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Reading Thucydides 2014

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Thu Sep 04, 2014 2:01 am

John, I've paused my rereading of Thucydides to read through Demosthenes' speech on the Crown for another thread. Any chance you might join us for this? After Thucydides it's a breeze! (Not really.)
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:44 am

Bill - many thanks, and apologies for the late reply.

I would certainly have liked to join you and others in this, but unfortunately I'm snowed under at the moment with various other commitments, so regretfully I'll have to pass. But thanks for thinking of me in this context.

I'll perhaps have a crack at this speech at a later date - I've never read any Demosthenes, and really ought to do so.

Good luck to you and the others with your reading.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Lucretius2327 » Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:28 pm

Before attacking anything as difficult as Thucydides, I would suggest getting a firm basis in Herodotus and/or Xenophon. The speeches of Thucydides are back-breakingly difficult and though the standard narratives of military movement are pretty straight forward, things like the opening bit on early Greek history are very complex in their syntax. Herodotus is much simpler and about 200 pages of him would give a good deal of fluency. Xenophon, of course, is the classic; but he is a bit dull. I have hand-written PDFs of running vocabulary to most of Herodotus. My bits for books 8 and 9 are the best to begin with (I think) and also one can follow the double-green Cambridge commentaries for advanced information. I honestly think one should work up to Thucydides in order to minimize the pain. But if one is REALLY bent on that, I myself would be glad to read the first few chapters with someone on Google Hangouts — just to help one orient.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Lucretius2327 » Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:31 pm

Qimmik,

How far are you along on De Corona? I have been wanting to re-read it, and got about 4 pages in when other things distracted me. If there is an ongoing group, I would love to join in.

WMR
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:44 pm

Walter,

I finished De Corona a few weeks ago. I'm about to finish Phaedrus now. Not sure whether I'll go back and re-read Thucydides--I've got a backlog of stuff to read, not all in Greek.

Bill
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Lucretius2327 » Tue Oct 07, 2014 6:10 pm

Oh, yes, we all have a backlog of reading . . . a lot of it not Greek. Ha, ha. No doubt I will be seeing you around Textkit.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat Feb 07, 2015 6:48 pm

I've revived this thread to ask a question, if I may, arising from Thucydides 5.10.6. At this point Brasidas and his troops are about to sally forth from Amphipolis to mount a surprise attack on the withdrawing Athenians:

καὶ ὁ μὲν κατὰ τὰς ἐπὶ τὸ σταύρωμα πύλας καὶ τὰς πρώτας τοῦ μακροῦ τείχους τότε ὄντος ἐξελθὼν ἔθει δρόμῳ τὴν ὁδὸν ταύτην εὐθεῖαν, ᾗπερ νῦν κατὰ τὸ καρτερώτατον τοῦ χωρίου ἰόντι τροπαῖον ἕστηκε, καὶ προσβαλὼν τοῖς Ἀθηναίοις πεφοβημένοις τε ἅμα τῇ σφετέρᾳ ἀταξίᾳ καὶ τὴν τόλμαν αὐτοῦ ἐκπεπληγμένοις κατὰ μέσον τὸ στράτευμα τρέπει.

It's the bit in bold, and specifically εὐθεῖαν, that is troubling me. Some take it as meaning that Brasidas advanced at a run straight along this road; others interpret it as simply meaning that the road was straight.

I've so far been inclined to take it as restrictvely qualifying τὴν ὁδὸν, in the sense 'the road where it ran straight', i.e. 'the straight section of the road'. But I'n unsure about the force of ταύτην - is it looking ahead to the clarification provided by ᾗπερ etc., qualifying τὴν ὁδὸν in conjunction with εὐθεῖαν (as per my suggestion above) or fulfilling some other function here?

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:41 pm

Hi John,

I’m not sure this is an either/or choice. I suppose εθει ευθειαν by itself would mean “he ran straight” (he ran a straight course), while την οδον ταυτην ευθειαν suggests the route itself was straight—and he could hardly have run straight up it if it wasn’t. If pressed I’d say ευθειαν was predicative, and not necessarily restrictive, but I wouldn’t see that as incompatible with a quasi-adverbial function. Don’t the two merge? ταυτην I’d take to be anticipatory of ᾗπερ, as you suggest, rather than looking back to a road/route whose existence is no better than implied in what precedes.

