(Phryn. PS 43.5–8)
A. Main sources
(1) Phryn. PS 43.5–8: ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα· μεγάλα, ἃ φέροι ἂν ἅμαξα, οὐκ ἄνθρωπος ἢ ὑποζύγιον. καὶ ὁ ποιητής ‘οὐδ’ ἂν νηῦς ἑκατόζυγος ἄχθος ἄροιτο’. οὐκ ἔστι ταῦτα πολιτικά, τῷ μέντοι ποιητῇ δίδοται λέγειν.
ῥήματα Reitzenstein ad Phot. α 1118 (B.1), de Borries : χρήματα cod.
ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα: Big [words], [of the kind] that a cart would carry, but not a man or a beast. And the poet ‘[many reproaches of which] not even a ship with a hundred benches would bear the load’ (Hom. Il. 20.247). These [expressions] are not urbane, though the poet is allowed to use [them].
B. Other erudite sources
(1) Phot. α 1118: ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα· μεγάλα, ἃ φέρει ἅμαξα, οὐκ ἄνθρωπος ἢ ὑποζύγιον. Πολύζηλος ἐν Διονύσου γοναῖς· ‘ῥήμαθ’ ἁμαξιαῖα’. ὁ δὲ Κάνθαρος ἐν Τηρεῖ ‘ἁμαξιαῖα κομπάσματα’ εἴρηκεν. σὺ δὲ οὐ χρήσῃ τῇ τοιαύτῃ φράσει· κωμικὰ γάρ, ἀλλ’ οὐ πολιτικὰ τὰ τοιαῦτα.
The part from Πολύζηλος until the end is transmitted only by codd. b, Sz.
ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα: Big [words], [of the kind] which a cart carries, but not a man or a beast. Polyzelus in The birth of Dionysus (fr. 7 = C.1): ‘words big enough to load a cart’. And Cantharus in Tereus (fr. 8 = C.2) said ‘boasts big enough to load a cart’. However, do not use this expression: for such [expressions] are comic, but not urbane.
(2) Diogenian. 3.41: ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα· μεγάλα κομπάσματα.
ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα: Big boasts.
(3) Greg.Cypr. 1.75 (= Apostol. 2.76): ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα· ἐπὶ τῶν μεγάλων λόγων.
ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα: [It is said] of big words.
C. Loci classici, other relevant texts
(1) Polyzel. fr. 7 = Phot. α 1118 re. ῥήμαθ’ ἁμαξιαῖα (B.1).
(2) Canthar. fr. 8 = Phot. α 1118 re. ἁμαξιαῖα κομπάσματα (B.1).
D. General commentary
Phrynichus (A.1) focuses on the metaphorical expression ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα – ‘big words’, so large that one would need a cart to carry them. The same expression is also the focus of entries in Photius (B.1) and the paroemiographical tradition (B.2, B.3). As in other languages, metaphors for ‘big talk’ are common in Greek. Similar expressions that combine ‘word’ with an adjective indicating size include ῥῆμα μυριάμφορον (‘a word holding 10,000 measures’; Ar. Pax 521) and τῶν τριχοινίκων ἐπῶν (‘words measuring three choinikes’; Ar. V. 481). The epitome of the PS does not preserve a locus classicus for ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα. The adjective ἁμαξιαῖος itself does not occur elsewhere in symbolic usage but is only attested in its literal sense (almost always for stones, once for fish). The quotation from Homer (Il. 20.247)Hom. Il. 20.247 merely illustrates the image behind the metaphor by evoking the scene at Il. 20.244–58, in which Aeneas urges Achilles not to waste time talking before their duel lest they both utter many unpleasant things to one another, so many that even a ship with a hundred oars could not carry them. Phrynichus’ final statement suggests that such hyperbolicHyperboles expressions are permissible in poetry (τῷ μέντοι ποιητῇ δίδοται λέγειν) but should be avoided in everyday urbane speech. The entry thus belongs to a small group in which Phrynichus instructs the reader on the appropriate registerRegister to use in elegant prose, oratory, and conversation that does not indulge in rare vocabulary or slip into vulgar language (on πολιτικός as a stylistic term in the PS and in Greek rhetoric, see entry ἄψοφον ἔχειν στόμα; for πολιτικός in opposition to poetry, see entries ἄπαρνος, ἔξαρνος, and αὐθέντης; cf. also entries αἰκάλλοντες and κατακορὴς οἴνῳ).
