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Reading Thucydides 2014

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby mwh » Thu Nov 07, 2013 4:44 am

Getting closer, I think (or am I too impressionable?). I agree altogether with your understanding of the rest of 77 and with the need for the sentence to make sense in the context of 76 fin. (a problems I raised in my previous) and with your overall contextualization of the target sentence.

But doesn't this mean that the participles are to be understood causal, not concessive?
"Because we get the worse of it in international courts (sc. and yet persist in our willingness to submit to them, rather than using our power) and held the cases in Athens under the same laws (sc. ditto), we're thought addicted to litigation."
This is the only way I can make sense of the apodosis. The thrust of the argument has to be that their (unfair) reputation for litigiousness is owed to their going to law (whether elsewhere or in Athens) rather than imposing their will by resorting to force. I'm with you on that. To say that they have that reputation even though they go to law would be totally illogical. That's what I was struggling with before.

Can elassoumenoi really mean "settl[ing] for less than we might"? (i.e. allowing ourselves to be worsted??). Surely it has to mean getting the worse of it, coming off worse, losing.

I earlier expressed misgiving about tois omoiois nomois. Can that really mean "under equitable laws," as you now translate it? Could it perhaps mean the same laws as we submit ourselves to in international courts (i.e. not under our own laws but under those of our "allies"), or the same laws as we apply to our own citizens? Even "impartial" seems a bit of a stretch.

Once again I write off the top of my head and without consulting any commentaries or other translations, and I may be totally off course. I first read Thucydides along with Crawley's translation, which I developed very great respect for. (I no longer have my copy, a first edition I believe, after lending it to someone who didn't return it.) I now think no less highly of Lattimore's. But with Thucydides, no-one can get everything right!
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby John W. » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:22 am

mwh - many thanks indeed for your further thoughts.

I'm still churning around with this passage. I now agree with you that ἐλασσούμενοι can't really be taken as 'settling for less than our due', but must mean something like 'suffer loss', or 'come off worst'; it's worth noting that just a little further on, in 1.77.4 we have ἤν τι ... καὶ ὁπωσοῦν ἐλασσωθῶσιν, which I have translated: 'if they should suffer any loss at all'.

With regard to ὁμοίοις, I'm pretty sure that elsewhere in Thucydides it is used in the sense of 'equitable', but I'll have to double check that. in any case, it could still mean 'the same' here as you suggest.

I see the attraction of your latest suggestion, and I'll give it further thought. With it, as with the concessive interpretation, there is still a stage of the thought process left out, but, as I've said before, that can happen in Thucydides.

Crawley's translation has many good qualities, though of the older ones I've found Dale's the most helpful - more literal, and with some useful notes. I like Lattimore's version very much too, though I have to say that it is marred by the number of seemingly inadvertent omissions - sometimes just a word or two, sometimes rather more (one of the worst is at 6.102, where the whole first sentence is missing). I don't know whether these omissions were ever corrected in a later printing.

Anyway, thanks again for you help; I'll keep thinking!

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby John W. » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:35 pm

My own translation currently stands as follows:

'For example, even though we often lose in lawsuits against our allies which are conducted under international agreements, and in our own courts have instituted hearings of cases under impartial laws, we are regarded as litigious.'

If this is on the right lines (of which I'm far from sure), the thinking would seem to be that, since the Athenians clearly have no advantage in lawsuits - abroad, because they often lose to their allies (perhaps because of bias in the allies' courts), and at home because their own laws ensure that they are on an equal footing with their allies in cases referred to Athens - they can have no incentive to constantly resort to legal channels, and so there can be no rational basis for regarding them as litigious. While this implied line of reasoning is I think possible, one would be more comfortable with a more transparent linkage between the first part of the sentence and the allegation of litigiousness.

I've recently found yet another interpretation in a piece by A.E. Raubitschek in The Speeches in Thucydides (ed. Philip A. Stadter, Chapel Hill, 1973), p. 44. Raubitschek translates our passage as follows:

'If in lowering ourselves, we arrange for trials under treaty provisions in cases against our allies and on the basis of legal equality in our own courts - we are called litigious.'

This takes ἐν ταῖς ξυμβολαίαις πρὸς τοὺς ξυμμάχους δίκαις and παρ᾽ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις as parallel: the Athenians are then pointing out that they are lowering themselves (ἐλασσούμενοι) both by accepting treaty provisions with their (weaker) allies, and by treating these same allies as equals in their own courts in Athens. However, I would have expected a word order along the lines
ἐλασσούμενοι γὰρ καὶ ἐν ταῖς ξυμβολαίαις ... δίκαις καὶ παρ᾽ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς ... if this was the intended sense (unless the first καὶ is trajected for some reason). This interpretation is nonetheless interesting, and further illustrates (if that is necessary) just how many potential takes on this sentence there are!

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby mwh » Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:28 am

Just a couple of helpless notes before I give up on this.

I still have great difficulty making sense of this sentence if the participles are taken as concessive. I really don't see how they can be anything other than causal, or at any rate neutral, circumstantial. Raubitschek seems to have taken the same view (since the condition implied by his "If" has clearly been satisfied), and so of course did Lattimore, despite his effectively subordinating elassoumenoi to poihsantes.

I'm still far from clear about en tois omoiois nomois, with the article. By "impartial" I guess you're taking omoioi to mean "the same for everyone, us and them alike", which seems perfectly acceptable in itself, but it's the attributive position of omoiois that slightly bothers me. Your "under impartial laws" seems more a translation of en omoiois nomois (or omoiois en nomois or en nomois omoiois), without article. I could understand en tois (sc. hmeterois) nomois omoiois (ousi), omoiois predicative, stressing that Athenian laws are impartial, but as the phrase stands "impartial" doesn't really seem to work (our impartial laws as distinct from our non-impartial ones?!). Maybe the difficulty I'm seeing is unreal, but this is what makes me wonder whether it rather means "the same laws" (or at least similar ones) –- raising the question the same as what? the same as are operative under the international agreements?? I'm handicapped by my ignorance of the actualities.

I don't know the Dale translation, and in fact no other besides the Penguin (which doesn't seem to me as bad as is sometimes made out). Lattimore's omissions, obviously inadvertent, I expect were made good in the second printing, but since I have only the first I can't check.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby John W. » Sat Nov 09, 2013 6:05 pm

mwh – many thanks. Although I know you’ve withdrawn from the discussion, I thought I’d record my latest musings.