Michael
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:58 am

Michael - many thanks for your help.

I take your point about this not necessarily being a matter of 'either/or' - except that, for the (admittedly self-restricting) purpose of revising my Thucydides translation, I'm faced with making such a choice. Since I can't recall Thucydides using an adjectival form in this way when he talks about someone heading straight for somewhere (though perhaps straight along, as here, is different in that there's an object for the adjective to agree with), I'm currently choosing to take εὐθεῖαν as predicative, and to translate:

' ... and charged along the road (which runs straight) where the trophy now stands as one passes the strongest part of the place ...'

I hope this makes sense - thanks again.


Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:01 pm

John,

I must say I don’t care too much for the parenthesis. It’s not as if it’s ἥπερ ευθεια εστιν or even ευθειαν ουσαν. I’d prefer “along the straight road” (even if that loses the predicativeness), but I suspect (though I can’t say quite why) “straight along the road” gets closer.

Would “raced” rather than “charged” be more faithful?

“, where today a trophy stands, at the strongest point of the place as one goes along”? At all events not “the trophy.”

Best,
Michael
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat Mar 07, 2015 8:48 pm

mwh wrote:John,

I must say I don’t care too much for the parenthesis. It’s not as if it’s ἥπερ ευθεια εστιν or even ευθειαν ουσαν. I’d prefer “along the straight road” (even if that loses the predicativeness), but I suspect (though I can’t say quite why) “straight along the road” gets closer.

Would “raced” rather than “charged” be more faithful?

“, where today a trophy stands, at the strongest point of the place as one goes along”? At all events not “the trophy.”

Best,
Michael


Michael - many apologies for having only just spotted this post of yours; I must have been dozier than normal in the last few weeks.

I'm happy to agree with the various points you've made, and I'm grateful for your suggestions. I too was less than happy with the parenthesis, and only kept it to indicate the predicative status of εὐθεῖαν.

I've found an article entitled 'Excavating Classical Amphipolis' by Chaido Koukouli-Chrysanthaki (BAR International Series 1031, 2002), which includes suggested maps of this battle after W.K. Pritchett and N. Jones, both of which show the 'straight road'. I need to study this article, and any other sources I can find, in more detail (since the topography of the action seems far from certain), but in the mean time I'll probably stick with 'straight road' for now (though I'll also give further thought to your 'straight along the road').

I also like your suggestion of 'raced', and the change from 'the trophy' to 'a trophy', both of which I'll gratefully adopt.

My thanks, and apologies, again.


Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:41 am

I’d be grateful for help with a passage in Book 7.

In 7.29 Thucydides describes the horrific massacre of the inhabitants of Mycalessus by a party of Thracians. The Mycalessians were caught undefended and off their guard, and the Thracians killed everyone whom they met with, young and old alike, not sparing even the livestock. In explanation Thucydides adds (7.29.4):

τὸ γὰρ γένος τὸ τῶν Θρᾳκῶν ὁμοῖα τοῖς μάλιστα τοῦ βαρβαρικοῦ, ἐν ᾧ ἂν θαρσήσῃ, φονικώτατόν ἐστιν.

Commentators seem agreed that τοῖς μάλιστα τοῦ βαρβαρικοῦ = τοῖς μάλιστα <φονικοῖς> τοῦ βαρβαρικοῦ. What I’m really struggling with is the force of the adverbial ὁμοῖα here. Does the passage mean:

(a) ‘for the Thracian race, like the most bloodthirsty of the barbarian peoples, is especially murderous whenever it has nothing to fear’, or:

(b) ‘for the Thracian race - which is on a par with the most bloodthirsty of the barbarian peoples - is especially murderous whenever it has nothing to fear’.

