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Reading Thucydides 2014

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Fri Jan 24, 2014 12:40 pm

To me, καθειστήκει would suggest institutions rather than relations--laws and other measures that had been set in place, rather than a course of dealings--but maybe a more vague, less specific concept than "institutions" could be intended here.

The translation that Gomme disparages is "most of the Lacedaemonian institutions were intended especially to guard against the Helots". This would be an even more sweeping statement about the whole Lacedaemonian system, not specifically about their institutions with respect to the Helots.

How about this: most of the Lacedaemonians' policies towards the Helots were concerned with security.

A couple of weeks ago, after finishing On the Crown, I started reading Thucydides. I had read extensive selections in college 50 years ago, and I had embarked on attempts to read the whole once or twice in the intervening years, but never got much further than the archaeology. I don't have a lot of time for this, but reading Thucydides in entirety has always been one of the things I've wanted to do before I die, and I figure I had better do it sooner rather than later. It may take a whole year, with some interruptions. So far, I'm up to the Athenian speech at Sparta around 1.74. The Corinthian speech included a sentence that I don't really feel I understand even after looking at several translations (1.71.1):

ταύτης μέντοι τοιαύτης ἀντικαθεστηκυίας πόλεως, ὦ Λακεδαιμόνιοι, διαμέλλετε καὶ οἴεσθε τὴν ἡσυχίαν οὐ τούτοις τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ἀρκεῖν οἳ ἂν τῇ μὲν παρασκευῇ δίκαια πράσσωσι, τῇ δὲ γνώμῃ, ἢν ἀδικῶνται, δῆλοι ὦσι μὴ ἐπιτρέψοντες, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ τῷ μὴ λυπεῖν τε τοὺς ἄλλους καὶ αὐτοὶ ἀμυνόμενοι μὴ βλάπτεσθαι τὸ ἴσον νέμετε..

I understand the words and the syntax, but I don't feel I completely understand the distinction Th. is apparently trying to draw between τῇ δὲ γνώμῃ, ἢν ἀδικῶνται, δῆλοι ὦσι μὴ ἐπιτρέψοντες and καὶ αὐτοὶ ἀμυνόμενοι μὴ βλάπτεσθαι. In context, it seems to be a contrast between a posture of "pro-active" antagonism towards those who might do harm, and simply defending yourself only when someone tries to harm you.

Incidentally, pster, in the last clause there's an example of αὐτοὶ without a pronoun, where the 2nd plural verb νέμετε supplies the pronoun, similar to the passage you asked about the other day: αὐτοὶ . . . ἠμυνάμεθα.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:12 pm

Bill – many thanks. I’ve revised my translation of 4.80.3 in the light of your comments.

I’m glad you’ve joined pster and me on the Thucydides trail; I hope you enjoy it as much as I’ve done.

With regard to 1.71.1, I’ve translated it:

‘... And yet, with such a city as this opposing you, Lacedaemonians, you constantly delay, and fail to realize that peace lasts longest for those who, though using their military power only for just purposes, nonetheless by their resolve clearly show that if wronged they will not give way, but instead you maintain an impartial stance so as not to give pain to others and not be harmed yourselves, even in self-defence.’

The Corinthians seem to be saying that, instead of making it clear that they will take action if wronged, the Lacedaemonians attach more importance to avoiding the risks inherent in such action, even in defence of their own interests. But I’m not sure that I’ve grasped correctly the point you’ve raised, so please get back to me in that case.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Sun Jan 26, 2014 3:24 pm

John W. wrote:My own translation reads:

'I shall pass over our and their achievements in war, by which the various parts of the empire were obtained, or when either we ourselves or our fathers zealously repelled any barbarian or Hellene foe who attacked us, since I do not wish to speak at undue length among those who are familiar with these matters;


Marchant brackets πόλεμον. He writes:

[πόλεμον]—this would require Ἑλληνικύν, since Ἕλλην can only be used as an adj. with persons...

You opt for "foe", which seems reasonable. Why doesn't Marchant think such side stepping possible? More a question for you than for me, since you are actually translating, whereas I have a policy of lowering my standards whenever there is a manuscript issue. :mrgreen:
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:07 pm

I checked Alberti's and the OCT's critical notes. The manuscripts and a quotation by the Byzantine scholar Thomas Magister (cir. 1300) all read πόλεμον. But πόλεμον is untenable with βάρβαρον ἢ Ἕλληνα . . . ἐπιόντα. These words must refer to people, not to wars--that's Marchant's point.

πολέμιον (John's "foe") is the reading adopted by Alberti, the OCT, Rhodes and Rusten. It's a modern conjecture originally proposed by Haase (1841).

Marchant's solution--to bracket πόλεμον--seems plausible. It would imply that πόλεμον was an inept gloss added at some point in the manuscript tradition that crept into the text itself. This was apparently first proposed by Dobree (1874), and Classen-Steup adopt this solution, too.

