Context - the official translations of παῖς commonly go as 'child, especially a boy, slave' witch would imply it being applicable to girls, not just boys, however a friend of mine insists παῖς can only be used to refer to boys, since ancient greek sources supposedly do not contain a single instance of girls being referred to with παῖς.

Sadly, I'm not proficient enough with ancient greek to confirm this myself, so I asked ChatGPT and it gave me these results:

1) In Herodotus' Histories, the Persian king Darius calls his daughter Artaynte παῖς (pais) in 9.109: "He said to her: 'Child (παῖς), what you ask is neither just nor honourable; but since I promised and swore an oath, I will give it to you.'" The context is that Artaynte has asked for a cloak that belongs to a Greek general named Masistios. The cloak is made of gold and purple and is very valuable. Darius calls Artaynte παῖς (pais) to address her as his child and also to express his displeasure at her request.

Δαρεῖος δέ οἱ εἶπε· «παῖς, οὔτε δίκαιον αἰτέεις οὔτε καλόν· ἐπείτε δέ μοι ὑπέσχεό τε καὶ ὤμοσας, δώσω σοι.» (9.109)

Darius said to her: "Child (παῖς), what you ask is neither just nor honourable; but since I promised and swore an oath, I will give it to you."

2) In Plato's Republic, Socrates calls Glaucon's sister παῖς (pais) in 449a: "And what about your sister (παῖς), Glaucon? Is she not wise and good?" The context is that Socrates is discussing the education of the guardians of the ideal city. He argues that women should receive the same education as men, and he praises Glaucon's sister for her virtues.

καὶ ἡ σὴ παῖς, ὦ Γλαύκων, οὐχ ἡμῖν σοφὴ καὶ ἀγαθή; (449a)

And what about your sister (παῖς), Glaucon? Is she not wise and good?

3) In Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, Oedipus calls his daughter Antigone παῖς (pais) in line 1: "Child (παῖς) of an old blind sire, Antigone, what region, say, whose city have we reached?" The context is that Oedipus and Antigone have arrived at Colonus, a suburb of Athens, after being exiled from Thebes. Oedipus is blind and relies on Antigone to guide him. He calls her παῖς (pais) to address her as his daughter and also to express his affection and gratitude for her.

παῖ τυφλοῦ γέροντος, Ἀντιγόνη, τίνα χθόνα τίνα πόλιν ἱκόμεσθα; (1)

Child (παῖς) of an old blind sire, Antigone, what region, say, whose city have we reached?

< παῖ is a declension of παῖς >

4) In Aristophanes' Lysistrata, Lysistrata calls her friend Myrrhine παῖς (pais) in line 1030: "Come here, child (παῖς), and bring the bed." The context is that Lysistrata has persuaded the women of Athens and Sparta to withhold sex from their husbands until they agree to end the Peloponnesian War. She instructs Myrrhine to tease her husband Cinesias by pretending to be ready for love, but then making various excuses and demands.

δεῦρ᾽ ἴθι, παῖ, καὶ τὴν λέχος ἄγε. (1030)

Come here, child (παῖς), and bring the bed.

5) • In Homer's Odyssey, Penelope calls her maid Melantho παῖς (pais) in 18.321: "You shameless dog (παῖς), you have the face to say this!" The context is that Melantho has insulted Odysseus, who is disguised as a beggar, and Penelope rebukes her for her insolence. She calls her παῖς (pais) to remind her of her servile status and her duty to obey her mistress.

ἀλλ᾽ ἄγε δή μοι τόδε εἰπέ, μέγα κῦδος Ἀχαιῶν, σὺ δέ μοι εἰπέ, παῖ, τόδε μέγα κατὰ θυμόν. (18.321)

But come now, tell me this, great glory of the Achaeans, and you tell me this, you shameless dog (παῖς), you have the face to say this!

6) In Sophocles' Electra, Clytemnestra calls her daughter Electra παῖς (pais) in 516: "You wicked child (παῖς), do you dare to speak such things against your mother?" The context is that Electra has accused Clytemnestra of murdering her father Agamemnon and living in sin with Aegisthus. Clytemnestra tries to justify her actions and silence her daughter. She calls her παῖς (pais) to remind her of her filial duty and also to express her anger and indignation.

σὺ δ᾽ ὦ πονηρά παῖ, τολμᾷς τάδε λέγειν τῆς μητρός; (516)

You wicked child (παῖς), do you dare to speak such things against your mother?

7) In Sophocles' Antigone, Creon calls his niece Antigone παῖς (pais) in 441: "You stubborn girl (παῖς), you have a hard heart even in your troubles." The context is that Creon, the king of Thebes, has decreed that anyone who buries his nephew Polyneices, who died fighting against his brother Eteocles for the throne, will be put to death. Antigone, who is the sister of both brothers, defies the decree and buries Polyneices. Creon confronts her and accuses her of disobedience and rebellion. He calls her παῖς (pais) to address her as his niece and also to express his frustration and anger.

σκληρὰ παῖς, καὶ σκληροκάρδιος ἐν κακοῖς. (441)

You stubborn girl (παῖς), you have a hard heart even in your troubles.

Can somebody please help shed some light on this?

  • 1
    It's a good question and glad you're here but downvote for citing anything made by ChatGPT without having bothered to confirm that it even exists. No, you can't trust it and, no, you shouldn't spread its nonsense as if it could be trusted without any checking. If any of this comes up again, take the citation and check it against the texts at (eg) the Perseus project.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 15, 2023 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


Your friend hasn't read the dictionary. From the LSJ:


I. in relation to Descent, child, whether son, Il. 2.205,609, al. (with special reference to the father, opp. τέκνον, q.v.): pl., Th.1.4, etc.; or daughter, Il.1.20,443, 3.175; “παῖδες ἄρρενες καὶ θήλειαι” Pl.Lg.788a; παῖς, opp. κόρα, Berl.Sitzb.1927.7 (Locr., v. B.C.)

