The Libyan Birth of Athena

Fr. 37

       οἵη τε Τρίτωνος ἐφ' ὕδασιν Ἀσβύσταο

         Ἡφαίστου λόχιον θηξ[α]μένου πέλεκυν  

       βρέγμ[α]το[ς] ἐκ δίοιο σὺν ἔντ[ε]σιν []λαο πατρός

Fr. 37 Harder (= 37 Pf., = 44 Mass.)
  1 St. Byz. 1.270
  2-3 anon. comm. in P.Oxy. 2260 [image], Trismegistos 59148

The three lines of this story which remain describe Athena's birth from the head of Zeus. Callimachus locates the event near the Asbystian lake, Triton. Whether this is an aition of her birth, a description of a statue, or part of a dream sequence is debated.

Fr. 37

οἷος οἵη οἷον: (such) as, of what sort (Lat. qualis), with antecedent τοῖος expressed or implied.

Τρίτων -ωνος, ὁ: the river Triton, of which there were three, in Boeotia, Thessaly, and Libya. Here the Libyan one is meant.

Ἀσβύστα, gen. Ἀσβύσταο, ὁ: Asby(s)ta, a place in Libya; the Abystae were a tribe south of Cyrene

λόχιος -α -ον: of or belonging to childbirth

θήγω: to sharpen, whet

πέλεκυς -εως, ὁ: axe

βρέγμα -ατος, τό: front or top of the head

δῖος, δῖα, δῖον: heavenly, noble, divine

ἔντεα ἐντέων, τά: arms, armor, fighting gear 

ἅλλομαι, fut. ἁλοῦμαι, aor. 1 ἡλάμην, aor. 2 ἡλόμην, aor. 2 inf. ἁλέσθαι: spring, leap, bound

Fr. 37

as, near by the waters of the Asbystian (river) Triton,

after Hephaestus whetted his obstetric axe,

you leapt, in armor, from the divine head of your father.

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Suggested Citation

Susan Stephens, Callimachus: Aetia. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-947822-07-8.