Opinions seem divided on this – de Romilly favours the second option. I suppose it depends on whether one takes ὁμοῖα in a strictly adverbial sense, or as functioning in a more adjectival manner. According to Betant’s Lexicon Thucydideum, the only other adverbial occurrence of ὁμοῖα in Thucydides is at 1.25.4, where the Corcyraeans are described as follows (in Alberti’s text):

κἀν [καὶ OCT] χρημάτων δυνάμει ὄντες κατ᾽ ἐκεῖνον τὸν χρόνον ὁμοῖα τοῖς Ἑλλήνων πλουσιωτάτοις

which I have translated :

‘since at that time the Corcyraeans possessed financial power on a par with the wealthiest of the Hellenes’.

Here the use of ὁμοῖα seems an instance of an adverb having adjectival force, so perhaps the same is true at 7.29.4, which would point to option (b). Any thoughts would, however, be most welcome.


Many thanks,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Sat Mar 28, 2015 4:23 pm

Herodotus apparently uses this idiom, too, in a way that suggests your first interpretation (adverbial) is correct. See LSJ ὅμοιος :

C. Adv., freq. in the neut. sg. and pl. ὅμοιον, ὅμοια (older ὁμοῖον, ὁμοῖα) in like manner with, c. dat., ὁμοῖα τοῖσι μάλιστα 'second to none', Hdt.3.8, cf. Th.7.29 ; “ὁμοῖα τοῖσι πλουσιωτάτοισι” Hdt.3.57 ; “ὅμοιον μουσίσδει . . ταῖσιν ἀηδονίσι” Theoc.8.37 : folld. by a relat. Partic., ὁμοῖον ὥστε . . even as, S.Ant.587 (lyr.) ; “ὁ. ὡς εἰ . . ” Pl.Lg.628d ; “ὁμοῖα καὶ βοῦς ἐργάτης” S.Fr.563.


Herodotus 3.8:

σέβονται δὲ Ἀράβιοι πίστεις ἀνθρώπων ὅμοια τοῖσι μάλιστα,

3.57:

χρημάτων γὰρ ἐδέοντο, τὰ δὲ τῶν Σιφνίων πρήγματα ἤκμαζε τοῦτον τὸν χρόνον, καὶ νησιωτέων μάλιστα ἐπλούτεον, ἅτε ἐόντων αὐτοῖσι ἐν τῇ νήσῳ χρυσέων καὶ ἀργυρέων μετάλλων, οὕτω ὥστε ἀπὸ τῆς δεκάτης τῶν γινομένων αὐτόθεν χρημάτων θησαυρὸς ἐν Δελφοῖσι ἀνάκειται ὅμοια τοῖσι πλουσιωτάτοισι: αὐτοὶ δὲ τὰ γινόμενα τῷ ἐνιαυτῷ ἑκάστῳ χρήματα διενέμοντο.
Last edited by Qimmik on Sat Mar 28, 2015 4:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby jeidsath » Sat Mar 28, 2015 4:26 pm

Two adverbial examples from Herodotus:

σέβονται δὲ Ἀράβιοι πίστις ἀνθρώπων ὅμοια τοῖσι μάλιστα

and

οὕτω ὥστε ἀπὸ τῆς δεκάτης τῶν γινομένων αὐτόθεν χρημάτων θησαυρὸς ἐν Δελφοῖσι ἀνάκειται ὅμοια τοῖσι πλουσιωτάτοισι

Is there a reason not to take τοῖς μάλιστα similarly to τοῖσι?

For the race of the Thracians, more than any other foreigners, are the most murderous when they can be in a position of confidence.

EDIT: Qimmik comes in first.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat Mar 28, 2015 5:19 pm

Bill, Joel - many thanks for your comments. Looks like adverbial it is, then - which on further reflection I was inclining to myself.

Thanks too for the interesting Herodotean passages. In the one from 3.8, I wonder if one should take ὅμοια τοῖσι μάλιστα as ὅμοια τοῖσι μάλιστα <σεβόμενοις>, on the basis of how the commentators seem to take ὅμοια τοῖσι μάλιστα in the passage from Thucydides.


