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The Tablets of Zeus

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

Friedrich Solmsen
Cornell University


Professor Fraenkel in his recent very illuminating article on ‘The Stars in the Prologue of the Rudens’ (C.Q. xxxvi. 10 ff.) has explained how a Greek poet at the end of the fourth century could describe the stars as the messengers of Zeus and as his regular and, so to speak, professional informants on the sins and evil deeds of human beings. He also comments on the idea that the sins are recorded in Heaven (eorum referimus nomina exscripta ad Iovem) and says—rightly as I hope to show—that this idea ‘though more familiar to us from Semitic sources is a genuine Hellenic belief’. Following Friedrich Marx, he quotes a fragment from Euripides' Melanippe (506 N.2).

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 1944

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page 27 nate 1 Marx, Friedrich in his commentary on the Rudens (Abhandl. d. Sächs. Akad. d. Wiss., phil.-hist. Kl. xxxviii. 5, 1928), 11. 15 f.Google Scholar quotes the following passage from the O.T. ⋯ξαλɛιɸθ⋯γωσαν ⋯κ βιβλιον ςώνττν και ɛɛτά δικαιων μ⋯ γραɸθ⋯γωσαν (Ps. 68. 29); και ⋯πι τ⋯ βιβλιων σον π⋯ντɛς γραɸ⋯σονται (Ps. 138. 16). He also mentions Luc. 10. 20 ϰαιρɛ ཅτι τ⋯ ⋯ν⋯οατα ὑμῷν ⋯γγ⋯γραπται ⋯ν τοις οὐραις. For possible Egyptian sources see below, p. 28, n. 1.

page 27 note 2 Probably the σοɸ⋯; cf. Wilamowitz, , Sitz Ber. Berl. Akad., 1921, p. 75Google Scholar.

page 27 note 3 Loc. cit. (see n. 1).

page 27 note 4 This dochmiac is evidently incomplete. Wilamowitz in his edition (Berlin, 1914) ad loc. denies that Aischylos could construe ασɛβɛιν with the accusative Case.

page 27 note 5 Suppl. 158.

page 28 note 1 If it were correct that the idea of the δɛλτογρ⋯ɸμς ɸρ⋯ν presupposes the idea of the god himself or his agent as δɛλτογρ⋯ɸμς (cf. the scholiast ad loc), Bernhard Daube's (Zu den Rechtsproblemen in Aischylos' Agamemnon, Zurich, and Leipzig, , 1939, 168, n. 10Google Scholar) reference to the Egyptian ‘scribe in the Underworld’ would have more force. He might have mentioned Wilamowitz's note to the parallel passage (Suppl 230 f.): ‘iudicium inferorum potius e religione Aegyptiaca quam Graeca, Eum. 270.’ See, however, Kranz, Walter, Stasimon (Berlin, 1933), 103Google Scholar. Some other points which he quotes point in the same direction in which I am proceeding.

page 28 note 2 Cf. W. B. Stanford,Greek Metaphor (Oxford, 1936), 51 and passim on Aischylos' metaphors.

page 28 note 3 Sept. 593 f., Suppl. 93, 408.

page 28 note 4 See Bonner, R. J. and Smith, G., The Administration of Justice from Homer to Aristotle (Chicago, 1931– ), i. 85, 87Google Scholar for a discussion of the evidence for the θɛσμοθ⋯ται and especially for an interpretation of the important passage Arist. de r.p. Ath. 3. 4. On the ɛὔθυνος see Wilamowitz, , Aristoteles und Athen (Berlin, 1893), ii. 235Google Scholar.

page 28 note 5 See, e.g., Lys. 9. 6 ff.; Arist. de r.p. Ath. 48. 4. Cf. Calhoun, G. M. ‘On Oral and Written Daube Evidence in Athenian Courts’ (Transact. Am. Phil. Ass. 1, 1919, 177 ff.Google Scholar).

page 28 note 6 Cf. Dumortier, A., Les Images dans la Poésie d' Éschyle (Paris, 1935), 206Google Scholar; Daube, loc. cit. (see above, n. 1), 168.

page 29 note 1 Phaedr. 274 C ff.

page 29 note 2 At Rep. 6. 487 A Plato insists that the prospective philosophers be ɸ⋯σɛι μν⋯μονɛς. The phrase probably implies a disapproval of contemporary attempts to increase man's normal power of memory by ingenious mnemonic devices which would make memory a τɛϰνικóν instead of a ɸνσικ⋯ν. It is well known that devices of the kind found favour with the rhetoricians (cf. Plato, , Phaedr. 267Google Scholar A on Euenos of Paros).

page 29 note 3 ‘Mnemosyne in Oral Literature', Trans. Am. Philol. Assoc. lxix, 1938, 465–93.

page 29 note 4 Loc. cit. 476. On Caesar's report about the Druids and their distrust of written records (B.G. vi. 2) cf. Pasquali, G., Stud. It. N.S. viii, 1930, 297 ff.Google Scholar, who suggests that the Greek author whom Caesar follows remembered the Phaedrus and thought in terms of this story when he explained the views and habits of the Druids. Mr. Notopulos uses Caesar's report as evidence of a ‘struggle’ comparable to the antagonism between the two forms of μν⋯μη on which he has shed so much new light. I agree with Pasquali that the passage in Caesar reflects Greek thought and should be used with caution.

page 29 note 5 Cf. Suppl. 179 ανλ⋯ξαι τἂμ' ἒπη δɛλτονμ⋯νας; Cho. 450 ⋯κο⋯ων⋯ν ɸρɛαι γρɛσι γρ⋯ɸον.

page 29 note 6 Theaet. 191 C, D. The ‘epistemological imagery‘ of this dialogue may well be compared with the images and ‘metaphors’ which Aischylos and other poets use in describing mental activities.

page 29 note 7 Op. cit. (p. 28, n. 1), 167 f.

page 30 note 1 Two comic verses which Marx quotes are of uncertain date and offer no help towards a solution of our question.

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