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Headword: Ψωλός
Adler number: psi,131
Translated headword: circumcised, erect, libidinous
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] he who lacks a [fore]skin; accent on the last syllable. Also [sc. attested is] ἀκρόψωλος , [meaning] one who is a little bit thus.[1]
Or a shameful man, by extension from the body-part.
Aristophanes [writes]: "cuckoo: ψωλοί to the plain." Meaning we harvest the fields when the cuckoo is calling. But the Egyptians are said to be ψωλοί , that is circumcised. So [Aristophanes] is saying that when the cuckoo calls, the ψωλοί used to go into the plain, that is those who have big genitals. Aristophanes in Birds [writes in full]: "this was truly that word: Cuckoo, ψωλοί to the plain."[2] And elsewhere: "you must become ψωλός up to the myrtle." Meaning up to the head. Since the archons used to be crowned with myrtle wreaths; or [you must] cover up your genitals. You must become μολγός . That is a thief of public property, one who milks out the common [property].[3]
Greek Original:
Ψωλός: ὁ λειπόδερμος, ὀξυτόνως. καὶ ἀκρόψωλος, ὁ ἐπὶ βραχὺ τοιοῦτος. ἢ ὁ ἀσχήμων, κατὰ παρέκτασιν τοῦ μορίου. Ἀριστοφάνης: κόκκυξ: ψωλοὶ πεδίονδε. ἀντὶ τοῦ κόκκυγος κρῴζοντος τὰ πεδία θερίζομεν. οἱ δὲ Αἰγύπτιοι ψωλοὶ λέγονται εἶναι, τουτέστι περιτετμημένοι. φησὶν οὖν, ὅτι ὅταν ὁ κόκκυξ κοκκύσῃ, οἱ ψωλοὶ ἤρχοντο εἰς τὸ πεδίον, τουτέστιν οἱ μεγάλα αἰδοῖα ἔχοντες. Ἀριστοφάνης Ὄρνισι: τοῦτ' ἄρ' ἐκεῖν' ἦν τοὖπος ἀληθῶς: κόκκυ, ψωλοὶ πεδίονδε. καὶ αὖθις: ψωλὸν γενέσθαι δεῖ σε μέχρι τοῦ μυρρίνου. ἀντὶ τοῦ μέχρι τῆς κεφαλῆς. ἐπειδὴ οἱ ἄρχοντες μυρρίνῃ ἐστεφανοῦντο: ἢ ἀποκεκαλύφθαι τὸ αἰδοῖον. μολγὸν γενέσθαι δεῖ σε. τουτέστι κλέπτην τῶν δημοσίων, ἐξαμέλγοντα τὰ κοινά.
For this headword see generally J. Henderson, The Maculate Muse (New Haven 1975) 110-111 (#5, with ##4 and 6). As the Birds scholia show here, it could mean circumcised, but it was more idiomatically applied to a libidinous man whose penis was erect with the prepuce retracted.
[1] Entry thus far from Photius s.v.
[2] Aristophanes, Birds 507 (web address 1), with scholion.
[3] Aristophanes, Knights 963-4 (web address 2), with scholion; cf. mu 1191, mu 1438, psi 130.
Aristophanes, Birds, edited with introduction and commentary by Nan Dunbar (Oxford 1995) 347
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: botany; comedy; constitution; definition; economics; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; imagery; politics
Translated by: Catharine Roth on 16 January 2006@21:24:02.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (supplied headwords and missing note number; tweaked tr; augmented notes and keywords; added bibliography) on 17 January 2006@03:30:33.
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaking) on 6 November 2013@08:52:00.


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