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Herodotus 1.189 νηυσιπέρητος

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Herodotus 1.189 νηυσιπέρητος

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:48 pm

ἐπείτε δὲ ὁ Κῦρος πορευόμενος ἐπὶ τὴν Βαβυλῶνα ἐγίνετο ἐπὶ Γύνδῃ ποταμῷ, τοῦ αἱ μὲν πηγαὶ ἐν Ματιηνοῖσι ὄρεσι, ῥέει δὲ διὰ Δαρδανέων, ἐκδιδοῖ δὲ ἐς ἕτερον ποταμὸν Τίγρην, ὁ δὲ παρὰ Ὦπιν πόλιν ῥέων ἐς τὴν Ἐρυθρὴν θάλασσαν ἐκδιδοῖ, τοῦτον δὴ τὸν Γύνδην ποταμὸν ὡς διαβαίνειν ἐπειρᾶτο ὁ Κῦρος ἐόντα νηυσιπέρητον, ἐνθαῦτά οἱ τῶν τις ἱρῶν ἵππων τῶν λευκῶν ὑπὸ ὕβριος ἐσβὰς ἐς τὸν ποταμὸν διαβαίνειν ἐπειρᾶτο, ὁ δέ μιν συμψήσας ὑποβρύχιον οἰχώκεε φέρων.

I'm wondering about the meaning of the words ἐόντα νηυσιπέρητον. I've checked a few translations and other sources, and they are divided as to how to interpret this. Some of them give "which is a navigable stream" (Macauley) or the like, others "which is crossed by boats" (Powell). LSJ gives "ναυσιπέρᾱτος, Ion. νηυσιπέρητος, ον, navigable".

I would think that point here is that the river can only be crossed by boats, and that whether one can navigate up and down the stream is beside the point, especially as περάω means "go across/through" or the like. I would take the participle ἐόντα as concessive "As Cyrus tried to cross the river, although it could only be crossed on boat, ..."

I'd be grateful for any thoughts.
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Re: Herodotus 1.189 νηυσιπέρητος

Postby polemistes » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:37 pm

I agree with you. TLG has 8 instances of the word (5 in Herodotus), and in all of them it seems to be used generally in the sense "difficult to cross (without a boat)".
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Re: Herodotus 1.189 νηυσιπέρητος

Postby jeidsath » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:53 pm

From the structure of the sentence, it looks to me like ἐόντα νηυσιπέρητον is there to justify ἐπειρᾶτο, and not as an aside. However, I would think that "big enough for ships," would serve here, the emphasis being on the river's size. In 1.193 the word is used again, and that seems to be the meaning there.

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Re: Herodotus 1.189 νηυσιπέρητος

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Dec 11, 2017 3:37 pm

The river doesn't look very large on the photo, but nowadays it must be different than it used to be, as Cyrus punished the river by dividing it into 360 channels!
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Re: Herodotus 1.189 νηυσιπέρητος

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:54 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:The river doesn't look very large on the photo, but nowadays it must be different than it used to be,

Besides the progression of the monsoons (?? part of the climate cycle based on the wobble in the Earth's axis ??) to the east between that age and this, it may have been seasonal too.

Section 4 of the same Thucydides 1.189 says that they τὴν θερείην πᾶσαν αὐτοῦ ... διέτριψαν "spent the whole summer in that same place". Fed from the Zagros Mountains, which are cold and snowy in winter, yet relatively warm in summer, the πᾶσα may suggest the impetuous horse met its fate in spring or early summer.
Last edited by ἑκηβόλος on Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Herodotus 1.189 νηυσιπέρητος

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Sat Dec 23, 2017 10:16 pm

The rivers of India run from north to south, and Alexander was marching west to east, cf. ἐπικάρσιος in the following.