All the best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat May 16, 2015 7:36 am

Before signing off on my translation of Thucydides (as I hope to do within the next month or so), I’m revisiting one or two problem passages. One of these – which in fact was previously discussed on page 9 of this thread back in March 2013 – occurs in 8.48.3. The passage relates to the consideration, by the Athenians on Samos, of proposals from Alcibiades to gain Persian support for the Athenians by switching from democracy to oligarchy:

(i) καὶ ὁ μὲν ὄχλος, εἰ καί τι παραυτίκα ἤχθετο τοῖς πρασσομένοις, διὰ τὸ εὔπορον τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ παρὰ βασιλέως μισθοῦ ἡσύχαζεν ...

The point at issue here is the meaning of τὸ εὔπορον. The matter is complicated by two other instances of εὔπορος in the next section of this very chapter, viz.:

(ii) καὶ τοῖς μὲν ἄλλοις ἐφαίνετο εὔπορα καὶ πιστά ...

(iii) [τῷ] βασιλεῖ τε οὐκ εὔπορον εἶναι καὶ Πελοποννησίων ἤδη ὁμοίως ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ ὄντων καὶ πόλεις ἐχόντων ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ ἀρχῇ οὐ τὰς ἐλαχίστας, Ἀθηναίοις προσθέμενον, οἷς οὐ πιστεύει, πράγματα ἔχειν ...

After the previous discussion on here, my translation of these three passages was as follows:

(i) ‘The common throng, though initially somewhat aggrieved at what was being done, remained inactive because its hope of pay from the King seemed readily achievable ...’

(ii) ‘While to the rest the proposals seemed easy to effect and trustworthy ...’

(iii) ‘While for the King it was not advantageous, with the Peloponnesians too now equally present at sea, and holding cities – and those not the smallest – in his dominion, to gain trouble by associating himself with the Athenians, whom he did not trust ...’

I’ve now started wondering whether even Thucydides would use the same word in two different senses so close together. Example (iii) does appear to mean ‘advantageous’; could that sense also apply to the other two instances? If so, perhaps they could be rendered as follows:

(i) ‘The common throng, though initially somewhat aggrieved at what was being done, remained inactive because of the advantages that would flow from the hoped-for pay from the King ...’

(ii) ‘While to the rest the proposals seemed advantageous and trustworthy ...’

With apologies for raising this issue again, I’d be grateful for any further thoughts on these (or other) options.


Many thanks,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Sat May 16, 2015 1:41 pm

John, look at Bétant and then at LSJ, not just εὔπορος, but also εὐπορία, εὐπορέω, etc. These words have two basic meanings: "ease/easy to pass through," related to πείρω, πόρος, and "well-provided," "abundant," related to πορίζω, πορεύω, and ultimately also to πόρος.

It seems to me that instead of changing (i) and (ii) to "advantageous," it would be better to find a way to relate (iii) more closely to "easy," as Bétant does (facilis, commodus). Perhaps "opportune," which straddles both "easy" and "advantageous," might work for (iii), and maybe (ii) also.

I think "readily achievable" is a possibility for (i), although it could be related to "abundant" (as Bétant thinks, copia): Thucydides' idea, I think, could be captured by translating "their expectation of the abundance of pay from the King," "their expectation of abundant pay from the King," instead of, with strict literalism, "the abundance of their expectation of pay from the King." This interpretation doesn't seem impossible to me.

I'm hoping mwh chimes in here with his usual insight.

Bill

Addendum: I see now that two years ago I was disinclined to interpret (i) as "abundance," but I offer no apologies for my inconsistency.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat May 16, 2015 4:32 pm

Bill - many thanks for your comments, and especially for drawing my attention to the 'dual etymology' (as it were) of εὔπορος etc., on which I must confess I hadn't focused.

I'll reflect further in the light of your comments. Anything from Michael would, as you say, also be extremely helpful.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Sat May 16, 2015 8:40 pm

So graciously invited, I’ll chip in, but expect no special insight from me. I’m badly out of touch with Thucydides. But reading quickly through the chapter (and getting over the feeling of Oh no not Alcibiades and Tissaphernes again!) I found myself reading all three instances in pretty well the usual way, pretty well the same way. The mob, being a mob, found it easy to entertain the hope/expectation of royal pay (ελπις comes easy, is readily attainable; a touch of cynicism on Thuc’s part?). The proposal appeared easily achievable to all but Phrynichus. And Phrynchus reckoned that it wouldn’t be easy for the King (it wouldn’t be a call he could easily make) to make trouble for himself by taking up with the certifiably untrustworthy Athenians when he could make friends of the powerful Peloponnesians, from whom he had never (yet!) suffered harm.

