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

Lexicographic entries

ᾄδω, κοκκύζω
(Antiatt. κ 6, Phryn. PS 35.14–5, Poll. 5.89)

A. Main sources

(1) Antiatt. κ 6: κοκκύζειν· τοὺς ἀλεκτρυόνας. Δίφιλος Πλινθοφόρῳ.

In cod. Par. Coisl. 345 the punctuation mark is after κοκκύζειν, with τοὺς ἀλεκτρυόνας belonging to the interpretamentum : Bekker (1814 vol. 1, 101) instead punctuates ‘κοκκύζειν τοὺς ἀλεκτρυόνας·’.

κοκκύζειν (‘to cry cuckoo’, ‘to crow’’): Roosters [do so]. Diphilus in the Plinthophoros (fr. 66 = C.1) [says that] roosters [do so].

(2) Phryn. PS 35.14–5: ᾄδειν ἀλεκτρυόνας· Ἀττικοί. τὸ δὲ κοκκύζειν κωμικοὶ λέγουσιν.

Ἀττικοί cod. : Ἀττικῶς de Borries (1911, 35).

ᾄδειν ἀλεκτρυόνας (‘roosters sing’): users of Attic [say so]. But comic poets use κοκκύζειν.

(3) Poll. 5.89: εἴποις δ’ ἂν […] ἀλεκτρυόνας ᾄδειν, καὶ κόκκυγας κοκκύζειν. Ὑπερείδης δὲ καὶ Δημοσθένης ἐπ’ ἀλεκτρυόνων τὸ κοκκύζειν εἶπον.

You should say […] that roosters sing and that cuckoos cry cuckoo. But Hyperides (fr. 239 Jensen = C.5) and Demosthenes used κοκκύζειν for roosters.

B. Other erudite sources

(1) Hsch. α 1763: ᾄδειν· ἐπὶ τῶν ἀλεκτρυόνων λέγουσιν Ἀττικοί· κοκκύζειν δὲ οὔ φασιν ἐπ’ αὐτῶν, πλὴν μωκώμενοί τινα ξένον. δηλοῖ δὲ καὶ λέγειν, ὀνομάζειν.

Cf. Phot. α 549Phot. α 549.

ᾄδειν: Users of Attic say [it] of roosters, they do not say κοκκύζειν of them, except when they are mimicking a stranger. It also means ‘to say’, ‘to call’.

(2) Ar.Byz. fr. 20A: κοκκύζειν· ἀντὶ τοῦ ᾄδειν. (M) καὶ κοκκύζειν ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀλεκτρυόνος. (P)

κοκκύζειν: Instead of ᾄδειν (‘to sing’). κοκκύζειν too [is said] of the rooster.

(3) De vocibus animalium 33 Bancalari: ἐπί ἀλεκτρυόνων ᾄδειν κοκκύζειν.

Of roosters [you can say] ᾄδειν [and] κοκκύζειν.

(4) [Ammon.] De impropriis 2.140.3–4: κοκκύζειν δὲ ἐπὶ ἀλεκτρυόνων καὶ κοκκύγων.

κοκκύζειν [is said] of roosters and cuckoos.

(5) Dosith. Ars 77.10 (7.435 Keil): Verba quae ex diversa interpretatione in eundem perfectum cadunt […]: canto ᾄδω κοκκύζω σαλπίζω.

Verbs that from different contexts end up having the same meaning [...]: [for] canto (‘to sing’): ᾄδω, κοκκύζω, σαλπίζω (‘to sound the trumpet’, ‘to announce’).

(6) Eust. in Od. 1.142.18–23: οὗ δὴ ἀλέκτορος καθὰ καὶ ἀλεκτρυόνος, καὶ παρ’ ἄλλοις μὲν πολλοῖς χρῆσις. καὶ παρὰ Κρατίνῳ δέ φασιν ἐν τῷ ‘κοκκύζειν τὸν ἀλεκτρυόνα οὐκ ἀνέχονται’, ἤγουν ᾄδειν ὡς αὐτῷ ἔθος. ἐξ οὗ δὴ κοκκύζειν, καὶ ὁ παρ’ Ἡσιόδῳ κόκκυξ. καὶ ἐπίῤῥημα κόκκυ παρὰ τῷ κωμικῷ. ὑποβάλλει δὲ τοιοῦτον νοῦν καὶ Σοφοκλῆς φασὶν ἐν τῷ ‘κοκκοβόας ὄρνις’. ἐναργέστερον δὲ, Δίφιλος ἐν τῷ ‘καὶ νὴ Δί’ ὄντως εὐθὺς ἐξέπεμπέ με | ὀρθριόκοκκυξ ἀρτίως ἀλεκτρυών’. καὶ Πλάτων δὲ ἐμφανῶς φασὶν ὁ κωμικὸς ἐν τῷ ‘σὲ δὲ κοκκύζων ἀλέκτωρ προκαλεῖται’.

Slater (1986, 16) identifies the source of Eustathius’ discussion in Aristophanes of Byzantium (fr. 20A = B.2) | κοκκοβόας is the spelling of the epithet in Sophocles (fr. 791) according to Eustathius, but editors and modern lexica prefer κοκκυβόας | ὀρθριόκοκκυξ (‘early-crower’) is Eustathius’ reading for Diphilus (fr. 66 = C.1), but the text was corrected by Meineke (FCG vol. 4, 421) into ὄρθριον· ἐκόκκυζ’ (‘in the morning, [the rooster] had just crowed’). Although Meineke’s correction, accepted by most editors, is preferred below for Diphilus’ text (C.1), here we follow Eustathius’ text.

[The use] of said ἀλέκτορος as well as ἀλεκτρυόνος is [attested] also in many other [writers]. And in Cratinus (fr. 344 = C.2), they say, in the [passage] ‘They do not put up with a rooster crowing’, [the verb κοκκύζω means] ‘to sing’ as is its habit. From this κοκκύζειν one also has κόκκυξ in Hesiod (Op. 486) and the adverb κόκκυ (‘cuckoo’) in the Comic Poet (i.e., Ar. Av. 505, 507, Ra. 1384). Sophocles too (fr. 791), they say, had in mind such a meaning in κοκκοβόας ὄρνις (‘chanticleer bird’). In a rather vivid fashion, Diphilus (fr. 66 = C.1) [writes] in the [line] ‘And, by Zeus, the early-crowing rooster really just sent me out right away’. Plato Comicus (fr. 231 = C.3) too, they say, [uses κοκκύζω] in a clear way in the [line] ‘The crowing rooster calls on you’.

(7) Lex.Vind. α 58: ᾄδειν καὶ κοκκύζειν ἐπὶ ἀλεκτρυόνων λέγεται· τὸ ᾄδειν καὶ ἐπὶ κύκνων καὶ χηνῶν.

ᾄδειν and κοκκύζειν are said of roosters; ᾄδειν [is said] also of swans and geese.

(8) Schol. Ar. V. 817: ᾄδων ἄνωθεν· κυρίως τὸ (VΓAld) ᾄδειν ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀλεκτρυόνος, κοκκύζειν γὰρ V [δὲ ΓLhAld] ἐπὶ τοῦ κόκκυγος (VΓLhAld).

ᾄδων ἄνωθεν (‘singing from above’): Properly, [the verb] for the rooster, [is] ᾄδειν; for κοκκύζειν [is] for the cuckoo.

C. Loci classici, other relevant texts

(1) Diph. fr. 66:
καὶ νὴ Δί’ ὄντως εὐθὺς ἐξέπεμπέ με
ὄρθριον· ἐκόκκυζ’ ἀρτίως ἁλεκτρυών.

ὄρθριον· ἐκόκκυζ’ Meineke (FCG vol. 4, 421), see also Antiatt. κ 6 (A.1) : ὀρθριοκόκκυξ Eust. (B.6).

And, by Zeus, [he] sent me out right away in the morning: the rooster had just crowed.

(2) Cratin. fr. 344:
κοκκύζειν τὸν ἀλεκτρυόν’ οὐκ ἀνέχονται (cf. B.6).

κοκκύζειν τὸν Eust. : κοκκύζοντα δ’ Kock (CAF vol. 1, 103).

They do not put up with a rooster crowing. (Transl. Olson, Seaberg 2018, 124).

(3) Pl.Com. fr. 231:
σὲ δὲ κοκκύζων <     > ἀλέκτωρ προκαλεῖται (cf. B.6).

Lobeck proposes to fill the lacuna with ὄρθρι’ (‘early’, ‘in the morning’).

The crowing rooster calls on you.

(4) Soph. fr. 791:
κοκκυβόας ὄρνις.

κοκκυβόας Bothe (1846, 232) : κοκκοβόας Eustathius (B.6).

Chanticleer bird.

(5) Hyp. fr. 239 Jensen = Poll. 5.89 re. κοκκύζειν (A.3).

(6) Lib. Decl. 26.520.4–6: οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἀλεκτρυών. οὐδὲ γὰρ ἀνέχομαι κοκκύζοντος, εἰ δὲ μὴ σιγήσεις, οὐδὲ σοῦ.

I do not have a rooster. I do not put up with [it] crowing neither with you, if you do not shut up.

(7) Neophytus Ducas Epistulae 1202.8: οὐκ αὐτὸς σύ […] ἀνεκόκκυζες, ὥσπερ ἀλέκτωρ, ᾄδων τὸ ἐπινίκιον;

Would you not […] crow as a rooster singing a victory song?

D. General commentary

Many entries in Greek lexicography, including Atticist sources, discuss the question of which verb is most appropriate to indicate the rooster’s cry. Two verbs are considered: ᾄδω (‘to sing’), which is the standard and expected verb, and κοκκύζω (‘to cry cuckoo’, ‘to crow’). Atticist lexicographers exhibit a peculiar perspective on this matter, being mostly concerned with the admissibility of κοκκύζω in reference to the rooster’s cry, as the doctrines expressed in the Antiatticist (A.1), the PS (A.2), and Pollux’ Onomasticon (A.3) demonstrate. The rooster itself arouses the interest of Atticist lexicographers, who discuss both its name and the use of the feminine ἀλεκτορίςἀλεκτορίς in place of ἀλεκτρυώνἀλεκτρυών (which is used for both genders in classical Greek: see entry ἀλεκτορίς); on the rooster in Greek literature, see also Arnott (2007, 16–8) and Thompson (1936, 33–44, with 38–9 on its crow in particular).

κοκκύζω is a denominative verb (DELG s.v.) that derives alongside the noun κόκκυξ (‘cuckoo’) from the onomatopoeicOnomatopoeia form κόκκυ, which is possibly pre-Greek (EDG s.v.) and reproduces the cry of the cuckoo (on onomatopoeic verbs in -ύζω, see Debrunner 1917, 117; on the morphology and semantics of nouns with the suffix -υκ-, -υ(γ)γ-, see Dettori 2006; on the κόκκυξ see Arnott 2007, 153–4 and Thompson 1936, 151–2). Of course, the early use of κοκκύζω is for the cuckoo’s cry: its first occurrence is in Hesiod (Op. 486: ἦμος κόκκυξ κοκκύζει δρυὸς ἐν πετάλοισι, ‘when the cuckoo cries cuckoo among the leaves of the oak’). Nevertheless, κοκκύζω is subsequently used also in reference to the rooster's cry as ‘to crow’.

Confronted with the frequent attestation of κοκκύζω for the rooster, lexicographers and grammarians take up different positions. Many sources (B.3, B.4, B.5, B.7), including the thematic lexicon De vocibus animalium, register its overlapping with ᾄδω as an equipollent alternative, regardless of any contextual distinction. Eustathius (B.6), whose mention of Diphilus’ fragment has been connected to the gloss of the Antiatticist by Ruhnken (note 578, see Valente 2015, 75 and F.1), also focuses his analysis on instances in which κοκκύζω is used for roosters. By contrast, Atticist lexicographers are more concerned with the admissibility of κοκκύζω in place of the expected ᾄδω. Their treatment of these forms is rooted in Hellenistic scholarship. The viability of using κοκκύζω for the rooster's cry was already noted by Aristophanes of Byzantium (B.2), who was a primary source for the compiler of the Antiatticist (see Valente 2015, 31, where n. 193 offers a complete list of the items of the Antiatticist connected to Aristophanes of Byzantium). In their own way, most Atticist lexicographers appear to agree on that the use of κοκκύζω for roosters is peculiar. Whereas the Antiatticist (A.1) simply records the usage in Diphilus (C.1), Pollux highlights its occurrence in Hyperides and Demosthenes (A.3, but note that this information is not reflected in the two orators’ work, see F.1), while Phrynichus (A.2) in the PS confines the use of κοκκύζω to comedy and prescribes ᾄδω in its place. Phrynichus’ doctrine, which is almost certainly abridged, may originally have evaluated the two verbs' appropriateness to different contexts and genres. This is suggested by the fact that Attic speakers (Ἀττικοί) are contrasted with comedy as a specific genre (κωμικοί). Presumably, Phrynichus judged the use of κοκκύζω for the rooster's cry as too markedly typical of comedy for use in different registers, such as that used in rhetorical speech: hence his suspicion of κοκκύζω and prescription of ᾄδω. This doctrine (A.2) may indicate that Phrynichus had access to the Antiatticist (A.1) not only for the Eclogue but also while composing the Praeparatio (see Valente 2015, 55, n. 325). However, the extant form of both works prevent us from drawing any certain conclusions.

The Atticist perspective on κοκκύζω is mirrored in a scholium to Aristophanes’ Wasps 817 (B.8), in which the scholiast uses κυρίως (‘properly’) to highlight that ᾄδω is the expected verb for the rooster. This is also confirmed in the entry shared by Hesychius’ and Photius’ lexica (B.1) that originally drew on Diogenianus’ lexicon (see Reitzenstein 1907, XLVI; Theodoridis 1982, LXXIV). The expression μωκώμενοί τινα ξένον, ‘mimicking a stranger’, seemingly refers to a taunt levelled at a non-Attic way of speaking, which was a common situation in comedy. However, extant comic fragments in which κοκκύζω occurs are hardly ascribable to such a situation, and the precise reference of the gloss is not easily grasped. In any case, such expression undoubtedly alludes to a way of speaking which is seen as peculiar and non-standard. The agreement between Hesychius (B.1) and the Aristophanean scholium (B.8) suggests that Didymus also dealt with ᾄδω and κοκκύζω. DidymusDidymus is likely to have approached these forms in his comic exegesis (his commentaries on Cratinus and/or Aristophanes, which are the source of many scholia, or his Comic Vocabulary, which is among the sources of Hesychius through the mediation of Diogenianus, see Schmidt 1854, 27–9).

When ascribing the use of κοκκύζω for ‘to crow’ to comedy, Phrynichus (A.2) is not wrong: in this meaning, the verb occurs in Cratin. fr. 344 (C.2, on which see Olson, Seaberg 2018, 124–7), Pl.Com. (C.3), Diph. fr. 66 (C.1), Heraclid. fr. 1 (on which see Mastellari 2020, 269–79), Ar. Ec. 31 and Ar. Ra. 1380 (here, Dionysus uses ‘κοκκύσω’ referring to himself, but the image of the crowing rooster is likely implied, even if Henderson 2002, 211 translates it as ‘I give a cuckoo call’). Nevertheless, the usage of κοκκύζω for roosters is not limited to comedy: in addition to the occurrences in oratory mentioned by Pollux (A.3), it can also be found in Aristotle (HA 631b: αἵ τε γὰρ ἀλεκτορίδες ὅταν νικήσωσι τοὺς ἄρρενας, κοκκύζουσί τε μιμούμεναι τοὺς ἄρρενας, ‘hens, when they prevail on roosters, crow imitating them’) and Theocritus (7.478: καὶ Μοισᾶν ὄρνιχες ὅσοι ποτὶ Χῖον ἀοιδόν | ἀντία κοκκύζοντες ἐτώσια μοχθίζοντι, ‘and much those cock of the Muses who lose their toil with crowing against the bard of Chios’, transl. Gow 1952, 59); for later sources, see also Luc. Gall. 14.13.

The abundance of comic occurrences of κοκκύζω to denote the rooster’s cry may suggest that it was preferred in comedy by virtue of its onomatopoeicOnomatopoeia sound. Comedy could also reflect a ‘popular’ use, with κοκκύζω initially applying to roosters in colloquialColloquial language and substandard contexts (for instance, the use of ᾄδω for the rooster in Ar. V. 100 is associated by van Leeuwen 1896, 201 to a higher register). The influence of comedy may perhaps explain the diffusion of κοκκύζω for roosters to other genres. The only tragic parallel we have is the κοκκυβόας (or κοκκoβόας, see F.1) ὄρνις of Soph. fr. 691 if, as Eustathius (B.6) already supposes, the epithet qualifies the rooster. However, it is not easy to connect the Sophoclean κοκκυβόας/κοκκoβόας to a specific bird, since the fragment has been transmitted out of context and the epithet is a hapaxHapax that may simply be intended as an onomatopoeic reproduction of birds' calls in general. As a closing remark, it is worth also considering a chronological perspective: the rooster was introduced to Greece from Persia (hence its being known as Περσικὸς ὄρνις, ‘Persian bird’, see e.g. Ar. Av. 485) and was not common until at least the 7th century BCE (see Arnott 2007, 16). An economic explanation could thus be that the preexisting verb κοκκύζω (‘to cry cuckoo’) was applied to the rooster’s crow when the animal became common in Greece (see too van Leeuwen 1896, 201).

E. Byzantine and Modern Greek commentary

Both κοκκύζω and ᾄδω are used throughout the late antique and Byzantine ages to denote the rooster’s sound, often with reference to the image of the pompous rooster claiming victory. ᾄδω prevails, but there is no shortage of occurrences of κοκκύζω: see, among others, Libanius (C.4, F.1) and, respectively in the 14th and 15th centuries, Manuel II Palaeologus (Dialogi cum mahometano 249.38 Trapp) and Sylvester Syropulus (Hist. 6.47, p. 344.15–8 Laurent). Interestingly, Neophytus Ducas (C.5, 18th century) juxtaposes the two verbs, which he knows from the erudite tradition, with ease. Neither verb survives in Modern Greek, where the verb is used in reference to birds’ singing is λαλώ.

F. Commentary on individual texts and occurrences

(1)    Poll. 5.89 (A.3)

Despite Pollux' claim that Hyperides and Demosthenes use κοκκύζω for the rooster, Hyperides’ fragment (C.5) merely consists of the information on the use of κοκκύζω on his part, and no direct quotation at all is attributed to Demosthenes. κοκκύζω does not occur in the Demosthenic corpus, while ἀλεκτρυών has a unique occurrence in D. 54.9.5, where the verb employed is ᾄδω, in line with the expected classical usage. Although it remains possible that Pollux had access to non-extant texts or that he had read a different version of Demosthenes’ passage, the incongruity is arguably attributable to an error on his part or in his source.

(2)    Diph. fr. 66 (C.1)

Diphilus’ fragment, as it is nowadays known and commented upon, results from a correction by Meineke, who emended Eustathius’ unmetrical ὀρθριόκοκκυξ (‘early-crower’) to ὄρθριον· ἐκόκκυζ’ (‘in the morning; [the rooster] had just crowed’). Such a correction entails a change in syntax. In the resulting situation, the speaker refers to a person (who remains unspecified, since the fragment's context is lost) who sent him out straightaway in the morning, and the reference to the rooster’s crowing simply reinforces the temporal coordinates already given by ὄρθριον. In the text that Eustathius read, instead, the ‘early-crowing rooster’ itself (ὀρθριόκοκκυξ ἁλεκτρυών) is the subject of the sentence and sends the speaker out (similar to that which occurs in C.3). Meineke’s correction, introducing κοκκύζω, has the advantage of being consistent with the Antiatticist’s doctrine (A.1) attesting the presence of the verb in Diphilus. On the other hand, Eustathius’ ὀρθριόκοκκυξ deserves closer attention. Eustathius comes to the quotation of Diphilus’ line right after the mention of the Sophoclean κοκκυβόας/κοκκοβόας (C.4, see F.3). From his perspective, the association of the two epithets makes sense: the two compoundsCompounds contain the root of κοκκύζω which refers to cockerels. Eustathius also gives a positive style assessment by qualifying Diphilus’ use of the compound ὀρθριόκοκκυξ as ‘rather vivid’ (ἐναργέστερον). This confirms that ὀρθριόκοκκυξ was certainly the reading with which Eustathius knew Diphilus’ passage.

(3)    Cratin. fr. 344 (C.2)

Eustathius (B.6) quotes Cratinus’ line as ‘κοκκύζειν τὸν ἀλεκτρυόνα οὐκ ἀνέχονται’. Given that ἀνέχομαι (‘to put up with’) usually governs a dependent clause with the participle, Kock (CAF vol. 1, 103) corrected κοκκύζειν to κοκκύζοντα, followed by Olson and Seaberg (2018, 125). Nevertheless, the construction with the infinitive is permitted, although extremely rare (see LSJ s.v. ἀνέχω), and thus κοκκύζειν can be retained, as Kassel and Austin do (PCG vol. 4, 289–90). Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning that Libanius’ passage (C.4), in which ἀνέχομαι governs the participle κοκκύζοντος, can speak in favour of Kock’s emendation. An allusion to Cratinus’ passage on the part of Libanius, who may have known Cratinus’ verse with the participle, cannot be excluded but remains uncertain.

(4)    Soph. fr. 791 (C.4)

The spelling of the epithet for ‘chanticleer’, which is not attested otherwise, is uncertain. Eustathius (B.6) spells it as κοκκοβόας, but Bothe (1846, 232) corrected it to κοκκυβόας, which is the form preferred by the fragment’s editors (see Radt, TrGF vol. 4, 539) and modern lexica (see LSJ s.v.). Fraenkel (1913, 34) supports κοκκυβόας, presuming *κοκκυγ-βόας as a hypothetical prior stage; Frisk (GEW s.v. κόκκυ), however, suggests that the spelling with -ο- may actually be correct.


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Giulia Gerbi, 'ᾄδω, κοκκύζω (Antiatt. κ 6, Phryn. PS 35.14–5, Poll. 5.89)', in Olga Tribulato (ed.), Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism. With the assistance of E. N. Merisio.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.30687/DEA/2974-8240/2023/02/021

This article provides a philological and linguistic commentary on the verbs ᾄδω, κοκκύζω discussed in the Atticist lexica Antiatt. κ 6, Phryn. PS 35.14–5, Poll. 5.89.

Animal soundsComedyἀλεκτρυώνκοκκυβόαςκόκκυξὀρθριόκοκκυξ