I now incline to agree with you that the participles cannot viably be possessive. We would expect 77.1 to follow on in sense from 76.4 - ἡμῖν δὲ καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ἐπιεικοῦς ἀδοξία τὸ πλέον ἢ ἔπαινος οὐκ εἰκότως περιέστη, ‘however, in consequence of our very reasonableness, ill repute more than praise has unfairly accrued to us’. What we really require at the start of 77.1 is an example of Athenian ἐπιείκεια; the ἀδοξία would then in turn be illustrated by the charge of φιλοδικεῖν.

I’m starting to think that Raubitschek may in fact be on the right lines, though I’m not necessarily convinced by the parallelism he finds between ἐν ταῖς ξυμβολαίαις πρὸς τοὺς ξυμμάχους δίκαις and παρ᾽ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις, with ποιήσαντες τὰς κρίσεις applying to both (one of the many problems in trying to interpret Thucydides is recognising, on the one hand, his love of balance, and on the other hand, his fondness for some degree of variation, and then working out into which category any given passage falls).

Factoring all that in, my latest attempt at this work in progress is (with the Greek requoted first for convenience):

καὶ ἐλασσούμενοι γὰρ ἐν ταῖς ξυμβολαίαις πρὸς τοὺς ξυμμάχους δίκαις καὶ παρ᾽ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις ποιήσαντες τὰς κρίσεις φιλοδικεῖν δοκοῦμεν.

‘For when we actually (καὶ) diminish our status (ἐλασσούμενοι) by engaging in legal actions under international agreements against our allies, and by having arranged for hearings of cases against them in our own courts to take place under equitable[?] laws, we are regarded as litigious.’

The idea that the first καὶ emphasises ἐλασσούμενοι is found in Forbes’ 1895 edition of Book 1, citing the preceding καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ἐπιεικοῦς (76.4) as a parallel.

With regard to ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις, the possibilities include the following:

(i) the article might be emphasising that the laws are well known or familiar to the audience, as perhaps it does in ἐν ταῖς ξυμβολαίαις ... δίκαις;

(ii) as you suggest, it could mean that the same laws apply both in the allied courts and in Athens;

(iii) Raubitschek takes it as meaning that, even when the Athenians have a ‘home advantage’, they apply the same laws to their allies as to themselves.

For the moment I’ve left ‘equitable’ in my translation, though I am attracted by your option (ii). That, of course, depends on whether we are talking about a single type of case, or whether the ξυμβολαίαις ... δίκαις are being distinguished from cases involving the allies which have to be referred to Athens under different legal provisions. I too don’t know enough about the realities to be able to decide on this; more research, I fear, beckons.

Best wishes,

John
Last edited by John W. on Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby mwh » Sat Nov 09, 2013 11:53 pm

Thanks for posting your follow-up, John. By "possessive" I take it you mean "concessive."
For what it's worth (very little, I fear):

1. "when we … diminish our status by engaging in" seems a bit of stretch for elassoumenoi en (particularly for the en), however attractive on its own terms.

2. You are now making the poihsantes phrase grammatically subordinate to elassoumenoi, and in parallel (kind of!) with the simple prepositional phrase en tais … dikais. I can't say Thucydides couldn't do that, but I find it difficult without some particular pointer to this construal, such as <kai> en tais or en <te> tais. Even then I'd find the degree of imbalance disconcerting. You elide the imbalance with your "by engaging … and by having arranged."

3. "hearings of cases against them":
(i) <the> cases? Of course the main question here is the relation between the dikai and the kriseis, which I can't answer.
(ii) I take it "against them" is your own interpretive expansion, or are you detaching autois from par'hmin (which would seem pretty well impossible to me)?

I'm sorry all I can do is criticize! If a case-closed cogent reading strikes me overnight I'll let you know. Don't hold your breath.

All best,
Michael
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby John W. » Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:25 pm

Michael – many thanks. I am sorry for continuing to drag you down in this maelstrom with me.

Yes, I did mean ‘concessive’ – my apologies for the slip.

On reflection I agree with all you say regarding my latest stab at this sentence. Specifically:

1 – Yes, I was stretching ἐλασσούμενοι rather (too) far in an attempt to reach a more satisfactory overall sense. But really it ought to mean something like ‘incurring losses’ or ‘being at a disadvantage’.

2 – I too feel the lack of some coordinating signpost such as τε ... καὶ if two elements are to be subsumed under ἐλασσούμενοι. I was trying to circumvent this, but I don’t think one can, and it is a strong objection to my (and Raubitschek’s) take on the sentence. As I recall, Poppo (in his editio maxima) raised a similar objection back in 1831 to an attempt by Bloomfield (in his translation of 1829) to do something similar.

3 – Yes, ‘against them’ is (now) my own expansion. I did at one stage follow some scholars in detaching αὐτοῖς from παρ᾽ ἡμῖν, but I’ve abandoned that.

One final shot for now, factoring in your previous comments on ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις, but otherwise reverting to one of the two main interpretations I identified at the outset:

‘For example, because we were at a constant disadvantage (ἐλασσούμενοι) in legal actions against our allies conducted under international agreements, and so transferred the hearings of such cases to our own courts under the same laws, we are regarded as litigious.’

The reference to ‘the same laws’ could then mean that the cases were heard under the same laws as would have applied under the international agreements if the cases had been heard in the courts of the allied states in question, but without any anti-Athenian bias in the actual hearings, from which the Athenians were (allegedly) suffering when the cases were heard elsewhere. The weakness of this is (at least) threefold:

(i) the role of the first καὶ on this interpretation – what does it add to the sentence?

(ii) the relevance to the charge of φιλοδικεῖν – unless the fact of the Athenians’ bringing all such cases into their own courts could serve as the basis for such a charge;

(iii) the lack of external evidence that the Athenians did in fact transfer all such hearings to their own courts.

So back to the drawing board yet again, probably.

Finally, there’s certainly no need to apologise for offering your critique – it’s much appreciated, and with this sentence one certainly needs all the help one can get!


Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby Qimmik » Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:44 pm

ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις

This brings to mind the beginning of Demosthenes' speech On the Crown, 18.2, where he reminds his audience of their sworn obligation τὸ ὁμοίως ἀμφοῖν ἀκροάσασθαι, "to hear both sides impartially." Admittedly, this was written 70-80 years after Thucydides, but this language is apparently a "verbatim quotation" of the heliastic oath jurors were required to swear. See Yunis' note ad loc. in the Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics edition of On the Crown (2001), citing Bonner and Smith, The administration of justice from Homer to Aristotle (1938), vol. 2, 152-5. So there is good authority for taking ὁμοίοις to mean "impartial."

