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Plato, Apology 28 c1

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Plato, Apology 28 c1

Postby Tugodum » Mon Mar 26, 2018 1:55 am

"φαῦλοι γὰρ ἂν τῷ γε σῷ λόγῳ εἶεν τῶν ἡμιθέων ὅσοι ἐν Τροίᾳ τετελευτήκασιν..."
I take ἂν εἶεν here to be potential optative. But what exactly is its force here? Per Dyer it is to be rendered "must have been" (he refers to the source am not familiar with: "SCG. 437, 442"); whereas per Slings/deStrycker, "were (or: are), I dare say." Do these expressions mean the same in English? If not, which of the two does more justice to the Greek? I have to admit that neither of them appears to me as rendering potentiality. Would it be wrong to translate "might be"? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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Re: Plato, Apology 28 c1

Postby Hylander » Mon Mar 26, 2018 4:51 pm

Yes, it fits under the label of "potential" optative. But don't let the word "potential" lead you astray. "Potential optative" is just a convenient label invented by (19th c.?) grammarians to embrace a variety of related Greek usages of opt. + ἄν, not all of which are necessarily "potential" in a strict sense.

Smyth 1826:

1826. The potential optative with ἄν is used to soften the statement of an opinion or fact, or to express irony: ἕτερόν τι τοῦτ᾽ ἂν εἴη this is (would be) another matter D. 20.116, νοσοῖμ᾽ ἄν, εἰ νόσημα τοὺς ἐχθροὺς στυγεῖν I must be mad, if it is madness to hate one's foes A. Pr. 978. So often with ἴσως or τάχα perhaps.


http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Smyth+grammar+1826&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007

Here the opt. + ἂν is mildly ironic.

This could be translated into English in a number of different ways. I would venture to say that there's no single "best" English equivalent. But this is a question of English usage, not of Greek.

"Were" or "would be" would require a qualifier. "would be, I suppose" would work for me.

"Must be", or here better "must have been", would work -- it would have an ironic connotation in English. "I dare say" is somewhat old-fashioned to my American ears.

I don't think "might be" would capture the ironic tone.
Last edited by Hylander on Mon Mar 26, 2018 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Plato, Apology 28 c1

Postby Tugodum » Mon Mar 26, 2018 5:27 pm

Thanks! This is very helpful. I totally missed the ironic connotation in "must have been".
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Re: Plato, Apology 28 c1

Postby Hylander » Mon Mar 26, 2018 5:32 pm

Hope you saw my edited message.
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Re: Plato, Apology 28 c1

Postby Tugodum » Mon Mar 26, 2018 6:19 pm

I see no difference as compared to when I posted my response (although, strangely, it is marked as posted earlier than your editing).
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Re: Plato, Apology 28 c1

Postby dikaiopolis » Mon Mar 26, 2018 6:58 pm

Tugodum wrote: Per Dyer it is to be rendered "must have been" (he refers to the source am not familiar with: "SCG. 437, 442");


SCG probably refers to Gildersleeve's Syntax of Classical Greek
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Re: Plato, Apology 28 c1

Postby mwh » Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:33 pm

Opt.+αν is exactly the same as in conditional sentences, it’s just called a potential optative when there’s no if-clause with it. If you have to translate opt.+αν I’d advise always starting with “would” and modifying that as appropriate. Here the irony—if it is in fact ironic—lies not in the construction itself but in the sandwiched τῷ γε σῷ λόγῳ and the context. A perfectly good translation here would (τῷ γ’ ἐμῷ λόγῳ) be "would be".
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Re: Plato, Apology 28 c1

Postby Tugodum » Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:45 pm

The translation "would be" was my own first choice as well. But then I read Slings/deStrycker note ad loc., in which they explicitly object precisely to this translation, on the grounds that, as they claim, it has a counter-factual force, as if the text had ἦσαν instead of εἶεν.
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Re: Plato, Apology 28 c1

Postby Tugodum » Mon Mar 26, 2018 7:56 pm

p.s. A difficulty for me, as non-native English speaker, is what to make of the difference in the force of the "would" that translates the respective apodoseis of the future less vivid and the present counter-factual (for, if
mwh wrote:opt.+αν is exactly the same as in conditional sentences,
its force can, depending on the context, be either of the two).
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Re: Plato, Apology 28 c1

Postby Hylander » Mon Mar 26, 2018 11:17 pm

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Re: Plato, Apology 28 c1

Postby Tugodum » Tue Mar 27, 2018 12:00 am

Wow... What liveliness as compared to Smyth... Thanks!
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