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?