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Plato, Apology 31 a3-5

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Plato, Apology 31 a3-5

Postby Tugodum » Sun May 06, 2018 7:07 am

ὑμεῖς δ’ ἴσως τάχ’ ἂν ἀχθόμενοι, ὥσπερ οἱ νυστάζοντες ἐγειρόμενοι, κρούσαντες ἄν με, πειθόμενοι Ἀνύτῳ, ῥᾳδίως ἂν ἀποκτείναιτε--
What is the force of the first two occurrences of ἄν in this phrase? I understand that a finite verb with ἄν retains the ἄν when the verb becomes a participle. But how to characterize the presupposed finite-verb construction? Seems to be a conditional, but what kind of it exactly?
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Re: Plato, Apology 31 a3-5

Postby Hylander » Sun May 06, 2018 12:29 pm

τάχ᾽ ἄν is a common idiom. See LSJ:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Dta%2Fxa%5E

The participles with ἂν "represent" potential optatives subordinate to ἀποκτείναιτε, which is itself a potential optative. Plato could have strung these three verbs together as optatives with ἂν, joining them with coordinating conjunctions such as και but instead subordinates the first two as participles, using ἂν to convey their potentiality, and building up to the most important in the series, ῥᾳδίως ἂν ἀποκτείναιτε. He obviously doesn't want to suggest that killing Socrates is anything more than a potentiality and wants to emphasize its remoteness.

Your next question will be why doesn't he use ἂν with πειθόμενοι. That's more a matter of rhetoric than grammar.
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Re: Plato, Apology 31 a3-5

Postby Tugodum » Sun May 06, 2018 6:08 pm

Thanks a lot! So, the participles qualifying a finite potential-optative verb with ἄν would normally require one or more additional ἄν to go with them?
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Re: Plato, Apology 31 a3-5

Postby Hylander » Sun May 06, 2018 9:32 pm

So, the participles qualifying a finite potential-optative verb with ἄν would normally require one or more additional ἄν to go with them?


I'm not sure that ἄν is obligatory with a participle representing a potential optative where the main verb is optative and accompanied by ἄν. Here I think the repetition of ἄν emphasizes the potentiality, but I don't think it's necessarily a hard and fast requirement. And contrary to what I wrote earlier, τάχ’ ἂν seems to me to modify the whole sentence, not just ἀχθόμενοι. The third ἂν (ῥᾳδίως ἂν) is repetitious of the first, but it seems to me that ἂν is needed again close to the main verb.

See Smyth 1765:

1765. Repetition of ἄν.—ἄν may be repeated once or twice in the same sentence.
a. ἄν is placed early in a sentence which contains a subordinate clause, in order to direct attention to the character of the construction: ““δοκοῦμεν δ᾽ ἄν μοι ταύτῃ προσποιούμενοι προσβαλεῖν ἐρημοτέρῳ ἂν τῷ ὄρει χρῆσθαι” if we should make a feint attack here it seems to me we should find the mountain to have fewer defenders” X. A. 4.6.13.

b. For rhetorical emphasis ἄν is added to give prominence to particular words: τίς γὰρ τοιαῦτ᾽ ἂν οὐκ ἂν ὀργίζοιτ᾽ ἔπη κλύων; and who would not be angered upon hearing such words? S. O. T. 339, πῶς ἂν οὐκ ἂν ἐν δίκῃ θάνοιμ᾽ ἄν; how should I not justly die? S. fr. 673.


http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Smyth+grammar+1765&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007
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Re: Plato, Apology 31 a3-5

Postby Tugodum » Sun May 06, 2018 9:37 pm

Thanks again, this makes sense.
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Re: Plato, Apology 31 a3-5

Postby mwh » Mon May 07, 2018 2:42 am

Just a small supplement to what Hylander has said. The αν with κρουσαντες is syntactically redundant. It’s certainly not obligatory; it merely anticipates the potentiality of the main verb αποκτειναιτε (as also does ταχ’αν at the outset), and I don’t think it would be there if it weren’t for the intervening πειθομενοι Ανυτῳ. At the same time it would be very strange indeed not to have another αν in the final ραδιως αν αποκτειναιτε, even though there is strictly no need of it after the preceding ones. (To have yet another αν with πειθομενοι, on the other hand, would be ridiculous.)

I venture to copy what I said about a case of repeated αν in viewtopic.php?f=2&t=67262&p=191639#p191639:
“αν is such a light and unobtrusive little word (it can’t stand first), while at the same time a semantically critical one, that it’s naturally liable to recur in different parts of the sentence. Here the first αν comes early (…), while the second comes next to the verb. Both are typical positions for αν.”
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