Qimmik wrote: 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.
I'm sure you're right, Bill - but still I keep hoping that, if I do enough research on such passages, and study them intensively, everything will drop into place - a vain hope, I know, given that generations of distinguished scholars have frequently reached an impasse on them. The best I can realistically aim for is to find an interpretation that seems more convincing to me at the time than any other.
I sometimes wish that I'd 'done a Jowett' with my translation, in terms of recording alternative interpretations in footnotes. I didn't do so because I thought it would smack of vacillation, and because, once I'd started down that route, the number of instances in which I felt moved to do so might multiply; moreover, in some places it's not just a question of two possible interpretations, but of several (and sometimes with sub-options too!). So I think all I can do, with the kind assistance of colleagues on here, is, as Winston Churchill says in 'Victory of the Daleks' (any Doctor Who fans out there?), 'KBO'!