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Headword: Οὐδὲν πρὸς τὸν Διόνυσον
Adler number: omicron,806
Translated headword: nothing to do with Dionysos; nothing to do with Dionysus
Vetting Status: high
Certain people exclaimed this after Epigenes of Sicyon[1] had composed a tragedy in honour of Dionysus; hence the saying. But the following [is] better. Formerly, when writing in honour of Dionysus they used to compete with these [compositions], which also used to be called satyrika.[2] But later on, having progressed to writing tragedies, they turned gradually to myths and historical subjects, no longer with Dionysus in mind.[3] Hence they also exclaimed this. And Chamaileon[4] in On Thespis relates similar things. Theaitetos,[5] however, in On Sayings says that the painter Parrhasius[6] when competing at Corinth painted the most beautiful Dionysus. Those who viewed both the works of his competitors, which he left far behind, and the Dionysus of Parrhasius exclaimed: What have they to do with Dionysus? [It is an adage] applied to those who speak foolishly, not saying what is appropriate in the circumstances.[7]
And elsewhere:[8] "he said Koroibos[9] was a clever Odysseus,[10] despite providing no instance to substantiate this.[11] You are leading the dog to the manger and to Dionysus you bring nothing."[12]
Greek Original:
Οὐδὲν πρὸς τὸν Διόνυσον: Ἐπιγένους τοῦ Σικυωνίου τραγῳδίαν εἰς τὸν Διόνυσον ποιήσαντος, ἐπεφώνησάν τινες τοῦτο: ὅθεν ἡ παροιμία. βέλτιον δὲ οὕτως: τὸ πρόσθεν εἰς τὸν Διόνυσον γράφοντες τούτοις ἠγωνίζοντο, ἅπερ καὶ Σατυρικὰ ἐλέγετο: ὕστερον δὲ μεταβάντες εἰς τὸ τραγῳδίας γράφειν κατὰ μικρὸν εἰς μύθους καὶ ἱστορίας ἐτράπησαν, μηκέτι τοῦ Διονύσου μνημονεύοντες: ὅθεν τοῦτο καὶ ἐπεφώνησαν. καὶ Χαμαιλέων ἐν τῷ Περὶ Θέσπιδος τὰ παραπλήσια ἱστορεῖ, Θεαίτητος δὲ ἐν τῷ Περὶ παροιμίας Παρράσιόν φησιν τὸν ζωγράφον ἀγωνιζόμενον παρὰ Κορινθίοις ποιῆσαι Διόνυσον κάλλιστον: τοὺς δὲ ὁρῶντας τά τε τῶν ἀνταγωνιστῶν ἔργα, ἃ κατὰ πολὺ ἐλείπετο, καὶ τὸν τοῦ Παρρασίου Διόνυσον, ἐπιφωνεῖν, τί πρὸς τὸν Διόνυσον; ἐπὶ τῶν μὴ τὰ προσήκοντα τοῖς ὑποκειμένοις φλυαρούντων. καὶ αὖθις: τὸν Κόροιβον Ὀδυσσέα φήσας εἶναι τὸν πολύτροπον. καίτοι μὴ πρὸς τοῦτο παράδειγμα φέρων, τῇ φάτνῃ προσάγεις τὸν κύνα καὶ πρὸς τὸν Διόνυσον ἄγεις οὐδέν.
[1] See R.A.S. Seaford in OCD(4) s.v. Epigenes. For Epigenes as the first writer of tragedies see theta 282, s.v. Thespis. Herodotus 5.67.5 mentions choruses performed at Sicyon in honour of Dionysus, which were instituted by its tyrant Cleisthenes. See web address 1 below.
[2] τὰ σατυρικά [δράματα] . Compare τὰ φαλικά at Aristotle, Poetics 1449a. See web address 2 below.
[3] The distinction, albeit somewhat blurred, is between plots involving mythical or legendary subjects and those based on historical subjects such as Aeschylus' Persians. Plutarch, Moralia 615A, attributed the introduction of such themes to Phrynichus and Aeschylus, and in this context quoted the present saying. See also Zenobius 5.40.
