PURA. Purism In Antiquity: Theories Of Language in Greek Atticist Lexica and their Legacy

Lexicographic entries

βρωμᾶσθαι
(Moer. β 21, Poll. 5.88)

A. Main sources

(1) Moer. β 21: βρωμᾶσθαι Ἀττικοί· ὀγκᾶσθαι Ἕλληνες.

Users of Attic [employ] βρωμᾶσθαι (‘to bray’), users of Greek [employ] ὀγκᾶσθαι.


(2) Poll. 5.88: ὄνων δὲ βρώμησις βρωμᾶσθαι βρωμώμενοι· τὸ δ’ αὐτὸ ἐπ’ ἡμιόνων ἐρεῖς. εἴρηται δὲ καὶ τὸ ὀγκώμενοι, καὶ ὀγκηστὰς ἔνιοι τῶν ποιητῶν τοὺς ὄνους ἐκάλεσαν.

Of donkeys [you can say] βρώμησις (‘bray’), βρωμᾶσθαι (‘to bray’), βρωμώμενοι (‘braying’); you will say the same of mules. They also say ὀγκώμενοι (‘braying’), and some among the poets have called the donkeys ὀγκηστές (‘brayers’).


B. Other erudite sources

(1) Eust. in Il. 3.437.9–11 (= Paus.Gr. β 23): τὸ μέντοι βρωμᾶσθαι, ὃ καὶ ἐκτείνεται, φησὶν ὁ αὐτὸς ἐπὶ ἀρσένων ὄνων τίθεσθαι ὅτε λιμώττουσιν, ἵνα ᾖ, φησί, βρωμᾶσθαι τὸ βρώμης, ὅ ἐστι τροφῆς, δεῖσθαι.

Yet, he [i.e. Pausanias] says that βρωμᾶσθαι, which also has a long o, applies to male donkeys when they are hungry so that, he says, βρωμᾶσθαι [means] to be in want of βρώμη (‘food’), that is of nourishment.


(2) [Hdn.] Epim. 9.6–10.4: πᾶσα λέξις ἀπὸ τῆς βρο συλλαβῆς ἀρχομένη διὰ τοῦ ο μικροῦ γράφεται· οἷον· βρόμος, ὁ ἦχος· καὶ Βρόμιος, ὁ Διόνυσος· βρόχος, ἡ ἀγχόνη· βροτὸς, ὁ ἄνθρωπος· βρότειον γένος· βρομᾶσθαι, τὸ ὀγκᾶσθαι· καὶ τὰ λοιπά. πλὴν τοῦ βρῶμα, ἡ τροφή· βρωματίζω, τὸ τρέφω· βρωματισμός· βρωτύς, ἡ βρῶσις, καὶ κλίνεται βρωτύος· βρῶμος, ἡ δυσωδία· καὶ βρωμώμενος λέων, ὁ βρυχώμενος.

Every word beginning with the syllable βρο has to be spelled with ο. For example: βρόμος, the sound, Βρόμιος, [the epithet of] Dionysus, βρόχος, the noose, βροτός, the human being, βρότειον, mortal race, βρομᾶσθαι, to bray, and so on. βρῶμα, food, is an exception, [as well as] βρωματίζω, to nourish· βρωματισμός (‘nourishment’), βρωτύς, the food, which is inflected as [βρωτύς,] βρωτύος, βρῶμος, a foul smell, and βρωμώμενος, [which] is said of the roaring lion.


(3) De vocibus animalium 12 Bancalari: ἐπὶ ὄνων βρωμᾶσθαι, λέγουσι δὲ καὶ ὀγκᾶσθαι ἀλλὰ σπάνιως.

Of donkeys [they say] βρωμᾶσθαι (‘to bray’), they also say ὀγκᾶσθαι, but rarely.


(4) Hsch. β 1281 (= Σ β 111): *βρωμᾶσθαι· ὀγκᾶσθαι (vgASBr).

Cf. Hsch. β 1283.

βρωμᾶσθαι: To bray.


(5) Phot. β 301 (= Su. β 563, ex Σ´´): βρωμᾶσθαι· τὸ ὀγκᾶσθαι πεινῶντα ὄνον. καὶ βρῶμα· ἡ φωνὴ αὕτη.

