Thursday, February 18, 2016
The Worst of the Worst
ἔσχατ᾽ ἐσχάτων κακάSeth Schein in his commentary translates "the most extreme of extreme evils," but of course it's actually "the most extreme of most extreme evils," or "evils most extreme of the most extreme," with two superlatives. Schein and other commentators compare Oedipus the King 465 (ἄρρητ' ἀρρήτων) and Oedipus at Colonus 1238 (κακὰ κακῶν), but there the adjectives are in the positive degree. Examples of adjectives with genitives of the same adjective in the positive degree aren't uncommon, but two superlatives, such as Sophocles has in Philoctetes 65, seem rarer. Cf. Plautus, Casina 793 (pessumarum pessuma) and see M.L. West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 112, who calls these elative expressions.