[4] From Heraclea Pontica (b. c.350 BCE). He was a pupil of Aristotle; see generally C.B.R. Pelling in OCD(4) s.v. 'Chamaeleon'. This is his fr. 38 Wehrli = 48 Giordano = TGrF 1 T18.
[5] Not known.
[6] Parrhasius of Ephesus. A well-known painter of the fifth century BCE, who also wrote works on painting. See G. Lippold, 'Parrasios(3)', in RE 18.4, cols.1874-1880; Parrhasius' painting of Dionysus is discussed in col.1874 there. See also OCD(4) s.v. (pp.1084-5). Xenophon, Memorabilia 3.10.1-5, introduces Parrhasius in conversation with Socrates. See web address 3 below. Strabo 8.6.2 (quoting Polybius 39.2 Paton) attributed this famous painting to Aristides of Thebes, who was active c.360 BCE.
[7] Up to this point the Suda closely follows Photius, Lexicon omicron618 Theodoridis; cf. Zenobius 5.40 and Apostolius s.v. οὐδὲν πρὸς τὸν Διόνυσον .
[8] Adler suggests (on no discernible basis) that what follows be attributed to Eunapius.
[9] Koroibos was a Phrygian, the son of Mygdon and Anaximene. He arrived at Troy the day before the city fell, intending to marry Cassandra. He boasted that he would repulse the Achaeans but was himself killed by Neoptolemos or Diomedes [Author, Myth] when the city fell. See Quintus of Smyrna, The fall of Troy 13.168-177, who calls him νήπιος ; Pausanias 10.27.1. His reputation for stupidity was such that it was said of him that he would count the waves of the sea, hence the proverbial expression "more stupid than Koroibos". See Zenobius 4.58; Diogenian 5.56; Eitrem; Marcovich p.50; kappa 2113.
[10] In contrast with Koroibos and his reputation for stupidity, Odysseus is of course proverbially clever, πολύτροπος . In English we might say, 'Oh yes, and Koroibos was a clever Odysseus!'. That would signify that a person was talking nonsense, which is what the saying "nothing to do with Dionysus" had come to mean.
[11] Literally 'despite not providing an example in respect of this'. Adler's punctuates with a period after πολύτροπον but a comma seems better (and a period at the end, i.e. with a fresh start at 'You are leading').
[12] The saying derives from the fable attributed to Aesop of the dog in the manger (eta 187, kappa 2729). For the proverb [no. 74] see B.E. Perry, [Aesopica Urbana: U.Illinois Pr., 1952, pp.276, 702. See web address 3 below. For other uses of this saying see Lucian, Timon 14; Greek Anthology 12.236. There seem to be two separate sayings quoted here, although it is possible that they constitute a single saying. If the latter, the saying would refer to perverse behaviour, and there would be a pun on ἄγω . However, Greek would not normally use the simple conjunction καί to make the contrast.
Eitrem, S. Koroibos(3) in RE 11,2 col.1421
Marcovich, M. 'Aelian, Varia Historia 13.15', Ziva Antika 26(1976), 49-51
Nothing to do with Dionysus? : Athenian drama in its social context. J.J. Winkler & F. Zeitlin (eds.), Princeton U.P., 1990
Pickard-Cambridge, A.W. Dithyramb, Tragedy and Comedy, 2nd ed. rev. T.B.L. Webster. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1962, 85, 124-126
Pohlenz, M. 'Das Satyrspiel und Pratinas von Phleius', in Kleine Schriften Hildesheim: Olms, 1965, Bd. II, 473-496 [= Nachrichten der Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Philologisch-historische Klasse, 1927, 298ff.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: aetiology; art history; biography; comedy; definition; epic; historiography; mythology; poetry; proverbs; stagecraft; tragedy
Translated by: Tony Natoli on 24 July 2001@18:12:26.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead on 18 July 2001@03:10:37.
David Whitehead on 29 July 2001@05:56:14.
David Whitehead (another note; more keywords; tweaks, cosmetics, updatings) on 31 July 2013@06:09:16.
Catharine Roth (upgraded links, other cosmetics) on 8 August 2013@01:09:46.
David Whitehead (updated some refs) on 6 August 2014@03:32:00.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 4 January 2015@00:00:42.
David Whitehead (updated another ref; coding) on 20 May 2016@05:43:37.


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