Cf. schol. Ar. V. 618a.

βρωμᾶσθαι, is the braying of a hungry donkey. And βρῶμα [is] the sound itself.


(6) Thom.Mag. 56.1–3: βρωμᾶται ὄνος, οὐκ ὀγκᾶται. Λιβάνιος ἐν τῇ περὶ τῆς λάλου μελέτῃ· ὄνοι βρωμώμενοι. τὸ δὲ ὀγκᾶται οὐδεὶς τῶν ῥητόρων εἶπε.

[You can say that] the donkey βρωμᾶται (‘brays’), not [that it] ὀγκᾶται. Libanius in [his] declamation on the talkative [wife] (Decl. 26.36.10 = C.4) [says]: ‘ὄνοι βρωμώμενοι’ (‘braying donkeys’), and none of the rhetors has (ever) used ὀγκᾶται.


(7) [Zonar.] 410.9–11 (= Orus fr. B *23): βρωμᾶσθαι· ὀγκᾶσθαι. ἐπὶ ὄνου δὲ λέγουσι τοῦτο. λέγεται καὶ ὀγκᾶσθαι ἐπὶ ὄνου, ἀλλὰ σπάνιον τοῦτο.

βρωμᾶσθαι: To bray. They say it of the donkey. ὀγκᾶσθαι (‘to bray’) too is said of the donkey, but this [is] rare.


(8) Lex.Vind. β 41: βρομᾶσθαι καὶ ὀγκᾶσθαι ἄμφω ἐπὶ ὄνου λέγονται.

βρωμᾶσθαι and ὀγκᾶσθαι (‘to bray’) are both said of the donkey.


C. Loci classici, other relevant texts

(1) Ar. V. 616–8:
κἂν οἶνόν μοι μὴ ’γχῇς σὺ πιεῖν, τὸν ὄνον τόνδ’ εἰσκεκόμισμαι
οἴνου μεστόν, κᾆτ’ ἐγχέομαι κλίνας· οὗτος δὲ κεχηνὼς
βρωμησάμενος τοῦ σοῦ δίνου μέγα καὶ στράτιον κατέπαρδεν.

And if you don’t pour me a drink of wine, I fill this donkey-eared flask with wine on my way home, tip it up, and pour myself a drink. It opens wide and brays a great big soldierly fart at that goblet of yours. (Transl. Henderson 1998, 301).


(2) Arist. HA 578b.32–579a.3: ἐπειδὰν δὲ πλησθῶσιν αἱ θήλειαι, ἐκκρίνονται οἱ ἄρρενες καθ’ ἑαυτούς, καὶ διὰ τὴν ὁρμὴν τὴν τῶν ἀφροδισίων ἕκαστος μονούμενος βόθρους ὀρύττει, καὶ βρωμεῖ ὥσπερ οἱ τράγοι· καὶ τὰ πρόσωπα διὰ τὸ ῥαίνεσθαι μέλανα γίνεται αὐτῶν, ὥσπερ τῶν τράγων.

βρωμεῖ Peck, after Dittmeyer : βρομεῖ (vox nihili) A C : βρωμᾶται A.

After the females [of deer] have become pregnant, the males separate off on their own, and on account of their sexual urge, each one by himself digs out a hole in the ground; they smell rank as he-goats. And owing to their getting spattered, their foreheads become black as do those of goats. (Transl. Peck 1970, 337).


(3) Ael. NA 9.55: ὄνος δὲ οὐ βρωμήσεται, ἐὰν αὐτοῦ τῆς οὐρᾶς λίθον ἀπαρτήσῃς, ὥς φασιν.

And a donkey will not bray if you suspend a stone from its tail, so they say. (Transl. Scholfield 1959, 273).


(4) Lib. Decl. 26.36.8–12: […] ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀγροῖς; ἔνι κἀκεῖ τὰ λυποῦντα, βοὴ βατράχων, οὐκ οἶδ’ ἀνθ’ ὅτου, ὄνοι βρωμώμενοι, βόες μυκώμενοι, αἶγες μηκάζουσαι, πρόβατα βληχώμενα.

(Where shall I pass my time?) […] In the country? Even here there would be annoying sounds: frogs croaking, in response of what I do not know, braying donkeys, bellowing oxen, bleating goats, baaing sheep.


