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All Greek to me

The longest word in Ancient Greek literature comes from Aristophanes’ comic play Assemblywomen. It is 78 syllables long.

Thalia

Louvre Museum / Public domain

In Assemblywomen, women take over the governance of Athens and institute a universal basic income, free love, communal parenting, and tort reform. Well, they ban all lawsuits, so that counts as a kind of tort reform. You’d think this comedy was making fun of women, but it’s worse: it’s apparently making fun of the existing male leadership of Athens by comparing them to women. Wow, just charming Aristophanes.

Anyway, at the end of the play everyone settles down for a big feast. And served at that feast is the following dish:

λοπαδο­τεμαχο­σελαχο­γαλεο­κρανιο­λειψανο­δριμυπο­τριμματο­σιλφιο­καραβομελιτο­κατα­κεχυμενο­κιχλεπικοσσυφοφαττο­περιστεραλεκτρυονοπτο­κεφαλλιο­κιγκλοπελειο­λαγῳοσιραιο­βαφητραγανο­πτερύγων

Not a word you’ve heard before? Try the transliteration into the Latin alphabet:

Lopadotemachoselachogaleokranioleipsanodrimhypotrimmatosilphioparaomelitokatakechymenokichlepikossyphophattoperisteralektryonoptekephalliokigklopeleiolagoiosiraiobaphetraganopterygon

Still drawing a blank? There are a few English translations, but this one is perhaps the clearest:

Plattero-filleto-mulleto-turboto-cranio-morselo-pickleo-acido-silphio-honeyo-pouredonthe-topothe-ouzelo-throstleo-cushato-culvero-cutleto-roastingo-marowo-dippero-leveret-syrupu-gibleto-wings.

Yup, this ridiculous word is one big long recipe. Ingredients include fish, thrush, pigeon, shark, and that extinct birth control plant I wrote about a few months back. Not only is this word the longest in Greek literature, it’s the longest word to appear in literature. (Well, by a “major author” according to Wikipedia. I suppose that’s reasonable, because otherwise I would self-publish a book with a longer word right now.)

Categories: Arts & recreation Europe Language Literature Places

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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