Euripides, Dramatic Fragments

LCL 504: 556-557

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Pechstein 177–84; H. Van Looy in ed. Budé VIII.2.333–6; Krumeich 475–6. LIMC VI.i.189 ‘Lamia’.

Lamia was a beautiful Libyan girl seduced by Zeus; in jealousy Zeus’s wife Hera destroyed the children she bore. Lamia’s grief made her hideous, and she became a killer of others’ children (Duris FGrH 76 F 17, whence Scholia to Aristophanes, Peace 758 and Wasps 1035 etc.). Such a bogey figure would suit comedy (Crates wrote a play with her name) or satyric drama.

While the Alexandrian cataloguers of Euripides’ works did not list the play, there was a much repeated testimony of the 1st c. b.c. Roman antiquarian Varro about ‘the second of the Sibyls, a Libyan, whom Euripides mentioned in the prologue of his Lamia’ (F 56a Cardauns = test. i), and Diodorus cites two verses (F 472m below) which may have provided the basis for Varro’s information. Further, Pausanias 10.12.1 records a tradition that the most ancient Sibyl at Delphi was a daughter of Zeus and Lamia, and called Sibylla by the Libyans. Whether Pausanias reflects Euripides in any way is not known, but it seems likely that there was a Euripidean satyr play of this name which was lost very early; if so, its plot can only be guessed (cf. H. W. Parke, Sibyls and Sibylline Prophecy in Classical Antiquity [London, 1988], 104–5).

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.euripides-dramatic_fragments.2008