(5) Procop. Arc. 3.10: ἑστηκὼς ἀμέλει διηνεκὲς ἐπὶ ταύτης δὴ τῆς φάτνης ὁ τάλας ἤσθιέ τε καὶ ὕπνον ᾑρεῖτο, καὶ τὰς ἄλλας ἤνυεν ἁπάσας τῆς φύσεως χρείας, ἄλλο τέ οἱ οὐδὲν ἐς τὸ τοῖς ὄνοις εἰκάζεσθαι ὅτι μὴ βρωμᾶσθαι ἐλέλειπτο.

The miserable [man] would always eat and sleep and do his own business continuously standing [bound] to the manger, and there was nothing more [for him to do] to resemble donkeys, if not to bray.


(6) Michael Choniates Epistulae 110.52–5 Kolovou: ἀλλ’ ὅσον εὐγενέστερος ἵππος ὄνου, τοσοῦτον κἀκεῖνος τῶν κρατούντων νῦν, καθότι καὶ γλώττῃ ἐκοσμεῖτο Ἕλληνι καὶ οὐχ ὡς οὗτοι ἀξύνετα ἡμῖν βατταρίζουσιν, οἷα κανθήλιοι ἐννεάμυκλοι ὀγκώμενοι καὶ βρωμώμενοι.

But just as much as the horse is nobler than the donkey, he (i.e. Carystus, Chiron’s son) [was nobler] than those who rule nowadays, inasmuch as he adorned [his speeches] with the Greek language and [he] did not stammer unintelligibly to us as these ones do, like nine-year-old pack-mules braying and braying.


D. General commentary

Three items from Atticist lexica are concerned with the verb βρωμάομαι (‘to bray’), discussing its meaning and usage (A.2), its etymology (Β.1), and its Attic pedigree (A.1), respectively. βρωμάομαι derives from the verb βρέμωβρέμω (‘to roar’), which may be onomatopoeicOnomatopoeia, though its etymology is uncertain (see DELG and EDG s.v. βρέμω). From βρέμω derive two separate series of words: the first consists of terms specifically associated with thunder and characterised by the cluster -ντ- (e.g. βροντή, ‘thunder’, and βροντάω, ‘to thunder’), while the other, characterized by -μ-, is more generally associated with sounds (see βρόμος, ‘any loud sound’ [LSJ s.v.]). βρωμάομαι, which belongs to the latter group, has an /o:/ (like βρώμησις, βρωμητής) and is a technical word that indicates an animal sound, typically applied to donkeys (and, more tenuously, to deer: see below). The presence of /o:/ is likely one of the reasons that accounts for the grammarians’ interest in this word as well as the confusion that it produced, encouraged by βρωμάομαι’s similarity to forms of βρωμέω (‘to smell’, ‘to stink’, whose etymology is disputed and does not appear to be related to βρωμάομαι, see DELG, EDG s.v. βρωμέω) and derivatives of βιβρώσκωβιβρώσκω (‘to devour’, ‘to eat’) with a long vowel, such as βρῶσις (‘eating’) and βρῶμα (‘food’; on these forms see DELG, EDG s.v. βιβρώσκω).

The Ἐπιμερισμοί erroneously attributed to Herodian (B.2, see Dickey 2014, 329) state that words beginning with βρο- invariably have a short vowel in their first syllable and posit the existence of two different verbs: βρομάομαι (from βρόμος and with a short vowel), which would be synonymous with ὀγκάομαι (‘to bray’), and βρωμάομαι (with the long vowel, being an exception to the rule), associated with βρῶμα (‘food’). The doctrine of the Ἐπιμερισμοί (B.2) appears to be incoherent: it matches βρωμάομαι (from βρῶμα, ‘food’) with the lion’s roar and regards it as a synonym of βρυχάομαι, while the grammarians were more concerned with disambiguating these forms (cf. [Ammon.] 507.5–6[Ammon.] 507.5–6: βρωμᾶσθαι ἐπὶ ὄνων, βρυχᾶσθαι δ’ ἐπὶ λεόντων, ‘βρωμᾶσθαι, to bray, [is said] of donkeys, while βρυχᾶσθαι, to roar, [is said] of lions’). Nevertheless, the connection of βρωμάομαι with the food sphere is paralleled by the doctrine that Eustathius ascribes to the Atticist Pausanias (Β.1), according to whom βρωμάομαι would have a long vowel owing to its derivation from βρώμη (‘food’). The association between βρωμάομαι and food is reinforced by the item in Photius, repeated in the Suda (B.4), which ascribes the word to hungry donkeys; meanwhile, the definition of βρῶμα as ‘bray’ (rather than ‘food’) is unparalleled.

