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Headword: Θαλαμακεῖς
Adler number: theta,5
Translated headword: hold-rowers, bottom-rank-rowers
Vetting Status: high
and [sc. also attested is] θαλάμακι ['for the hold-man'],[1], the man rowing in the bottom part of the trireme. The hold-rowers used to receive the least pay because they used smaller oars than the other three ranks of rowers,[2] because they were closer to the water. There were three ranks of rowers: the thalamites ['hold-men'] at the bottom, the zygites ['yoke-men'] in the middle, the thranites ['bench-men'] at the top. Or the thranite [was] the one near the stern, the zygite the middle one, the thalamios at the prow.[3] A thalamia [is] the hole or opening through which the oar comes out.
Greek Original:
Θαλαμακεῖς: καὶ Θαλάμακι, τῷ κωπηλατοῦντι ἐν τῷ κάτω μέρει τῆς τριήρους. οἱ δὲ θαλαμακεῖς ὀλίγον ἐλάμβανον μισθὸν διὰ τὸ κολοβαῖς χρῆσθαι κώπαις πρὸς τὰς ἄλλας τρεῖς τάξεις τῶν ἐρετῶν, ὅτι μᾶλλόν εἰσιν ἐγγὺς τοῦ ὕδατος. ἦσαν δὲ τρεῖς τάξεις τῶν ἐρετῶν, ἡ μὲν κάτω θαλαμῖται, ἡ δὲ μέση ζυγῖται, ἡ δὲ ἄνω θρανῖται. ἢ θρανίτης ὁ πρὸς τὴν πρύμναν, ζυγίτης ὁ μέσος, θαλάμιος ὁ πρὸς τὴν πρώραν. θαλαμία δὲ ἡ ὀπή, δι' ἧς ἐξέρχεται ἡ κώπη.
The headword appears to be nominative or accusative plural of an unattested noun θαλαμακεύς , unless this form (also unattested elsewhere) is simply a mistake for θαλάμακες , nominative plural of θάλαμαξ (see n. 1 below); cf. theta 8, theta 454, theta 455, and generally Morrison & Coates (1986): 132-151; Casson (1995): 82-4.
[1] Dative singular of θάλαμαξ (web address 1); the form, a variant on the more common θαλαμιός or θαλαμίτης (web address 2), appears at Aristophanes, Frogs 1074 (web address 3), and much of this entry comes from the scholia on that line; cf. Hesychius theta19, Etymologicum Magnum 441.24.
[2] It does say the other three ranks, even though there are only three ranks in total (as described below).
[3] If this is not a misunderstanding, or a description of the manning of some ship other than a trireme, then it perhaps refers to the fact that of any vertical rank of three rowers on a trireme, the uppermost man will be situated astern of the middle man, and the middleman astern of the bottom man.
J.S. Morrison & J.F. Coates, The Athenian Trireme (Cambridge 1986)
L. Casson, Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World (Baltimore & London 1995)
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: comedy; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; economics; military affairs; science and technology; trade and manufacture
Translated by: Anne Mahoney on 12 December 1999@14:50:42.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (modified headword; added note, bibliography, keywords; cosmetics) on 28 May 2001@07:37:20.
Ross Scaife ✝ (changed from emph to i tags for xml validation) on 14 October 2002@11:14:56.
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 21 January 2008@09:39:22.
William Hutton (tweaked headword and translation, modified and augmented notes, raised status) on 1 March 2008@05:40:46.
Catharine Roth (upgraded link) on 20 June 2011@12:53:08.
David Whitehead (another keyword; cosmetics) on 23 December 2012@08:19:01.


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