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Headword: Περισπᾶν
Adler number: pi,1290
Translated headword: to draw off from around, to draw away, to pull off, to peel off
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] to deceive utterly. And to take away something by force.[1]
But [sc. note also] περισπᾳ̂ ["draws off"] in Sophocles meaning having kept watch over them as they fall together to fall in, draws off outside them; that is, the charioteers.[2]
Polybius [writes]: "for the Romans an objective was to sail to Libya and draw the war away [to] there."[3]
Greek Original:
Περισπᾶν: ἐξαπατᾶν. καὶ τὸ μετὰ βίας ἀφαιρεῖσθαί τι. Περισπᾷ δὲ παρὰ Σοφοκλεῖ ἀντὶ τοῦ φυλαξάμενος αὐτοῖς συμπεσοῦσιν ἐμπεσεῖν, ἔξω ἀπ' αὐτῶν περισπᾷ: τουτέστι τοῖς ἡνιόχοις. Πολύβιος: ἦν δὲ τοῖς Ῥωμαίοις πρόθεσις ἐς Λιβύην πλεῖν καὶ τὸν πόλεμον ἐκεῖ περισπᾶν.
The headword (instanced in the final quotation given) is a contracted, epic, present active infinitive; see generally LSJ s.v. περισπάω (I draw off from around, strip off).
[1] The first glossing infinitive, from the verb ἐξαπατάω (I deceive utterly), is the same form as the headword. The headword is identically glossed in Photius, Lexicon pi758 Theodoridis.
[2] From a scholion (= scholia vetera) to Sophocles, Electra 732 (web address 1; cf. delta 331), where the Athenian charioteer pulls back from a huge crash involving the racers (all except for Orestes, who was riding last at that moment); Jahn, p. 37. [In her critical apparatus Adler notes that Aemilius Portus pointed out that Sophocles reads Παρασπᾷ (he draws forcibly aside), even though the Suda repeats the present headword in the quoted line at delta 331; also that ms F transmits περισπᾶται , he removes himself outside.]
[3] Polybius 1.26.1 (web address 2), on the Roman strategy in 256 BCE prior to the Battle of Ecnomus (Eknomos, Barrington Atlas Map 47 grid D4), a hill near the town of Phintias (present-day Licata, Italy), on Sicily's southern coast, during the First Punic War (264-241); Walbank, pp. 84-7. [Adler reports that ms V omitted πρόθεσις (purpose, plan).]
P. Jahn, Quaestionum de scholiis Laurentianis in Sophoclem prima pars qua agitur de ratione quae inter Suidam et librum Laurentianum intercedit, dissertation, Berlin, 18 August 1884
F.W. Walbank, A Historical Commentary on Polybius, vol. I, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1957
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: athletics; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; geography; historiography; history; military affairs; tragedy
Translated by: Ronald Allen on 10 August 2011@01:37:41.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (modifications to tr; tweaks and cosmetics) on 10 August 2011@04:17:36.
Catharine Roth (upgraded links) on 10 August 2011@08:08:48.
David Whitehead on 26 September 2011@08:39:53.
David Whitehead on 29 September 2013@06:39:56.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 26 March 2015@00:28:09.


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