Поросята или подсвинки (Xen. Mem. 1, 2, 30)?

Translated title of the contribution: Piglets or Shoats (Xenophon Memorabilia 1, 2, 30)?

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This article presents an episode from Xenophon’s Memorabilia.
Despite the entreaties of Socrates to refrain from doing so, Critias persists in his attempts to seduce the handsome Euthydemus (1, 2, 29–30). Then, in the presence of Euthydemus and many other people, Socrates calls Critias’s desire swinish, adding that he is trying to rub up against Euthydemus in the same way that τὰ ὕδια rub up against a rock (1, 2, 30). The word ὕδια has not attracted the attention of scholars who have commented on this passage. It has been translated as ‘piglets’ (Sergey Sobolevsky, Amy Bonnette) or ‘pigs’ (Edgar Marchant, Vivienne Gray).
Meanwhile, this word is extremely rare, practically a hapax legomenon. This seems strange, after all, since the word ὕδιον is a diminutive of ὗς and should signify ‘piglet’ or ‘piggy’. In Greek, there were more than a few rather widely used denotations for various classes of pigs, including piglets. Why then did the word ὕδιον prove to be so uncommon? I propose the following explanation: the diminutive suggests that this is not about adult
males. At the same time, however, these are animals that already have a sexual drive. It is known that pigs reach puberty at an early age, when they are around 4–5 months old. Such pigs, between the ages of 4 and 10 months and not yet fully developed, are called shoats. Apparently, the word ὕδιον was a special term, or at least had the sufficiently restricted meaning of ‘shoat’. Perhaps this is why it has turned out to be a hapax legomenon for us. On the other hand, judging from the material gathered by David
Schaps, another diminutive, δελφάκιον, had a much broader meaning. This word was used in relation to pigs of various ages and turns out to have been much more common.
Translated title of the contributionPiglets or Shoats (Xenophon Memorabilia 1, 2, 30)?
Original languageRussian
Pages (from-to)989-995
Number of pages7
JournalИндоевропейское языкознание и классическая филология
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019
EventИндоевропейское языкознание и классическая филология (Чтения памяти И.М.Тронского - Институт лингвистических исследований РАН, Санкт-Петербург, Russian Federation
Duration: 24 Jun 201926 Jun 2019
Conference number: 23


  • Socrates
  • Memorabilia
  • diminutive
  • Schaps
  • pig
  • piglet
  • shoat
  • hys
  • hoiros
  • hydion
  • delphakion

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