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

Lexicographic entries

(Phryn. Ecl. 210, Moer. π 56, Poll. 2.17, Poll. 3.76)

A. Main sources

(1) Phryn. Ecl. 210: παιδίσκη· οἱ νῦν ἐπὶ τῆς θεραπαίνης τοῦτο τιθέασιν, οἱ δ’ ἀρχαῖοι ἐπὶ τῆς νεάνιδος, οἷς ἀκολουθητέον.

παιδίσκη (‘young girl’): Contemporary [speakers] use this [noun] for a handmaid, but the ancient [authors used it] for a girl. One must follow the latter.

(2) Moer. π 56: παιδίσκην καὶ τὴν ἐλευθέραν καὶ τὴν δούλην Ἀττικοί· τὴν δούλην μόνον Ἕλληνες.

Users of Attic [call] παιδίσκη both a free girl and a female slave. Users of Greek only a female slave.

(3) Poll. 2.17: ἐπὶ δὲ τῶν θηλειῶν τὰ μὲν πρῶτα ταὐτὰ μέχρι τοῦ παιδάριον – καὶ γὰρ τοῦτο κοινὸν ἀμφοῖν, θηλειῶν τε καὶ ἀρρένων – τὰ δ’ ἐφεξῆς παιδίσκη, κόριον παρὰ Εὐπόλιδι ἐν Αἰξίν, κόρη, κορίσκη, κορίσκιον.

Regarding the feminine [nouns], the first nouns in the list are the same [as the masculine ones] until παιδάριον (‘child’, cf. Poll. 2.8–9) – indeed, this [noun is] also common to the masculine and feminine [gender] –, while the following ones are παιδίσκη (‘little girl’), κόριον (‘little girl’) from Eupolis in Goats (fr. 30), κόρη (‘girl’), κορίσκη (‘little girl’), κορίσκιον (‘little girl’).

(4) Poll. 3.76: παιδίσκην δὲ τὴν θεραπαινίδα Λυσίας ὠνόμασεν, εἰ μὴ ἀμφίβολόν ἐστι, πότερον ἡλικίας τοὔνομα ἢ τύχης· λέγει γὰρ ἐν τῷ κατὰ Καλλίου ὕβρεως ‘ἐξελθοῦσα αὐτοῦ ἡ παιδίσκη τὴν θύραν ἀνοίγνυσιν’.

Lysias (cf. e.g. 1.12, 13.67) called παιδίσκη the handmaid, unless it is doubtful whether [it is] a noun referring to age or to social status. For he says in the [speech] Against Callias’ Impiety (fr. 188 Carey = C.1): ‘His handmaid comes and opens the door’.

B. Other erudite sources

(1) [Hdn.] Philet. 282: παιδίσκη ἐπὶ τῆς ἐλευθέρας· λέγουσι δὲ οὕτω τὴν νέαν.

παιδίσκη [is used] for a free woman. [Attic authors] used it for a young [girl].

(2) [Ammon.] 378 (~ [Ptol.Ascal.] Diff. 403.15–6 Heylbut): παιδίσκη καὶ θεράπαινα διαφέρει. παιδίσκη μὲν γάρ ἐστι πᾶσα ἡ τὴν παιδικὴν ἔχουσα ἡλικίαν, ὡς καὶ παιδίσκος· θεράπαινα δὲ ἡ δούλη.

παιδίσκη is different from θεράπαινα (‘handmaid’). Indeed, παιδίσκη is any woman who is young, as also παιδίσκος (‘young boy’) [is used], θεράπαινα is instead a female slave.

(3) [Ammon.] 380 (~ Herenn.Phil. π 152): παιδίσκη καὶ παῖς διαφέρει. παιδίσκη μὲν γὰρ ἡ ἐλευθέρα παρ’ Ἀττικοῖς, παῖς δὲ ἡ δούλη. Μένανδρος ἐν Δακτυλίῳ ἐπὶ τοῦ Δαναοῦ· ‘τίς οὑτοσὶ κακοδαίμων ἔφυ, | ὃς οὐκ ἂν ἐκδοίη θυγατέρ†ας μένος† | καὶ ταῦτα πεντήκοντα παιδίσκας ἔχων;’.

ἐπὶ τοῦ Δαναοῦ· τίς Cobet (1858, 42) : ἐπὶ τοῦ δάου· τίς codd. Mπ : ἐπὶ τοῦδ’ ἄν τις Ald. : ἐπὶ τοῦδ’ ἂν cod. B : ἐπὶ τοῦ δάντις cod. C : ἐπὶ τοῦδ’ αὔτις cod. G : πρὸς τοῦδ’ αὔτις cod. F : the words are omitted by Sym. synag. : ἐπὶ τοῦ Δαναοῦ· οὔ τις Mette : ἐπὶ τοῦ †δάου† Nickau | Regarding the text of the fragment, see apparatus in C.2 | Herenn.Phil. does not have the section from Μένανδρος until the end of the lemma.

παιδίσκη is different from παῖς. Indeed, in Attic [authors] παιδίσκη [denotes] a free [girl], while παῖς [denotes] instead a female slave. Menander (fr. 97 = C.2) in The Ring [says] about Danaus: ‘Who would be so wretched as not to be happy to give his daughters in marriage, though he had fifty young girls?’.

