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Headword: Λήμνιον κακὸν βλέπων
Adler number: lambda,451
Translated headword: looking a Lemnian evil
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] a fiery [one].[1] Also [sc. attested is] a proverb: 'Lemnian evil'. For after the Lemnian men had abducted women from Athens and gotten children from them, they slaughtered the women together with the children. But then the women killed all the men, together with their Thracian wives, because they did not devote themselves to them due to the noxious odor. Myrsilos says the odor took hold because of Medea's rivalry with Hypsipyle;[2] but Kaukasos[3] says it was because of the Lemnian women's being contemptuous of Aphrodite.[4] Hence, big evils are called "Lemnian".[5]
Greek Original:
Λήμνιον κακὸν βλέπων: πυρῶδες. καὶ παροιμία: Λήμνιον κακόν. ἐκ γὰρ Ἀθηνῶν ἁρπάσαντες γυναῖκας οἱ Λήμνιοι καὶ τεκνοποιησάμενοι ἐξ αὐτῶν κατέσφαξαν αὐτὰς μετὰ τῶν τέκνων. ἐπεὶ δὲ πάντας αἱ γυναῖκες τοὺς ἄνδρας, ὅτι αὐταῖς οὐ προσεῖχον, ἀνεῖλον ἅμα ταῖς τῶν Θρᾳκῶν γυναιξίν, ἐπὶ τῇ δυσωδίᾳ, ἣν Μυρσίλος μὲν διὰ τὸν Μηδείας ἐπὶ Ὑψιπύλῃ ζῆλον κατασχεῖν: Καύκασος δὲ διὰ τὸ ὀλιγωρῆσαι τῆς Ἀφροδίτης τὰς Λημνίας. ἔνθεν τὰ μεγάλα κακὰ Λήμνια λέγεται.
Same entry in Photius lambda271 Theodoridis (from Pausanias the Atticist) and similar ones in the paroemiographers.
Lemnos (see lambda 448 and the other cross-references there) was known for two different massacres, both referenced here, though in a greatly abbreviated way. The second massacre, of men by women (lambda 450), was the better known. See Apollodorus 1.9.17 at web address 2.
[1] cf. generally "Lemnian fire" (lambda 449) in (e.g.) Sophocles, Philoctetes 800, and Aristophanes, Lysistrata 299; it issued from the volcano on the island which was reputedly Hephaistos' forge. The present headword phrase itself is presumably a quotation, but unidentifiable.
[2] Myrsilos of Methymna (Lesbos), C3-BCE historian: FGrH 477 (where this fragment is F7b). Medea's rivalry with Hypsipyle would concern Jason, who slept with H. while visiting Lemnos.
[3] Sic, but actually Kaukalos (of Chios, C4-BCE historian: FGrH 38, where this fragment is F2).
[4] Morris Silver argues that the odor was "a mythological translation of the repulsive smell of murex-dye factories." See web address 1.
[5] cf. Herodotus 6.138.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: aetiology; children; daily life; ethics; gender and sexuality; historiography; mythology; proverbs; religion; science and technology; trade and manufacture; tragedy; women
Translated by: Ross Scaife ✝ on 23 May 2002@14:44:06.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (modified translation) on 23 May 2002@19:27:01.
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 24 May 2002@03:57:23.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 16 November 2005@08:21:40.
David Whitehead (more x-refs; more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 5 May 2008@09:24:52.
David Whitehead on 18 April 2013@05:13:49.
Catharine Roth (supplemented note) on 13 September 2013@09:21:33.


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