From: Rod Decker (
Date: Mon Jan 06 1997 - 09:15:49 EST

This is not directly related to the current wrangle re. etymology (other
than, perhaps, to illustrate the limitations of etymology!), but any help
with the classical word SKUTOBRACION would be much appreciated.

What I know (on this subject!):

        LSJ lists it as meaning "leathern arm" and notes that it was
        a nickname given to the grammarian Dionysius (references:
        Ath 12.515e [= Athenaeus Grammaticus, ii/iii AD], cf. Sueton.
        Gramm. 7 [= Suetonius, ii AD]. (I don't have access to those texts.)

What I don't know:

        What is the point of Dionysius being nicknamed "leathern arm"?

Some background (i.e., where I first ran into this word):

I've been reading (no, that's too high a rating; maybe, "struggling to
translate" would be more accurate!) Franz Wessengruber, "Zum Verbalaspekt
im Griechischen des Neuen Testaments," _Studiem zum Neuen Testament and
Seiner Umwelt_ 16 (1991): 169-77. [= "Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the
NT," in _Studies in the NT and Its Surroundings_] In it he compares
Porter's work on aspect to Dionysius' grammatical achievements as follows
(my rough transl.):

" may say, first of all from Porter's work, that with its abundance
of passages and commentary, it may be described as nothing short of a
storehouse[of information and a reference work, and that it likewise has
great value for linguists and for exegetes.... (The ancients conferred the
nickname "Leather Arm" on the learned grammarian Dionysius because of a
comparably prodigious achievement, not without a certain undertone to be

In other words, Dionysius was named "Leather Arm" because of his monumental
achievement; Porter deserves the same title for a similarly prodigious work.

For those of you who can read it, here is the original text:

"..., lasst sich zunachest einmal von Porters Arbeit sagen dass sie mit
ihrer Fulle von Text und Kommentierungen geradezu eine Fundgrube und ein
Nachschlagewerk darstellt, das ebenso grossen Wert fur Linguisten wie fur
Exegeten hat; ... (Die Alten haben wegen einer vergleichsweise so
gewaltigen Leistung, nicht ohne einen gewissen Unterton freilich, dem
gelehrten Grammatiker Dionysios den Beinamen eines "Skytobrachion"

I'm also curious as to the implications of the "gewissen Unterton" that is

(I'm open to any corrections in my German transl. as well!)



 Rodney J. Decker, Asst. Prof./NT Baptist Bible Seminary Clarks Summit, PA

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