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Diogenes Laertius 9.[13]

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Diogenes Laertius 9.[13]

Postby RandyGibbons » Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:38 pm

I would welcome anyone's opinion on the questions I have about the following passage from Diogenes Laertius' biographical sketch of the enigmatic Ephesian philosopher Heraclitus. The passage is from a letter (to us moderns, clearly bogus) from the Persian king Darius to Heraclitus.

Dareios to Herakleitos.

καταβέβλησαι λόγον περὶ φύσεως δυσνόητόν τε καὶ δυσεξήγητον. ἔν τισι μὲν οὖν ἑρμηνευόμενος κατὰ λέξιν σὴν δοκεῖ δύναμίν τινα περιέχειν θεωρίας κόσμου τε τοῦ σύμπαντος καὶ τῶν ἐν τούτῳ γινομένων, ἅπερ ἐστὶν ἐν θειοτάτῃ κείμενα κινήσει, τὠν δὲ πλείστων ἐποχὴν ἔχοντα, ὥστε καὶ τοὺς ἐπὶ πλεῖστον μετεσχηκότας συγγραμμάτων διαπορεῖσθαι, τῆς ὀρθῆς δοκούσης γεγράφθαι παρὰ σοι διηγήσεως. (Therefore the king Dareios invites you to Persia ...)


Here is the Loeb translation. It doesn't help me with my questions.

You are the author of a treatise On Nature which is hard to understand and hard to interpret. In certain parts, if it be interpreted word for word, it seems to contain a power of speculation on the whole universe and all that goes on within it, which depends upon motion most divine; but for the most part judgement is suspended, so that even those who are the most conversant with literature are at a loss to know what is the right interpretation of your work.


My questions:

(1) τὠν δὲ πλείστων ἐποχὴν ἔχοντα - What is the subject, case and number of ἔχοντα? The surrounding construction seems to be ἔν τισι μὲν οὖν ἑρμηνευόμενος (sc. λόγος) δοκεῖ ... τὠν δὲ πλείστων ἐποχὴν ἔχοντα. If λόγον is understood with ἐποχὴν ἔχοντα, as I first thought, why in the accusative? Or is ἔχοντα neuter plural nominative, meaning "(most) passages," δοκεῖ understood, matching τισι in the μέν clause? Or ??

(2) ὥστε ... διαπορεῖσθαι, τῆς ὀρθῆς δοκούσης γεγράφθαι παρὰ σοι διηγήσεως. - Notice the comma after διαπορεῖσθαι. I am using the 2013 Cambridge critical edition, edited by Tiziano Dorandi. Dorandi's apparatus states: "comma (,) post διαπορεῖσθαι pos. Lapini* servato διηγήσεως". "Lapini*" refers to a personal letter to the editor from another scholar. The apparatus has one other thing to add. It notes the proposed emendation in a 1904 journal article of ὀρθῶς for ὀρθῆς. The author of that article states of the clause ὥστε ... διαπορεῖσθαι τῆς ὀρθῆς δοκούσης γεγράφθαι παρὰ σοι διηγήσεως, which, like the Loeb and probably all previous editions, he takes to be a single clause, with no comma after διαπορεῖσθαι, "It may be questioned whether the gentivie without περί is right after διαπορεῖσθαι, but there can hardly be a doubt that we should read ὀρθῶς." Though the gist of the Greek is clear, in neither of the two interpretations, with or without the comma, am I seeing the construction.

Thoughts? Or do I just have to move on with the consoling thought that maybe Darius' Greek wasn't so hot! (Or conversely, that it was much better than mine.)

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Re: Diogenes Laertius 9.[13]

Postby mwh » Thu Apr 26, 2018 5:50 pm

Good questions Randy!

(1) εχοντα. As it stands this has to be in tandem with κειμενα, continuing the απερ relative clause. But that can hardly be right. I guess it should be εχων, corrupted by attraction to the preceding neuter plurals.

(2) της ορθης κτλ. This is unintelligible, and ορθως does not help. διηγησεως can’t mean “interpretation” but must refer to Heraclitus’ work. We could replace it with εξηγησεως and change της δοκουσης to των δοκουντων (neut.), to give
της ορθης των δοκουντων γεγραφθαι παρα σοι εξηγησεως
or, better I think, we could posit a lacuna, to give e.g.
της ορθης <εξηγησεως της> δοκούσης γεγράφθαι παρὰ σοὶ διηγήσεως.
Either way I think we need περι at the outset.

σην in the second line surprises me, when the normal phrase is simply κατα λεξιν, but I suppose it stresses that it’s Heraclitus’ own wording that causes difficulty. I wonder if it should be την σην, though.
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Re: Diogenes Laertius 9.[13]

Postby jeidsath » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:09 pm

If κατὰ λέξιν is a natural unit, can σὴν go with δύναμίν τινα?

Separately, can ἔχοντα be ἔχουσαν, referring to δύναμιν?

τὠν δὲ -> τῶν δὲ
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Re: Diogenes Laertius 9.[13]

Postby RandyGibbons » Thu Apr 26, 2018 8:41 pm

Thanks Joel and Michael (and, in advance, any others who care to comment). Your observations, along with a bit more research I've done, convince me I was right to question the grammatical legitimacy of this passage.

τὠν δὲ -> τῶν δὲ

Damn! I try hard when I transcribe, but it seems foreordained that I will make mistakes. But it's a healthy reminder of how fraught the copying process was, if that's any consolation. Thanks, sharp-eyed Joel!

