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.