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Participle help - again

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Participle help - again

Postby PeterD » Wed Feb 11, 2004 5:28 pm

[face=SPIonic]Xai/rete,[/face] :)

I read somewhere that the key to learning Greek syntax, and therefore Greek, is a thorough understanding of the Participles. Truly, in my studies so far, that is indeed the case. Hardly a sentence goes by without a participle! I am not complaining. It is I suppose what gives Greek its esthetic beauty alongside its logical structure - no wonder the Romans learned Greek and the Greek themselves remained unilingual.

Back to reality. I am trying to translate (Gr. - En) a passage from Herodotus (4.110.1, adapted, Greeks vs. Amazons); three sentences in particular are givng me trouble. If anyone out there (Paul, Chad :) ) can provide some guidance and/or useful tips, it would be greatly appreciated. Here goes (note: after each sentence is my literal translation, I'll leave the polishing for later):

1. [face=SPIonic]o(/te oi( (/Ellhnej ei)spe/sontej ei)j ta\j )Amazo/naj e)maxe/santo, to/te e)ni/khsan au)ta\j e)n th=| ma/xh=| kai\ nikh/santej ta\j e)k th=j ma/xhj periou/saj )Amazo/naj e)/labon.[/face]
:arrow: When the Hellenes after falling upon the Amazons fought, then they defeated them in the battle and (not sure about [face=SPIonic]nikh/santej[/face], "after wiinning?") after being victorious they seized from the battle Amazonians.

2. [face=SPIonic]labo/ntej de\ a)ph=lqon trisi\ nausi/n.[/face] (dative of manner?)
:arrow: After seizing them, they departed (sailed away?) in three ships.

3.[face=SPIonic]ai( de\ i)dou=sai tou\j a)/ndraj ou) fula/ttontej a)pe/kteinan.[/face]
:arrow: On seeing the men not keeping guard, they killed them.

[face=SPIonic])Euxaristw= para\ polu/n[/face]
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Postby auctor » Wed Feb 11, 2004 7:35 pm

I don't know whether I am the Paul you were hoping for (if I am then I'm flattered) but...

Don't forget that aorist participles often refer to a single event that happens at much the same time as the main verb. Brush up on ASPECT, so when you do your polishing you could easily lose some of those "after"s in the first two sentences.
I fear you've become a little lost in the last few words of example 1; consider something along the lines of
... and having won, they took the remaining As from the battle.
"took" could easily mean "captured" or "enslaved" in this case, I think.
In the third sentence you are aware that the subject is feminine aren't you?

I hope this goes someway to help,
Paul
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Postby PeterD » Wed Feb 11, 2004 9:31 pm

Hi Paul,

Not the Paul I had in mind, but thank you for replying nonetheless.

You state that "the aorist pple often refers to a single event that happens at much the same time as the main verb." If I'm not mistaken, does not the aorist pple express an action as an event which has been completed before the action of the main verb not the same time as you state? Is it not the present pple that expresses an action (which is in progress, unlike the aorist) at the same time as the action of the main verb?

PS: the pple [face=SPIonic]periou/saj[/face] is really confusing me in the passage - I need a double Greek coffee :?
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Postby auctor » Wed Feb 11, 2004 10:39 pm

Peter,

If an event happens (and then stops happening) at the same time as the main verb then the ppl describing the event would be aorist, main verb present.
If something happens (and keeps happening) the ppl is present.
The thing to bear in mind with the aorist is that it is only a temporal tense in its finite forms ie when attached to I, you, he/she/it and cetera. The infinitive, imperative and participle forms are aspectual aand let the reader know whether something happened once or whether it kept on happening.
Confusing? Yes I'm afraid it is to an English speaker because we don't make such fine distinctions.
[face=SPIonic]ble/yaj pro\j e)me\ a)phlqe [/face]
you have been translating as
after glancing at me he left
but equally accurate, and possibly more natural English are
glancing at me he left
he left glancing at me
or even with a complete change of style
with a glance to me he left

Sorry I misread [face=SPIonic] periousaj[/face] it could usefully be translated as "superior", using the 3rd example above and translating the ppl with a noun.

Paul
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Postby Paul » Wed Feb 11, 2004 11:14 pm

PeterD wrote:Hi Paul,

Not the Paul I had in mind, but thank you for replying nonetheless.

You state that "the aorist pple often refers to a single event that happens at much the same time as the main verb." If I'm not mistaken, does not the aorist pple express an action as an event which has been completed before the action of the main verb not the same time as you state? Is it not the present pple that expresses an action (which is in progress, unlike the aorist) at the same time as the action of the main verb?