But this is just a off-the-cuff response, offered without going back to read the earlier posts and without even properly reading these new ones. Once I do that I may have to reconsider! And I’m glad I don’t have to consider how best to translate.

Best,
Michael
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sun May 17, 2015 7:23 pm

Michael - many thanks indeed for your comments.

Perhaps (iii) could be rendered: 'While for the King it was impracticable ...' (or something like that). Example (ii) could stay as 'easy to effect'. The real problem, of course, is (i); unless it means that (as I had it before) the throng's hope was 'readily achievable', perhaps one should go with 'because of its ready hope of pay from the King' - i.e. the hope came readily (possibly with the implication '... even if the pay did not').

I'll reflect further; let me know if you have any additional thoughts. And thanks again to both you and Bill for your comments.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Mon May 18, 2015 8:23 am

I've now noticed that in 8.48.1 we have the expression πολλὰς ἐλπίδας εἶχον, '[the most powerful of the citizens] conceived great hopes'. This may - or may not - support the idea that τὸ εὔπορον τῆς ἐλπίδος could mean 'the abundance of their hopes'. Just thought I'd mention it.

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Mon May 18, 2015 8:57 pm

John,
That expression certainly does not tell in favor of “the abundance of their hopes” in our problem passage. For Thucydides as for everyone else abundant hopes are πολλαί hopes. I seriously doubt that even Thucydides could apply ευπορος to ελπις and mean “abundant” by it. (What is an abundant hope anyway? You are forced to pluralize it.)

Incidentally, is “conceived” right for ειχον? Wouldn’t that be εσχον? Rather “entertained” or “nurtured” or just “had”?

More later on your previous.

Michael
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby jeidsath » Mon May 18, 2015 11:11 pm

Is it the hope that came easy, or does the crowd think that the hope of pay is εὔπορον -- ie., that this will be easy money.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Tue May 19, 2015 8:38 am

mwh wrote:John,
That expression certainly does not tell in favor of “the abundance of their hopes” in our problem passage. For Thucydides as for everyone else abundant hopes are πολλαί hopes. I seriously doubt that even Thucydides could apply ευπορος to ελπις and mean “abundant” by it. (What is an abundant hope anyway? You are forced to pluralize it.)

Incidentally, is “conceived” right for ειχον? Wouldn’t that be εσχον? Rather “entertained” or “nurtured” or just “had”?

More later on your previous.

Michael


Michael - many thanks. I'm sure you're right about πολλὰς ἐλπίδας - I'm just chucking anything and everything potentially illuminating (even if only negatively) into the pot at the moment in a desperate attempt to sort this all out. I do think, however, that in English one could be said to have 'abundant hope' (though not, as you point out, 'an abundant hope').

You're also, of course, right re εἶχον - as I realised belatedly after my last post.

I look forward to your further thoughts in due course.


Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Tue May 19, 2015 9:06 am

jeidsath wrote:Is it the hope that came easy, or does the crowd think that the hope of pay is εὔπορον -- ie., that this will be easy money.


Joel - this is indeed one of the problems with this passage. In total, in translations and commentaries, I've found the following possibilities (in no particular order):

(i) the abundance of its (the throng's) hope(s);

(ii) its ready hope (i.e. the hope came readily to the throng);

(iii) the throng's belief that its hope would be easy to achieve;

(iv) the ease (or comfort) that would result from receiving the pay from the King.

I haven't raised (iv) in this latest discussion, though it is favoured by the commentaries on Book 8 by Tucker (1892) and Goodhart (1893); both of these look at the phrase in isolation, and neither attempts to bring the two neighbouring instances of εὔπορος into the discussion. The larger commentaries don't address this problem.

