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  • 1 National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Faculty of Philology, Department of Classics Panepistimioupoli Zografou 157 84 Athens Greece
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The fragments of Ephippos’ Geryones include a long description of a huge fish cooked by Geryones in a correspondingly oversized casserole (fr. 5). This kind of description is amply paralleled in folktales from around the world concerning gigantic objects. Stories of this type were widely diffused already in antiquity, both in Greece and in the Near East. It is likely that Ephippos’ passage was inspired by the popular narrative tradition of his time. Comparison with the folktale material helps understand the context of fr. 5 and its function in the play. Various traditional elements of Geryones’ myth (his gigantic size, herds of oxen, far-off island, and the cup of Helios used to reach it) are comically reflected in Ephippos’ text, intermingled with folktale motifs. As usually in folk tradition, the description of the giant fish may have been a false tale. It would doubtless stimulate the appetite of Heracles, the central hero of the play, and incite him to travel to Geryones’ land; but the hero would be finally disappointed of the huge meal he expected (a common motif in Attic comedy). Fr. 3 from the same play indicates that “Heracles losing his meal” was a recurrent Leitmotiv in the plot.