To me, at least, the change to πολέμιον seems more compelling. It's a neat solution that requires the least deviation from the reading of the mss., and it doesn't strike me as beyond Thucydides or Greek usage in general to write πολέμιον as a nominal appositive to βάρβαρον ἢ Ἕλληνα here. And it's hard to see why anyone would write πόλεμον as a gloss here, much less incorporate it into the text.

John has chosen the Alberti text as the basis for his translation.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:11 pm

Qimmik wrote:John has chosen the Alberti text as the basis for his translation.


Indeed I have - though I originally used the OCT. When I eventually got hold of Alberti I revised my translation to bring it into line with the latter. Anyway, thanks for explaining all this.

pster - I agree with Qimmik's analysis.

Hope both your readings of Thucydides are going well.

Best,

John

PS - I've another small query on Book 3, which I'll try to post later on.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:30 pm

John W. wrote:Hope both your readings of Thucydides are going well.


Well, I didn't do much Greek for the last month. The holidays and the flu and possible litigation and moving to the country kept me largely unproductive. But now I am getting back into it. Moreover, because I am going to buy a TV and invest in a TV package with 100 foreign language channels, I am thinking that I won't need to invest as much study time in the living languages. Which theoretically will free up more time for Attic. And so I am actually officially giving Attic priority for the forseeable future. But, I am highly doubtful that it will ever be "going well".
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:07 pm

pster wrote:Well, I didn't do much Greek for the last month. The holidays and the flu and possible litigation and moving to the country kept me largely unproductive. But now I am getting back into it. Moreover, because I am going to buy a TV and invest in a TV package with 100 foreign language channels, I am thinking that I won't need to invest as much study time in the living languages. Which theoretically will free up more time for Attic. And so I am actually officially giving Attic priority for the forseeable future. But, I am highly doubtful that it will ever be "going well".


Oh, well - at least you're sticking with it, which is good. Flu over Christmas (and beyond) slowed me down quite a bit, but I've speeded up somewehat now with what I keep promising myself is my last revision (at least for the time being).

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:36 pm

Here’s the little Book 3 query I mentioned.

In chapter 70 onwards Thucydides describes the civil conflict on Corcyra between the common people and the oligarchs. By the end of chapter 74 the common people have gained the upper hand. In chapter 75 the Athenian general Nicostratus arrives with a fleet (75.1):

ξύμβασίν τε ἔπρασσε καὶ πείθει ὥστε ξυγχωρῆσαι ἀλλήλοις δέκα μὲν ἄνδρας τοὺς αἰτιωτάτους κρῖναι, οἳ οὐκέτι ἔμειναν, τοὺς δ᾽ ἄλλους οἰκεῖν σπονδὰς πρὸς ἀλλήλους ποιησαμένους καὶ πρὸς Ἀθηναίους, ὥστε τοὺς αὐτοὺς ἐχθροὺς καὶ φίλους νομίζειν.

I translate the start of this passage as follows:

‘... he attempted to negotiate a settlement and persuaded them to agree between themselves to try the ten men most responsible for what had happened ...’

It’s the next bit (in bold) that is troubling me. Does it mean:

(a) once this agreement had been reached, the ten men did not stay around any longer, but fled before the trial could actually take place; or

(b) the ten men had already fled (presumably once they realised that the oligarchs were losing), even before the decision to try them was made?

Under (b), the aorist ἔμειναν will effectively have a pluperfect force.

Translators and commentators seem divided on this. Gomme renders it as ‘who had not stayed for the outcome of the negotiations, and were already clear’. He seems to interpret this as meaning that the decision to try the ten men was taken in full knowledge of the fact that they were no longer around, since he calls it ‘a most humane compromise’, which seems rather an odd thing to say in this of all contexts, since (given the dreadful bloodbath which follows) considerations of humanity seem hardly to have been to the fore.

Any thoughts?

Many thanks,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Sun Jan 26, 2014 10:59 pm

Since οἳ οὐκέτι ἔμειναν is inserted parenthetically in the narration of what Nicostratus was trying to persuade the Corcyreans to do, it strikes me that (b) is more likely--a pluperfect in English. They had already taken off when N. was making his efforts to persuade those remaining. I think οὐκέτι confirms this -- they were no longer around when Nicostratus was attempting a reconciliation. Equivalent to οἳ ἤδη ἔφυγον.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Mon Jan 27, 2014 8:26 pm

Thanks, Bill. To be honest I'm still not sure about this one - I see that Classen favoured the 'pluperfect' interpretation, but Steup opted for the other one, i.e. that they took themselves off as the agreement was being concluded.

