The Ancient Library

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On this page: Olympus – Omen – Omphale – Omphalos – Onager – Onatas – Onesandrus – Onesicritus



L. Bevier is included in the Papers of the American Classical School at Athens, 1885, vol. i 183-222.] [J. E. S.]

Olympus. (1) A mountain situated in Thessaly, the summit of which [nearly 10,000 feet above the sea] rises from the region of the earth's atmosphere into the sky, and was, according to the earliest popular belief of the Greeks, the abode of the higher (hence named Olympian) gods. Below the summit, which, according to Homer's description, is never ruffled by winds or drenched with rain, but is always radiant in cloudless splendour [Od. vi 42-45], comes the region of clouds, which Zeus at one time gathers together and at another dispels; it forms the boundary between the celestial region and that of the earth', and accordingly Homer elsewhere implies that the clouds are the gates of heaven, which are guarded by the Hours [II. v 749]. On the highest peak Zeus has his throne, and it is there that he summons the assemblies of the gods. The abodes of the other gods were imagined to be placed on the precipices and in the ravines of the mountain. When the height of the vault of heaven came to be regarded as the abode of the gods, the name Olympus was transferred to the sky.

(2) One of the mythic poets and musicians belonging to Phrygian mythology, pupil of Marsyas. The art of flute-playing, invented by Marsyas, was supposed to have been per­fected by Olympus. A Phrygian family, in which the art of flute-playing was here­ditary, traced their descent from him. The Phrygian Olympus, who lived about the 7th century before Christ, invented the auletic ndmos (q.v.~), and brought it into esteem among the Asiatic Greeks, was said to have been descended from the mythical Olympus.

Omen. The Roman term for a favour­able or unfavourable sign, especially a word spoken by chance, so far as it drew the at­tention of the hearers to itself and appeared to be a prognostic. An omen could be ac­cepted or repudiated, and even taken in an arbitrary sense, except in the case of words which already had in themselves a favour­able or unfavourable signification. For example, when Crassus was embarking on his unfortunate expedition against the Par-thians, and a man in the harbour was selling dry figs from Caunus with the cry Cauneas, which sounded like cave ne eas, " beware of going," this was an evil omen [Cic., De Div. ii 84]. On festal occasions care was taken to protect oneself from such omens ; for example, when sacrifice was being made, by

veiling the head, by commanding silence, and by music that drowned any word spoken. People were particularly careful at solemn addresses, new year greetings, and the like. On the other hand, for the sake of the good omen, it was usual to open levies and censuses by calling out those names that were of good import, such as Valerius (from vdlerl, to be strong), Salvlus (from salvere, to be well), etc. [Cic., Pro Scauro, 30. The word omen probably means a voice or utterance].

Omphale. Daughter of lardanns, widow of Tmolus, and queen of Lydia, with whom Heracles spent three years in bondage. (See heracles.)

Omphalos. A marble boss in the temple of Apollo at Delphi, which was regarded as the centre of the earth. (See delphic oracle.)

Onager. A catapult for hurling stones. (See further, artillery.)

Onatas. A Greek artist, the chief repre­sentative of the Jiginetan school of sculpture in bronze, about 460 b.c. Besides statues of the gods, such as an Apollo at Pergamon, admired for its size and execution [Pau-sanias, viii 42 § 7], we hear of groups of his, rich in figures, drawn either from the heroic epoch, as for example the ten Greek heroes casting lots as to who should under­take the battle with Hector [ib. v 25 § 8]; or from contemporary history, such as the votive offering of Vie Tarentines, containing equestrian and pedestrian combatants, and consecrated at Delphi for their victory over the barbarian Peucetians [ib. x 13 § 10]. He also executed a group representing HlfrO of Syracuse with the chariot in which he had been victorious at Olympia [ib. viii 42 § 8]. [His most remarkable work was the bronze figure of the black De-meter, in a cavern thirty stadia from Phigaleia in the south-east corner of Elis (ib. viii 42).]

Onesandrus (wrongly Onosandrus). A Greek philosopher, the composer of a work dedicated to Q. Veranius, consul in 49 a.d., and dealing with the Duty of a General, in which he treats the subject in philosophical commonplaces, without any practical ac­quaintance with it, and simply from an ethical point of view.

Oneslcrltus. A Greek historian, of the island of Astypalsea or ^Egina. In ad­vanced years he was a pupil of the Cynic Diogenes, and then accompanied Alexander the Great upon his expedition. By order of Alexander he investigated, with Nearchus, the route by sea from India to the mouths

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