Bill
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby mwh » Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:11 pm

You seem to have ended up basically agreeing with Lattimore after all! The objection to that was the tense of elassoumenoi, which you now deal with that by taking it to be imperfective (as I imagine SL did too). That's what I suggested in my first post on this, only to withdraw it immediately but too hastily I now think. (I thought it would require edokoumen rather than dokoumen, but I suppose it doesn't really.) I suggested inceptive, you iterative; I suppose either is a possible way of reading it.

As to the initial kai, again in my first post I wrote "I'm not sure of the effect of holding up the γαρ. Does it tie the και more closely to ελασσουμενοι?" I've just done a quick TLG search for other instance of kai X gar in Thuc and find just two others (not counting instances where the gar belongs to an embedded sentence), 7.48.5 kai xrhmasi gar … and 8.109.1 kai entauqa gar …. It looks to me as if in each case the deferment of gar serves to decouple it from the kai, so that kai functions independently of the gar. In 7.48 I'd take it as coordinating with the upcoming kai's (a chain of 3 participial phrases), while in 8.109 it clearly belongs with entauqa ("for there too …"). In our sentence it seems we are free to take it either specifically with elassoumenoi or as correlative with the second kai, or however else we'd like. If we have to choose, I'd hesitantly incline to the first, giving a bit of punch to the participle. Anything in Denniston?

The relevance to the filodokein charge – wasn't this satisfactorily accounted for in earlier posts, where it was related to the overall Athenian argument about their goodness in preferring to pursue the legal route rather than just imposing their will by force as they could have done without incurring such ill will?

Your current interpretation seems to me perfectly viable in itself, but I see no hope of attaining certainty without better knowledge of the historical actualities – which I have not investigated at all. "transferring," for instance, is unsupported by the Greek itself, as is the relationship between the two participles. Hinc illae lacrimae.

Michael

PS Posted this before seeing Qimmik's helpful note.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby John W. » Sun Nov 10, 2013 8:31 pm

Bill, Michael - many thanks indeed for your very helpful posts. Partly under their influence, I've now tweaked my last version so that it stands as follows:

'For example, because we were at a constant disadvantage in lawsuits against our allies under international agreements, and so instituted hearings of such cases in our own courts under impartial laws, we are regarded as litigious.'

That's probably about as far as one can pursue it at present - certainty does indeed seem unachievable in this (as in so many other Thucydidean) instances - though if either of you (or anyone else) has any further flashes of insight, I'd naturally love to hear them.

By the way, I did have a look at Denniston re καὶ ... γὰρ, but couldn't find anything to take us beyond what had already been discussed.

Thanks again to both of you for your patience and help.

With all good wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby mwh » Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:11 am

Very glad to have been of help. This has been a most interesting thread.

So there finally turns out to be no substantive difference between you and SL at all, unless one counts your "under impartial laws" vs. his "under our impartial laws"! He really is very good.

Best,
Michael
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby John W. » Sat Nov 16, 2013 12:12 pm

Another Thucydidean passage on which I’d be grateful for your views. This time, it’s in 1.122.4. The Corinthians are speaking in an assembly of the allies at Lacedaemon, and are trying to convince their allies to go to war against the Athenians. They are arguing that the policy of ‘allowing a tyrant city [ = imperial Athens] to be established in Hellas’ is most unwise:

καὶ οὐκ ἴσμεν ὅπως τάδε τριῶν τῶν μεγίστων ξυμφορῶν ἀπήλλακται, ἀξυνεσίας ἢ μαλακίας ἢ ἀμελείας. οὐ γὰρ δὴ πεφευγότες αὐτὰ ἐπὶ τὴν πλείστους δὴ βλάψασαν καταφρόνησιν κεχωρήκατε, ἣ ἐκ τοῦ πολλοὺς σφάλλειν τὸ ἐναντίον ὄνομα ἀφροσύνη μετωνόμασται.

My current translation of this is:

‘And we do not know how this policy can be free from the three greatest disasters: stupidity, weakness and indifference. For surely you have not avoided those failings but have gone on to that attitude of contempt which has harmed more peoples than anything else, and which, from bringing about the ruin of many, has been renamed folly.’

It is the bit in bold which is the real problem, and especially the force of οὐ γὰρ δὴ. Denniston (The Greek Particles, 2nd edn, p. 243) gives the general sense of οὐ γὰρ δὴ as ‘certainly not’ (or ‘certainly not, at any rate’), but for our present passage translates as ‘Surely you have not avoided these three errors only to fall into a fourth ...’ A similar use is found in 5.111.3:

οὐ γὰρ δὴ ἐπί γε τὴν ἐν τοῖς αἰσχροῖς καὶ προύπτοις κινδύνοις πλεῖστα διαφθείρουσαν ἀνθρώπους αἰσχύνην τρέψεσθε.

‘Surely you will not fall back on that sense of honour which, in dangers that threaten disgrace and are foreseen, destroys men most of all.’

This has influenced my rendering of 1.122.4. However, another school of thought takes οὐ γὰρ δὴ there in its more usual sense and translates along the lines of:

‘For you have certainly not avoided these failings by proceeding to that attitude of contempt ...’

Partly because of 5.111.3, this has hitherto seemed to me a less likely interpretation; it is, however, favoured by a number of commentators, and I’m now starting to wonder if it actually makes more sense in the context. In the previous sentence the Corinthians have said: ‘And we do not know how this policy can be free from the three greatest disasters: stupidity, weakness and indifference.’ Given this, it would perhaps be something of a non sequitur for them to then say that the allies have actually avoided these three failings after all (but have fallen into a fourth). But I suppose that it would still make sense if the statement about avoiding the three failings was purely ironical (i.e. the Corinthians are really implying that the allies have in fact not avoided them at all).

Anyway, as always I’d welcome your thoughts on this.


Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby mwh » Sat Nov 16, 2013 5:58 pm

Sorry John I have no time for this right now, and am taking myself off the boards at least for the time being. They're just too distracting!
Maybe later.
Best,
Michael
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Postby pster » Fri Nov 29, 2013 9:40 pm

John,

So many heavy hitters around here, I didn't to get in the way! But since nobody wants to address your latest query, and since I am committed to this thread for the very long haul, I thought I'd look into it. Cameron would approve of your translation as he thinks that Marchant has it right:

(Marchant) οὐ γὰρ δὴ πεφευγότες αὐτά—the rendering ‘we cannot suppose that you have avoided these evils only to’ etc. (Classen, Croiset, Forbes, etc), meaning by irony ‘we suspect that you have,’ cannot be right, since the previous sentence distinctly says, ‘you have not escaped all three of these ξυμφοραί.’ Hence we must transl. (with Kruger, Bohme, Steup): ‘For it is not the case that you are free from these errors in assuming that contempt which has proved ruinous to so many (δή strengthens πλείστους), and which from its tendency to trip men up, has received instead (sc. from prudent men) the opposite name of folly.’ Nothing is gained by preserving the jingle in καταφρόνησις and αφροσύνη, because (1) to a Greek writer such a jingle has some rhetorical merit; in English it is detestable and pointless; (2) though ἀφροσύνη is spoken of as the opposite (ἐναντίον) of καταφρόνησις, it is really only different, but early Greek thinkers on the meaning of terms often confuse the contiary with the contradictory. τὸ ἐναντίον ὄνομα is internal accus. to μετωνόμασται.

