Could anyone provide a translation of "τὸ δὲ συναμφότερον φάτνας. καὶ σύμπας μὲν ὁ τῶν ὀδόντων στοῖχος φραγμὸς ὀνομάζεταi" from the Onomasticon by Julius Pollux (2.93)? I'm particularly interested in the Greek φάτνας.

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    Could you please add where in the Onomasticon this can be found, i.e. what entry? (I assume 2.93 has something to do with it, but it is too cryptic.)
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 13:18
  • Thank you for getting back to me! The following is an excerpt from The Online Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek-English Lexicon: Julius POLLUX, Onomasticon - (93) κραντῆρας δ’ αὐτοὺς ἄλλοι τε καὶ Ἀριστοτέλης καλεῖ, λέγων ἐνίοις καὶ μετ’ ὀγδοηκοστὸν ἔτος αὐτοὺς ἀνασχεῖν. ἐν ἑκατέρᾳ δὲ τῇ σιαγόνι τοὺς ἴσους ἀνταριθμητέον. τῶν μέντοι μυλῶν τὸ μὲν πρὸς τῇ σαρκὶ βωμίσκον καλοῦσιν, τὸ δὲ λεαῖνον τὰ σιτία τραπέζας, τὰς δὲ κοιλότητας ὁλμίσκους, τὸ δὲ συναμφότερον φάτνας. καὶ σύμπας μὲν ὁ τῶν ὀδόντων στοῖχος φραγμὸς ὀνομάζεται, τούτου δὲ τὸ ὑπὸ τὰς γνάθους γαμφῆλαί τε καὶ (94) σιαγόνες. . . .
    – ed huff
    Commented Jun 12, 2022 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


This is from the section περί ὀδόντων (on teeth) starting at §2.91. There’s a 1706 parallel Greek–Latin edition, edited by Gottfried Jungermann, which translates this passage as follows:

τὸ δὲ λεαῖνον τὰ σιτία, τραπέζας και τὰς κοιλότητας, όλαίσκους. τὸ συναμφότερον φάτνας, ὴ φάτνίας. καὶ σύμπας μὲν ὁ τῶν ὀδόντων στοῖχος φραγμὸς.

partem autem, quae cibum conterit, mensulas, ipsosque sinus, mortariola, utraque autem simul, phatnas aut phatnias nominant. Totus autem ordo, septum.

And they call the part [of the molars] which grinds food, the tables, and the hollow, the mortars, and both together, phatnas or phatnias, and the whole row, the fence.

Julius Pollux (2nd century). Onomasticon 2.93. Latin translation by Gottfried Jungermann (1706), p. 200. Amsterdam: Officina Wetsteniana. Diacritics as printed.

Note that this has slightly different Greek text from that quoted in the question, which comes from the 1824 Dindorf edition, volume 1, p. 98.

Perhaps this is clearer in tabular form:

English Latin (Jungermann) Greek (Pollux)
cusps mensulas (= tables) τραπέζας
grooves mortariola (= mortars) όλαίσκους
crown? phatnas/phatnias φάτνας/φάτνίας
side? arch? septum (= fence) φραγμὸς

The fact that Jungermann has had to transliterate and not translate shows that he didn’t know the proper Latin equivalent of φάτνας. Liddell and Scott have this under the headword φάτν-η meaning “manger”:

φάτν-η A. manger, crib […] III. socket of tooth, Poll. 2.93.

Henry George Liddell & Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised by Henry Stuart Jones & Roderick McKenzie (1940). Oxford: Clarendon Press. Via perseus.tufts.edu.

But even if their etymology is correct, the definition seems wrong, as Pollux clearly says that φάτνας refers to cusps and grooves συναμφότερον (= both together). It’s not clear whether this means pairs of cusps and the corresponding grooves on the other jaw into which they fit; or whether this means adjacent cusps and grooves on the same tooth, but a derivation from “manger” would suggest the latter, so that “crown” would be a more plausible definition than “socket”.

  • Thank you for digging into this passage and your thoughts. Euripides, in a random selection of his works, has had the Greek 'φάτνας' translated as 'feeding trough,' 'stable,' and 'manger!' My interest in all this stems from Luke's Gospel where he uses this word four times and the only ocurrences in the entire New Testament are in chapter two of his account describing the birth of Christ. I'm not sure how 'stable' was derived etymologically.
    – ed huff
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 0:52
  • @edhuff The development from "manger" to "stable" is a case of synecdoche. We have a similar case in English for the word "crib", which originally meant "receptacle for fodder" but developed via "stall" to mean "house". Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 7:22
  • Very interesting and it certainly makes sense! Thanks Gareth!
    – ed huff
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 12:47

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