ἔχοντα - Looking again at Dorandi's critical apparatus, I see that the nineteenth-century scholar Jacob Bernays emended this to ἔχειν (Die Heraklitischen Briefe, 1869). I didn't know this before, but there are nine pseudo-epigraphic letters, two attributed to Darius, seven to Heraclitus, passed down in a separate manuscript tradition, the first two of which are those used by Diogenes, though the manuscript texts and editorial emendations vary across the two traditions.

διηγήσεως - I also see in the apparatus that Cobet, the first editor (1850) of a critical edition of the 'Lives', replaced διηγήσεως with ἐξηγήσεως, which was accepted by Bernays and probably others (nice going, Michael!). I also see then the meaning of "comma (,) post διαπορεῖσθαι pos. Lapini* servato διηγήσεως". I think then in the Lapini/Dorandi interpretation τῆς ὀρθῆς δοκούσης γεγράφθαι παρὰ σοι διηγήσεως is a genitive absolute? Meaning something like, 'for the most part your writing has befuddled even those who have most studied the body of Hellenic literature, the seemingly correctly written exposition of these matters (διηγήσεως) being with you (apud te)' (which is also tortured and doesn't make much sense)?

Going back to the non-comma version, which takes the clause to be διαπορεῖσθαι τῆς ὀρθῆς δοκούσης γεγράφθαι παρὰ σοι δι[ἐξ]ηγήσεως, Bernays had this to say: "Die Lesart bei Diogenes [as opposed to the version of the letter in the pseudo-epigraphical corpus] απορεῖσθαι [sic] τῆς ὀρθῆς δοκούσης γεγράφθαι παρὰ σοι ἐξηγήσεως würde um nur grammatisch erträglich zu werden viel eingreifendere Änderungen erfordern ..."

My guess is that the problems with the text go back to a poorly written original, not to copying errors.
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Re: Diogenes Laertius 9.[13]

Postby mwh » Fri Apr 27, 2018 3:39 am

εχειν may be better than my εχων, I’m not sure. Ιt has to be one or the other. (Joel, I don’t think εχουσαν will work. And I don’t think the σην can be meaningfully construed with δυναμιν τινα.)

For the last bit, the Dorandi/Lapini text is plainly unacceptable. I can’t improve on my alternative suggestions for emendation, and I’m glad to see they’re in line with Bernays’ diagnosis of significant corruption. It may be that no more is needed than the addition of περι and of εξηγησεως της as I proposed. At least that gives a satisfactory sense. Or not?

Incidentally, I don’t think καὶ τοὺς ἐπὶ πλεῖστον μετεσχηκότας συγγραμμάτων will mean “even those who have most studied the body of Hellenic literature” but will refer to the συγγραμμα industry, so to speak, to composers of treatises (and presumably commentaries) on Heraclitus’ work. There must have been many, and they will have fed off one another, as these things do.
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Re: Diogenes Laertius 9.[13]

Postby RandyGibbons » Fri Apr 27, 2018 2:12 pm

καὶ τοὺς ἐπὶ πλεῖστον μετεσχηκότας συγγραμμάτων will refer to the συγγραμμα industry, so to speak, to composers of treatises (and presumably commentaries) on Heraclitus’ work.

That may well be. (As you know, there was an industry of forgeries too, to which these letters in Diogenes obviously belong.) Just as info, here is a bit more of Bernays:

Bernays believes the version of Darius' letter in the pseudo-epistolary collection (which his book is about) is closer to the original than that in Diogenes. Here is the corresponding part of that letter (as presented by Bernays) in the pseudo-epistolary collection. I have underlined some of the differences.

καταβέβλησαι λόγον γραπτὸν περὶ φύσεως δυσνόητόν τε καὶ δυσεξήγητον. ἔν τισι μὲν οὖν ἑρμηνευόμενος κατὰ λέξιν σὴν δοκεῖ δύναμίν τινα προσφέρεσθαι θεωρίας κόσμου τοῦ σύμπαντος καὶ τῶν ἀπὸ τούτου συμβαινόντων, ἅπερ ἐστὶν ἐν θειοτάτῃ κείμενα κινήσει, τῶν δὲ πλείστων ἐποχὴν ἔχειν (πρὸς ζήτησιν καὶ μάθησιν) [brackets are Bernays'], ὥστε καὶ τοὺς ἐπὶ πλεῖον μετεσχηκότας γραμμάτων ἑλληνικῶν καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους τοὺς ἀσχολουμένους περὶ τὴν τῶν μετεώρων προσοχὴν και φιλομάθειαν ἀπορεῖσθαι τῆς ἐν ὀρθῇ γνώμῃ παρά σου δοκούσης καταγεγράφθαι διηγήσεως.

In the pseudo-epistolary version, Bernays says there are two classes of 'Gelehrten' to whom Darius appeals, "die in der griechischen Litteratur bewanderte Sprachgelehrte, und Naturphilosophen" (his actual translation of the text is "die tiefer in das hellenische Schrifttum Eingeweihten und ...").

I like Bernays' translation of ἀπορεῖσθαι τῆς ἐν ὀρθῇ γνώμῃ παρὰ σου δοκούσης καταγεγράφθαι παρά σου διηγήσεως: "[so that the two classes of 'Gelehrten' mentioned] der von dir mutmasslich in richtiger Einsicht niedergeschriebenen Auseinandersetzung rathlos gegenüber stehen."

As an aside to anyone else reading this who has an occasion now and then to dip into Diogenes' 'Lives,' I highly recommend the Dorandi edition ($54 in paperback ). As you can see from the above, it pays to have a good critical apparatus. Dorandi's introduction provides all you expect from a critical edition - the history of the text and of previous editions, the stemma codicum, etc. - IN ENGLISH!
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