I can't look at the Hornblower at the moment, but I'll find out what he thinks this week.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:47 am

Just poking my head in here again. The argument against Denniston's (et al.'s) interpretation seems to me to carry great weight. But I note the competing translations both (or all) appear to take the negative as applying only to the participle. Could it perhaps apply to both the participle and the main verb? "For certainly it's not the case that having avoided these afflictions you've passed into contemptuousness aka folly" i.e. "For it's certainly not the case that you've managed to avoid these afflictions and have passed into contemptuousness aka folly!" But I can't say I'm at all happy with this, nor however am I happy with a construal that implies that they have proceeded to an attitude of contempt: how so? They've been guilty of axunesia or malakia or ameleia (as amply indicated in the preceding part of the speech)—but now's the time to look forward rather than back and to take collective action. I just don't see how the bit about katafronesis/afrosunh fits into this train of thought. If the argument was that they were contemptuous (sc. of Athens?), I could understand it: "We don't see how all this can have been free of axunesia/malakia/ameleia; because you certainly can't have proceeded to that oh-so-pernicious contemptuousness without having fallen prey to these afflictions." But that doesn't seem in line with the Corinthians' line of argument. I expect I'm just being thick-headed. If this point didn't bother Marchant (whose note seems excellent to me) probably it shouldn't bother me. -- Again, this is just off the top of my (thick) head.

?Interesting that the three are presented as alternatives (h not kai). Why? Each entails the others, or you can take your pick, they all effectively amount to the same thing?

Michael
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:21 am

I'm impressed by the Corinthians' tone at 1.69 where they are pretty rough with the Spartans. So that would support the Kruger, Bohme, Steup, Marchant camp. But there they are really talking about much older events such as the rebuilding of the walls.

And more importantly, now when I reread both the Corinthians' speeches--I actually reread all of Book I just for you John :)--I don't think that they are being rough with the Spartans here. They are talking about the future. Bad things will happen to those who are foolish, cowardly, negligent, or contemptuous. Contemptuous can be ruled out. So, if action is not taken against Athens, one of the other three will be in play and the talk of the town. (Not the most dazzling rhetoric I agree.)

I haven't read Classen, Croiset, Forbes, but I wouldn't describe this/my reading as ironic, as Marchant does. No decision has been taken. We are mid-debate. I don't know why ἀπήλλακται is perfect. But Marchant seems to get carried away when he says, " the previous sentence distinctly says, 'you have not escaped all three of these ξυμφοραί.'" What about the previous sentences? τάδε refers to what is previous to the previous sentence and there the concern is with possible future outcomes.

This is my sense at the moment. Tomorrow I'll shift my focus from Book I as a whole to just 1.122 and see what I think.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:48 am

pster, Michael - this is just an interim quickie to thank you very much indeed for your comments and to apologise for my delay in responding. I've been down with flu for some time, and haven't yet fully emerged from it, so Thucydides has been a bit taxing for me of late. I'm trying to gradually re-engage with him now, though, so I'll have a proper look at your comments and get back to you.

With all good wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Thu Dec 05, 2013 4:28 pm

Well, Hornblower has basically nothing whatsoever to say about any of this. He has a few remarks about the kind of folly involved at the very end. I could never be a classicist. I don't know how there could be a debate between two camps that isn't addressed in a 2000 page 3 volume commentary. Frankly, it seems quite absurd. I better stop there.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Thu Dec 05, 2013 5:46 pm

pster wrote:Well, Hornblower has basically nothing whatsoever to say about any of this. He has a few remarks about the kind of folly involved at the very end. I could never be a classicist. I don't know how there could be a debate between two camps that isn't addressed in a 2000 page 3 volume commentary. Frankly, it seems quite absurd. I better stop there.


pster - thanks very much indeed for taking the trouble to check. I'll try to get my head around all this again over the weekend.

To be honest I'm not entirely surprised re Hornblower; despite enthusiastic reviews of his commentary in some quarters it seems to me overrated. As Donald Lateiner pointed out in his review of one volume of it, all too often the commentary consists of little more than a quote from Hornblower's own revision of the Jowett translation (which he asserted would see the light of day in the Oxford World's Classics series - in fact, the latter has published a new translation by Martin Hammond). Hornblower frequently seems impatient of textual or grammatical discussion of difficult passages; perhaps this is because he's partly aiming at a Greekless audience, but, as you say, in a commentary of this size (and cost!) one expects something better. I've always found the older Oxford commentary by Gomme et al. far more helpful with problem passages - even if Gomme himself was sometimes a bit too keen to resolve difficulties by assuming that they were the result of textual corruption.

Anyway, thanks again for checking!

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby GJCaesar » Thu Dec 05, 2013 7:29 pm

This seems like an interesting topic :). In the future, I might join in one of your reading groups!

Concerning the commentaries on Thucydides: I honestly think my Greek Syntax teacher (on university) should write a purely grammatical commentary on Thucydides. He might not have the best knowledge about the culture and history in general, but man, he knows his stuff. He can literally derive every word back to PIE and he is just an authority when it comes to phrase structure and everything. Too bad he writes articles rather than commentaries. When I read some Thucydides last year, I had the same problem as John W. Sometimes, Hornblower just skips complete passages, which on first sight do seem rather important to get the whole picture. But more commentators seem to get the hang of this. Like they are almost too lazy to think it all through just a bit more detailed. Ah well .. I've always liked Burnett. His Plato commentaries are phenomenal.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Thu Dec 05, 2013 9:25 pm

OK, take all of this with a big grain of salt because I'm just an amateur.

mwh wrote:But I note the competing translations both (or all) appear to take the negative as applying only to the participle. Could it perhaps apply to both the participle and the main verb?


This seems quite correct to me given the full sweep of the passage. Unless somebody has some grammatical principle or Smyth number that tells us what the negation applies to.