Hi Peter,

Given our past conversations about this, I suspect that I am the Paul you were referring to.

Following Smyth, let me say that with the exception of the future participle, all tenses of the participle are timeless. Hence auctor's reference to aspect.

But you're right that, more often than not, the action of the aorist participle is antecedent to that of the leading verb. That said, when this action is similar to that of the main verb, the action of the participle may be considered nearly coincident with that of the main verb.

Here we have "attacking.....they battled"; more literally, "falling upon...they battled". To my mind, "falling upon" comes before "battling".
But maybe these actions are similar enough that auctor is right to construe them as coincident.

auctor wrote:If an event happens (and then stops happening) at the same time as the main verb then the ppl describing the event would be aorist, main verb present.


I'm not so sure about this. Aspect is subtle. My understanding is that what characterizes the aorist aspect is that it reveals nothing of what a linguist would call its action's "internal temporal constituency". Hence we don't know anything about the starting, duration, or stopping of the "falling upon" - just that it happened.

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby auctor » Thu Feb 12, 2004 12:10 am

Yes I think (the other) Paul's closing paragraph sums up aorist ppls as simply as is possible... it simply happened. Possibly some time in the past; we aren't told when it started or finished, just that it happened
Present ppls keep on happening.
As I mentioned this is a tricky distinction that doesn't occur in English, and is therefore something we have to concentrate on before we fully understand the true implications.

I am splendidly inept at internet searching but I have no doubt that Smyth and Perseus will be able to clear the waters that I've muddied.

Time for a sleep and a pensive cigarette.

Paul McK
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Postby mingshey » Thu Feb 12, 2004 1:40 am

As for the reference to Smyth, see

http://www.textkit.com/files/hws_Greek_ ... f#page=469 Smyth, 2043

You can search the subjects by looking up the English Index in the Appendix.
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Postby Robertus » Thu Feb 12, 2004 3:28 am

hi everyone,

As to aorists, i have recently read an article in Greece and Rome, Second Series: October 2002, vol. 49 no. 2, by F. Beetham (The Aorist Indicative)that deals exactly with the problem whether aorists are used only in past referring situations or not. The author believes that:

"A very simple explanation of verbal aspect is that it refers to the viewpoint of the speaker or writer. Leaving the perfect aspect on one side, when the present or imperfect tense is used (the imperfect having the same aspect as the present), the viwepoint of the speaker or writer is inside the action being described. Use of aorist indicates that the viewpoint of the speaker or writer is outside the action being described, while its beginning and end are in view. Accordingly, all aorist verbs have aspect, but only some have past tense." Then he quotes Il. 4.160-2 as an example of non-past referring aorist.

So, I think, we should start always with the aspect of the verb in mind, not its tense; the tense is easily recognized when one bears in mind the relations established by Dionysios Thrax in his [face=SPIonic]Peri/ rh/matos[/face]:

"Concerning the verb: Three tenses: present, past, future. Of these, the past has four divisions, imperfect, perfect, pluperfect and aorist, and there are three relationships between them, the present to the imperfect, the perfect to the pluperfect, the aorist to the future."

Greek is very fond of aspect, that is, the view of the speaker/ writer concerning the action being referred to; and the aorist aspect is that which is concerned with actions whose continuance in time is of no interest, or actions already taken as finished; i mean, the aorist describes not an on-going action, but a state of affairs already defined and so it suits perfectly historic narratives. Also, the so-called gnomic aorist, which expresses an universal truth, is used exactly because of the universality of the truth, it may not change, it is finished, it is not subject to time.

And if the aspect of the aorist is much more relevant in the indicative than its tense (which may or may be not past referring), in the other moods only the aspect remais, the tense being establish either by context or by the tense of the main verb.

Approaching aorists only as past reffering may be misleading, so, here is my advise, always ask yourself about the aspect of the verb.

hugs... :wink:

Robertus
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Postby mingshey » Thu Feb 12, 2004 4:30 am

How inspirating! :o :o :o :idea: :idea: :idea:

Many thanks!
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Postby PeterD » Thu Feb 12, 2004 4:52 am

As each day goes by, the more I learn. Does sound kinda what a Grecian would say (didn't GWB call the Greeks Grecian?).

Thanks for the help -- to Paul X 2 and the rest of the boys.

[face=SPIonic]mele/th to\ pa=n[/face] :)
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