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Xenophon's Apology

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Xenophon's Apology

Postby mahasacham » Fri Mar 04, 2016 6:03 am

I am working on Xenophon's Apology and I came across a sentence in the 5th passage:

ὅπερ γὰρ ἥδιστόν ἐστιν, ᾔδειν ὁσίως μοι καὶ δικαίως ἅπαντα τὸν βίον βεβιωμένον

Would I be correct in translating it as:

"What is most enjoyable is that I came to know that righteously and justly [my] entire life has been lived by me"?

It seems like the first part, "ὅπερ γὰρ ἥδιστόν ἐστιν", is defining the "ᾔδειν ὁσίως μοι καὶ δικαίως ἅπαντα τὸν βίον βεβιωμένον". I kind of expected to see a "ὅτι" before the second half of the sentence. Is the "ᾔδειν" an aorist infinitive of "οἶδα"? Perseus has it tagged as an aorist indicative.

And finally does the "περ" suffix highlight what comes before or what comes after or both. For some reason
I recall that it highlights what comes before. In that case, does the "ὅπερ" in this sentence have more bearing on the previous sentence or on the second half of the sentence?

This sentence just doesn't sit right with me. Especially for how straight forward the rest of the account is.
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Re: Xenophon's Apology

Postby Hylander » Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:17 pm

Is the "ᾔδειν" an aorist infinitive of "οἶδα"? Perseus has it tagged as an aorist indicative.


ᾔδειν is pluperfect of οἶδα in form, but οἶδα is a verb that, although conjugated in the perfect, has a present meaning: "I know". So ᾔδειν is equivalent to an imperfect: "I knew." This is in the imperfect because he is talking about the past, continuing from μέχρι μὲν τοῦδε, "until this point", in the previous clause.

ὅπερ γὰρ ἥδιστόν ἐστιν is a relative clause.

Smyth 338c:

The enclitic particle -περ may be added to a relative pronoun (or adverb) to emphasize the connection between the relative and its antecedent. Thus, ὅσ-περ, ἥ-περ, ὅ-περ the very person who, the very thing which; so ὥσπερ just as. ὅσπερ is declined like ὅς.


http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Smyth+grammar+338&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007

The "antecedent" of the relative clause (it actually follows the relative clause, so "antecedent" is somewhat misleading) is the whole main clause, ᾔδειν ὁσίως μοι καὶ δικαίως ἅπαντα τὸν βίον βεβιωμένον: "I knew that my life had been lived by me righteously and justly."

The whole sentence could be translated: "What is sweetest, I knew that my life had been lived by me righteously and justly."

This might sound a little awkward in English (although its perfectly good English), but if you reverse the clauses it seems entirely natural:

"I knew that my life had been lived by me righteously and justly, which is the sweetest thing."

To retain the order of the original (which is rhetorically more effective), you could translate:

"What is sweetest is the fact that I knew that my life had been lived by me righteously and justly."

Hope this helps.
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