Studia Philosophica

Volume 62, Issue 1, 2015

Bronislav Stupňánek
Pages 5-15

Anaximander’s πρηστῆρος αὐλός

The word πρηστήρ creates confusion and controversy almost wherever it occurs. Its lexicon entry in LSJ has been revised several times but it is still not very helpful. Lack of clarity of the expression also lies in the fact that it describes tornadic, fiery, and luminous meteorological phenomena. A recent discussion about the term πρηστῆρος αὐλός in Anaximander raised this issue again. This study clarifies the meaning of πρηστῆρος αὐλός, as well as the word πρηστήρ, on the basis of examination of all known occurrences of this word. The study excludes the meaning “bellows”, the meaning “lightning” is confirmed rather for the late texts, the basic meaning “tornado” is typical especially for authors dealing with marine navigation and meteorology. Πρηστῆρος αὐλός is the funnel of a tornado. Based on current knowledge of meteorology (with regard to the Greek region), it is also explained why a tornado was often seen as fiery.