Textkit Logo

A variety of questions:

Here's where you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get translation help and more!

A variety of questions:

Postby BrandonWieber » Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:13 pm

I am seeking help with some grammatical clarification on some exercises from Hansen and Quinn's Intensive Elementary Greek. Hope you can help!

1. ἐὰν κακοὺς ἀνθώπους εἰς πόλεμον πέμψωμεν ἀγαθοὺς ἀνθρωποὺς θάψομεν

I translate this as "If we send evil men into war, we will bury good men" Yet the book says that adjectives which lack an article imply an "is" In this case there are no articles, but the use of "is" or "are" seems awkward. I attempted another translation, but still feel it is astray, "If we send men who are evil into war, it is good men who we will bury". I enjoy this sentence more, but I feel the addition of "who" might be taking too much of a liberty.

2. ὅπως ἀγαθὸν βιβλὶον γράψειεν, ὁ ποιητὴς ὁ δίκαιος τοῖς θεοῖς ζῷα καλὰ ἔθυεν.

"In order that he might write a good book the just poet was sacrificing fine animals to the gods". My question here comes from ζῷα καλὰ. Animals are fine. A translation like the previous one, "animals which are fine" seems much more fluent, but again I am not sure if this is reasonable given the forms I have to work with.

3. ἀγαθὴ δὴ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἡ νίκης ἡμέρα.

"For men a victory is of course a good day". Again I am not sure how to properly use ἀγαθὴ in a sentence of this quality. For clarification the book gave many drills with simple sentences like "κακος ὁ αδελφος" The brother is evil, "ἡ τοῦ ἀδελφου ψυχῂ ἄδικος " Unjust is the soul of the brother. In these sentences, the implementation of "is" and "are", seems logical, but I lose my vein of reasoning in this more complex sentences.

4. ἐὰν τὴν μάχεν μὴ παύσητε, καλοὺς ὁπλίτας δὶα τῆς χώρας παρὰ τὴν θαλάτταν πέμψομεν ἴνα λύσωσι τοὺς δικαίους φιλους τοὺς ἐν τῃ οἰκία.

"If you do not stop the battle, we will send on account of the country hoplites who are noble to the sea in order that they may release the just friends in the house."

In this sentence I have trouble accounting for the final "τοὺς". Does it link to "ὁπλίτας" ? And if so, how does it incorporate once again into the sentence? I also feel I awkwardly translated this sentence, though Hansen and Quinn do not necessarily care about how good the sentences sound, but more that I have an understanding of the grammar.

Thank you for your help - before I move onto the next unit, I want to ensure that I know, solidly, these facts!
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:26 pm

Re: A variety of questions:

Postby Qimmik » Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:13 pm

(1) κακοὺς could be translated "cowardly." Otherwise, either of the translations you propose is good. The first is more literal, but the second seems more like idiomatic English, and maybe better captures the opposition κακοὺς/ἀγαθοὺς. You have to bear in mind, though, that this is somewhat stilted made-up Greek designed to illustrate conditional clauses with a limited vocabulary, not real Greek extracted from ancient texts. "Hansen and Quinn do not necessarily care about how good the sentences sound" -- well said!

(2) Again, either translation works, although the first is more literal. You might try to find a better English word than "fine," but, again, the Greek is somewhat stilted.

(3) The copula ("is," "are", etc.) is often omitted in Greek, as here--you need to supply "is" in English. Nominative ἡμέρα, not νίκης, is the subject; νίκης is a genitive dependent on it: "the day of victory". ἀγαθὴ is predicative. "The day of victory, of course is good for the men."

(4) δὶα seems to mean "through" here: "we will send brave [καλοὺς] hoplites through the country to the sea".

τοὺς δικαίους φιλους τοὺς ἐν τῃ οἰκία -- τοὺς ἐν τῃ οἰκία is predicative here: "the ones who are in the house". "in order to release the just friends who are in the house".