The matter is interesting (a) because, whereas most problems in interpreting Thucydides revolve around larger grammatical constructions, this one arises from the ambiguity of a single word, and (b) because there are two other instances of the same word very close by which may (or may not) help.


Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Thu May 21, 2015 8:19 pm

John – As soon as I reach a settled opinion, it becomes unsettled again. But another passage to throw into the pot—obscurum per obscurius?—might be that horrendously Thucydidean section of Diodotus’ speech in the Mytilene debate. At 3.45.5 ελπις and ερως do the most (or very much) harm, the former την ευπορίαν της τύχης υποτιθεῖσα, whatever that means. Is the genitive possessive, “by holding out the prospect (vel sim.) of the ευπορια that τυχη might provide”? If (if!) so, that might (might!) be analogous to our passage: the ευπορον that the ελπις of pay provided?? That would bring us close to Tucker’s “the expectation of wages from the king made things look easy for them”. This may be preferable to the interpretation I offered before, that is (ii) in the list of “possibilities” you lay out for Joel. But day by day I become less sure.

My initial reactions to those listed options were as follows.
(i) Can ευπορον be so used? Doubtful at best, I’d say. (You are of course quite right to point out that “abundant hope” is perfectly good English.)
(ii) After I suggested this interpretation I did go back and look at the earlier discussion on p.9 of this thread, and it didn’t seem to accord with any of the interpretations there reported, none of which rang true with me. But I haven’t gone back again to check. If in fact it’s new, well, then it’s probably wrong. Too literal a reading? I still like it, though. It accords with what ευπορον normally means, and it doesn’t invest the word with a meaning quite distinct from the succeeding occurrences of it. Semantic consistency is too much to ask of Thucydides, of course, but when they’re so very close, and there are three of them, can it be sound to regard each as entirely unconnected with the others? (Nice if they could be translated identically, but that seems impossible. I’d rule out “advantageous” for the third, however, or for any of them.)
(iii) is fudge. I suppose it’s meant to imply that the object of their hope, i.e. the pay, would be easy to achieve, but can that be elicited from the Greek? Hopes can be fulfilled (or not), but can they be ευποροι in any sense other than (ii)? — “the hope of wages” tantamount to “the hoped for wages”? (And of course the text doesn’t describe the hope as ευπορος; the genitive could be variously construed.)
(iv) is interesting, but surely can’t be right. It elides hope, and makes the expression much too dense even for Thuc.

After mulling over them a bit more, I’m much less sure. (And I see your formulation of Tucker’s view in (iv) doesn’t quite accord with the quotation I give above.) I’d still be inclined to attribute this to my defective control of Thuc’s thinking more than to any inherent ambiguousness, however. I think the Greek must carry a single definite meaning, at least in Thuc.'s mind, whether we can see it or not. I wouldn’t say that of all authors. Vergilian ambiguities are not there to be disambiguated. But Thucydides … well, he can sometimes lay excessively heavy demands on his readers’ ability to follow him, and perhaps this is one of those cases. — Or is this a cop-out?

Michael
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri May 22, 2015 8:06 pm

Michael – many thanks for your detailed and very helpful comments.

I’m particularly grateful to you for reminding me of ἡ δὲ τὴν εὐπορίαν τῆς τύχης ὑποτιθεῖσα at 3.45.5. Marchant renders this as ‘suggesting the ready help of Chance’, Spratt as either ‘the betterment of their condition’ or ‘abundant possibilities of chance’, and Gomme as ‘the wealth of opportunity which fortune offers’; my own current translation is ‘holding out the prospect of ample aid from fortune’, which is I think broadly along the lines you tentatively suggest. On that basis, τὸ εὔπορον τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ παρὰ βασιλέως μισθοῦ could perhaps mean something like ‘the opportunities offered by the hope of pay [or ‘the hoped-for pay’] from the King’.