I need to do some further pondering, I fear - I'll try to find some parallels to see if they shed any light.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Tue Jan 28, 2014 12:07 pm

I’m now revisiting one of Thucydides’ most challenging sentences, in his account of the civil conflict on Corcyra. He is talking about the subsequent spread of such conflicts throughout the Hellenic world, ‘with the leaders of the people and the oligarchs everywhere in contention, the former seeking to bring in the Athenians and the latter the Lacedaemonians’. Thucydides continues (3.82.1):

καὶ ἐν μὲν εἰρήνῃ οὐκ ἂν ἐχόντων πρόφασιν οὐδ᾽ ἑτοίμων <ὄντων> παρακαλεῖν αὐτούς, πολεμουμένων δὲ καὶ ξυμμαχίας ἅμα ἑκατέροις τῇ τῶν ἐναντίων κακώσει καὶ σφίσιν αὐτοῖς ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ προσποιήσει ῥᾳδίως αἱ ἐπαγωγαὶ τοῖς νεωτερίζειν τι βουλομένοις ἐπορίζοντο.

(The <ὄντων> is found in Alberti’s text, not the OCT.)

My current translation of this is as follows:

‘And while, in time of peace, they would not have had a pretext to call them in, nor have been ready to do so, yet in an environment of war, and with alliances also being on offer to either side for the purpose of harming their enemies and at the same time gaining some advantage for themselves, opportunities to bring in outsiders were readily available to those wishing to make some revolutionary change.’

Some commentators take αἱ ἐπαγωγαὶ as going with ξυμμαχίας, in the sense of ‘bringing in of allies’; however, I tend to agree with Gomme that ‘the run of the sentence requires’ ξυμμαχίας to be taken as a genitive absolute, with a participle understood. I’ve also taken πολεμουμένων as a genitive absolute, meaning ‘in an environment of war [between the various Greek cities]’; however, I’m now somewhat attracted by Steup’s suggestion (albeit described by Gomme as ‘forced’) that it refers to Athens and Lacedaemon, as (in Steup's view) does ἑκατέροις, denoting agency by these two principal parties. On that interpretation, my version above could be revised as follows:

‘And while, in time of peace, they would not have had a pretext to call them in, nor have been ready to do so, yet with Athens and Lacedaemon at war, and with alliances also being offered by both of them for the purpose of harming their enemies and at the same time gaining some advantage for themselves, opportunities to bring in outsiders were readily available to those wishing to make some revolutionary change.’

In this second version, ‘for the purpose of harming their enemies and at the same time gaining some advantage for themselves’ explains the motives of Athens and Lacedaemon in offering alliances, rather than those of factions in other cities in accepting them.

I’d be most grateful for any thoughts on this passage, and in particular on the two translations I have offered above. My apologies in advance for embroiling you in this most vexatious sentence.

Many thanks,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jan 28, 2014 2:38 pm

Some inconclusive thoughts:

ξυμμαχίας without an explicit participle is a little odd, though perhaps not unprecedented. Maybe οὔσης is to be understood--in the preceding genitive absolute the OCT didn't see a need for an explicit ὄντων. I agree that πολεμουμένων δὲ is a genitive absolute parallel ἐν μὲν εἰρήνῃ to with Athenians and Lacedaemonians understood (understanding αὐτῶν is less of a stretch than implying a participle, see Smyth 2072). The connective καὶ also suggests that ξυμμαχίας is parallel with πολεμουμένων, lending support to the interpretation of ξυμμαχίας.

But the understood subject of οὐκ ἂν ἐχόντων πρόφασιν οὐδ᾽ ἑτοίμων <ὄντων> παρακαλεῖν αὐτούς must be the opposing democratic and oligarchic factions within the smaller polities just mentioned in the preceding sentence (with αὐτούς referring to the L. and the A., as it did immediately before as the object of παρακαλεῖν) and that would argue, I think, for ἑκατέροις referring to the opposing factions in the smaller polities also, not to the L. and the A.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jan 28, 2014 5:48 pm

Here's another thought. In the preceding sentence we have τοῖς τε τῶν δήμων προστάταις τοὺς Ἀθηναίους ἐπάγεσθαι καὶ τοῖς ὀλίγοις τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους. The parallelism between ἐπάγεσθαι and ἐπαγωγαὶ suggests to me that ἑκατέροις is parallel to τοῖς τε τῶν δήμων προστάταις and τοῖς ὀλίγοις, and so refers to the leaders of the factions, not to the A. and the L.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Scribo » Tue Jan 28, 2014 6:16 pm

For those of you annoyed at Thucydidean style: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... hapter%3D1
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jan 28, 2014 7:07 pm

I posted some additional caustic remarks by Dionysius of Halicarnassus on Thucydides on January 16 in this thread.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:01 pm

Qimmik wrote:Here's another thought. In the preceding sentence we have τοῖς τε τῶν δήμων προστάταις τοὺς Ἀθηναίους ἐπάγεσθαι καὶ τοῖς ὀλίγοις τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους. The parallelism between ἐπάγεσθαι and ἐπαγωγαὶ suggests to me that ἑκατέροις is parallel to τοῖς τε τῶν δήμων προστάταις and τοῖς ὀλίγοις, and so refers to the leaders of the factions, not to the A. and the L.