John W. wrote:It is the bit in bold which is the real problem, and especially the force of οὐ γὰρ δὴ. Denniston (The Greek Particles, 2nd edn, p. 243) gives the general sense of οὐ γὰρ δὴ as ‘certainly not’ (or ‘certainly not, at any rate’), but for our present passage translates as ‘Surely you have not avoided these three errors only to fall into a fourth ...’


I don't understand why you write "but" here. The difference between "certainly" and "surely" doesn't seem to me to be in play.

What I don't like about Denniston and most of the translations that are bouncing around is the past tense "avoided". That is what strikes me as unjustified. Both the participle πεφευγότες and the finite verb κεχωρήκατε are perfects. The perfect is a primary tense. He is talking about two present states. The particple refers to the present state of having fled. The finite verb refers to the present state of having made room for. To keep our heads clear, I think that for the purposes of this debate it is helpful to translate these by present tense verbs. The best I have handy are "being free (of)" and "accomodate". Anybody who thinks that they have a satisfactory interpretation of this passage has to explain why exactly T uses perfects.

OK, next. What do we have? For, it is certainly not the case that being free of these (three things) you are accomodating that contempt which has harmed so many... Notice, notice, that βλάψασαν is aorist. So here T is clearly marking past events. The contrast with the perfects is quite explicit!

Well, what of Marchant's emphatic italics? He wrote, "the previous sentence distinctly says, ‘you have not escaped all three of these ξυμφοραί.’" But is Marchant right? I don't think so.

καὶ οὐκ ἴσμεν ὅπως τάδε τριῶν τῶν μεγίστων ξυμφορῶν ἀπήλλακται, ἀξυνεσίας ἢ μαλακίας ἢ ἀμελείας.

Lo and behold! Another perfect! Conveniently for his interpretation, Marchant goes for an English past tense translation. But if we want to really focus on the tenses, we need to do ἀπήλλακται justice. I'm just going to mark the desiderative nature of this by the adverb "optimally". The active present would be "to optimally set free x from y". The passive would be "to optimally be set free from y". The perfect passive would be "to optimally be free from y". So what Thucydides actually says is more like:

And we do not know how these things are optimally free from the three greatest disasters: stupidity, weakness and indifference.

I opt for the literal "these things", but John's "this policy" is just fine.

So we have no reason whatsoever to bring in the past tense for any of this.

Hobbes doesn't use the past tense in his translation. And rightly so, because he understands that the perfects in these sentences are marking the fact that the Corinthians are talking and have been talking about the outputs, inputs, and dynamics of present possible courses of action.

I think it is helpful to forget about the intracacies of a couple of sentences and reread the whole speech. Certainly, certainly, for a writer like T, the forest has to matter as much as the trees. The past tense business seems totally unjustified!

I am sorry if I am totally wrong. But I can only spend an hour a day on this stuff and that's how it looks under that time constraint! :lol:
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Sat Dec 07, 2013 2:36 am

Agreed the tenses are important (as always), and perfects are perfects. That doesn't mean they have to translated by presents. I don't see anything wrong with "I have found" for eureka. I tried variously to capture the force of the perfects in my highly tentative and fumbling renderings above ("have managed to avoid," "have been free" etc.)—unsatisfactorily, no doubt.

I read the aphllaktai bit as referring to the failings he's rehearsed in the speech up to this point. Context matters, obviously: what we have to struggle with is the "intricacies" of this pivotal passage in the context (small and large) in which it finds itself, no? For me the difficulty lies in the katafronhsis bit, as I tried to explain. Who or what is (was, will be) the object of the contempt (or lack of it)? I don't get it.

-- But I haven't given it any more thought, I admit. Nor have I reread the whole of bk.1 up to this point!
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat Dec 07, 2013 8:53 pm

Many thanks again to those who have commented on 1.122.4.

pster asked why I used ‘but’ in referring to Denniston on οὐ γὰρ δὴ (The Greek Particles, 2nd edn, p. 243). It was to contrast the general sense he gives for this combination – ‘you have certainly not done X’ – with the different sense he assigns to it here : ‘surely you have not done X(?)’.

I agree with mwh that we need to look at the context. The Corinthians have said that the allies are not only failing to strengthen the liberty which they inherited from their fathers, but are even ‘allowing a tyrant city [= imperial Athens] to be established in Hellas’. They add that they cannot see how ‘these things’ (i.e. the failure to safeguard their liberty, and allowing Athens to become a tyrant city – ‘this policy’ in my translation) ‘can be free from the three greatest disasters: stupidity, weakness and ignorance’.

So far, so good. But are the Corinthians then saying to the allies (I translate fairly freely to bring out the possible meanings):

(a) ‘We cannot see how this policy can be free from these disasters – for you certainly have not avoided them by adopting a contemptuous attitude towards the Athenians.’ (I think this is what ‘contempt’ means here: the allies are accused of arrogantly underestimating the power and threat of Athens.)

Or are they saying:

(b) ‘For surely you have not managed to avoid these disasters, only to fall into the trap of regarding the Athenians with contempt.’

The use of οὐ γὰρ δὴ in the second interpretation could perhaps be described as ‘rhetorical incredulity’, the implication being that this is precisely what the allies have in fact done. A similar use of οὐ γὰρ δὴ – ‘Surely [you will] not’ – occurs at 5.111.3, in the Melian Dialogue, and this inclines me towards option (b) above in our present passage.

I take mwh’s point about looking forward rather than back – this is what the Corinthians move on to in the next chapter – but here they do seem to be upbraiding their allies in some way for their past folly and negligence. The use of ‘rhetorical incredulity’ would be a relatively restrained way of doing so, before moving on to the theme of advice for the future.

Anyway, that’s my best shot at it at present – though interpreting these problem passages is always a work in progress. Any further thoughts, at any time, would of course be welcome.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:48 pm

No John, not (b), please! It implies they have managed to avoid these disasters. I agree with everything you say, apart from this preference. "Rhetorical incredulity" just doesn't work here; the Melian Dialogue passage is simpler, and has the ge to mark the sarcasm. We surely have to go with (a). Your (a) jibes with my earlier "We don't see how all this can have been free of axunesia/malakia/ameleia; because you certainly can't have proceeded to that oh-so-pernicious contemptuousness without having fallen prey to these afflictions," only you put it better than I did. You go some way towards easing my discomfort with what they say about the allies' katafronesis (towards Athens, yes I agree it must be), though it still seems an odd use of the word and the argument still seems strange. But I don't see any other way of understanding it.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:59 am

Hmmm - you may well be right after all, Michael - unless there a sort of 'double irony' present: in that case, the Corinthians would be implying not only that the allies had in fact adopted a contemptuous attitude towards the Athenians, but also that they had still incurred the three disasters as well. Or would that be overloading the Greek?

