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From Ancient Manuscripts to Modern Dictionaries. Select Studies in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek

Gorgias Press, 2017.
Editor-in-chief: T. C. Falla.
Under the general editorship: T. Li, K. Dyer.

A topic of the paper is a syntactic structure, meaning and origin of an ancient Greek proverb about an ass and a lyre. The syntax of the proverb (or, more exact, the proverbial expression) ὄνος λύρας seems to be very simple, but the lack of a verb or preposition makes its meaning vague. What is this proverbial ass doing with the musical instrument? Is he listening? Or playing? Or something else? An answer depends on a syntactic motivation of the genitive case λύρας. It is quite evident, that ancient poets and writers were not unanimous in understanding of this proverbial expression, so it may mean, that the proverbial phrase ὄνος λύρας  was not a result of reduction of a full-fledged proverb, but originally appeared in the Greek language in precisely this form and then, in the course of time, developed a full-fledged proverbial context. This could happen as a result of translation or calquing from another language. The following circumstance served as the basis for this supposition: the image of an ass with a lyre is generally not very characteristic of the classical tradition: in addition to the proverbial phrase of interest to us, it only appears in a fable by Phaedrus. But this image is highly popular in the tradition of the ancient Near East, where asses with strings are present in the iconography of Egypt, Mesopotamia and Syria.

 

 

 

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From Ancient Manuscripts to Modern Dictionaries. Select Studies in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek