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

Lexicographic entries

μεῖραξ, μειράκιον
(Phryn. Ecl. 183, Moer. α 15, [Hdn.] Philet. 107, Thom.Mag. 231.16–232.5)

A. Main sources

(1) Phryn. Ecl. 183: μείρακες καὶ μεῖραξ· ἡ μὲν κωμῳδία παίζει τὰ τοιαῦτα· τὸ γὰρ μεῖραξ καὶ μείρακες ἐπὶ θηλειῶν λέγουσιν, τὸ δὲ μειράκιον ἐπὶ ἀρρένων.

After τοιαῦτα, οἷον ἡ γυνή Bc : οἷον γυνή U : absent in b : deleted by Fischer.

μείρακες and μεῖραξ: Authors of comedy use such [forms] jokingly. For they say μεῖραξ and μείρακες for females, while μειράκιον for males.


(2) Moer. μ 15: μειράκια τοὺς ἄρρενας Ἀττικοί· μείρακας τὰς θηλείας Ἕλληνες.

Users of Attic [call] μειράκια the males. Users of Greek [call] μείρακες the females.


(3) [Hdn.] Philet. 107: μειράκιον καὶ μεῖραξ διαφέρει· μειράκιον μὲν ὁ ἄρρην. ἔστι δὲ ἡλικίας ὄνομα, ὥς που διαστέλλει καὶ ὁ Μένανδρος λέγων· ‘παῖς γέγονεν, ἔφηβος, μειράκιον, ἀνήρ, γέρων’. μεῖραξ δὲ ἡ θήλεια. ἢν δέ ποτε λεχθῇ ἐπὶ τοῦ ἄρρενος ἐν τῇ κωμῳδίᾳ τὸ τῆς μείρακος ὄνομα, δῆλον ὡς κωμῳδεῖται εἰς κιναιδίαν ὁ ἄρρην.

μειράκιον and μεῖραξ are different: μειράκιον is the male. It is a name of age, as Menander also distinguishes somewhere, saying: ‘He became a child, a boy, a μειράκιον, a man, an elder’ (fr. 494 = C.6). μεῖραξ instead is the female. Whenever in comedy the term μεῖραξ is said of a male, it is clear that the male is being mocked for effeminacy.


(4) Thom.Mag. 231.16–232.5: μεῖραξ καὶ μειρακίσκος ἀδόκιμα· μειράκιον δὲ οὐδετέρως πάντες οἱ ῥήτορες. μεῖραξ μέντοι ἐπὶ θηλυκοῦ καὶ μειρακίσκη μόνος Ἀριστοφάνης ἐν Πλούτῳ· ‘σὺ δ’ ἄπιθι χαίρων συλλαβὼν τὴν μείρακα’. καὶ πάλιν· ‘ὦ μειρακίσκη, πυνθάνῃ γὰρ ὡρικῶς’. σὺ δὲ μειράκιον θῆλυ λέγε.

μεῖραξ and μειρακίσκος [are] not approved: all rhetors say μειράκιον, in the neuter. Yet only Aristophanes in Wealth (1079 = C.4) [uses] μεῖραξ and μειρακίσκη for a female: ‘but rejoice and go away with the girl’. And again: ‘O young girl, since you ask so maidenly’ (963 = C.3). But you must use μειράκιον as a feminine.


B. Other erudite sources

(1) Ar.Byz. frr. 51–4: μειράκιον· εἶτα μεῖράξ τε καὶ νεανίσκος καὶ νεανίας, ὁ αὐτός.

See also Eust. in Il. 2.630.10–1.

μειράκιον: Then μεῖραξ, both ‘young man’ and ‘youth’, the same.


(2) Herenn.Phil. 42: γέρων καὶ πρεσβύτης καὶ προβεβηκὼς διαφέρει. Ἀλεξίων ἐν τῇ ἐπιτομῇ τῶν Διδύμου Συμμίκτων φησὶν οὕτως· ‘ἐκ τῶν Ἀριστοφάνους Περὶ ἀνθρώπου γενέσεως καὶ αὐξήσεως μέχρι γήρως. βρέφος μὲν γὰρ τὸ γεννηθὲν ἀρτίως […]. ἐν δὲ Κυρήνῃ τοὺς ἐφήβους τρι<α>κατίους καλοῦσιν, ἐν δὲ Κρήτῃ ἀποδρόμους διὰ τὸ μηδέπω τῶν κοινῶν δρόμων μετέχειν· Ἀχαιοὶ <δὲ> κούρους, καὶ †ἀρεσδαῖες† ἀγούρους, ὡσαύτως καὶ Ἀττικοί. ὁ δὲ μετὰ ταῦτα μειράκιον ἢ μεῖραξ, εἶτα νεανίσκος καὶ νεανίας’.

Ἀριστοφάνους Valckenaer (1739, 164 n. 38) : ἀρίστονος cod. | The entry is found also in MSS. Ambr. gr. C 222 inf. (f. 41v) and Berol. Phill. 1527 (ff. 68v–69r) with the title Ἑρεννίου Φίλωνος γνῶσις περὶ ἡλικιῶν, see Palmieri (1988, 70–3, 236). See also [Ammon.] 117; [Ptol.Ascal.] Diff. 60 Palmieri, 404.1–6 Heylbut; Et.Gud. d1 307.1–15; Eust. in Od. 2.108.21–2.

‘Old man’ and ‘elder’ and ‘advanced [in age]’ are different. Alexion (fr. 1 Berndt) in the epitome of Didymus’ Miscellanea (344a Coward–Prodi) says thus: ‘From Aristophanes’ On the birth and growth of men until old age (frr. 37–66 Slater): βρέφος is the one that has just been born […]. In Cyrene they call the boys τριακάτιοι, while in Crete (they call them) ἀπόδρομοι, because they do not yet participate in the public races. The Achaeans (say) κοῦροι and †ἀρεσδαῖες† ἄγουροι, as do users of Attic. Thereafter they say μειράκιον or μεῖραξ, then ‘young man’ and ‘youth’’.


(3) Herenn.Phil. 114: μεῖραξ καὶ μειράκιον ὅτι διαφέρει εἴρηται ἐν τῇ περὶ τοῦ γέροντος καὶ πρεσβύτου διαφορᾷ. νῦν δὲ κατ’ ἄλλην ἔννοιαν Ἀριστοφάνης τὴν ὀνομασίαν κατέταξε· φησὶ γοῦν ἐν Γήρᾳ †<τὴν> μείρακ’ ἰδὼν πληκτιζομένην <τοὺς> ὄρχεις μειρακίῳ τῷ†. ὑπομνηματιζόμενος Δίδυμος τὸ δρᾶμα καὶ προσθεὶς τὸν στίχον ἐπιλέγει ὅτι μεῖραξ μὲν θῆλυ, μειράκιον δὲ ἄρρεν.

ἐν Γήρᾳ Nickau (1966, 82; with the alternative proposal ἐν Ἀναγύρῳ), adopted by Palmieri : ἐν γήρω P | <τὴν> μείρακ’ ἰδὼν (through the comparison with Ar. Ec. 611) or <τὴν> μείρακ’ ἐρῶν Palmieri : <τὴν> μείραχ’ ἑλὼν West : μειρα γέρων P | <τοὺς> ὄρχεις Palmieri : ὡρκείς P.

That μεῖραξ and μειράκιον are different has been mentioned in the entry on the difference between γέρων and πρεσβύτης (B.2). Now, Aristophanes used the term with a different intent, for in the play Old age he says: ‘Seeing a μεῖραξ fondling the testicles of a μειράκιον’ (fr. *146 = C.5). Commenting on the play and addressing this line, Didymus (fr. 275 Benuzzi) says that μεῖραξ is feminine, while μειράκιον is masculine.


(4) Poll. 2.18.1–5: ἐρεῖς δὲ παρθένος ὡραία γάμου […]. μεῖραξ, μειρακίσκη, ἄγαμος, ἐπίγαμος, νεόγαμος.

You will say ‘a girl ready for marriage’ […]. μεῖραξ, young girl, unmarried, marriageable, newly married.


(5) [Ammon.] 317: μεῖραξ καὶ μειράκιον καὶ μειρακίσκος διαφέρει. μειράκιον γὰρ καὶ μειρακίσκος ὁ ἄρσην, μεῖραξ δὲ ἡ θήλεια.

See also [Ptol.Ascal.] Diff. 94 Palmieri; Gennadius Scholarius, Grammatica 2.468.3–4 Jugie–Petit–Siderides; Et.Gud. 384.36–7.

μεῖραξ, μειράκιον and μειρακίσκος are different. For μειράκιον and μειρακίσκος (indicate) the male, while μεῖραξ the female.


(6) EM 582.55–583.3: μεῖραξ: παρὰ τὸ εἴρω, τὸ λέγω, γίνεται εἶραξ· ὅθεν εἰράκιον καὶ μειράκιον· καὶ πλεονασμῷ τοῦ μ, μεῖραξ, ὁ δυνάμενος ἤδη λέγειν. ἰστέον δὲ ὅτι θηλυκῶς λέγεται· καὶ κρεῖττον λέγειν αὐτὸ ἀπὸ τοῦ ἱμείρω ἱμεῖραξ καὶ μεῖραξ, ἡ τοιούτου χρόνου οὖσα, ὥστε καὶ ἐπιθυμεῖσθαι.

μεῖραξ: From εἴρω, ‘I say’, comes εἶραξ. From this εἰράκιον and μειράκιον. And, with addition of μ, μεῖραξ, he who can already speak. One needs to know that it is feminine. And it is better to say that this [comes] from ἱμείρω (‘to desire’), [and] ἱμεῖραξ and μεῖραξ, the girl who is of such an age as to be desired too.


(7) [Zonar.] 1346.10–8 (= Orus fr. A 64): μείραξ καὶ μειρακίσκη ἐπὶ θηλείας· μειράκιον δὲ καὶ μειρακίσκος ἐπὶ ἄρρενος. λέγει δὲ τὴν ἀπὸ ἐτῶν πεντεκαίδεκα ἕως τῶν εἰκοσιδύο. παρὰ τὸ εἴρω, ὃ σημαίνει τὸ λέγω· εἴραξ καὶ πλεονασμῷ τοῦ μ μείραξ, ἡ δυναμένη ἤδη λέγειν. κρεῖττον δὲ λέγειν αὐτὸ παρὰ τὸ ἱμείρω, ἱμείραξ καὶ μείραξ, ἡ τοιούτου χρόνου οὖσα, ὥστε καὶ ἐπιθυμεῖσθαι.

μείραξ and μειρακίσκη [are said] of the female. μειράκιον and μειρακίσκος, instead, (are said) of the male. It indicates the girl from fifteen to twenty-two years of age. From εἴρω, which means ‘I say’: εἴραξ and, with addition of μ, μείραξ, the girl that can already speak. But it is better to say that it [comes] from ἱμείρω, ἱμείραξ and μεῖραξ, the girl who is of such an age as to be desired too.


(8) Schol. rec. Ar. Ec. 611: μείρακα: ἐνταῦθα δοκεῖ ἀρσενικῶς εἰρῆσθαι, καίτοι Ἀμμωνίου λέγοντος μειράκιον καὶ μείρακα ταύτῃ διαφέρειν, ὅτι τὸ μὲν μειράκιον ἐπὶ ἀρσενικοῦ, τὸ δὲ μεῖραξ ἐπὶ θηλυκοῦ. ἢ πρὸς τὸ γυναικῶδες τῶν κιναίδων. (Ald)

μείρακα (cf. C.2): Here it seems to be said in the masculine, even though Ammonius (317 = B.5) says that μειράκιον and μεῖραξ differ inasmuch as μειράκιον [is said] of the male, while μεῖραξ of the female. Or in reference to the womanly nature of the effeminates.


(9) Schol. rec. Ar. Pl. 963a: μεῖραξ καὶ μειρακίσκη, ἐπὶ θηλυκοῦ. μειράκιον δὲ ἐπὶ ἀνδρός. (CangM)

μεῖραξ and μειρακίσκη (cf. C.3) [are said] of the female. μειράκιον instead of the male.


C. Loci classici, other relevant texts

(1) Cratin. fr. 60:
ποδαπὰς ὑμᾶς εἶναι φάσκων, ὦ μείρακες, οὐκ ἂν ἁμάρτοιν;

Young ladies, where might I say that you are from and not be wrong?


(2) Ar. Ec. 611–3:
ἢν μείρακ’ ἰδὼν ἐπιθυμήσῃ καὶ βούληται σκαλαθῦραι,
†ἕξει τούτων ἀφελὼν δοῦναι, τῶν ἐκ κοινοῦ δὲ μεθέξει
ξυγκαταδαρθών.

If someone, seeing a girl, desires her and wants to ‘dig’ her, he’ll pay her taking from those [riches], and, sleeping with her, he’ll share in the common [goods].


(3) Ar. Pl. 962–3:
ἀλλ’ ἴσθ’ ἐπ’ αὐτὰς τὰς θύρας ἀφιγμένη,
ὦ μειρακίσκη· πυνθάνει γὰρ ὡρικῶς.

But know that you’ve arrived to the very door, o young girl, since you ask so maidenly (cf. A.4).


(4) Ar. Pl. 1079:
νῦν δ’ ἄπιθι χαίρων συλλαβὼν τὴν μείρακα.

But rejoice and go away with the girl! (cf. A.4).


(5) Ar. fr. *146 = Herenn.Phil. 114 re. μεῖραξ (B.3).

(6) Men. fr. 494:
παῖς γέγονεν, ἔφηβος, μειράκιον, ἀνήρ, γέρων.

He became a child, a boy, a μειράκιον, a man, an elder (cf. A.3).


(7) LXX 4Ma. 14.6: καθάπερ αἱ χεῖρες καὶ οἱ πόδες συμφώνως τοῖς τῆς ψυχῆς ἀφηγήμασιν κινοῦνται, οὕτως οἱ ἱεροὶ μείρακες ἐκεῖνοι ὡς ὑπὸ ψυχῆς ἀθανάτου τῆς εὐσεβείας πρὸς τὸν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς συνεφώνησαν θάνατον.

Just as the hands and the feet move according to the guidance of the soul, so those holy youths, as though (guided) by an immortal spirit of piety, agreed to the death for its sake.


(9) LXX 4Ma. 14.7–8: καθάπερ γὰρ ἑπτὰ τῆς κοσμοποιίας ἡμέραι περὶ τὴν εὐσέβειαν, οὕτως περὶ τὴν ἑβδομάδα χορεύοντες οἱ μείρακες ἐκύκλουν τὸν τῶν βασάνων φόβον καταλύοντες.

For just as the seven days of creation around piety, so the youth danced in a chorus of seven and encircled the fear of tortures, eliminating it.


(9) Luc. Sol. 5.14–6: ἑτέρου δὲ εἰπόντος, ‘πρόσεισιν ὁ μεῖραξ οὑμὸς φίλος’, ‘ἔπειτα’, ἔφη, ‘λοιδορεῖς φίλον ὄντα;’.

And when another said ‘my friend, the μεῖραξ, is coming’, he said ‘then why do you insult him, if he is your friend?’.


D. General commentary

Phrynichus (A.1) dedicates a short entry in his Eclogue to the term μεῖραξ (‘young girl’). The lexicographer’s chief interest apparently lies in establishing the term’s gender (i.e. feminine, as opposed to the derivative neuter μειράκιον, used for males) and in addressing its humorous usage in comedy (ἡ μὲν κωμῳδία παίζει τὰ τοιαῦτα). Moeris (A.2) presents the same gender distinction between μεῖραξ and μειράκιον, forcing it into the usual ‘Attic speakers vs. Greek speakers’ dichotomy.

In the extant literary evidence from the 5th and 4th centuries, μεῖραξ – by far the least frequently attested of the two forms – is invariably feminine (see Cratin. fr. 334, Ar. fr. 746, Th. 410, Ec. 696, 1138, Pl. 1071, 1079, Xenarch. fr. 4.3, Men. Per. 134, 264). Only in two cases could ancient readers plausibly have been in doubt with respect to the gender of μεῖραξ – namely, Ar. Ec. 611 (C.2, as shown also by the related Aldine scholium B.8) and Cratin. fr. 60 (C.1), which, deprived of its original context, does not clarify whether the referent of ὦ μεῖρακες is a group of girls or men. Several modern critics have sought to identify a masculine usage of μεῖραξ in Cratinus’ line, but this is almost surely erroneous (see Bianchi 2017, 350, 352–3), as suggested by the feminine ποδαπάς (if the group of people addressed as μείρακες were indeed men, one would expect ποδαπούς). The earliest examples of μεῖραξ used as a masculine noun are in the Septuagint (C.7, C.8): these occurrences demonstrate that μεῖραξ could be used to indicate a young male person in the ‘ordinary written Greek’ of the Hellenistic period (Horrocks 2010, 106) without any insulting connotations. It is precisely this gender shift (i.e., from the exclusively feminine usage of μεῖραξ to its subsequent extension to male individuals) that Phrynichus appears to dispute in his Eclogue (A.1). Indeed, according to Lucian’s Soloecista (C.9), during the Imperial age, highly educated individuals regarded the masculine use of μεῖραξ as a patent mistake (acceptable only if intended as a slur).

The earliest erudite discussion of the gender of μεῖραξ is found in DidymusDidymus (1st century BCE–1st century CE, see Montana 2022). The grammarian addressed the problem in two of his works – namely, a commentary on a play by Aristophanes (the Old age or the Anagyrus, see B.3) and the Miscellanea (B.2), a collection that may have been identical to the Conversations at table (Συμποσιακά, 337–43 Coward–Prodi), later epitomised by AlexionAlexion (on this grammarian, see Pagani 2022 with all the relevant bibliography). Herennius Philo’s entry that mentions Didymus’ Aristophanic commentary (B.3) also preserves the text of the line on which the grammarian commented (C.5). However, the wording is not wholly intelligible. What is clear is that the line describes an erotic encounter (on the sexual meaning of πληκτίζομαι, see e.g. Henderson 1975, 140) between a μεῖραξ and a μειράκιον. In his explanation of the line, Didymus highlighted that the term μεῖραξ was feminine, while the neuter μειράκιον indicated a male individual. At first glance, the grammarian’s statement does not seem particularly insightful, but it becomes significantly more salient when compared with his illustrious predecessor Aristophanes of ByzantiumAristophanes of Byzantium’s statement with regard to μεῖραξ and μειράκιον. His stance on the two terms is preserved both in several excerpts from the section of his Lexeis dedicated to the names of the ages (B.1) found in MS Par. suppl. gr. 1164Par. suppl. gr. 1164, and in the grammatical sources that ultimately depend on Alexion’s epitome of the Didymean Miscellanea, which quoted Aristophanes’ treatise (B.2). Aristophanes of Byzantium listed μεῖραξ and μειράκιον along with two other terms denoting young male individuals (i.e. νεανίσκοςνεανίσκος and νεανίαςνεανίας), but the precise relationship that he posits between the different age-names is difficult to establish, given that the sources offer slightly different wordings (see F.1). At any rate, what can be considered certain is that μεῖραξ and μειράκιον, like νεανίαςνεανίας and νεανίσκοςνεανίσκος, indicated young males according to Aristophanes of Byzantium.