Turning now to the four options I had listed:

(i) (‘the abundance of its [the throng's] hope[s].)’ I fear my knowledge of Greek idiom is insufficient to advise as to whether this is feasible; it does, however, seem to have attained a certain degree of popularity. Dale’s translation (1845?) gives ‘because of their abundant hopes of pay from the King’ (he translates the other two instances of εὔπορος as ‘advantageous’ and ‘for the King’s advantage’). In her Thucydides and the Shaping of History (2006, p. 94), Emily Greenwood translates as ‘an abundance of hope for payment from the King’; in her footnote to this passage (n. 44 on pp. 152–3), she quotes Lisa Kallet (Money and the Corrosion of Power in Thucydides [2001), p. 263 and n. 112) as saying: ‘The phrase “abundance of hope of pay” is a nice touch: hope will be what is abundant, not pay.’

This option gives good sense, and perhaps places less strain on the genitive than some of the others; the problems are: (a) as you have said, can one extract it idiomatically from the Greek?; and (b) it gives εὔπορος here a sense that is markedly different from the two subsequent instances.

(ii) (‘its ready hope [i.e. the hope came readily to the throng].)’ On reflection I think you’re right that this one is new – in fact, I think you’re the ‘onlie begetter’ of it! I wouldn’t be too quick to discount it – it does offer good sense, works with the genitive, and, as you say, is in line with a reasonable sense for the other two instances.

(iii) (‘the throng's belief that its hope would be easy to achieve'.) This is favoured by (e.g.) Bloomfield (1829), who translates ‘because of the readiness of the hope held out of pay from the King’; in a footnote he glosses ‘readiness’ as ‘i.e. the practicability of bringing the thing about: a rare sense of εὔπορος.’ Lattimore has ‘because of its [the mob’s] expectations that the pay from the King would be easy to get’. I’m not sure I’d go as far as calling this option ‘fudge’, but I am going off it a bit.

(iv) (‘the ease [or comfort] that would result from receiving the pay from the King’.) The Bude (with apologies for the lack of accents) has ‘a cause des facilites que promettait l’espoir d’une solde payee par le Roi’ (and translates the other two instances as ‘pleines d’avantages’ and ‘il n’etait pas avantageux’). I tend to agree with you that this option is excessively elliptical

I’m not sure where all this leaves us. At the moment I’m inclining towards your (ii), but haven’t entirely rejected (i) yet; I'm also somewhat drawn to ‘the opportunities offered by the hope of pay from the King’ mentioned earlier. I’ll have to reflect further, to see if anything tips the balance for me. At present I feel somewhat like a Thucydidean version of Penelope, unpicking by night what I’ve woven by day; I only hope my whole translation doesn’t unravel!

As regards the other two instances of εὔπορος, at present I’ve taken the second as ‘easy to effect’, and the third as ‘practicable’, but this may change in line with any further developments regarding the first instance.

If you have any further thoughts yourself, I’d be very glad to hear them (and the same applies to other colleagues on here). Many thanks again for all your help.


Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat May 23, 2015 10:55 am

I've just spotted that Connor (Thucydides, p. 227) translates as 'because of the plausibility of the hope of financial support from the King' - a version, I suppose, of option (iii).

I'm somewhat shifting ground yet again, and am wondering whether, after all, to render the three instances of εὔπορος as 'feasibility', 'easy to effect' and 'practicable' respectively - at least this maintains a broad commonality of meaning between the three. As a next step I want to switch from scrutinising εὔπορος to examining ἐλπίς in Thucydides and elsewhere, to see if that offers any illumination.

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sun May 24, 2015 9:07 am

A perusal of Betant and LSJ s.v. ἐλπίς has yielded up no helpful parallels to the present passage. 'Hope' in Greek may be great or (in plural) many, but, as Michael says, 'the abundance of hope' seems doubtful. Nor have I found anything to suggest that ἐλπίς can be εὔπορος in the sense that the thing hoped for is easy to achieve.

I'm therefore, for now, switching back to Michael's suggestion (option [ii] in my list above), and translating the passage as 'because they readily entertained the hope of pay from the King'. This gives a good sense (the mob was all too eager to hope for the pay), places less strain on the construction and shares the same broad meaning as the two following instances of εὔπορος (which I now render as 'feasible' and 'practicable' respectively).

That seems to be about as far as I can usefully take things on this front at present - unless any sudden inspiration, or new discovery, supervenes. My thanks again to all.


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