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πολυπειρία

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πολυπειρία

Postby jeidsath » Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:56 am

Falsely accused of eating two of his master's figs, Aesop purges himself in front of everyone to prove himself innocent.

1.3 διὰ δὲ τῆς πολυπειρίας δοὺς ἀπόδειξιν (Vita Aesopi G).

LSJ lists "great experience" as the gloss for πολυπειρία, which confused me, as it makes it look like something he does often. I assume that here it means something like "wide experience."

Looking at Thucydides 71.3, "wide experience" seems more accurate there as well. Has the meaning of "great experience" changed over time? Google ngram seems to indicate something happening with the two phrases. Or maybe the LSJ gloss is simply incorrect (or maybe I am).

English words denoting extent seem to have changed a bit over the past couple of centuries. I always notice Gibbon using "room" where I would say "space."
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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Re: πολυπειρία

Postby Timothée » Wed Aug 16, 2017 6:46 am

Undoubtedly so. For instance, Menge has reiche Erfahrung. Did you (first) expect it to mean something like “That was a great experience!” (= it was really nice to have experienced that)?

The OED has:

Souldiers of great experience should be aduantaged in their payes (1598)
The old stagers — — the men who knew all the angles, who had great experience. (1944)
A man must have natural gifts, as well as great experience, before he becomes a good brand-reader (1888)
Cicero himself being broken unto it by great experience (Bacon, 1605)
You are stricken in Years, and have had great Experience in the World (1709)
Two Generals, — — lined and assisted by with Subordinate Commanders of great Experience (Bacon, 1626)
Being accounted — — confident, iudicious, and diligent, although of no great experience (1600)
The catching of insects by this method of treacling requires great experience before it is successful (1913)
Great experience of local conditions and practice is the only real guide to the proper management of mountain sheep (1961)


But also:

What I would really like to do is para-glide off that CN Tower. It would be a great experience drifting down from the top. (1988)
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Re: πολυπειρία

Postby jeidsath » Wed Aug 16, 2017 11:56 am

The difference that I was getting at is that "great experience" means a large amount of experience in something specific. "Wide experience" means a broad variety of different experiences.

So in this context, "great experience" would mean that Aesop had purged himself many times before and was good at it. "Wide experience" would mean that Aesop had seen and done many different things (πολύτροπος!), and therefore immediately knew how to disprove the unjust accusation.

In Thucydides, it's similar:

ἀνάγκη δὲ ὥσπερ τέχνης αἰεὶ τὰ ἐπιγιγνόμενα κρατεῖν: καὶ ἡσυχαζούσῃ μὲν πόλει τὰ ἀκίνητα νόμιμα ἄριστα, πρὸς πολλὰ δὲ ἀναγκαζομένοις ἰέναι πολλῆς καὶ τῆς ἐπιτεχνήσεως δεῖ. δι᾽ ὅπερ καὶ τὰ τῶν Ἀθηναίων ἀπὸ τῆς πολυπειρίας ἐπὶ πλέον ὑμῶν κεκαίνωται.

Here the emphasis is not on the amount of their experience, but its variety, and I would say "wide," not "great."
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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