Wavy tail

τὸν αἰέλουρον κακὸν ἔχοντ᾽ ἐὰν ἴδῃς
κλαίεις, ἐγὼ δ᾽ ἥδιστ᾽ ἀποκτείνας δέρω.

If you see a cat suffering you cry, but I would quite happily kill it and skin it.

Athenaius. 7.55 (quoting Antiphanes)

The above was part of a comic verse looking at the difference between Egyptians and Greeks. The Greek for cat is αἴλουρος which means “wavy tail”. Perhaps ancient cats had a kink in their tail or maybe it could refer to another interpretation of the prefix αἰόλος which has no exact equivalent in English but could be rendered as shimmering referring to the glossiness of the tail or again it could refer to the quick movement of the tail. Or possibly wavy tail is a false etymology.

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One Response to Wavy tail

  1. Reblogged this on Sententiae Antiquae and commented:
    Egyptians, Greeks and abusing cats. Our friend PlatoSparks finds some fun in Athenaeus!

    Like

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