βρωμάομαι aroused the Atticists’ interest by virtue of its Attic pedigree in relation to the synonymous ὀγκάομαι (on which see DELG and DGE s.v.). Pollux (A.2), who attests to the use of ὀγκάομαι in poetry, and the Lexicon Vindobonense (B.8) simply present the two as acceptable synonyms of one another (although Pollux affords greater attention to βρωμάομαι and its related forms). Adopting a stricter policy, Moeris (A.1) selects βρωμάομαι as correct Attic and proscribes ὀγκάομαι, followed by Thomas Magister (B.6). The lexicon De vocibus animalium (B.3) and the so-called Zonaras’ lexicon (B.7, whose item has been dubiously included among Orus’ fragments), in classifying ὀγκάομαι as a rarer form, likely mirror this doctrine. The proscription of ὀγκάομαι as a rare form initially appears to be unfounded, given that it occurs roughly twice as frequently as βρωμάομαι and its associates, but when it comes down to canon, it finds its justification: ὀγκάομαι is not attested before the 4th century BCE with the exception of its occurrence in a fragment by the comic poet Theopompus (fr. 5), in which its occurrence is dubious and is now typically excluded in favour of its derivative ὀγκάς (‘brayer’) (see Farmer 2022, 42–3). βρωμάομαι, however, is attested in Aristophanes’ Wasps (C.1). This occurrence may have had an impact on the devaluation of ὀγκάομαι: while Aristophanes occupies a robust position in the canon selected by Atticist lexicographers, Theopompus’ status is precarious, as is often the case for later representatives of Old Comedy. This is even more true for Moeris (A.1), who narrows his canon to a few major authors of Old Comedy and indisputably favours Aristophanes (on the Atticist lexicographers’ approach to Old Comedy, see Tribulato, forthcoming). The only other classical occurrence of βρωμάομαι – in Aristotle (C.2) – instead is dubious: while the vulgate βρωμᾶται – ‘bellows’ – referred to the calls of deer in heat, the manuscript tradition oscillates between βρωμᾶται (βρωμάομαι) and βρωμεῖ (βρωμέω, ‘to smell rank’). βρωμάομαι was later revived in the 2nd century CE and was subsequently employed mainly by grammarians and lexicographers, with the exception of Aelian’s NA (C.3). The verb ὀγκάομαι, by contrast, circulated widely and is likely to have been easily understood, as suggested by its frequent employment as an interpretamentum.

In stating that ὀγκάομαι occurs rarely, therefore, erudite sources are likely to refer not to its usage but to its literary pedigree. Stricter Atticists favoured βρωμάομαι over ὀγκάομαι because it was recognised as peculiar to the Attic dialect and thus as a clear marker of Atticism. Thomas Magister’s statement (B.6), which enriches the canon relying on Libanius, should be interpreted accordingly: in asserting that ‘none of the rhetors has used it’, he is implying that ὀγκάομαι is not considered to be sufficiently Attic and that it is not admissible within a strict canon.

E. Byzantine and Modern Greek commentary

In the Byzantine era, βρωμάομαι (‘to bray’) occurs outside lexicographical sources only a few times. Procopius of Caesarea (6th century) employs it in describing the detention of a senator almost reduced to an animal (C.5), and Michael Choniates (12th century) uses it in the frame of a complex metaphor comparing the Greeks with the Latin invaders (C.6). Here, the donkey’s braying is cited as exemplifying the Latin’s roughness and ignorance, whereas the horse – the nobler animal – denotes Carystus, son of the centaur Chiron and eponymous hero of the city and thus the Greeks as legitimate inhabitants of these territories (the reference to Carystus is due to the fact that the epistle is addressed to George Bardanes, son of Demetrius Bardanes, bishop of Carystus). It is not implausible that Choniates, in using both verbs in succession to emphasise the donkey’s braying, consciously invokes the lexicographic tradition in which the two are associated. After all, his disciple George Bardanes may have been an interlocutor who was responsive to such allusions.