One attraction of option (a) is that it follows on closely from the preceding sentence - ''We don't see how this course could be free from these three disasters, and you certainly haven't avoided them by assuming an attitude of contempt.' So perhaps this is the one to go with after all.

Anyway, thanks for your further comments.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:05 pm

mwh wrote:Agreed the tenses are important (as always), and perfects are perfects. That doesn't mean they have to translated by presents. I don't see anything wrong with "I have found" for eureka. I tried variously to capture the force of the perfects in my highly tentative and fumbling renderings above ("have managed to avoid," "have been free" etc.)—unsatisfactorily, no doubt.


OK, I'm dreading going through this on a forum because I think that misunderstandings are going to multiply. But I'll try. Fresh back from a weekend getaway with armed with a huge pot of coffee.

It makes plenty of sense to often translate perfects into English using past tenses. But, but, when we don't understand a passage, it is important to recognize that the perfect has much more in common with a present tense than a past tense. Think of all the Greek verbs where the perfect stands in for the present!! It NEVER stands in for a past. For all of those verbs when you want to express a past tense, you have to use the pluperfect.

In this passage, the problem with using a past tense is that it begs the very question that I am raising. A past tense translation typically implies that such and such actually happened. But the point I am making is that these things have not (definitively) come to pass.

As I said above, one needs to explain why T is using perfects. I have provided such an explanation.

To really apply the thumbscrews, consider the sentence preceeding, 1.122.3. Thucydides talks about δειλίαν. Is that past δειλίαν or present/future δειλίαν? I claim it is present/future δειλίαν as shown by its being governed by the optative δοκοῖμεν. Now in 1.122.4, we get μαλακίας. I maintain that those are more or less the same and just as δειλίαν is present/future, so μαλακίας is present/future. Or if one doesn't like that equivalence, then one still needs to explain why and how we are supposed to assume that T has gone from talking about the present/future in 1.122.3 to talking about the past in 1.122.4.

T is using the perfect to continue and strenthen the point that the Corinthians are making in the optative mood!

I still haven't heard an alternative explanation for why he uses perfects and now I can add to that a demand for an explanation of the use of the optative in the previous sentence.

My explanation is clear. This whole business is present/future and very very much hypothetical. Albeit quite grave from the Corinthians perspective.

mwh wrote:I read the aphllaktai bit as referring to the failings he's rehearsed in the speech up to this point.


Again, why the optative if they are just past failings?

mwh wrote: For me the difficulty lies in the katafronhsis bit, as I tried to explain. Who or what is (was, will be) the object of the contempt (or lack of it)? I don't get it.


Oh, sorry if I missed this before. The object of the contempt is Athens. John makes it clear in his translation. And the Spartans are not falling into accomodating contempt of Athens. Of course, given the screeching rhetoric of the Corinthians, maybe just maybe there is a tiny chance that even a bit of this contempt is in play.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:32 pm

John W. wrote:
pster asked why I used ‘but’ in referring to Denniston on οὐ γὰρ δὴ (The Greek Particles, 2nd edn, p. 243). It was to contrast the general sense he gives for this combination – ‘you have certainly not done X’ – with the different sense he assigns to it here : ‘surely you have not done X(?)’.


Well, I don't see any difference between these at the level of sense. Denniston has only changed the word order and switched out "certainly" and switched in "surely". Any ironic ingredient would be added at the level of pragmatics. Although maybe in UK English, "surely" has a slight "ironic" sense that I am resisting.

John W. wrote:
I agree with mwh that we need to look at the context. The Corinthians have said that the allies are not only failing to strengthen the liberty which they inherited from their fathers, but are even ‘allowing a tyrant city [= imperial Athens] to be established in Hellas’. They add that they cannot see how ‘these things’ (i.e. the failure to safeguard their liberty, and allowing Athens to become a tyrant city – ‘this policy’ in my translation) ‘can be free from the three greatest disasters: stupidity, weakness and ignorance’.

So far, so good. But are the Corinthians then saying to the allies (I translate fairly freely to bring out the possible meanings):

(a) ‘We cannot see how this policy can be free from these disasters – for you certainly have not avoided them by adopting a contemptuous attitude towards the Athenians.’ (I think this is what ‘contempt’ means here: the allies are accused of arrogantly underestimating the power and threat of Athens.)

Or are they saying:

(b) ‘For surely you have not managed to avoid these disasters, only to fall into the trap of regarding the Athenians with contempt.’



Or (c): "For, it is certainly not the case that being free of these (three things) you are accomodating that contempt which has harmed so many."
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:51 pm

Two things make it a bit confusing. One is the fact that the Corinthians are all over the place. They are whining about past and present and future inaction and failings, a lot of it hypothetical. But that's the way political speeches often go, where the target audience is not just a single person. And this is their second speech.

The other is T's use of perfects. That is the really striking semantic feature of the passage. The pragmatics of it can be deduced only after everything else has been established and sometimes not even then. So, for example, do the Corinthians really think there is a possibility of contempt? That can't just be read off the semantics of the particles in play. Looking at the whole thing, I think that there is a tiny chance that that that is so, or that a tiny percentage of those in the audience have adopted that attitude. So there is a slight danger, but for the most part, the "surely" and the "certainly" are not ironic. What about the three things? Well, I think that the allies are in real danger of those things and have manifested them in the past. But the optative indicates that we are talking about the hypothetical future, and so if the allies do the right thing going forward, then they won't be thought guilty of those three things.

I think T himself perhaps realized that the twists and turns and implications and ironies of these few sentences are just too much and so tries to restore order between the past, present and future in the 1.123.

Lastly, to beat the dead horse, T didn't use aorists here for a reason. And the reason is that he is not talking only about definite and closed past occurences. A lot of it concerns present and future open possibilities. The optative makes this explicit. The perfects continue that.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Mon Dec 09, 2013 4:54 pm

Yes, high risk of misunderstandings and perhaps taking past each other, but yes, let's try. I think I more or less understand what you are saying, and I don't think I have much quarrel with most of it, even if I might put it in different terms (and I simply don't follow on "the desiderative nature" of the perfect etc.). Certainly I agree on the hypothetical character of much of the speech up to this point (witness that optative, if nothing else), which makes it tricky trying to sort out past/present/future time reference of this rhetoric. (However the first sentence of 123, so strongly marking transition from past to future, puts what they've been talking about so far in the category of ta progegenhmena -- another perfect!, what's been going on up till now [and no doubt will continue to go on if they don't pull themselves together and take action]). And the perfects in our target passage are indeed very striking, especially pefeugotes rather than fugontes.

