the Odyssey 2.267.40-43, cf. 1.274.44-46)." Under this lasting influence, neither of the two antonyms (τυγχάνω, ἁμαρτάνω ) fully loses its military image of hitting or missing the target (R.R. Dyer, "Hamartia in the Poetics and Aristotle's model of failure," Arion [Author, Myth] 4, 1965, 658-64), a fact sometimes ignored in translations of the verbs and of the related concepts of τύχη (tau 1234, tau 1232, tau 1233, sigma 1650) as 'chance' and of ἁμαρτία as 'misdeed, sin' (alpha 1496, alpha 1497, delta 641). On the meaning of the verb in the gloss, ἀποτυγχάνω , also 'miss the mark', see alpha 3591 and LSJ.
For the verb τιτύσκομαι for aiming at the mark, from the same root as ἔτυχεν , see tau 697.
The form of the aorist is a Mischform (Lexikon des frühgriechischen Epos 1.607), Aeolic only insofar as it drops the rough breathing and treats vocalic r in the root *amrt (unexplained in etymology) as ρο rather than Attic-Ionic αρ (ἥμαρτον ), thus creating the usual intrusion of beta between mu and a liquid (cf. μέμβλωκα from the aorist μολεῖν ). But the augment in eta is purely Homeric; cf. the Aeolic form ἄμβροτε in Sappho (fr.5.5 Lobel-Page). The resulting dactyl is a metrically convenient form of the verb in epic composition. See also the odd Homeric deverbative ἀβροτάξομεν 'we may miss each other on the way', dropping the mu of the stem in favour of the intrusive beta, at Iliad 10.65 (alpha 90).
Keywords: daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; epic; military affairs; poetry; proverbs
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 19 January 2003@11:02:05.
Vetted by:
Robert Dyer (x-ref to tau 697) on 27 May 2003@06:08:10.
David Whitehead (added keyword; cosmetics) on 27 May 2003@06:15:11.
Catharine Roth (betacode cosmetics) on 22 September 2006@19:56:40.
David Whitehead on 16 December 2012@07:16:10.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 19 December 2012@21:06:54.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 15 December 2014@16:30:19.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 24 January 2015@00:31:23.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 8 April 2015@18:26:02.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticule) on 19 August 2018@22:15:52.


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