After the 12th century, βρωμάομαι no longer appears to be attested outside grammatical and lexical works. In the later Byzantine period, at least, it seems to have been rare in everyday language and rather confined to erudite discussions. Several forms connected to βρωμάομαι in the TLG are actually forms of the verb βρωμέω (‘to smell’, ‘to stink’), which is used continuously in Medieval Greek and survives in Modern Greek as βρωμώ (see ILNE, s.v. βρωμώ, βρῶμα ‘smell’, βρωμερός ‘smelling’): see, among others, occurrences of βρωμώ in pseudo-Methodius’ Apocalypsis (13.4 Lolos; 7th century) and in the Chronicon Toccorum (9.11, l. 2447 Schirò, 14th century). The confusion between forms of βρωμάομαι and βρωμέω was not rare; it is also evident in the oscillation between βρωμεῖ and βρωμᾶται in Aristotle’s tradition (C.2, see D.). Another lexical family with the stem βρωμ- (from βρῶμα ‘food’) survives in Modern Greek in relation to food and nutrition (see ILNE, s.v. βρωματίζω, ‘to nourish an infant’, βρωμάτισμα ‘the nourishing of an infant’); these forms appear to be characteristic of the area of Karpathos (Dodecanese).

ὀγκάομαι, by contrast, survives in Modern Greek, with the suffix -ίζω, as oγκανίζω (high-register and dialectal) and γκαρίζω (‘to bray’, Standard Modern Greek), see ILNE, s.v. γκαρίζω. See also γκάρισμα (‘bray’, rarely γκαρισιά, see ILNE, s.v.); for the noun ‘bray’, the already-ancient ὀγκηθμός occurs only in very high-register katharevousa.

F. Commentary on individual texts and occurrences

(1)    Michael Choniates Epistulae 110.52–5 (C.6)

The hendiadys ὀγκώμενοι καὶ βρωμώμενοι (‘braying and braying’) resting on the synonymic association of the two verbs in lexica, is not the only allusion to the erudite tradition in this passage. The immediately preceding κανθήλιοι ἐννεάμυκλοι (‘nine-year-old pack-mules’) is in fact a reference to a fragment that lexica and scholia attribute to Callimachus (fr. 650 PfeifferCall. fr. 650 Pfeiffer: see EM 594.20–5; cf. Hsch. ε 3188; schol. Lyc. 771b). The expression is instead attributed to Antimachus (fr. 154) by [Hdn.] Philet. 30.

Bibliography

Dickey, E. (2014). ‘A Catalogue of Works Attributed to the Grammarian Herodian’. CPh 109, 325–45.

Farmer, M. C. (2022). Theopompos. Introduction, Translation, Commentary. Göttingen.

Henderson, J. (1998). Aristophanes. Vol. 2: Clouds. Wasps. Peace. Edited and translated by Jeffrey Henderson. Cambridge, MA.

Peck, A. L. (1970). Aristotle. Vol. 10.2: History of Animals. Books 4–6. Translated by A. L. Peck. Cambridge, MA.

Schirò, G. (1975). Cronaca dei Tocco di Cefalonia di Anonimo. Prolegomeni, testo critico e traduzione. Rome.

Scholfield, A. F. (1959). Aelian. On Animals. Vol. 2: Books 6–11. Translated by A. F. Scholfield. Cambridge, MA.

CITE THIS

Giulia Gerbi, 'βρωμᾶσθαι (Moer. β 21, Poll. 5.88)', in Olga Tribulato (ed.), Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism. With the assistance of E. N. Merisio.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.30687/DEA/2974-8240/2022/01/010

ABSTRACT
This article provides a philological and linguistic commentary on the verb βρωμᾶσθαι, discussed in the Atticist lexica Moer. β 21, Poll. 5.88.
KEYWORDS

Animal soundsSemanticsVowel lengthβρῶμαβρωμέωὀγκάομαι

FIRST PUBLISHED ON

29/06/2023

LAST UPDATE

16/04/2024