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Two proverbs or a double proverb?

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Two proverbs or a double proverb?

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:07 pm

This post is me wondering about the LSJ entry for ἀμέλγω:
ἀμέλγω [α^], fut.
A.“-ξω” Theoc.23.25, milk, with acc. of animals milked, “μῆλα . . ὅσσ᾽ ἤμελγε” Od.9.238; ἤμελγεν ὄϊς καὶ μηκάδας αῖγας ib. 244; “βόας” Theoc.4.3: metaph., ἀμέλγεις τοὺς ξένους you drain them of all they have, Ar.Eq.326: prov., ἀ. τὸν τράγον, of wasted labour, Plb.33.21.1, Luc.Demon.28:—Med., “ἀ. χροὸς αἷμα” Nic.Al.506: metaph., “ἐκ Σαπφοῦς τόδ᾽ ἀμελγόμενος μέλι τοι φέρω” Lyr.Adesp. 62.
etc.

As presented in LSJ, ἀμέλγειν τὸν τράγον, is a proverb. In the two references, however, it is used in coordination with ὁ τὸ κόσκινον ὑπέχων and (perhaps playing on the polysemy of ὑπόθεσις / ὑποτιθέναι to make a reference to the dialogue) the variant.

Polybius, Histories, 33.21.1 wrote:ἀλλὰ γὰρ ὀκνῶ μή ποτ᾽ εἰς τὸ περιφερόμενον ἐμπεσὼν λάθω, πότερον ὁ τὸν τράγον ἀμέλγων ἀφρονέστερος ἢ ὁ τὸ κόσκινον ὑπέχων: δοκῶ γὰρ δὴ κἀγὼ πρὸς ὁμολογουμένην ψευδολογίαν ἀκριβολογούμενος καὶ τὸν ἐπιμετροῦντα λόγον εἰσφέρων παραπλήσιόν τι ποιεῖν.
Translation
But I fear that the well-known adage may apply to me unknown to myself: "Which is the greater simpleton, the man who milks a he-goat or he who holds a sieve to catch the milk?" For it may be said of me that by confuting in detail what is confessed to be a lie, and doing so at great length, I am behaving in a very similar manner.

Lucian, Demonax, 28 wrote:ἰδὼν δέ ποτε δύο τινὰς φιλοσόφους κομιδῇ ἀπαιδεύτως ἐν ζητήσει ἐρίζοντας καὶ τὸν μὲν ἄτοπα ἐρωτῶντα, τὸν δὲ οὐδὲν πρὸς λόγον ἀποκρινόμενον, Οὐ δοκεῖ ὑμῖν, ἔφη, ὦ φίλοι, ὁ μὲν ἕτερος τούτων τράγον ἀμέλγειν, ὁ δὲ αὐτῷ κόσκινον ὑποτιθέναι;
Translation
He once saw two philosophers engaged in a very unedifying game of cross questions and crooked answers. 'Gentlemen,' said he, 'here is one man milking a billy-goat, and another catching the proceeds in a sieve.'

Polybius says it is part of a single phrase that is going around (well-known), and Lucian shows how it can be used, when divided into two parts.

Are there examples of ἀμέλγειν τὸν τράγον besides these two, where it is used on its own?
"I've a balm for bruised hearts, brother, sleep for aching eyes,"
Says the warm wind, the west wind, full of birds' cries.
(John Masefield)
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Re: Two proverbs or a double proverb?

Postby mwh » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:02 pm

Seems to me the Lucian implies the Polybian “Which is sillier?” question, so you’d expect the two examples of αφροσυνη to be conjoined. I don’t know if Lucian read Polybius. It’s conceivable, but in view of Polyb’s το περιφερόμενον this is no evidence that he did.
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