(4) Su. π 862: παιδίσκη· ἡ θεράπαινα.

Erbse supplied in Ael.Dion. π 3 παιδίσκην· <νεανίδα Ἀττικοί>, θεράπαιναν <Ἴωνες>, comparing Phryn. Ecl. 210 (A.1).

παιδίσκη: [It means] handmaid.

(5) Et.Gud. 447.34–6: παιδίσκη, καὶ παῖς, παρὰ Ἀττικοῖς θεράπαινα· διαφέρει δὲ, παιδίσκη μὲν γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ἐλευθερὰ, παῖς δὲ ἡ δούλη.

παιδίσκη and παῖς [denote] a handmaid in Attic [authors], but they are different, for παιδίσκη is the free girl, παῖς [is] instead the female slave.

(6) Et.Gud. 447.37–8 (= Choerob. Epim. in Ps. 179.30–1): παιδίσκης, δούλης, παρὰ τὸ παῖς παιδός· τοῦτο παρὰ τὸ πάϊς.

παιδίσκης (gen. sing.) [means] female slave, [it derives] from παῖς παιδός (‘servant’). This [derives] from πάϊς.

(7) Et.Gud. 447.39–40: παῖς, ὁ ἐπιτήδειος εἰς τὸ παίεσθαι· καὶ παιδίσκη ἀπὸ τούτου, ἡ τὴν αὐτὴν ἡλικίαν ἔχουσα.

παῖς (‘servant’), [someone who] is suitable for being beaten (παίεσθαι). And παιδίσκη [derives] from this, a [female servant] of the same age.

(8) Eust. in Od. 1.250.8–11 (= 2.230.8–13 Cullhed–Olson): αἱ δὲ ἀμφίπολοι σεμνὴ λέξις ἤπερ τὸ δμωαὶ καὶ δμωΐδες καὶ δουλίδες καὶ δοῦλαι· διὸ καὶ Ὀδυσσεὺς θαρρεῖ εἰπεῖν ‘ἀμφίπολοι, στῆθ’ οὕτως ἀπόπροθεν’. σεμνὸν δὲ οὐδὲν ἧττον καὶ τὸ παῖς καὶ παιδίσκη ἀντὶ τοῦ δοῦλος καὶ δούλη· αἴτιον δὲ ὅτι οὔτε τὸ τοῦ παιδὸς ὄνομα ἐξ ἀνάγκης δοῦλον σημαίνει οὔτε τὸ τῆς ἀμφιπόλου, ὡς πολλαχοῦ δηλοῦται.

ἀμφίπολοι (‘attendant-women’) is a (more) elevated term in comparison with δμωαί or δμωΐδες or δουλίδες or δοῦλαι (‘slave-women’), which is why Odysseus as well boldly says: ‘O handmaids (ἀμφίπολοι), stand there at distance!’. παῖς (‘boy’) or παιδίσκη (‘girl’) in place of δοῦλος (‘slave’; masc.) or δούλη (‘slave’; fem.) are no less elevated. The cause of this is that neither the word παῖς nor the word ἀμφίπολος necessarily refers to a slave, as is clear at many points. (Transl. Cullhed–Olson 2023, slightly modified).

(9) Eust. in Od. 1.361.1–4: τοῦ γὰρ ἐγὼ παῖς εἰμὶ, πατὴρ δ’ ἐμὸς εὔχεται εἶναι. οὐκ ἠρκέσθη δὲ παῖς εἰπὼν, ἀλλ’ ἐπήγαγε καὶ τὸ, πατὴρ δ’ ἐμός ἐστι, διὰ τὴν ὁμωνυμίαν τοῦ παῖς. οὐ μόνον γὰρ δουλική ποτε λέξις ἐστὶν ὡς καὶ αἱ παιδίσκαι δηλοῦσιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸν ἁπλῶς νέον δηλοῖ, καὶ τὸν θέσει δὲ υἱόν.

‘For I am his son, he claims to be my father’. It was not enough that he said he was his son, but he also added ‘he is my father’, due to the homonymy of the [noun] παῖς. Because it is not merely servile term, as the [noun] παιδίσκαι also shows, but it also denotes one who is simply young and, conventionally, ‘son’.

(10) Thom.Mag. 279.1–6: παιδίσκην καὶ τὴν ἐλευθέραν καὶ τὴν δούλην Ἀττικοί. ὡσαύτως καὶ παιδισκάριον. Λιβάνιος ἐν τῇ περὶ τῆς λάλου μελέτῃ· τίς ἄνευ παιδισκαρίων; ἐπὶ μόνης δὲ τῆς δούλης οἱ ἁπλῶς Ἕλληνες χρῶνται τῇ παιδίσκῃ. ὡσαύτως παιδάριον καὶ τὸ θυγάτριον Ἀττικοί· μόνον δὲ τὸ ἄρρεν Ἕλληνες.