Bill - many thanks for this and your previous post.

I think you've convinced me to stick to my original view that ἑκατέροις does after all refer to the factional leaders.

My other problem has been with πολεμουμένων. My translation inclined to Hude's view that this was a neuter plural; however, I've just been looking at 4.20.2: πολεμοῦνται μὲν γὰρ ἀσαφῶς ὁποτέρων ἀρξάντων, which I translate: 'For they are embroiled in war ...' Betant says that πολεμοῦνται here is from πολεμέω. I'm unclear whether there and at 3.82.1 it is actually from that or from πολεμόω, and indeed LSJ (s.v. πολεμόω) is equally uncertain, but it seems as if at 3.82.1 πολεμουμένων could mean 'with the Athenians and Lacedaemonians at war'.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:11 pm

Qimmik wrote:I posted some additional caustic remarks by Dionysius of Halicarnassus on Thucydides on January 16 in this thread.


Thanks to you and Scribo for your postings regarding what D. of H. says re Thucydides.

I'm not much of a fan of Dionysius, though his Second Letter to Ammaeus (on the style of Thucydides) brings out some interesting points. In the main, however, he appears to see historiography as little more than an exercise in rhetoric, and judges Thucydides by whether particular passages are suited to serve as rhetorical models; the power of Thucydides' (admittedly compressed and frequently very difficult) style seems to be beyond him. I'd rather spend years grappling with the profundities of Thucydides' language and thought (as I have done) than endure the sort of bland panegyric which Dionysius advocates.

Anti-Dionysian rant over! :)

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:41 pm

Dionysius' remarks show that Thucydides was difficult even to native speakers of Greek with full command of the classical language.

With αὐτούς immediately preceding πολεμουμένων, it strikes me that αὐτῶν is probably the understood subject of πολεμουμένων, i.e., the L. and the A. No need to repeat the word when it has just been written (though in a different case). And the contrast is between ἐν μὲν εἰρήνῃ and πολεμουμένων δὲ. I think this must refer to the war between the A. and the L.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:07 am

Qimmik wrote:Dionysius' remarks show that Thucydides was difficult even to native speakers of Greek with full command of the classical language.

With αὐτούς immediately preceding πολεμουμένων, it strikes me that αὐτῶν is probably the understood subject of πολεμουμένων, i.e., the L. and the A. No need to repeat the word when it has just been written (though in a different case). And the contrast is between ἐν μὲν εἰρήνῃ and πολεμουμένων δὲ. I think this must refer to the war between the A. and the L.


I take your point re Dionysius - and I believe Cicero somewhere comments to the effect that the speeches in Thucydides are sometimes almost unintelligible. It would be fascinating to know just what his very earliest readers made of his book and its style; some of it must surely have presented problems for Xenophon, even if there is any truth in Diogenes Laertius' suggestion that he was responsible for publishing Thucydides' work.

Overnight I thought a bit more about πολεμουμένων. If it does refer to the Athenians and Lacedaemonians I think what you say about αὐτούς/<αὐτῶν> (understood) is indeed the way to interpret it. I did worry a bit, though, whether the proximity of other genitives (οὐκ ἂν ἐχόντων πρόφασιν οὐδ᾽ ἑτοίμων <ὄντων>) which refer to the factional leaders might suggest that πολεμουμένων ought to refer to them too; however, I doubt if that would work in practice. Corcyra was itself at war in the sense that it had allied itself with Athens in the conflict, and had already supported the Athenian war effort (see e.g. 2.25), but even so I'm not sure it would make much sense to apply πολεμουμένων to the factional leaders, who are referenced by the preceding genitives. So it looks as if we're back to the Athenians and Lacedaemonians.

Since you've not expressly commented on it, I take it you see no merit in Hude's idea that πολεμουμένων could be neuter, and mean 'with things in a state of war'? The nearest parallel I can find for that would be 3.6.2, καὶ τὰ μὲν περὶ Μυτιλήνην οὕτως ἐπολεμεῖτο, but I don't know if this is enough of a basis for taking it as neuter at 3.82.1.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:16 pm

Since you've not expressly commented on it, I take it you see no merit in Hude's idea that πολεμουμένων could be neuter, and mean 'with things in a state of war'? The nearest parallel I can find for that would be 3.6.2, καὶ τὰ μὲν περὶ Μυτιλήνην οὕτως ἐπολεμεῖτο, but I don't know if this is enough of a basis for taking it as neuter at 3.82.1.


Here's what Smyth has to say about nouns omitted in genitive absolute constructions:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007%3Asmythp%3D2072

πολεμουμένων could fit under b, with something like τῶν πραγμάτων understood (though not "easily"), but the impersonal construction τὰ μὲν περὶ Μυτιλήνην οὕτως ἐπολεμεῖτο seems itself somewhat strained, at least to me (though typically Thucydidean). In the end, I come back to the fact that the word immediately before πολεμουμένων is αὐτούς, and it seems more natural and straightforward to supply a genitive pronoun with a referent that is identical to that of αὐτούς as the subject of πολεμουμένων. That would fall in line with Smyth's 2072a. But, again, this is Thucydides.

