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Headword: Θετταλὴ γυνή
Adler number: theta,289
Translated headword: Thessalian woman
Vetting Status: high
In reference to witches. For the Thessalians are accused of being enchanters; even up to the present time the Thessalian women are called witches. They say it is because Medea when she fled threw her box of magic drugs there and they sprouted. But Attic [speakers] pronounce [Θετταλή ] with barytone accent [i.e. as Θεττάλη ].[1] Aristophanes [writes]: "I buy a Thessalian woman and drag down the moon by night and then hide it away like a mirror." For the circle of the moon is round like a mirror. And they say that those who are clever at such things draw down the moon with it. There is also a trick of Pythagoras with a mirror as follows: When the moon is full, if someone writes whatever he wishes on a mirror with blood and, denouncing the other person, stands behind him and shows the words to the moon, if he looks closely at the circle of the moon he may read all that is written on the mirror as though it is written on the moon.[2]
Greek Original:
Θετταλὴ γυνή: ἐπὶ τῶν φαρμακίδων. διαβάλλονται γὰρ οἱ Θετταλοὶ ὡς γόητες: καὶ μέχρι καὶ νῦν φαρμακίδες αἱ Θετταλαὶ καλοῦνται. φασὶ δὲ ὅτι ἡ Μήδεια φεύγουσα κίστην ἐξέβαλε φαρμάκων ἐκεῖ, καὶ ἀνέφυσαν. βαρυτόνως δὲ οἱ Ἀττικοὶ ἀναγινώσκουσιν. Ἀριστοφάνης: γυναῖκα πριάμενος Θετταλὴν καθέλκοιμι νύκτωρ τὴν σελήνην: εἶτα καθείρξαιμ' ὥσπερ κάτοπτρον. ὁ γὰρ τῆς σελήνης κύκλος στρογγυλοειδὴς ὡς ἔσοπτρον. καί φασι τοὺς περὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα δεινοὺς τούτῳ κατάγειν τὴν σελήνην. ἔστι δὲ καὶ Πυθαγόρου παίγνιον διὰ κατόπτρου τοιοῦτον. πληροσελήνου τῆς σελήνης οὔσης, εἴ τις ἔσοπτρον ἐπιγράψειεν αἵματι, ὅσα βούλεται, καὶ προειπὼν ἑτέρῳ σταίη κατόπιν αὐτοῦ, δείκνυσι πρὸς τὴν σελήνην τὰ γράμματα, κἀκεῖνον ἀτενίσαι πλησίον εἰς τὸν τῆς σελήνης κύκλον, ἀναγνοίη πάντα τὰ ἐν τῷ κατόπτρῳ γεγραμμένα, ὡς τῇ σελήνῃ γεγραμμένα.
Aristophanes, Clouds 749-751 (web address 1), with comment from the scholia there. This is Strepsiades' plan for stopping the procession of the months in order to put an end to paying interest.
[1] The scholiast's fuller version of this phrase clarifies what the Suda means. The substantive point is also made by Herodian, repeated in Stephanus of Byzantium s.v. 'Thessalia'.
[2] What is described here is the magical practice called traducement, by which one informs on a rival to the moon.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: aetiology; biography; chronology; comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; imagery; mythology; religion; women
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 14 March 2001@01:09:30.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (Modified translation, set status) on 14 March 2001@23:10:37.
David Whitehead (augmented note and keywords) on 22 July 2004@03:45:44.
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaking) on 2 January 2013@05:02:47.
David Whitehead (tweaked tr; another note) on 17 January 2016@04:35:33.


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