‹–u–x–uu–› Πόδας δέ
ποίκιλος μάσλης ἐκάλυπτε, Λύδι-
ον κάλον ἔργον.

Apart from "WTF Edmonds, tradition is unanimous on ἐκάλυπτε (says Voigt, Edmonds has different opinions) and you give me ἐπέτεννε?", we have here an oscillation from μάσθλης to μάσλης. The former is the Attic form, apparently, for a noun meaning "leather", or a kind of sandal here, says Pollux. The latter should be an Aeolic form. However, the tradition oscillates, and AFAIK the only argument for the latter is Hephaestio's:

Προτάσσεται τὸ σ τοῦ λ, κατὰ πάθος, ὡς ἐν τῷ μάσλης | The sigma is placed before the lambda, as a word modification, as in μάσλης.

If I read that right, it tells us μάσλης is modified from μάλης by an extra sigma before the lambda. Except this word seems to have nothing to do with sandals. So:

Am I misreading this? If so, what is Hephaestio actually telling us? If not, why would the correct form in the fragment be the theta-less one, when it's =μάλης and thus has nothing to do with sandals, whereas Pollux clearly says it means some kind of sandal?


1 Answer 1


Q: "Am I misreading this?"

Yes. First of all, you have completely misunderstood the quoted passage from Hephaestion's Encheiridion, one of the most important ancient metrical treatises (see Dickey 2007: 104-105).

Gaisford 1810:

enter image description here

Consbruch 1906:

enter image description here

Q: "If so, what is Hephaestio actually telling us?"

This passage is found in the first chapter, where he talks about "common syllables."

And its modern English translation (by J.M. van Ophuijsen):

enter image description here enter image description here

So, Hephaestion is an attestation of the dialectal (Lesbian) form.

Q: "Why would the correct form in the fragment be the theta-less one?"

This is a well-known phenomenon, the so called σλ/σθλ alternation, cf. the relevant passage from Meister 1882 (v. 1, §36, p. 150)):

enter image description here

cf. Hamm 1957 § 136, "μάσλης < μάσθλης (wie ἔσλων* < ἔσθλων)" (p. 65), or Thumb and Scherer 1959, p. 96.

cf.Hamm 1953 -all of the sources above are, naturally, found in Voigt (aka Hamm).

  • Could you clarify how this bears on the meaning of the passage in question? It does not seem to address the theta presence/absence question.
    – sventechie
    Nov 5, 2018 at 0:34
  • @sventechie I thought the theta presence/absence part was very clear. This can be found in any good textbook - just added more details. My answer primarily addressed MickG's total misunderstanding of Hephaestion's quote, so MickG incorrectly assumed it was related to μάλης.
    – Alex B.
    Nov 5, 2018 at 4:55

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