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katatomē (κατατομή) is a Greek word meaning an "incision."

Classical Greek[edit]

1. The original meaning, following etymology, in classical texts this means "incision," "notch," or "groove," (Theophrastus The Hippocratic treatises 4.8.10, and Symmachus Sm.Je.31 (48).37). Whereas aneu katatomes (ἄνευ κατατομῆς) means "uncarved," "smooth," (Inscriptiones Graecae IG12.372.134, cf. 373.231). The plural, "notches," is found in Artemidorus (1.67).[1] and "written in the incision of the rock" (ἐπέγραψεν ἐπὶ τὴν κατατομήν τῆς πέτρας) Philochorus Historicus 4th century BCE (138)[2]

2. By extension it also came to mean an architectural "incision", "nook" in a theatre, in Hyperides, perhaps the same as the orchestra (ὀρχήστρα) or diazoma (διάζωμα), (Anecdota Graeca AB270.,[3] cf. Photius Lexicographus, 9th century AD). Demosthenes placed himself beneath the katatome which suggests he may have been barred from speaking to any citizen from another phyle.[4]

Hyperides, Against Demosthenes speech 5, fragment 3

— "His real purpose, it seems, was not simply to learn the figure, but to find out from how large a sum he was to collect his commission. Sitting below in his usual place in the niche,5 he told Mnesitheus the dancer to ask Harpalus how much money there would be to take up to the Acropolis."[5]

3. A later meaning is katagraphe καταγραφή, "profile," according to Hesychius Lexicographus 5th century AD. [6]

New Testament[edit]

It is the Greek word translated "beware of the concision," in Philippians 3:2, KJV.[7] The term "mutilation" is contrasted with "we are the circumcision (περιτομή peritomē), which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." The context is the Circumcision controversy in early Christianity.[8]


  1. ^ Artemidorus Daldianus Onirocriticus [Artem.] ii A.D. Ed. R. Hercher, Leipzig 1864.
  2. ^ cf. μέταλλον καὶ κ. perh. a mine and a quarry-face, IG22.1582.70.
  3. ^ Anecdota Graeca, Berlin. 1816
  4. ^ Peter John Rhodes Athenian democracy 2004 "It is of course possible that each phyle occupied a fixed section of the ecclesia following the official order of the tribes, in which case Pandionis was next to Aegeis; but Demosthenes always placed himself beneath the katatome*1"
  5. ^ Hyperides, Against Demosthenes speech 5, fragment 3... αὐτὸν δεῖ τὸν μισθὸν πράττεσθαι. καὶ καθήμενος κάτω ὑπὸ τῇ κατατομῇ, οὗπερ [εἴω]θε κα[θῆσ]θ[αι], ἐκέλευ[ε Μνησ]ίθεον Μνησίθεον βλασς. τὸν Translation: Hyperides. Minor Attic Orators in two volumes, 2, with an English translation by J. O. Burtt, M.A. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1962.
  6. ^ κατατομή , ἡ, A. incision, notch, groove, Thphr.HP4.8.10, Sm.Je. 31 (48).37; “ἄνευ -τομῆς” uncarved, smooth, IG12.372.134, cf. 373.231: pl., Artem.1.67. II. part of a theatre, Hyp.Dem.Fr.3: variously expld. as = ὀρχήστρα or διάζωμα, AB270, cf. Phot. 2. face of rock, “ἐπέγραψεν ἐπὶ τὴν κ. τῆς πέτρας” Philoch.138; μέταλλον καὶ κ. perh. a mine and a quarry-face, IG22.1582.70. III. = καταγραφή, profile, Hsch. IV. mutilation, opp. true circumcision, a παρονομασία in Ep.Phil.3.2. Henry George Liddell. Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon. revised and augmented throughout by. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. with the assistance of. Roderick McKenzie. Oxford. Clarendon Press. 1940.
  7. ^ Greek New Testament Βλέπετε τοὺς κύνας βλέπετε τοὺς κακοὺς ἐργάτας βλέπετε τὴν κατατομήν ; KJV text 1611 "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."
  8. ^ Nicholas Thomas Wright What Saint Paul really said: was Paul of Tarsus the real founder ... - 1997 p192 "When Paul coins somewhat contemptuous puns to make this point (for instance, katatome, 'mutilation', for peritome, 'circumcision', in Philippians 3:2), this is not mere angry invective. It is the equivalent of what would happen today if ."