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Headword: Ἠχώ
Adler number: eta,685
Translated headword: echo
Vetting Status: high
"The echo occurs because of a reverberation of the air struck by the voice, from the bodies being opposite and smooth, especially the hollow ones. For the speaking person thrusts away almost all of the air surrounding him, and especially the air in front of him; this is the reason why we hear more clearly when the speaking person is looking at us, than when his face is turned aside. Now, this air in front, when thrust away, whenever it is brought to some object opposite provided with a hollow -- like caves -- since it is continuous and can remain unscattered due to the fact that it is contained by the hollow, running to the previously mentioned opposite body rebounds back, just like the ball which is thrown against a wall.[1] Thus, [the air] moves back to the person who struck it, obviously because the air is set in motion in both directions according to its faculty of conducting sound; for if the air rebounds back in the opposite direction just in the same condition as it has been brought by the effect of the repercussion of the solid body, it is not only because the hollow space does not admit it to be dispersed, but because when it hits this hollow object, it hits [the object] not as an empty [thing], but as full of air, and this air[2] is continuous and kept united by the surrounding space. Thus, the air which has been struck by the speaking person and carries the sound,[3] dividing this [air contained in the hollow] and prevented by that which is continuous and united from being scattered, falls upon the solid body, and since it cannot move ahead, it is reflected in the opposite direction with its own energy -- I mean, the energy of the sound -- and thus, it happens that the sounds come back. But Alexander offers a different explanation."[4]
Greek Original:
Ἠχώ: ὅτι γίνεται ἡ ἠχὼ κατὰ ἀντανάκλασιν τὴν ἀπὸ τῶν ἀντιτύπων καὶ λείων σωμάτων, μάλιστα δὲ κοίλων, τοῦ πληγέντος ὑπὸ τῆς φωνῆς ἀέρος. ὁ γὰρ διαλεγόμενος ὠθεῖ μὲν σχεδὸν πάντα τὸν πέριξ ἀέρα, μάλιστα δὲ τὸν ἔμπροσθεν: διὸ μᾶλλον ἀκούομεν πρὸς ἡμᾶς ὁρῶντος τοῦ διαλεγομένου ἢ ἀπεστραμμένου. οὗτος δὴ ὁ ἔμπροσθεν ἀὴρ ὠθούμενος, ὅταν ἐνεχθῇ ἐπί τι ἀντίτυπον ἔχον κοιλότητα, οἷά ἐστι τὰ ἄντρα, συνεχὴς ὢν καὶ ἀδιασκέδαστος μείνας διὰ τὸ περιέχεσθαι ὑπὸ τοῦ κοιλώματος, προσπεσὼν αὐτῷ ἀντιτύπῳ ὄντι σώματι ὠθεῖται εἰς τὸ ἔμπαλιν, ὥσπερ ἡ ῥιπτομένη κατὰ τοῦ τείχου σφαῖρα, καὶ οὕτω χωρεῖ ἐπὶ τὸν πλήξαντα, ἐνεργοῦντος δηλονότι τοῦ ἀέρος δι' ἀμφότερα κατὰ τὴν διηχῆ αὐτοῦ δύναμιν. οὐ μόνον γὰρ διὰ τὸ μὴ συγχωρεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τοῦ κοίλου τόπου διασκεδασθῆναι, οἷος ἠνέχθη ὑπὸ τῆς ἀντιτυπίας τοῦ σκληροῦ σώματος εἰς τοὐναντίον ἀπωθεῖται, ἀλλ' ὅτι καὶ τῷ κοίλῳ τούτῳ, ᾧ προσπίπτει, οὐ κενῷ ὄντι προσπίπτει, ἀλλ' ἀέρος πλήρει, ὥσπερ ἀὴρ συνεχής ἐστι καὶ ἡνωμένος διὰ τὸ περιέχον. τοῦτον οὖν ὑπὸ τοῦ φωνήσαντος πληγεὶς ὁ ἀὴρ καὶ ψόφων διελὼν τῇ φορᾷ καὶ κωλυθεὶς ὑπ' αὐτοῦ, συνεχοῦς ὄντος καὶ ἡνωμένου, διασκεδασθῆναι προσπταίει τῷ σκληρῷ σώματι, καὶ μὴ δυνάμενος πρόσω χωρῆσαι ἀντανακλᾶται εἰς τοὐπίσω μετὰ τῆς οἰκείας ἐνεργείας, λέγω δὴ τοῦ ψόφου, καὶ οὕτω συμβαίνει παλινδρομεῖν τὸν ψόφον. Ἀλέξανδρος δὲ ἑτέρως φησίν.
Philoponus, On Aristotle's De anima 360.20 - 361.5 Hayduck (on De anima 419b25). For divergences, see the notes below.
[1] Aristotle, De anima 419b27; cf. Alexander of Aphrodisias, On Aristotle's De anima 48.18.
[2] The Suda reads an unlikely ὥσπερ "like", instead of the relative ὅσπερ of Philoponus, translated here.
[3] Here too the comparison with Philoponus' original text is helpful with a difficulty in the Suda's text, since it reveals that ψόφων should be ψοφῶν "carrying the sound". Cf. Alexander of Aphrodisias, On Aristotle's De anima 48.7 ἔτι φυλάσσων ψόφον , "(the air) still keeping the sound".
[4] (This last sentence is the lexicographer's summary of what Philoponus goes on to say.) Alexander of Aphrodisias, On Aristotle's De anima 48.7ff. explains that "we may say that the air moving to the hollow body and to the air contained in it is not the first air, the one which received the strike [...] rather, the first air, being continuous and not scattered because of the velocity of the strike, scatters the air in front of it with a similar strike, and this thrusts the air in front of it and so on [...] The last part of the air, prevented from transmitting the strike any more by the vessel, is thrust back [...] like a ball by a rigid object". The phenomenon of echo, continues Alexander, is related to the "emptiness" of air, since an empty space is of crucial importance in the production of hearing.
Keywords: daily life; philosophy; science and technology
Translated by: Antonella Ippolito on 25 September 2005@23:05:58.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 26 September 2005@01:00:38.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 26 September 2005@03:52:29.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation, set status) on 26 September 2005@21:10:27.
David Whitehead (tweaking) on 21 December 2012@08:08:46.
David Whitehead (coding and other cosmetics; small addition to n.4) on 23 April 2016@10:42:23.


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