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Headword: Γάλα ὀρνίθων
Adler number: gamma,19
Translated headword: birds' milk
Vetting Status: high
[sc. A proverbial phrase] in reference to those who enjoy excessively good fortune and have acquired everything. Or to things which are scarce. He is saying, we will provide those benefits which are scarce and difficult to find, "so that it will be possible for you to grow weary from good things."[1] That is, you are likely to become worn out in surfeit of good things; thus you will all be wealthy. Aristophanes in Birds [writes]: "we will give you [...] health-and-wealth,[2] good fortune, peace, youth, laughter, choruses, festivities, and birds' milk, so that it will be possible for you to grow weary from good things."
Greek Original:
Γάλα ὀρνίθων: ἐπὶ τῶν λίαν εὐδαιμονούντων καὶ πάντα κεκτημένων. ἢ ἐπὶ τῶν σπανίων. τὰ σπάνιά φησι καὶ δυσεύρετα τῶν ἀγαθῶν παρέξομεν: ὥστε παρέσται κοπιᾶν ὑμῖν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀγαθῶν. τουτέστιν ἐν πλησμονῇ γενόμενοι τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἀπειρηκέναι μέλλετε: οὕτω πλουτήσετε πάντες. Ἀριστοφάνης Ὄρνισι: δώσομεν ὑμῖν πλουθυγίειαν, εὐδαιμονίαν, εἰρήνην, νεότητα, γέλωτα, χοροὺς, θαλείας γάλα τ' ὀρνίθων, ὥστε παρέσται ὑμῖν κοπιᾶν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀγαθῶν.
From the scholia to Aristophanes, Birds 729-735 (web address 1), quoted (with slight abridgment) at the end of the entry. (Aristophanes' "festivities," θαλίας , has here become θαλείας "abundances", probably a pronunciation-based error arising in transcription.) For this proverbial phrase see already Aristophanes, Wasps 508 (web address 2), and other citations in LSJ s.v. γάλα (web address 3); Diogenianus 2.15 (attributing it to Aristophanes and Eupolis) and other paroemiographers.
[1] An excerpt of the quotation that is presented more fully below.
[2] For this Aristophanic compound noun see pi 1790, pi 1791.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: comedy; daily life; economics; ethics; food; imagery; poetry; proverbs; religion; stagecraft; zoology
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 27 June 2002@18:48:43.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (modified translation; augmented note and keywords; cosmetics) on 28 June 2002@03:24:56.
David Whitehead (more keywords) on 4 December 2005@09:13:52.
David Whitehead on 4 December 2005@09:14:29.
William Hutton (augmented notes, added links and keywords, raised status) on 7 April 2008@10:00:14.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 4 June 2012@08:29:36.
Catharine Roth (upgraded links) on 21 August 2012@01:00:29.
David Whitehead (expanded primary note) on 21 August 2012@03:33:12.


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