Incidentally, if πολεμουμένων is from πολεμόω, "to make an enemy," (though I doubt it), it would likely have a personal subject, i.e., the L. and the A., wouldn't it? ". . . when they became enemies to one another." πολεμέω, the more common verb, seems much more likely here from the context, especially in contrast to ἐν μὲν εἰρήνῃ, "when they were waging war with one another."
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:41 pm

I take your point re Dionysius - and I believe Cicero somewhere comments to the effect that the speeches in Thucydides are sometimes almost unintelligible.


Quintilian, too, I think. But all of these writers are evaluating Th. as a model for rhetoric and prose style, not necessarily as a historian. In the post-classical period and even earlier (e.g., Demosthenes), he was read and studied to a large extent for that purpose.

That doesn't necessarily mean that his work wasn't also read as a profound and compelling historical narrative, allied to both epic and tragedy, especially by Greeks interested in their own history, for whom he and Herodotus almost reached the stature of Homer in that respect. And obviously he was read both as a historian and as a master of prose style by Romans, too, as Sallust and Tacitus demonstrate.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:34 pm

Bill - many thanks.

I've just noticed that in 3.82.2 we have another peace/war contrast:

ἐν μὲν γὰρ εἰρήνῃ καὶ ἀγαθοῖς πράγμασιν αἵ τε πόλεις καὶ οἱ ἰδιῶται ἀμείνους τὰς γνώμας ἔχουσι διὰ τὸ μὴ ἐς ἀκουσίους ἀνάγκας πίπτειν: ὁ δὲ πόλεμος ὑφελὼν τὴν εὐπορίαν τοῦ καθ᾽ ἡμέραν βίαιος διδάσκαλος καὶ πρὸς τὰ παρόντα τὰς ὀργὰς τῶν πολλῶν ὁμοιοῖ.

I'm not sure whether this actually helps with the point we were discussing in 3.82.1, but it's interesting to compare it with καὶ ἐν μὲν εἰρήνῃ ... πολεμουμένων δὲ in that section.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:40 pm

I think I've just about done all I can for now on 3.82.1; the number of permutations of interpretation in the various commentaries - in terms of what word governs what, which bits refer to the Athenians/Lacedaemonians and which to the democratic/oligarchic factions, etc. - is considerable.

Anyway, my current best shot at a translation is:

'And while, in time of peace, they would not have had a pretext to call them in, nor have been ready to do so, yet once they were embroiled in war, and with an alliance also on offer to either faction for the purpose of harming their enemies and at the same time gaining some advantage for themselves, opportunities to bring in the Athenians or the Lacedaemonians were readily available to those wishing to make some revolutionary change.'

I hope that this makes sense; my thanks to Qimmik for all his help with this passage.

Best wishes,

John

PS - the translation shown above now incorporates changes made today (2 February) in the light of further reflection and study.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:34 am

John,

Is there another commentary for Book II that is similar to Marchant, ie a student commentary?

Also, besides the funeral oration, what are your favorite speeches, if you have any?

Thanks
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:36 am

pster wrote:John,

Is there another commentary for Book II that is similar to Marchant, ie a student commentary?

Also, besides the funeral oration, what are your favorite speeches, if you have any?

Thanks


Hi, pster - hope you're doing OK.

Book 2 isn't the best served by student commentaries in terms of the number of them available - there's no Ginn (based on Classen) commentary, for example. However, that is somewhat offset by the excellence of the edition/commentary by J.S. Rusten in the Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics series, which to my mind is one of the best student commentaries on any of the eight books. That and Marchant apart, the only student commentary on Book 2 I have used is one by T.R. Mills dating from 1913, and published by the Clarendon Press.

As to favourite speeches, there are so many to choose from. In Book 2 itself, the final speech by Pericles (2.60-64) makes an interesting pendant to the funeral oration. Further on in the work, the opposing speeches by Cleon and Diodotus in the Mytilenian debate (3.37-48) are well worth studying, not least for the issues of morality and statecraft that they raise. Also in Book 3, the Plataeans' eloquent appeal for clemency, and the cynical and evasive counter-speech by the Thebans (3.53-67), present a fascinating contrast. Another favourite of mine is Hermocrates' speech at Gela (4.59-64), in which he attempts to rally and unite the various Sicilian cities against the threat of Athenian domination; this is an eloquent and powerful address, and makes the point well that, if it is natural for the strong to seek to control the weak, it is equally natural for weaker parties to band together and resist.

Anyway, there are just a few suggestions - hope this helps.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:01 am

Thanks.

OK, I'll buy the Rusten, although it seems pitched higher than Marchant.

