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Headword: Νεῖν
Adler number: nu,290
Translated headword: to swim
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] to dive/swim,[1] and to spin a thread.[2]
Arrian [writes]: "all those who were the lightest, and armed the lightest, and were the most adept at swimming, he ordered to start swimming on his signal."[3]
And elsewhere: "just as birds have been born to fly, and fish to swim, and deer to run, so they have no need of instruction."[4]
And Hesiod used νεῖν , meaning to spin, in the [phrase] "and there a high-soaring spider spins threads". Some wrote "spins [νεῖ ] threads" with an eta [νῆ ], as if it is truncated out of νήθει ["he spins"]. But in this regard, analogy knows [the conjugated] νῶ, νεῖς, νεῖ [to be] original; hence νήθω [is] a derived form; [as with] κνῶ , κνήθω ["scratch"], σῶ , σήθω ["sift"].[5]
Greek Original:
Νεῖν: κολυμβᾶν, καὶ τὸ νήθειν κρόκην. Ἀρριανός: ὅσοι κουφότατοι καὶ κουφότατα ὡπλισμένοι καὶ τοῦ νεῖν δαημονέστατοι, τούτους ἐκνήξασθαι κελεύει ἀπὸ συνθήματος. καὶ αὖθις: ὥσπερ γὰρ οἱ ὄρνιθες ἵπτασθαι καὶ νεῖν ἰχθύες αἵ τε ἔλαφοι θεῖν, ἐπεὶ πεφύκασιν, οὐδὲν τοῦ διδαχθῆναι προσδέονται. τοῦ δὲ νεῖν, ἤτοι νήθειν, χρῆσις παρ' Ἡσιόδῳ ἐν τῷ, τῇ γάρ τοι νεῖ νήματ' ἀερσιπότητος ἀράχνης. τινὲς δὲ τὸ νεῖ νήματα διὰ τοῦ η ἔγραψαν, ὡς ἀποκοπὲν ἐκ τοῦ νήθει. πλὴν καὶ οὕτως ἡ ἀναλογία τὸ νῶ, νεῖς, νεῖ οἶδε πρωτότυπον: ἐξ οὗ παράγωγον τὸ νήθω: τὸ κνῶ, κνήθω, σῶ, σήθω.
[1] LSJ s.v. νέω A; and see also nu 272, nu 292.
[2] LSJ s.v. νέω B.
[3] Arrian, Indica 24.5.
[4] Julian, To Heraclius the Cynic 2 (Or.7, 206A).
[5] Hesiod, Works and Days 777 (web address 1). The speculation is not otherwise recorded. Νήθω is indeed formed from νέω as suggested. Philoxenos of Alexandria (first century BCE, see phi 394) promulgated a theory that the Greek vocabulary was derived from a core of monosyllabic verbs; see Dickey, 3.1.10 (p. 85), and cf. epsilon 1031.
Eleanor Dickey, Ancient Greek Scholarship: A Guide to Finding, Reading, and Understanding Scholia, Commentaries, Lexica, and Grammatical Treatises, from Their Beginnings to the Byzantine Period. American Philological Association Classical Resource Series. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; historiography; history; military affairs; poetry; trade and manufacture; zoology
Translated by: Nick Nicholas on 23 September 2009@06:52:23.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 23 September 2009@08:31:22.
Catharine Roth (expanded note, tweaked link) on 25 September 2009@01:19:53.
David Whitehead on 7 June 2013@07:08:52.
Catharine Roth (tweaked link) on 9 June 2013@00:36:19.
Catharine Roth (cross-reference) on 18 December 2013@01:18:45.


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