The Didymean gender distinction between μεῖραξ and μειράκιον is found in other lexicographical and grammatical sources: of these, Ammonius (B.5), Phrynichus’ Eclogue (A.1), Pollux (B.4, who inserts μεῖραξ in a list of nouns referred to young women ready for marriage), and Moeris (A.2) are of the greatest antiquity. The Pseudo-Herodianic Philetaerus (A.3) is particularly interesting, in that the standard gender distinction (μειράκιον καὶ μεῖραξ διαφέρει· μειράκιον μὲν ὁ ἄρρην … μεῖραξ δὲ ἡ θήλεια) is supplemented with further information: first, μειράκιον is defined as ἡλικίαςἡλικία ὄνομα and the text quotes a fragment of Menander in which the noun occurs after ἔφηβοςἔφηβος and before ἀνήρἀνήρ within the description of a man’s lifespan (cf. C.6: παῖς γέγονεν, ἔφηβος, μειράκιον, ἀνήρ, γέρων. Here, the word μειράκιον thus appears to designate a man who is older than eighteen but not yet old enough to be regarded as a fully mature man (i.e., an ἀνήρ). See also B.2, where the ἔφηβοι are discussed immediately before μεῖραξ and μειράκιον, and B.7, where the lexicographer says that μεῖραξ indicates ‘the girl from fifteen to twenty-two years of age’). Second, the text states that μεῖραξ could be used with specifically disparaging intent to refer to a man in comedyComedy (ἢν δέ ποτε λεχθῇ ἐπὶ τοῦ ἄρρενος ἐν τῇ κωμῳδίᾳ τὸ τῆς μείρακος ὄνομα, δῆλον ὡς κωμῳδεῖται εἰς κιναιδίαν ὁ ἄρρην), a concept already present in Phrynichus (cf. A.1: μείρακες καὶ μεῖραξ· ἡ μὲν κωμῳδία παίζει τὰ τοιαῦτα) as well as in Lucian (C.9), although no clear evidence exists to prove that μεῖραξ could be used as an insult for men in comedy. The only extant comic line in which the gender of μεῖραξ is not unequivocal (but is nonetheless almost certainly feminine) is indeed C.2 (ἢν μείρακ’ ἰδὼν ἐπιθυμήσῃ καὶ βούληται σκαλαθῦραι κτλ). The associated scholium (B.8, only attested in the Aldine edition) does in fact express some doubt, which may theoretically recall the reservations of an earlier commentator (yet later than Ammonius). Nonetheless, the idea – attested in Phrynichus (A.1), Lucian (C.9), the Philetaerus (A.3) and the Aldine scholium (B.8) – that μεῖραξ could be used in comedy as a homosexual slur may originate from one or several comic passages that are now lost. In this respect, Phrynichus’ general reference to ‘comedy’ (cf. A.1: ἡ μὲν κωμῳδία παίζει τὰ τοιαῦτα) may signify the epitomisationEpitome of more specific references to comic playwrights, although such indications are not infrequent in the Eclogue and in the Praeparatio (for κωμῳδία, see Ecl. 200Phryn. Ecl. 200 with entry ἀλεκτορίς, and 288Phryn. Ecl. 288, 299Phryn. Ecl. 299, 353Phryn. Ecl. 353; for ἀρχαία κωμῳδία, see Ecl. 24Phryn. Ecl. 24, 255Phryn. Ecl. 255 with entry βρέχει, 304Phryn. Ecl. 304, PS 74.6Phryn. PS 74.6, 91.11Phryn. PS 91.11; for νέα κωμῳδία, see Ecl. 332Phryn. Ecl. 332, 358Phryn. Ecl. 358). However, other elements of A.1 suggest that the text, in its extant form, is abbreviated. In particular, the presence of the plural μείρακες before μεῖραξ, in both the lemma and the explanation, is not easily understandable, unless it resulted from the entry’s original discussion of occurrences of both the singular and the plural. Furthermore, the explanation also appears to have been abridged: the text refers to the fact that μεῖραξ and its plural μείρακες are used humorously, but the nature of the joke (i.e., the use of the feminine μεῖραξ in relation to men, as an accusation of effeminacy, see A.3, B.8) is left implicit, and the entry merely clarifies that μεῖραξ and its plural are feminine, while the neuter derivative μειράκιον is used to refer to males.

Regarding later sources, the presence of the gender distinction between μεῖραξ and μειράκιον (and between the diminutives μειρακίσκη and μειρακίσκος) in the lexicon ascribed to Zonaras (B.7) led Alpers (1981, 182–3) to surmise that it was originally found in the Atticist Orus (fr. A 64). Further late sources that mention the distinction include B.6 and B.9. Interestingly, B.6 and B.7 preserve a paretymologyPara-etymology that links μεῖραξ to ἱμείρωἱμείρω (‘to desire’), thus implying that the term indicated a girl who was sufficiently mature for marriage (which is what Pollux, B.4, also suggests). A wholly different take on the two terms is found in the Eclogue of Thomas Magister (A.4), who contrasts the rhetors’ unanimity (πάντες οἱ ῥήτορες) with Aristophanes’ isolated usage (μόνος Ἀριστοφάνης), therefore advising the reader to avoid using μεῖραξ completely on the grounds that it is a hapax in favour of using μειράκιον to refer to young girls as well as to boys.

E. Byzantine and Modern Greek commentary

The Atticists’ aversion to the masculine use of μεῖραξ is perpetuated in grammatical and erudite sources as late as Gennadius Scholarius (15th century, see B.5). Nevertheless, the word’s extension to the masculine gender became increasingly widespread from the late imperial period onwards – initially attested mostly in novels and ecclesiastic-hagiographical literature (see e.g. Hld. 4.19.4.3 Lumb–Maillon–Rattenbury; Gr.Naz. MPG 37.740.4) – and later also in high prose and poetry of the Byzantine era (see e.g. Anna Comnene, Alexias 3.9.1.13 Kambylis–Reinsch; Nicetas Choniates, Orationes 14.145.20 van Dieten). The neuter μειράκιον – the predominant form throughout Greek literature of all periods – is preserved in Modern Greek μειράκιο only as a high-register internal borrowing: it is always used ironically to denote a boy carrying connotations of immaturity and frivolity (‘brat’; see also LKN s.v.) and would not be used to denote any boy.