I'm going to memorize the Funeral Oration and maybe one or two of the others. Thanks for the suggestions.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:45 pm

On a quick glance, Rusten's edition of Book 2 actually seems to provide more help on linguistic questions than Marchant's edition of Book 1. Rusten's discussions of historical and literary matters seems to be aimed at a higher level than Marchant, though.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:43 am

For those who can never own enough commentaries, here is a good way to spend 12 EUR:

http://www.amazon.fr/gp/offer-listing/2 ... ition=used

Weil's Polybius is very good.

UPDATE:

It says softcover (broché), but I thought that they were showing the hardcover (relié). So, maybe not quite as good a deal as I got on Polybius. But if you don't mind softcovers, it looks like you can get more books (although Weil doesn't seem to have been involved):

http://www.amazon.fr/La-Guerre-P%C3%A9l ... pd_sim_b_1

http://www.amazon.fr/La-Guerre-P%C3%A9l ... pd_sim_b_2

And how many commentaries can boast, "Les cartes des tomes II, III et IV permettent en outre de situer précisément l'action. Le dernier volume est encore enrichi d'un précieux appendice topographique"?
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:34 am

Qimmik wrote:On a quick glance, Rusten's edition of Book 2 actually seems to provide more help on linguistic questions than Marchant's edition of Book 1. Rusten's discussions of historical and literary matters seems to be aimed at a higher level than Marchant, though.


I think that's a fair assessment. Rusten is good at analysing the structure of the more complex sentences in a way which is helpful to the student; he also includes a few useful maps of actions/campaigns, which are usually in scant supply in college editions.

The introductory material on Thucydides' life, style, etc. is also worthwhile, even though Rusten does propound a (to me) somewhat odd theory as to the meaning of the famous programmatic statement in Book 1 (1.22) regarding Thucydides' policy in recording speeches.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:40 am

pster wrote: And how many commentaries can boast, "Les cartes des tomes II, III et IV permettent en outre de situer précisément l'action. Le dernier volume est encore enrichi d'un précieux appendice topographique"?


Well, quite. I thought the Bude editions were only published in soft covers, of which I'm not fond; fortunately I was able to pick up a complete set which was formerly in a college library, and had been hardbound for that purpose.

I've found the Bude edition quite helpful - the translation seems pretty good, and the 'Notes complementaires' contain some very useful brief discussions of problem passages.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:12 pm

My Polybius is a library copy also, but it doesn't look like the library bound it. But when I look at the website, it seems you are correct as only softcovers are for sale.

http://www.lesbelleslettres.com/livre/? ... 0100804230
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:46 pm

It's the old French tradition of publishing only broché. It's expected that you will have a servant take the unbound volumes to your personal book-binder and have them bound in your personal hand-tooled leather binding. At least they've begun cutting the pages.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:49 pm

I’ve been meaning to post for some time about an idiom which will have to be tackled at some stage by anyone reading Thucydides, viz. the expression ἐν τοῖς πρώτοι(ς) and similar formulations.

I’ve noted instances at 1.6.3 (ἐν τοῖς πρῶτοι), 3.17.1 (ἐν τοῖς πλεῖσται), 3.82.1 (ἐν τοῖς πρώτη), 4.105.1 (ἐν τοῖς πρώτοις), 7.19.4 (ἐν τοῖς πρῶτοι), 7.24.3 (ἐν τοῖς πρῶτον), 7.27.3 (ἐν τοῖς πρῶτον), 7.71.3 (ἐν τοῖς χαλεπώτατα), 8.68.4 (ἐν τοῖς ... πρῶτος), 8.89.2 (ἐν τοῖς πρῶτοι) and 8.90.1 (ἐν τοῖς μάλιστα).

Smyth (Greek Grammar, sect. 1089) translates the example at 3.82.1 as ‘the first’, and implies that the idiom conveys a sense of absolute precedence. However, Connor (Thucydides, p. 103 n. 61) refers to an 1860 study of the idiom by a scholar called Herbst, who concluded, on the basis of the Thucydidean examples, that it meant ‘among the first’.

A couple of particularly problematic examples may focus consideration:

(i) 3.82.1: οὕτως ὠμὴ <ἡ> στάσις προυχώρησε, καὶ ἔδοξε μᾶλλον, διότι ἐν τοῖς πρώτη ἐγένετο ...

Connor (loc. cit.) objects that Thucydides could not have intended to describe the stasis on Corcyra as the very first, since he has already described an earlier instance of stasis at Notium (3.34); a similar view is taken by Price (Thucydides and Internal War, p. 9 n. 4), who also mentions the earlier staseis at Epidamnus, Plataea and Mytilene.

A complicating factor is found at 3.85.1, at the end of the account of the Corcyraean stasis: οἱ μὲν οὖν κατὰ τὴν πόλιν Κερκυραῖοι τοιαύταις ὀργαῖς ταῖς πρώταις ἐς ἀλλήλους ἐχρήσαντο ... Does ταῖς πρώταις here reinforce Smyth’s interpretation, by meaning that the Corcyraeans gave vent to such passions there for the first time anywhere, or does it simply look ahead to 4.46-8, where they acted in a similar way? If the latter, the meaning of ταῖς πρώταις would simply be ‘for the first time at Corcyra’.