(μάχεν should be μάχην, and the alpha in οἰκία should have an iota subscript.)
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 926
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: A variety of questions:

Postby spiphany » Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:04 pm

Just a couple of comments about the use of articles, since you were finding this confusing. I'm going to be really basic here in places, but don't feel insulted; I find that students get so overwhelmed by rules that it's easy to lose sight of the underlying workings of the language & it sometimes helps to be reminded of what they already know.

The function of the article is to pick out a specific thing ("the man"--i.e., perhaps the one mentioned earlier in a conversation--vs. any random man).

In addition, the article can do other useful things, namely: it can help to group words together in a sentence. There are several important points to note.

1) the significance of attributive vs. predicative position
Attributive is another way of saying the subject of the sentence. In a sentence where the only verb (written or understood) is the verb "to be" any nouns or adjectives that are predicative rename the subject: "The man (subj) is good (predicative)"; "honesty (subj) is a virtue (predicative)". In English we mark subject and predicate using word order. Greek is somewhat more flexible. Often the presence and location of the article will help you to sort out how things belong together.
If you have a noun and an adjective and an article that agree with each other, there are several possibilities about how they may be ordered.
ὁ ἀγαθος ἀνθρωπος
ὁ ἀνθρωπος ὁ ἀγαθος
In both of these, the adjective is in attributive position ("the good man", no "is" implied). The key thing to note here is that the article acts a bit like a sandwich linking the adjective to its noun.
Compare it with the following:
ἀγαθος ὁ ἀνθρωπος
ὁ ἀνθρωπος ἀγαθος
Here the adjective is outside the article+noun sandwich: predicative position ("the man is good")
If there's no article at all you have to figure things out from context.

2) Sometimes the article will also be used to group other words with belong with the noun. Again, the sandwich principle is at work: if you stick something between the noun and its article, it indicates that the words in between somehow relate to it. Often this will be either possessive nouns or prepositional phrases:
το θεου δωρον ("the gift of the god"). This could of course also be written το δωρον θεου, but the writer may want to avoid any ambiguity and link the gift closely with its divine origin.
οἱ ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾳ ἀνθρωποι λεγουσι ("the men in the agora are talking"). Again, this could be placed outside the noun, but there may be reasons to emphasize that "in the agora" picks out a specific group of men, rather than the location of the activity. Compare the following:
οἰ ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾳ ἀνθρωποι λεγουσι, οἰ δὲ ἐν τῃ οἰκία σιωπασιν ("The men in the agora are talking, the ones in the house are silent." Two groups of men doing different things.)
οἱ ἀνθρωποι λεγουσι ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾳ, ἐν δὲ ταις οἰκίας σιωπασιν ("The men talk in the agora, but they are silent in their houses." One group of men with different behavior depending on where they are.)

3) When there is no noun that is goes with the article, it may be used to create a noun out of an adjective or prepositional phrase (substantive use of the article) where the noun can be understood from the context. This follows logically from point 2 above. Thus you have οἱ καλος καὶ ἀγαθοι ("the beautiful and the good", i.e., the nobility), or in the example I gave above, the men in the house (οἰ ἐν τῳ δομῳ).
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 425
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2005 3:15 am
Location: Munich

Re: A variety of questions:

Postby BrandonWieber » Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:00 am

Thank you for the clarifications! Indeed, the odd sentences often lead me astray in my effort to make them... sound good. I have also moved forward for quite some time without a teacher, and it can be difficult to track progress when the book does not even offer the translations to the exercises (as it assumes you have a resource to clarify it for you).

Thank you Qimmick for you detailed responses to my questions - there will be more in the future, but I can move forward a bit more confidently now. My next unit is the passive, so hoorah for the next set of verb endings!

Also thank you to spiphany for the detailed examples. The most illuminating bit is on your explanation of the substantive use the of the article. My book goes into some detail, but your list of comparisons really enlightened me - I'll have a keener eye moving foward!
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:26 pm

Return to Learning Greek

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 59 guests