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Translation please?

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Translation please?

Postby Delfini » Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:19 am

Family friends have just bought a house in England which was apparently built for a master at the nearby public school. Obviously a Classics man, for over the front door is carved a motto in ancient Greek. Knowing that I speak modern Greek, friends are looking at me expectantly to translate.

ουκ αν δυναιο μη καμων ευδαιμονειν

I can manage the last word, as some form of "blessed", "fortunate",or "prosperous", but the whole phrase is beyond me. Could someone kindly give the meaning, source and any other information before I lose face?
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Re: Translation please?

Postby polemistes » Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:46 pm

It could be interpreted in several ways, but I think this is the most straight forward way to take it:

"You can't be happy without work."
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Re: Translation please?

Postby jeidsath » Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:53 pm

You would not be able to be to be happy, without first having toiled.

It seems to be a fragment of Euripides.

EDIT: cross-posted with polemistes
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

μὴ δ’ οὕτως ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν θεοείκελ’ Ἀχιλλεῦ
κλέπτε νόῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐ παρελεύσεαι οὐδέ με πείσεις.
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Re: Translation please?

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Sun Jan 21, 2018 4:39 pm

jeidsath wrote:You would not be able to be to be happy, without first having toiled.

It seems to be a fragment of Euripides.


ουκ αν δυναιο μη καμων ευδαιμονειν

καμων {aor part act masc nom sg}

Joel, your paraphrase explicates your understanding of the syntax. That's okay if you're writing a commentary but it doesn't reflect Euripides' style. For example, if the aorist participle καμων refers to antecedent action, the temporal nuance is inferential. Making it explicit sounds unnatural.

Once again, "You would not be able [...] to be happy" explicates the syntax. Somewhat awkward, even without dittography "to be" and very unlike Euripides.
Last edited by C. S. Bartholomew on Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Translation please?

Postby mwh » Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:21 pm

Both polemistes and jeidsath correctly understand what the Greek means. (jeidsath’s repetition of “to be” is obviously inadvertent.)

Such metrical maxims, ripped out of context from plays, were the staple of schoolmasters from antiquity on. There were many collections of them and they circulated widely. They’re routinely misogynistic, and they insist on the need for corporal punishment: ὁ μὴ δαρεὶς ἄνθρωπος οὐ παιδεύεται—a sentiment that I expect this public school master would have agreed with. At least he didn’t have it carved over his front door.
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Re: Translation please?

Postby Delfini » Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:41 pm

Thank you, gentlemen. I shall pass all that on to my friend who is, appropriately, both industrious and contented.
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