Anyways, here's what I want to say: Reading through this speech again I found myself reading this passage without difficulty (?!, yes, really!). I then stopped to analyze how I was reading it, and I found I was taking the negative as applying only to the participle. Syntax as in e.g. τί βουλομενος εἰλήλυθας; / οὐ τοῦτο βουλόμενος εἰλήλυθα, very unEnglish but everywhere in Greek. To adopt your preferrred translations for the verbs, "Not being free of these sumphorai are you accommodating that contempt …". Which turns out to be just the same as John's "you certainly have not avoided them by adopting a contemptuous attitude" and my "you certainly can't have proceeded to that oh-so-pernicious contemptuousness without having fallen prey to these afflictions."

Maybe it's no surprise that I read it the way I was trying to read it before, but still ... I really do think this is the only viable way of reading it.

So the way I see it, the Corinthians are rhetorically taking the contempt (aka folly) as a given, and in this rhetorically climactic sentence are using it to convict them of asunesia or malakia or ameleia. As far as they're concerned they have proceeded to contemptuousness, while in the process showing weakness etc. (sc. in not confronting Athens but allowing them to exercise their imperial power). It would quite destroy the rhetoric for the Corinthians to say (even ironically) that they are not accommodating contempt. It's the very fact that they are, given the historically dire consequences of that attitude (pleistous dh blapsasan), that makes it so imperative to break free and go to war.

Or that's how I see it before my morning coffee.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:44 pm

I will have to look at it more tomorrow. And it won't be hard to persuade me of putting the negation on the participle alone. I like the way your interpretation makes more sense of the rhetorical climax.

mwh wrote:To adopt your preferrred translations for the verbs, "Not being free of these sumphorai are you accommodating that contempt …". Which turns out to be just the same as John's "you certainly have not avoided them by adopting a contemptuous attitude" and my "you certainly can't have proceeded to that oh-so-pernicious contemptuousness without having fallen prey to these afflictions."


Thank you for giving the different versions. (Did you really intend that word order for mine? If so, would "you are" work just as well as "are you"?) But, I have to resist the "turns out to be just the same" here. You nicely use the presents for my version, but return to the past tenses for yours and John's. The emphasis isn't on what the allies did in the past, such as letting the Athenians rebuild their walls. It is about the allies present mental states, ie their present attitudes. But maybe your lesson is just on the negation business. I'll look more tomorrow.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:29 pm

Just an interim thought, before you all put your coffee on again in the morning (at this rate, I'll need something stronger than Earl Grey myself :) ).

I think in 122 the Corinthians are mainly talking about what has happened in the recent past, and which is still the case now; but they are also looking ahead to the consequences if the allies' passivity and tolerance of Athenian aggression continue. In 122.3 I've translated ἐν ᾧ ἢ δικαίως δοκοῖμεν ἂν πάσχειν ἢ διὰ δειλίαν ἀνέχεσθαι καὶ τῶν πατέρων χείρους φαίνεσθαι as ''If this situation continues we will be regarded either as suffering unjustly, or as enduring it through cowardice, and showing ourselves inferior to our fathers ...'

Chapter 123 starts: 'Yet what need is there to complain about the past at any greater length than is useful to the current situation?' I think this supports the view that in 122 the Corinthians are mainly thinking about the allies' conduct up until now (i.e. the recent past and the present), with a glance at how they will be looked upon if they continue with the same course in the future (ἐν ᾧ ἢ δικαίως δοκοῖμεν ἂν πάσχειν etc.); whereas in 123 they move on to giving positive advice on the allies' future conduct.

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:56 pm

I'm in full agreement with John's new post.

This in response to pster, in hopes of getting us all together. Aversion to translating perfects with "have," objecting to that as "past," is a stumbling-block to be overcome, it seems to me. The perfect is a past tense (yes it is), but perfective (a primary tense, as you said earlier). πεποίηκe He's done it (and therefore it's done). γέγονα "I have become" or "I am" (through having become), different from both εἰμί and ἐγενόμην. γέγονε "it has happened," προγένονε/προγεγένηται (123.1!) "it has pre-happened" i.e. "it is in the past." You spoke of perfects as standing in for presents; to which I'd respond it's more like presents (in English) standing in for perfects: if English sometimes uses present where Greek uses perfect that's only because English is English. εἵστηκα I stand, I am standing, but more accurately I am in a standing position after having stood up, I have stood up and in consequence am standing; not I am standing meaning I am in the process of standing (in the present), nor I stood or I was standing (in the past). It's the English that's confusing, not the Greek. Or ἴσμεν in our own passage: "we know," we quite correctly say (and no longer think of it as a perfect, even), but that effaces what is inherent in the Greek, that we have come to a state of knowledge by a process of getting to know.

In short, I think fixating on "past" and damning non-present translations as such may be getting in the way of recognizing the fact that we others too are registering the difference between perfect and aorist and doing so quite acceptably. "You have avoided" is not the same as "you avoided", nor is "you have proceeded" the same as "you proceeded." If you have avoided something you are free from it; if you have proceeded to something you are "accommodating" it (though I have to say "you are accommodating" seems a rather weird rendering of κεχωρήκατε ἐπὶ). The stress or nuance may be a little different but not the basic understanding. So I urge you not to resist the effective equivalence among all three versions.

(Yes, "you are" would work for "are you." I just used "are you" to tie in the participial phrase. As in Not without thinking did I do that.)

Oh, and I wasn't meaning my post to be a "lesson," just trying to explain how I saw things. Likewise with this one. This is a dialogue, and we're all just doing our best to work towards an understanding of a notoriously difficult author.

Cheers!
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:07 am

I was just on my way to bed!

Well, in general, the best way to bring me into the fold is to stick close to the text. The more abstract the discussion, the more likely I am to go my own way!

In English, perfects can be past, present or future. In English, the present perfect is "I have Xed", the past perfect is "I had Xed", and the future perfect is "I will have Xed". You correctly translate γέγονα by "I have become", an English present perfect. So I don't agree with the claim "The perfect is a past tense (yes it is)" although I appreciate the passionate parenthetical. Hehe. Greek has two kinds of perfect, a present and a pluperfect and these are naturally translated by the present and past perfects of English.

