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Plato, Republic 331b

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Plato, Republic 331b

Postby homo.iugalis » Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:47 am

Hi,
I have a problem with translating a sentence from Plato's Republic. I don't understand this construction at all. I have compared several translations in different languages, but it didn't help me. So here is the sentence:
τὸ γὰρ μηδὲ ἄκοντά τινα ἐξαπατῆσαι ἢ ψεύσασθαι, μηδ᾽ αὖ ὀφείλοντα ἢ θεῷ θυσίας τινὰς ἢ ἀνθρώπῳ χρήματα ἔπειτα ἐκεῖσε ἀπιέναι δεδιότα, μέγα μέρος εἰς τοῦτο ἡ τῶν χρημάτων κτῆσις συμβάλλεται. I can hardly understand the sense of it, but I'm not sure about anything. The biggest problem is grammar, why there are accusatives participles, what is their function, also the inifinitives, and what they are connected to?What kind of sentence is that? If someone knows, anything about grammar and sense of this sentence, please help.
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Re: Plato, Republic 331b

Postby NateD26 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:01 pm

homo.iugalis wrote:Hi,
I have a problem with translating a sentence from Plato's Republic. I don't understand this construction at all. I have compared several translations in different languages, but it didn't help me. So here is the sentence:
τὸ γὰρ μηδὲ ἄκοντά τινα ἐξαπατῆσαι ἢ ψεύσασθαι, μηδ᾽ αὖ ὀφείλοντα ἢ θεῷ θυσίας τινὰς ἢ ἀνθρώπῳ χρήματα ἔπειτα ἐκεῖσε ἀπιέναι δεδιότα, μέγα μέρος εἰς τοῦτο ἡ τῶν χρημάτων κτῆσις συμβάλλεται. I can hardly understand the sense of it, but I'm not sure about anything. The biggest problem is grammar, why there are accusatives participles, what is their function, also the inifinitives, and what they are connected to?What kind of sentence is that? If someone knows, anything about grammar and sense of this sentence, please help.

Intriguing construction. As is often the case with one's line of thought, breaking, interruption and
mid-sentence paraphrasing is inevitable.

εἰς τοῦτο is key here. It is one way to express a purpose (for that purpose, towards this goal).
τοῦτο refers to the entire preceding clause:
τὸ γὰρ μηδὲ ἄκοντά τινα ἐξαπατῆσαι ἢ ψεύσασθαι, μηδ᾽ αὖ ὀφείλοντα ἢ θεῷ θυσίας τινὰς ἢ
ἀνθρώπῳ χρήματα ἔπειτα ἐκεῖσε ἀπιέναι δεδιότα.

By itself, μέγα μέρος εἰς τοῦτο ἡ τῶν χρημάτων κτῆσις συμβάλλεται is a complete thought,
albeit ambiguous since we do not know to what τοῦτο refers.

Essentially, the initial thought was perhaps μέγα γὰρ μέρος εἰς [τὸ μηδὲ ἄκοντά τινα ἐξαπατῆσαι ἢ
ψεύσασθαι, μηδ᾽ αὖ ὀφείλοντα ἢ θεῷ θυσίας τινὰς ἢ ἀνθρώπῳ χρήματα ἔπειτα ἐκεῖσε ἀπιέναι δεδιότα]
ἡ τῶν χρημάτων κτῆσις συμβάλλεται.

Now to the daunting task of syntax analysis.

An infinitive requires a subject, and it can be explicit, though it is commonly implicit.
The case of that subject is accusative. Here, the infinitives ἐξαπατῆσαι ἢ ψεύσασθαι
have one explicit direct object τινα and an implicit subject (τινα), evident by
the adjective with adverbial sense ἄκοντά (masc. acc. sg.) as well as by the participles in the
second μηδὲ clause, ὀφείλοντα & δεδιότα.

μηδ᾽ αὖ ὀφείλοντα governs a couple of direct objects with their respective indirect ones:
ἢ θεῷ θυσίας τινὰς ἢ ἀνθρώπῳ χρήματα.

ἔπειτα ἐκεῖσε ἀπιέναι δεδιότα seems to be a logical consequence of being in debt, either to man
or god, ἐκεῖσε being a euphemism for Hades.

Finally, μέγα μέρος εἰς τοῦτο ἡ τῶν χρημάτων κτῆσις συμβάλλεται is straight-forward:
ἡ τῶν χρημάτων κτῆσις is the subject, συμβάλλεται (to contribute)
the verb and μέγα μέρος the direct object, with εἰς τοῦτο, the stated purpose.

Here's one translation that sums up the sense well:
Not to cheat any man even unintentionally or play him false, not remaining in debt to a god
for some sacrifice or to a man for money, so to depart in fear to that other world—to this result
the possession of property contributes not a little.
-- Paul Shorey, 1969.
Nate.
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