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Headword: Λέρνη θεατῶν
Adler number: lambda,302
Translated headword: Lerna of spectators, Lerne of spectators
Vetting Status: high
Meaning a theatre of evils. Cratinus [sc. uses the phrase].[1] Some [sc. say that the phrase arose] because of the Hydra,[2] others because of the fact that the Argives carried away the sacrifice-refuse there;[3] for it was in Lerna that Danaos deposited the heads of the sons of Aigyptos,[4] and probably as an insult he ordered [the Argives(?)] to throw ill-omened things there.
Others [sc. quote the phrase as] Lerna of evils.[5]
Greek Original:
Λέρνη θεατῶν: ἀντὶ τοῦ κακῶν θέατρον. Κρατῖνος. οἱ μὲν διὰ τὴν Ὕδραν, οἱ δὲ διὰ τὸ τοὺς Ἀργείους τὰ καθάρματα ἐκεῖ ἀποφέρειν: ὁ γὰρ Δαναὸς ἐν τῇ Λέρνῃ τὰς κεφαλὰς τῶν Αἰγυπτιαδῶν ἀπέθετο, καὶ ὡς εἰκὸς ἐφ' ὕβρει ἐκέλευσε τὰ δυσοιώνιστα ἐκεῖ ῥίπτειν. οἱ δὲ Λέρνη κακῶν.
Same entry in Photius, Lexicon lambda204 Theodoridis; similar one in Hesychius lambda689 and lambda 690, Pausanias the Atticist lambda11, a scholion to Lucian, Marine Dialogues 8.2, Zenobius 4.86 and other paroemiographers (Apostolius 10.57, [Diogenianus] 6.7, Gregorius 4.23).
The Lerne in question (Lerna in later sources and, via Latin, commonly in English) was a well-watered and, in parts, marshy place near the sea south of Argos [Myth, Place] (see web address 1: Pausanias 2.36.6-37.6). Thus another interpretation of the phrase might be 'quagmire of spectators', or 'cesspool of spectators' (see n. 3 below). The place was most famous for being the site of one of the Labours of Herakles, the killing of the Lernaian Hydra (see n. 2 below).
[1] Cratinus fr. 347 Kock (392 K.-A.).
[2] Because the Hydra, like a theatre audience, had many heads; cf. generally upsilon 57.
[3] cf. scholion to Lucian, Zenobius, Apostolius (see general note above). For 'sacrifice-refuse' see kappa 36.
[4] After they had been cut off by his daughters; cf. Pausanias 2.24.2 (web address 2).
[5] e.g. scholion to Lucian, Zenobius, Apostolius (see general note above); or "Others [sc. interpret the phrase as]... (e.g. Pausanias the Atticist lambda11).
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: aetiology; children; comedy; daily life; definition; ethics; geography; imagery; mythology; proverbs; religion; women
Translated by: David Whitehead on 9 April 2008@06:35:06.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (set status) on 9 April 2008@12:07:54.
William Hutton (tweaked headword, modified translation, augmented notes, added links and keywords, raised status) on 10 April 2008@00:21:25.
William Hutton (augmented notes again) on 10 April 2008@00:39:38.
David Whitehead (augmented n.3; cosmetics) on 10 April 2008@02:46:39.
David Whitehead on 15 April 2013@06:41:24.
David Whitehead on 3 September 2013@09:38:49.
David Whitehead on 16 May 2016@08:25:29.


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