But English didn't really figure in my thinking much and really rarely does. I don't like English grammar at all. And, my Greek is so bad, I don't really translate as I read. Rather, I tend to chew on Greek sentences the way a dog chews on a sofa leg. I noticed a perfect and wondered why T was using it. If you go back, you will see that I asked the question in my first real post at Tue Dec 03, 2013 3:21 am. (I actually prefer discussions that turn on pluperfects because they really seem to rub John the wrong way and it is easier to browbeat him into submission. :lol:) Greek has verbs without present indicatives. One uses present perfects in their place. I don't run things through English to understand that aspect. (Pun possibly intended. Maybe I'll edit it out in the morning. Good luck with the pragmatics of that speech act! OK, obviously too tired.)

I do think that there are important past components in all perfects and in these perfects in the mouths of the Corinthians. I just think that the Corinthians are whining not just about what the allies did, but what the allies have been doing! Maybe that is the problem we all are having. Not enough use of the English present perfect, myself included!
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Tue Dec 10, 2013 8:49 am

pster wrote: I just think that the Corinthians are whining not just about what the allies did, but what the allies have been doing! Maybe that is the problem we all are having. Not enough use of the English present perfect, myself included!


I agree with this - in 122 I think we are talking about what the allies have been doing in the recent past, and are still doing.

Oh - and you just had to mention pluperfects :? , didn't you? :mrgreen:

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:38 pm

No big pot of coffee today. But I did chew for an hour. John, the three things are separated thus ἀξυνεσίας ἢ μαλακίας ἢ ἀμελείας. But you translate ἢ by "and". What is the rationale for doing so? I can't find any support in LSJ for that.

I'm willing to accept that the allies have become contemptuous. But, I still don't like Marchant's claim that the allies are guilty of the three things. It seems T is leaving a gap. The allies are contemptous. That will mean one or more of three things. But which of the three has really not yet been established. The Corinthians have harping on what the opinion will be. I don't think Marchant can point to three places in the speech where the allies have been shown to be guilty of each of the three things. A translation with "or" leaves that gap open. A translation with "and" closes it.

As for 1.123, I feel like that isn't pointing so much at 1.122 as to the whole speech up until then.

Anyway, enough for today!
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:03 pm

mwh wrote:
?Interesting that the three are presented as alternatives (h not kai). Why? Each entails the others, or you can take your pick, they all effectively amount to the same thing?
Michael

That from my first post on this (Nov.30).
triwn ... aphllaktai sets up expectation of kai's when the three are listed. Curious and kind of paradoxical that Thuc differentiates them and simultaneously doesn't bother to distinguish between them. The Corinthians don't care to specify, could be all three or just one of them, makes no difference to the situation they're facing on account of it/them. (That's why I've been using slashes for the trio.) A very interesting effect, it seems to me, and effaced by translating with ands.

What I still find puzzling is that they take the contempt as a given [if we accept this interpretation rather than the converse], while nothing we've had so far really suggests contempt, as distinct from one or other of the listed sumforai (itself an interesting and rather surprising word to choose, no?). I guess for these blowhard Corinthians it just makes a good rhetorical climax to this castigating/shaming exercise before against this background they switch tack and appeal to the allies' glorious traditions which they must not change(!). The fact that they haven't taken action is itself tacitly (and sneakily) taken as tantamount to contempt? Any thoughts on katafronesis in Thuc (or elsewhere)? How does it fit into his Denkschema? I haven't looked up occurrences, and don't recall anything really comparable.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:11 am

This is an interesting point.

Aa Michael says, one would expect the list to specify the three disasters, i.e. 'namely X, Y and Z'; indeed, I'm not quite sure it's strictly good English to say 'the three greatest disasters: X, Y or Z'. Perhaps, as so often, the meaning is compressed, and is tantamount to 'can be free from [one of the three] greatest disasters...'. But what I don't know, and haven't yet researched, is how ἢ works in Greek in such situations, and whether it can in fact be tantamount to 'and'.

Re καταφρόνησις, there's an instance at 2.62.4 (in Pericles' last speech to the Athenians) which is interesting:

αὔχημα μὲν γὰρ καὶ ἀπὸ ἀμαθίας εὐτυχοῦς καὶ δειλῷ τινὶ ἐγγίγνεται, καταφρόνησις δὲ ὃς ἂν καὶ γνώμῃ πιστεύῃ τῶν ἐναντίων προύχειν, ὃ ἡμῖν ὑπάρχει.

'For boasting arises even as a result of fortunate stupidity and in someone who is a coward, whereas contempt comes about if someone is confident through judgement that he is superior to his enemies, which is the case with us.'

In this passage καταφρόνησις is portrayed in a positive way; the Corinthians, in contrast, seem to be arguing that all too often - and certainly in the case of their allies' current conduct - it is misplaced, and leads to false complacency and a reluctance to act.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby mwh » Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:15 pm

How could I have not remembered that?! (especially when I've actually published on something in this very speech). I'm ashamed of myself.

It's quite extraordinary - unique, even? - for katafronhma/katafronhsis to be invested with positive valence! Extraordinary words for Thuc to put into P's mouth. You'd expect such an argument to be followed by disaster (cf. Sicilian exped.), for katafronein is mega fronein with a vengeance, and has more than a whiff of hybris about it. katafronhsis is bad practically by definition. Sure, Thuc is psyching the Athenians up, restoring them to confidence (65.1 and esp 9), but still ...

As for h, it is never tantamount to 'and' and so far as I'm aware. It's no better Greek than it is English. Only Thucydides ...
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Wed Dec 11, 2013 4:52 pm

If ἢ is governed by the negative idea implicit in ἀπήλλακται, then maybe "and" is an appropriate English translation -- a list of things not to be fallen into.

Otherwise, I think John's translation is fine--in fact, I think any of the alternatives would be fine to offer as a translation. After reading this passage and the various arguments, I think Thucydides' meaning here is irrecoverably opaque. This is simply a crux, and neither of the suggested lines of interpretation seems to make sense in a wholly satisfying and convincing way.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:40 pm

Sooo:

1) In some contexts, I think it is perfectly fine to use "or" in English in this manner: "He is probably dreaming of the two great Himalayan climbs, of Everest or of K2." The genitive seems to help a bit.

2) Here is a list of all the places where the verb, the noun, or the neuter version of the noun appear:
1.122, 2.11, 2.62, 3.83, 4.34, 5.8, 5.9, 6.11, 6.33, 6.34, 6.49, 7.63, 8.8, 8.25, 8.82

3) Wouldn't it make perfect sense for the Athenians to be unaware of the hubris of such contempt while the Spartans recognize it before it is too late? Or is that too clever?

CYA tomorrow :)
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