II. in relation to Age, child, boy or girl, “νέος π.” Od.4.665; “παῖδες νεαροί” Il.2.289; “σμίκρα π.” Sapph.34: with another Subst.

III. in relation to Condition, slave, servant, man or maid (of all ages), “παῖ, παῖ” A.Ch.653, cf. Ar. Ach.395, Epicr.5.2, etc.; “παῖ, παιδίον” Ar.Nu.132: pl., of the crew of a ship, D.33.8. (From Παϝις, cf. παῦρος, Lat. puer.)

Notably, it's found among the very first lines of the oldest ancient Greek work at the Iliad 1.20, when Chryses, the Trojan priest, demands the release of his daughter Chryseis:

παῖδα δ᾽ ἐμοὶ λύσαιτε φίλην, τὰ δ᾽ ἄποινα δέχεσθαι,
ἁζόμενοι Διὸς υἱὸν ἑκηβόλον Ἀπόλλωνα.

but release to me my dear child, and accept the ransom
out of reverence for the son of Zeus, Apollo who strikes from afar

Not only is it clear from context that he's talking about his daughter (whom Agamemnon took as part of his spoils), but grammatically it has to be feminine, since φίλην agrees with it, and φίλην can only be feminine singular accusative.

I haven't checked out each of the Chat-GPT references, but they look fine on first glance. Even if they were all "hallucinations", the fact is that παῖς can and often does refer to women and girls.


BrillDAG gives the following as an entry for ⲡⲁⲓⲥ:

παῖς παιδός, ὁ, ἡ [cf. Lat. puer? Skt. putrá-? Osc. pukhum? Av. pu θ ra?]

a. baby boy, baby girl, boy, girl Il. 2.289, al. Od. 4.665, al. Soph. O.T. 32, al. etc.; aged 7–14 Hp. (Phil. Op. 105); distinct from παιδίον and μειράκιον Hp. (Phil. l.c.) cf. Xen. Symp. 4.17; distinct from βρέφος and μειράκιον Phil. Aet. 60; with another subst. παῖς συφορβός young swineherd Il. 21.282; παῖδα κόρην young mistress Aristoph. Lys. 595; παῖδ’ ἐπίγαμον girl of marriageable age Men. Epit. 1115 | ἐν παιδί as a baby, as a child Hdn. 6.8.1 (v.l. παισίν); ἐν παισίν in infancy Demosth. 56.36; ἐκ παιδός since childhood Plat. Rp. 374c; ἐκ τῶν παίδων εὐθύς starting in childhood Plat. Leg. 694d = τῶν παίδων εὐθύς Plat. Leg. 642b; ἡλικίαν ἔχων τὴν ἄρτι ἐκ παίδων being barely out of childhood Xen. Hel. 5.4.25 = εὐθὺς ἐκ παίδων ἐξελθών Demosth. 21.154 | to indicate an immature pers. Luc. Peregr. 11, al. etc. | παιδὸς ἔρως see παιδέρως

b. son, daughter Il. 1.20, al. Aeschl. Pers. 189, al. Soph. O.T. 69, al. etc.; παῖδες ἄρρενες καὶ θήλειαι male and female children Plat. Leg. 788a; παῖδα ποιεῖσθαι to adopt as a son Il. 9.494; διδυμάονε παῖδε twin children Il. 5.548; παίδων παῖδες grandchildren Il. 20.308 Pind. N. 7.100 Plat. Rp. 363d etc. | extens. of the young of animals Aeschl. Ag. 50 | of fish, sons of the sea Aeschl. Pers. 578; fig. of wine, son of the vine Pind. N. 9.52; of Echo, daughter of a mountain peak Eur. Hec. 1110 | periphr. ὦ παῖδες Ἑλλήνων O Greeks Aeschl. Pers. 402; παῖδες Ἡφαίστου sons of Hephaestus (Athenians) Aeschl. Eum. 13; οἱ Λυδῶν παῖδες Lydians Hdt. 1.27.3; οἱ παῖδες (Ἀσκληπιοῦ) doctors Plat. Rp. 407e; οἱ ζωγράφων παῖδες painters Plat. Leg. 769b; παῖδες ῥητόρων orators Luc. Anach. 19 etc.

c. slave, slave girl Aeschl. Ch. 653 Aristoph. Nub. 18, Ve. 1251 Plat. Ch. 155b etc. ● Att. also παῦς and παῖς, Aeol. πάις Sapph. 27.4, al. | gen. παιδός, Aeol. παῖδος, later poet. also παϊδός | acc. παῖδα, poet. also πάιν Ap. 4.697 | voc. παῖ || pl. παῖδες | gen. παίδων | dat. παισί, epic also παίδεσσι.

<The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek, s.v. “παις,” 1523.>

Note the numerous (albeit with abbreviated names) references to the usage of the word.

  • 1
    Your copying of the entry is fine, but did you realize that the Greek you're using to introduce the entry ("ⲡⲁⲓⲥ") isn't actually Greek at all, but Coptic?
    – cmw
    Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 2:54
  • Of course it's Greek. It's uncial/Majuscule Greek as the early documents were written in.
    – Epimanes
    Commented Jun 21, 2023 at 9:51

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