Strabo (Geography 15.1.26) narrates:

ὥρμησεν οὖν τὴν ἐπαινουμένην κατακτᾶσθαι πρότερον, ἅμα καὶ τοὺς ποταμοὺς εὐπερατοτέρους νομίσας τῶν πηγῶν πλησίον (the headwaters), οὓς ἀναγκαῖον ἦν διαβαίνειν, ἐπικαρσίους ὄντας (ie. lay in his path) καὶ τέμνοντας (effectively forming natural barriers to invasion) ἣν ἐπῄει γῆν. ἅμα δὲ καὶ ἤκουσεν εἰς ἓν πλείους συνιόντας ῥεῖν (confuence), καὶ τοῦτ᾽ ἀεὶ καὶ μᾶλλον συμβαῖνον ὅσῳ πλεῖον εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν προΐοιεν, ὥστ᾽ εἶναι δυσπερατοτέραν, καὶ ταῦτα ἐν πλοίων ἀπορίᾳ (having no way of procuring boats to make a crossing). δεδιὼς οὖν τοῦτο διέβη τὸν Κώφην, καὶ κατεστρέφετο τὴν ὀρεινὴν ὅση ἐτέτραπτο πρὸς ἕω.


Speaking of ὁ Κώφης, Wiki says:
The Kabul River is little more than a trickle for most of the year,
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Re: Herodotus 1.189 νηυσιπέρητος

Postby ἑκηβόλος » Mon Dec 25, 2017 5:24 am

Wondering about this further,

Are there other similar word formations, where the dative of means becomes part of the word itself?

νηυσί (ναυσί) πέρητος (περατός) -> νηυσιπέρητος
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Re: Herodotus 1.189 νηυσιπέρητος

Postby Markos » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:45 pm

ἑκηβόλος wrote:Are there other similar word formations, where the dative of means becomes part of the word itself?
νηυσί (ναυσί) πέρητος (περατός) -> νηυσιπέρητος

χαῖρε, φίλε Στέφανε.

Maybe νυκτικρυφής?

νυκτικρυφὴς ὁ ἥλιος. ἡ γὰρ νὺξ κρύπτει τὸν ἥλιον. ὁ οὖν ἥλιος τῇ νυκτὶ ἐκρύβη.

On the other hand, Λ.Σ.Κ. renders this as: ὁ κρυπτόμενος τὴν νύκτα.

ἔρρωσο.
οὐ μανθάνω γράφειν, ἀλλὰ γράφω τοῦ μαθεῖν.
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Re: Herodotus 1.189 νηυσιπέρητος

Postby Hylander » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:14 pm

Paul, you might take a look at 5.52, where Herodotus is describing the route from Sardis to Sousa. A number of rivers in succession -- the Euphrates, the Tigris (Tigres), two named Zabatos (the Greater and Lesser Zab), and finally the Gyndes -- are all described as νηυσιπέρητοι. Here it seems to me that the term specifically means "crossable by boats," not necessarily "navigable" in the sense that boats could ply up and down, since Herodotus is describing step by step the route that an army would have to take to get from Sardis to Sousa.

This is in the context where Aristagores the Milesian leader attempts to persuade the Spartan king Kleomenes to dispatch a Spartan force to liberate the Ionians on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor from the Persians, suggesting as a temptation that the Spartans could easily defeat the Persian forces (after all, they wear trousers) and march on to capture the Great King's rich capital Sousa.

Kleomenes asks Aristagores how many days' march Sousa is from the sea; Ar. says three months (approximately correct, according to Herodotus). Kleomenes' Laconic response: "Get out of Sparta by nightfall." Then Ar. tries unsuccessfully to bribe Kl. personally. Ar. keeps bidding up the amount of the bribe (presumably Kl. is interested but wants more), but finally Kl.'s 10-year-old daughter, who is present, tells Kl. that he will be corrupted if he doesn't get up and leave. Kl. leaves abruptly.

Aristagores is a shifty character, but Herodotus suggests that he failed in his mission because he was not deceitful enough.
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Re: Herodotus 1.189 νηυσιπέρητος

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Jan 28, 2018 5:08 pm

Thanks. I agree with you, and the reason why I was doubting my interpretation in the first place was that some quite reliable translations like Macauley and Waterfield give "navigable". But I guess Macauley started it and the others got it from him.

Aristogoras seems to me just the kind guy you don't want when you need to buy services from someone. Say, you're traveling as a tourist or you need someone to make renovations in your house. You've been sitting in a cab in a foreign country for at least an hour and you suspect that the driver doesn't have the faintest idea where he's going. Every time you try to address the question, you get an evasive answer that we're almost there. In France, the magic words they're repeating all the time are "y'a pas de souci, monsieur/madame" - it means "I don't have a clue but I'm not going to admit it". They're not completely dishonest, but there's a very particular combination of obtuseness and shiftiness about them.
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