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which of the two nouns in the nominative is the subject

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which of the two nouns in the nominative is the subject

Postby arkadi » Fri Jan 28, 2005 3:58 pm

Hi, everybody:

I am wondering whether there are any *formal* criteria for answering the question stated for constructions like:
"Kai phrone^sis men estin, he^ schesis· ktl."?

Is my understanding correct that:

1. *if not for the comma*, the only possible subject here would be "schesis", since it is the only noun with the article;

2. as the phrase stands (i.e. with the comma), the only possible subject is "phrone^sis"?

3. If so, how does it differ in meaning (if at all) from:
"Kai he^ phrone^sis men estin he^ schesis· ktl." ?
(I am interested in any possible nuances of meaning.)

The texts I am working with are 7th century Byzantine philosophical prose, heavily influenced by Plato; any references to his use of such constructions would be also very much appreciated.

Many thanks in advance.
arkadi
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Postby Paul » Fri Jan 28, 2005 5:54 pm

Hi,

It might help some if we knew the technical meanings of [face=SPIonic]fro/nhsij[/face] and [face=SPIonic]sxe/sij[/face] in your Byzantine philosophical prose.
That said, I'll hazard what I can:

arkadi wrote:1. *if not for the comma*, the only possible subject here would be "schesis", since it is the only noun with the article;

Although there are many conditions under which the article may be omitted, the basic rule is that the predicate noun does
not take the article. This allows one to distinguish subject from predicate. I would agree that, without the comma, [face=SPIonic]sxe/sij[/face] is the grammatical subject.
arkadi wrote:2. as the phrase stands (i.e. with the comma), the only possible subject is "phrone^sis"?

I suppose the comma does help shift the grammatical subject to [face=SPIonic]fro/nhsij[/face]. But I think the subsequent [face=SPIonic]me/n[/face] is even more important in this regard. This use of [face=SPIonic]me/n[/face] 'solitarium' is often seen
with anarthrous substantives. It emphasizes the preceding word. The sense is something like "And (Even?) prudence - for its part - it is,....".
arkadi wrote:3. If so, how does it differ in meaning (if at all) from:
"Kai he^ phrone^sis men estin he^ schesis· ktl." ?

The sense here is one of identity. That is, this construction presents [face=SPIonic]fro/nhsij[/face] and [face=SPIonic]sxe/sij[/face] as interchangeable. Note that one use of the article with a predicate substantive is to establish this identity with the subject. I'm not sure that the sense of this differs at all from the original sentence.

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby arkadi » Fri Jan 28, 2005 6:09 pm

Dear Paul,
Many thanks, your gave an excellent explanation.
The only point I would ask you to clarify concerns what you called "me/n 'solitarium'".
Does 'solitarium' here mean: not followed by "de"?
If so, I need to say that the phrase immediately following ("ktl.", after the semicolon) has exactly the same structure as the one I cited, but with "de" instead of "men". Would your remarks, nevertheless, apply?
Arkadi
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Postby Paul » Fri Jan 28, 2005 7:36 pm

arkadi wrote:Dear Paul,
The only point I would ask you to clarify concerns what you called "me/n 'solitarium'".
Does 'solitarium' here mean: not followed by "de"?


Sorry. Yes, that's what it means. This use has 'asseverative' force - it asserts.

arkadi wrote: If so, I need to say that the phrase immediately following ("ktl.", after the semicolon) has exactly the same structure as the one I cited, but with "de" instead of "men". Would your remarks, nevertheless, apply?


Hmm...I was going to ask you for a few lines on each side of the sentence. I must learn to trust these instincts. :) Given the parallel structure, it sure sounds like a [face=SPIonic]me/n...de/[/face] pair. If so, then, in theory, the asservative force diminishes, and the concessive force increases. But as Smyth points out (2904), this pair can denote a very wide range of contrasts.

Does any of this harmonize with the translation?

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby arkadi » Fri Jan 28, 2005 7:57 pm

Ok, let me give you the whole sentence:

"Kai phrone^sis men estin, he^ schesis $ phrone^ton de, to phronoumenon $ kai phrone^tikon, to phronoun $ kai phrone^ma, he^ genomene^ ek te^s phrone^seo^s to^i phrone^tiko^i gno^sis tou phrone^thentos pragmatos."

("$" means semicolon; sorry for that).

Basically, I need to decide which member of every pair is here being defined (the remaining member being its definition). The context is of little help.
Thanks for any suggestions.
Arkadi
p.s. Since it is a 7th century text, all punctuation should be taken with a grain of salt, of course.
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