Accents -- Euripides and GALHN

Chet Creider creider at
Thu Sep 20 19:57:50 EDT 2001

> At 8:00 PM -0300 9/7/01, Brent Hudson wrote:
> >I am teaching an Introductory Greek class this year for the first time.  My
> >next class is on accents and while I'm not expecting them to master the
> >rules, I do want them to have a little understanding of their importance in
> >some situations.  Before I tell and old tale, I was wondering if the story
> >of the actor Hegelochus mispronouncing GALHN hORW is found in a source
> >somewhere or is it an apocryphal tale kept alive by desparate Greek
> >teachers?
Carl wrote:
> I taught Greek for 40 years and never heard this one; I've referred to
> Heraclitus' BIO/S (bow) and BI/OS (life). Your story sounds like the sort
> of thing that might appear in one of Plutarch's Lives or in Athenaeus'
> Deipnosophistae.

I've taught this story for years ever since a student told me about it,
but also have never known the details.  I asked a colleague in the classics
department at my university with a photographic memory and less than a 
minute later his reply came back (by email).  Here it is (with my questions):

>(1) in which play does the famous EK KUMATWN GAR AUQIS AU GALHN hORW 
>line occur?
>(where the actor pronounced a circumflex instead of an acute and the audience
>not only smelled but heard a rat instead of a calm?)

[added for B-Greek: with an acute, the line means `after the storm, I see
again calm'; with a circumflex, `after the storm, I see again a weasel']

Eur. Orestes 279.  For discussion of the issue of pronunciation, see 
S. G. Daitz, CQ 33 (1983) 294-295.  There is also an excellent Oxford 
commentary on the play by Willink.

A GALH is actually a weasel or ferret.

>(2) in which other plays did Euripides mention this along with the actor's

Euripides nevers mentions it or the actor, but the comic poets had a 
ball with it: Aristophanes, Frogs 303 ff., Sannyrion fr. 8, Strattis 
fr. 63 (the fr. numbers are from Kassel & Austin, Poetae Comici 

>(3) what was the actor's name?

Hegelochus (also mentioned as playing Orestes by Strattis fr. 1). 
His slip made him the best-known actor in antiquity.

[It would appear then that the slip of the tongue in question really
did take place -- Chet Creider]

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