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Title: Between Theory and Practice. Etymologizing Proper Names in Plato’s Cratylus and Athenian tragedy
Authors: Paschalis, Michael
Keywords: PlatoAeschylusSophoclesEuripidesOresteetymology
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Michael Paschalis, "Between Theory and Practice. Etymologizing Proper Names in Plato’s Cratylus and Athenian tragedy", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2021, pp. 111-134.
Journal: Incontri di filologia classica 
The present study compares the explicit etymology of the name Ὀρέστης in Plato’s Cratylus and its implicit etymology in 5th century Athenian tragedy. In Cratylus the etymology in question is included in the group of Pelopid names; the name is associated with ὄρος (‘mountain’) and would have been given to Ὀρέστης by chance or some poet in order to indicate the ‘wildness’ of his nature (τὸ θηριῶδες τῆς φύσεως καὶ τὸ ἄγριον αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸ ὀρεινὸν). Differently from Plato, who probably based his etymology of Ὀρέστης on the ‘savagery’ he displayed in the murder of his mother, in the three matricide tragedies (Aeschylus’ Choephori, Sophocles’ Electra and Euripides’ Electra) the etymological focus is placed on the event of recognition: Ὀρέστης is the person ‘seen’ again (ὁρᾶν) and ‘recognized’ by Electra and other characters. By contrast in Euripides’ Orestes we encounter all the ingredients of the platonic etymology: Tyndareus compares Orestes to a snake, calls lawless revenge ‘bestiality’ (τὸ θηριῶδες), and condemns the ‘wild rage’ (ἠγρίωσ’) which drove him to matricide; the Phrygian slave compares Orestes and Pylades, armed and threatening Helen with death, to ‘wild mountain boars’ (ὡς κάπροι δ’ ὀρέστεροι); and later Menelaus refers to them as ‘twin lions’.
Type: Article
ISSN: 2464-8752
eISSN: 2464-8760
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internazionale
Appears in Collections:19. Incontri di filologia classica (2019-2020)

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