The parallel item in Photius (B.1) includes further information that can assist in unravelling Phrynichus’ theorisation. First, Photius preserves the loci classici behind ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα and ἁμαξιαῖα κομπάσματα, both of which are quotations from comic authors: Polyzelus (fr. 7 = C.1, on which see Orth 2015, 340–1) and Cantharus (fr. 8 = C.2, on which see Bagordo 2014, 241–2). It is thus likely that the original lemma in the PS also discussed ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα (and probably also ἁμαξιαῖα κομπάσματακόμπασμα) with reference to comic loci classici, given comedy’s pre-eminence in the lexicon (see Tribulato 2022 and Tribulato forthcoming). The epitomeEpitome of cod. Par. Coisl. 345Par. Coisl. 345 appears to have disposed of the comic quotations, while two out of three testimonia of Photius’ lexicon (cod. Berol. gr. oct. 22Berol. gr. oct. 22 and the Supplementum Zavordense) preserve them (cod. Zavordensis 95Zavordensis 95 itself only has the beginning up to ὑποζύγιον). However, while Photius agrees with Phrynichus in judging these expressions unfit for an urbane register, he adduces the different motivation that they are κωμικά, while Phrynichus – quoting Homer – implies that they are poetic (for the relationship between πολιτικός and ποιητικόςποιητικός, which are usually contrasted, see Ecl. 42Phryn. Ecl. 42, Ecl. 294Phryn. Ecl. 294, Ecl. 32Phryn. Ecl. 32, and PS 24.5–9Phryn. PS 24.5–9, on which see entry αὐθέντης).
One might reconcile Phrynichus’ and Photius’ different appraisals by supposing that Photius rephrased Phrynichus’ judgement as a proscription of comic language. However, this supposed scenario is not particularly convincing. Another possibility is that Photius’ κωμικά provides the missing context for Phrynichus’ criticism: Polyzelus and Cantharus used poetic vocabulary in a comic fashion. Both Andreas Bagordo and Christian Orth have advanced the hypothesis that these two comic fragments may have been paratragicParody (see Orth 2015, 341, who evokes Aeschylus’ ῥήματ’ […] βόεια in Ar. Ra. 924, and Bagordo 2014, 242, who discusses the Aeschylean use of κομπάσματα). More precisely, however, the paratragic flavour of ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα and ἁμαξιαῖα κομπάσματα lies not in their being poetic vocabulary but rather in their mockery of the ‘heavy’ language that ancient criticism associated with tragedy. The metaliterary reflection of Aristophanes’ Frogs is central to this perception. Aeschylus was often accused of using ‘big words’ (see Ar. Ra. 795–802, 922–5, 928–30), and, together with the ῥήματ’ […] βόεια ‘bullish words’, Euripides reproaches Aeschylus for his ῥήμαθ’ ἱππόκρημνα – ‘tremendously steep words’ (Ra. 929) – and an art that is οἰδοῦσαν ὑπὸ κομπάσματων καὶ ῥημάτων ἐπαχθῶν ‘swollen from boasts and heavy words’ (Ra. 940). Dover (1993, 29) considers the metaphor of the ‘weight of a verse or phrase’ to be a comic novelty that may have its roots in serious poetry. Following this interpretation, Phrynichus’ perception that ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα was typical of poetry would thus not be based on the Homeric image that he quotes but on the kind of metaphorical, hyperbolic expressions that are typical of serious poetry and that are lampooned by comedy. The two parallel entries in the PS (A.1) and Photius’ lexicon (B.1) confirm that the extant PS contains heavily abbreviated versions of longer passages, suggesting that Phrynichus’ stylistic discussions incorporated more quotations and exhibited better cohesion than might be apparent from the state of the surviving entry on ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα.
E. Byzantine and Modern Greek commentary
Aside from the scholarly collections commenting on it, the expression ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα is not used elsewhere in Byzantine texts. The adjective ἁμαξιαῖος occurs almost uniquely in collocation with λίθος (e.g. Procop. Aed. 2.7.94, Nicephorus Basilaces Or. 1.875). While Modern Greek αμάξι continues the ancient word ἅμαξα, the adjective ἁμαξιαῖος does not survive.
F. Commentary on individual texts and occurrences
Bagordo, A. (2014). Alkimenes – Kantharos. Einleitung, Übersetzung, Kommentar. Freiburg.
Dover, K. (1993). Aristophanes. Frogs. Edited with Introduction and Commentary. Oxford.
Orth, C. (2015). Nicochares – Xenophon. Einleitung, Übersetzung, Kommentar. Heidelberg.
Tribulato, O. (2022). ‘Photius, ἀναλφάβητος and Atticist lexica’. CQ 2022.
Tribulato, O. (forthcoming). ‘“Aristophanes With his chorus”. Citations and Uses of Comedy in the Lexica of Phrynichus Atticista’. Favi, F.; Mastellari, V. (eds.), Lampada tradere. Berlin, Boston.
Olga Tribulato, 'ἁμαξιαῖα ῥήματα (Phryn. PS 43.5–8)', in Olga Tribulato (ed.), Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism.
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