F. Commentary on individual texts and occurrences

(1)    Ar.Byz. frr. 51–4 (B.1), Herenn.Phil. 42 (B.2)

Aristophanes of Byzantium listed μεῖραξ and μειράκιον along with νεανίσκοςνεανίσκος and νεανίαςνεανίας in his discussion of age-names. The sequence of the four terms, however, shows slight discrepancies in the different testimonies – that is, in the excerpts of the Lexeis of MS Par. suppl. gr. 1164Par. suppl. gr. 1164 (B.1) and in the numerous sources that ultimately rely on Alexion’s epitome of Didymus’ Miscellanea, in which Aristophanes was quoted (B.2, with all the parallels listed in the apparatus). In particular, in B.1 μειράκιον precedes the triplet μεῖραξ-νεανίσκος-νεανίας, which appears to indicate an individual of the same age (μειράκιον· εἶτα μεῖράξ τε καὶ νεανίσκος καὶ νεανίας, ὁ αὐτός), with the implication that μειράκιον indicates an individual younger than one who might equally be called μεῖραξ, νεανίσκος or νεανίας. Meanwhile, in B.2 μεῖραξ and μειράκιον are presented as synonyms, followed by the couple νεανίσκος-νεανίας (μειράκιον ἢ μεῖραξ, εἶτα νεανίσκος καὶ νεανίας). Moreover, in [Ammon.] 117 (~ [Ptol.Ascal.] Diff. 60 Palmieri, 404.1–6 Heylbut)[Ammon.] 117 (~ [Ptol.Ascal.] Diff. 60 Palmieri, 404.1–6 Heylbut), the four terms are all separated by εἶτα (μειράκιον, εἶτα μεῖραξ, εἶτα νεανίσκος, εἶτα νεανίας), suggesting that they defined different, progressively older ages (see Palmieri 1988, 87). Finally, Et.Gud. d1 307.1–15Et.Gud. d1 307.1–15 reads μειράκιον ἢ μεῖραξ, εἶτα νεανίσκος, εἶτα νεανίας.

Bibliography

Alpers, K. (1981). Das attizistische Lexicon des Oros. Untersuchung und kritische Ausgabe. Berlin, New York. Bianchi, F. P. (2017). Cratino. Introduzione e testimonianze. Heidelberg. Coward, T. R. P.; Prodi, E. E. (eds.) (2020). Didymus and Graeco-Roman Learning. London.

Henderson, J. (1975). The Maculate Muse. Obscene Language in Attic Comedy. New Haven, London.

Horrocks, G. (2010). Greek. A History of the Language and its Speakers. 2nd edition. Chichester.

Montana, F. (2022). ‘Didymus Alexandrinus’. Montanari, F.; Montana, F.; Pagani, L. (eds.), Lexicon of Greek Grammarians of Antiquity. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2451-9278_Didymus_Alexandrinus_it.

Nickau, K. (1966). Ammonii qui dicitur liber de adfinium vocabulorum differentia. Leipzig.

Pagani, L. (2022). ‘Alexion Cholus’. Montanari, F.; Montana, F.; Pagani, L. (eds.), Lexicon of Greek Grammarians of Antiquity. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2451-9278_Alexion_Cholus.

Palmieri, V. (1988). Herennius Philo. De diversis verborum significationibus. Naples.

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

CITE THIS

Federica Benuzzi, 'μεῖραξ, μειράκιον (Phryn. Ecl. 183, Moer. α 15, [Hdn.] Philet. 107, Thom.Mag. 231.16–232.5)', in Olga Tribulato (ed.), Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism. With the assistance of E. N. Merisio.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.30687/DEA/2974-8240/2022/01/015

ABSTRACT
This article provides a philological and linguistic commentary on the nouns μεῖραξ and μειράκιον, discussed in the lexica Phryn. Ecl. 183, Moer. α 15, [Hdn.] Philet. 107, Thom.Mag. 231.16–232.5.
KEYWORDS

Abuse (terms of)Age denominationsGenderScoptic languageSemanticsμειρακίσκημειρακίσκος

FIRST PUBLISHED ON

29/06/2023

LAST UPDATE

03/01/2024