(ii) 7.19.4: οὗτοι μὲν οὖν ἐν τοῖς πρῶτοι ὁρμήσαντες ἀπὸ τοῦ Ταινάρου τῆς Λακωνικῆς ἐς τὸ πέλαγος ἀφεῖσαν: μετὰ δὲ τούτους Κορίνθιοι ...

This refers to the dispatch of a Peloponnesian relief fleet to Sicily, and follows a description of the Lacedaemonian and Boeotian contingents. On the face of it one might expect the sense to be ‘These were the first to sail for the open sea; and after these the Corinthians dispatched ...’, rather than ‘These were among the first ... etc.’ Andrewes (A Historical Commentary on Thucydides, vol. 5 p. 296, ap. 8.89.2) regards 7.19.4 as ‘decisive’ that ἐν τοῖς πρῶτοι means ‘the first’ (or ‘the very first’); however, he differentiates it from ἐν τοῖς πρώτοις, which he appears to think means ‘among the first’. On this basis, Andrewes proposes to amend ἐν τοῖς πρῶτοι at 8.89.2 to read ἐν τοῖς πρώτοις, as he thinks it would be inaccurate to say that Theramenes and Aristocrates were the most prominent members of the oligarchic regime at Athens.

Any thoughts on all this? How are those of you who are reading Thucydides interpreting the idiom? And is there any point in trying to differentiate (as Andrewes attempts to do) between ἐν τοῖς πρῶτοι and ἐν τοῖς πρώτοις, given the scope for manuscript corruption of one into the other?

As always, any comments would be gratefully appreciated.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:28 am

I've been looking at it this morning John and have a draft of some comments. I will work on it some more tomorrow. But for the moment:

1) Do you have an exact chronology for the two upheavels in Book III? They both occur in the same summer. And there are a lot of "at the same time"s in the narrative.

2) LSJ's entry for the definite article has a section on this expression.

3) My view will probably be that this is much ado about nothing. Superlatives make reference to explicit or implicit comparison classes. Determining the comparison class requires interpretive work. Even if one modifies a superlative in some way, the interpretive question of the comparison class remains. So even if we say "Tom was among the first to X", "first" might really mean first in our little group, etc., etc. Moreover, I think the idea of "among the first" is wrongheaded. Why doesn't Connor just point to upheavels that happened before T was born?? Perhaps because if he did it would show how little his argument proves and how much work remains to be done?! (I don't have his commentary though, so perhaps I am being unfair.)

I believe that ἐν τοῖς was originally a (demonstrative) way of precisely pointing at the comparision class. Perhaps that precision faded as the expression became more idiomatic. But still, I suspect that some of that original function remains, expecially in a precise and logical writer like T. I suspect that the comparison class for 3.82 is described in the sections following it and I suspect that the comparison class for 7.19 is described in the sections following it.

But these remarks are preliminary and I will have more to say tomorrow.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Thu Feb 06, 2014 5:45 pm

pster - many thanks for your preliminary thoughts.

By 'the two upheavals in Book III', do you mean the one at Notium and the one at Corcyra? I don't have a chronology for these, I'm afraid, beyond the facts that Thucydides (a) recounts both of them as happening in the summer of the fifth year of the war, and (b) describes the one at Notium (briefly) before the one on Corcyra (Notium 3.35; Corcyra 3.70-85).

Thucydides is clearly using Corcyra as his 'paradigmatic' example of stasis, i.e. the single instance of such a phenomenon which he describes in detail.

Your point about 'comparison classes' following some of the examples is interesting - would that then mean that the nearest English equivalent would be something like 'the first of its kind'?

It is perhaps worth noting that, in the list of examples at the start of my post yesterday, only one has the adjective in the dative, and so agreeing with the article - 4.105.1 (ἐν τοῖς πρώτοις). Here the meaning seems fairly clear: Thucydides is talking about himself, and is surely describing himself as 'one of the most influential men on the mainland' (rather than 'the most influential man ...'). It's the examples with the adjective in the nominative which are unclear ...

The example at 8.68.4 may also be worth a further look, precisely because of its unusual form:

καὶ Θηραμένης ὁ τοῦ Ἅγνωνος ἐν τοῖς ξυγκαταλύουσι τὸν δῆμον πρῶτος ἦν, ...

Does this perhaps give a clue as to the 'unpacked' form of construction underlying other examples? if so, on the face of it, the meaning would seem to be 'foremost [in this category]', rather than just 'among the foremost'; that itself, however, may be problematic here, since it would seem inaccurate to describe Theramenes in that way. To meet this concern, Andrewes (HCT ad loc.) describes 8.68.4 as 'a weak superlative, putting him high in the class to which he is assigned but not at the top of it' - which would take us back to the sense 'among the foremost' after all!