Users of Attic [employ] παιδίσκη both for a free woman and for a female slave. [They used] παιδισκάριον the same way. In the declamation about the tattler woman (Decl. 26.1.19) Libanius [says]: ‘Who [came] without servants?’. Users of Greek generally use παιδίσκη only for the female slave. Users of Attic [employ] παιδάριον and θυγάτριον the same way, while users of Greek [employ παιδάριον] only for men.

(11) Lex.Vat. 6, nr. 18 (~ Lex.Vind. π 57): παιδίσκη· ἐπὶ τῆς νέας. ‘ἄγαμοι τε κόραι καὶ παιδίσκαι’. Καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς δούλης Λυσίας: ‘ἐξελθοῦσα αὐτοῦ ἡ παιδίσκη τὴν θύραν ἀνοίγνυσι’.

παιδίσκη: [It means] young girl. ‘Unmarried women and young girls’ (com. adesp. fr. 453 = C.4). And Lysias (fr. 188 Carey = C.1) [used it] for a female slave: ‘His handmaid comes and opens the door’.

C. Loci classici, other relevant texts

(1) Lys. fr. 188 Carey: ἐξελθοῦσα αὐτοῦ ἡ παιδίσκη τὴν θύραν ἀνοίγνυσιν (cf. A.4, B.11).

His handmaid comes and opens the door.

(2) Men. fr. 97:
τίς οὑτοσὶ †κακοδαίμων ἔφυ†
ὃς οὐκ ἂν ἐκδοίη θυγατέρας ἄσμενος
καὶ ταῦτα πεντήκοντα παιδίσκας ἔχων; (cf. Β.3)

τίς οὑτοσὶ †κακοδαίμων ἔφυ† Kassel and Austin : Nickau (cf. B.3) printed τίς οὑτοσὶ κακοδαίμων ἔφυ : Cobet (1858, 43) suggested τίς γάρ ποθ’ οὕτω τι κακοδ. ἦν, ἔφη or τίς γάρ ποθ’ οὕτως ἐστὶ κακοδ. ἔφη (Blaydes [1890, 140] suggested φύσει) : Headlam (1895, 281) corrected into τίς γὰρ <βροτῶν> οὕτω τι κακοδ. ἔφυ | θυγατέρας ἄσμενος Bentley (cf. Meineke 1823, 455) : Nickau (cf. B.3) printed θυγατέρ†ας μένος† : codd. and Sym. synag. read θυγατέρας μένος : θυγατέρ’ ἄσμενος is added by a second hand in the margin of cod. P : Scaliger (cf. Valckenaer 1739, 110, n. 42) corrected into γε θυγατέρ’ ἄσμενος (or ἀσμένως) : de Pauw (1711, 22) did not approve θυγατέρ’ ἂν ἀσμένως.

Who would be so wretched as not to be happy to give his daughters in marriage, though he had fifty young girls?

(3) Lib. Decl. 26.19: ἐκ βαλανείου δὲ εἴ ποτε ἀναστρέψειε, φεῦ τῆς ἐπομβρίας τῶν ῥημάτων. πόσα μὲν λέγει περὶ τῆς δεξαμενῆς, πόσα δὲ περὶ τῶν γυναικῶν, τίς ἦλθε; τίς οὐκ ἦλθε; τίς ἄνευ παιδισκαρίων; τίς αὐτοῖς παιδισκαρίοις;

παιδισκαρίων cod. B, but with γρ παιδίων written above the line : παιδίων cod. Cl, accepted by Morellus and Reisk | παιδισκαρίοις cod. B, but with γρ παιδίοις written above the line : παιδίοις cod. Cl, accepted by Morellus and Reisk.

And if she ever comes back from the baths, what a deluge of words! How many things she says about the swimming pool, how many about women! Who was there? Who was not there? Who [had come] without the handmaids? Who with them?

(4) Com. adesp. fr. 453:
ἄγαμοι τε κόραι καὶ παιδίσκαι (cf. B.11).

Unmarried women and young girls.


Blaydes, F. H. M. (1890). Adversaria in Comicorum Graecorum fragmenta. Vol. 1: Secundum editionem Meinekianam. Halle.

Cobet, C. G. (1858). Novae lectiones quibus continentur observationes criticae in scriptores Graecos. Leiden.

Cullhed, E.; Olson, S. D. (eds.) (2023). Eustathius of Thessalonica. Commentary on the Odyssey. Vol. 2: Commentary on Rhapsodies 5–8. Leiden.

Headlam, W. (1895). ‘Various conjectures III’. JPh 23.46, 260–323.

Meineke. A. (1823). Menandri et Philemonis reliquiae. Berlin.

de Pauw, J. C. (1711). Philargyrii Cantabrigiensis emendations in Menandri et Philemonis reliquias. Amsterdam.

Valckenaer, L. C. (1739). Ammonius. De adfinium vocabulorum differentia. Leiden.


Elisa Nuria Merisio, 'παιδίσκη (Phryn. Ecl. 210, Moer. π 56, Poll. 2.17, Poll. 3.76)', in Olga Tribulato (ed.), Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism. With the assistance of E. N. Merisio.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.30687/DEA/2974-8240/2023/02/006

This article collects the erudite texts on the noun παιδίσκη and the ancient loci classici concerning it.