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Headword: Ὄρθριος νόμος
Adler number: omicron,585
Translated headword: dawn style (of music)
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
[Meaning] a citharodic style thus called. Aristophanes [writes]: "often rousing me for the ecclesia [= assembly] at an unholy hour of the night with your dawn music." He means, I think, steep-pitched [orthion] or dawn's [orthrion], from the [sc. noun for] dawn.
Greek Original:
Ὄρθριος νόμος: οὕτω καλούμενος νόμος κιθαρῳδικός. Ἀριστοφάνης: πολλάκις ἀναστήσασά μ' εἰς ἐκκλησίαν ἀωρὶ νύκτωρ διὰ τὸν ὄρθριον νόμον. οἶμαι, ὄρθιον θέλει, ἢ ὄρθριον, διὰ τὸν ὄρθρον.
Notes:
There is, of course, no such style. The phrase is a pun by Aristophanes (Ecclesiazusae 741: web address 1) on a well-known citharodic nomos (nu 478) or musical style, ὄρθιος νόμος , 'steep-pitched' (omicron 573, omicron 574, omicron 575, alpha 1701, alpha 1122). In the play a man is addressing one of his possessions as his "citharode" (singer to the cithara). This entry is related to the scholia to lines 739-41, where the unexpressed possession in the feminine gender that wakens him is his ἀλετρίς , by which must be meant the hand-mill used for grinding grain (cf. B.A. Sparkes, "The Greek Kitchen," Journal of Hellenic Studies 82, 1968, 125), probably for the ritual cakes offered before meetings of the assembly. (LSJ gives as meaning for the word only the person doing the grinding, but that is impossible in the context.) The "music" of the grain-grinder in the morning is described with the adjective for the time of day when this grinding was done, "first dawn" (ὄρθριος ), a pun on ὄρθιος , a vigorous, high-pitched style appropriately likened to the shrill clatter of grinding grain. There is further humor, as we associate the "music" of first dawn with the crow of the cock (ἀλεκτρυών ), which might be the expected citharode that wakes the man up in the morning (so at web address 1). The gender of the unexpressed utensil is, however, feminine, suggesting that the ἀλετρίς is a hidden enigma (a recognized rhetorical figure, here by way of a pun) for a female cock, appropriate to the dark humor of this little-understood comedy.
For a different interpretation, see R.G. Ussher in his 1973 edition, missing the joke and disparaging the scholia and Suda.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: comedy; daily life; definition; food; imagery; meter and music; rhetoric; women
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 31 May 2002@09:47:14.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 12 September 2002@06:01:55.
David Whitehead (tweaking) on 12 July 2013@03:14:04.
Catharine Roth (upgraded links) on 12 July 2013@23:08:56.
Catharine Roth (consolidated links) on 12 July 2013@23:11:25.

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