Anyway, thanks again, and I look forward to any further thoughts which you (or anyone else) may have on this.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:35 am

John W. wrote:
By 'the two upheavals in Book III', do you mean the one at Notium and the one at Corcyra? I don't have a chronology for these, I'm afraid, beyond the facts that Thucydides (a) recounts both of them as happening in the summer of the fifth year of the war, and (b) describes the one at Notium (briefly) before the one on Corcyra (Notium 3.35; Corcyra 3.70-85).


Yes. I don't have time to reread Book III. But the narrative jumps around a bit. So, I was just asking whether we indeed know that the events at Notium actually happened before those at Corcyra. Indeed, the question is whether they climaxed before those at Corcyra climaxed. Seems like a rather weak peg on which to hang a semantic argument.


John W. wrote:
Thucydides is clearly using Corcyra as his 'paradigmatic' example of stasis, i.e. the single instance of such a phenomenon which he describes in detail.


Yes, I'm struck by how he links the superlative with later events, indeed, in the same sentence.

John W. wrote:
Your point about 'comparison classes' following some of the examples is interesting - would that then mean that the nearest English equivalent would be something like 'the first of its kind'?


Well, I suppose. But I doubt there is any English equivalent that a translator could use across the board. Indeed, I doubt the Greek was very stable.

I suppose you have seen Smith's discussion where he agrees with Jow's conclusion that it is sometimes restrictive, sometimes intensive. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... apter%3D17 Many of these discussions go the same way. Look at a bunch of examples in T. Then look at a bunch more from other Greek authors. Then emerge a week or two later as confused as ever. In such circumstances, I think one's initial reaction is as reliable as anything. :mrgreen: I suspect that this expression was in transit from something precise to bland adverbial intensifier. What seems to happen to all expressions is that they start off fairly precise, then the hoi polloi abuse and simplify them until they lose their precision. I'll spare you a list of examples. :D

John W. wrote:It is perhaps worth noting that, in the list of examples at the start of my post yesterday, only one has the adjective in the dative, and so agreeing with the article - 4.105.1 (ἐν τοῖς πρώτοις). Here the meaning seems fairly clear: Thucydides is talking about himself, and is surely describing himself as 'one of the most influential men on the mainland' (rather than 'the most influential man ...'). It's the examples with the adjective in the nominative which are unclear ...


Do you think the adjective can appear in the genitive and accusative?
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:53 pm

pster - many thanks.

I had picked up from somewhere on Jowett's view that the idiom can sometimes intensify and sometimes restrict - the problem then, of course, is trying to work out which force is in play in any given context.

As far as I'm aware, with the single exception of ἐν τοῖς πρώτοις at 4.105.1, all the other examples have adjectives in the nominative.

One further point: it's perhaps worth noting that at 3.17.1 the context does make it clear that the meaning of ἐν τοῖς πλεῖσται etc. is 'one of the largest fleets', rather than 'the largest fleet'. (This section is square-bracketed by the OCT, but not by Alberti, and contains some other textual difficulties.)

Thanks again for all your help with this; I suspect you may well be right as to how the usage of this idiom evolved.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:15 pm

I agree with pster. (1) ἐν τοῖς has essentially been adverbialized, so that it can appear with feminine as well as masculine superlatives. It has to be read as a single unit, not by analyzing the meaning of the two words. (2) In the end, it probably doesn't matter very much whether it's intensive or restrictive, and it may serve both functions, in different passages.

But there's apparently disagreement among scholars on exactly what it means, and it's difficult to infer the meaning from specific passages. Marchant has a note on this at 1.6.3 which seems to side with Herbst, very tentatively.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0095%3Abook%3D1%3Achapter%3D6%3Asection%3D3

As a reader, I don't really have to commit myself to either interpretation, but as a translator, John unfortunately does.

Sorry to be unhelpful: that's all I have to say at this point.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby pster » Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:57 am

John W. wrote:
As far as I'm aware, with the single exception of ἐν τοῖς πρώτοις at 4.105.1, all the other examples have adjectives in the nominative.

One further point: it's perhaps worth noting that at 3.17.1 the context does make it clear that the meaning of ἐν τοῖς πλεῖσται etc. is 'one of the largest fleets', rather than 'the largest fleet'. (This section is square-bracketed by the OCT, but not by Alberti, and contains some other textual difficulties.)



Yes, I noticed the textual difficulties around 3.17, and so decided to not linger very long there.

Still, I want to ask about this nominative business. I was imagining that all the cases are possible. Indeed, that was why I wanted to examine 3.17. I agree with you about all of the other examples being nominative. I have the vague sense that you seem to be leaning towards the view that the nominative is required. Correct me if I'm wrong.

If the nominative is indeed required, then that would give us something meaty to ponder. So what is your view? And do any of the commentaries address this?
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat Feb 08, 2014 9:17 am

Qimmik wrote:Sorry to be unhelpful: that's all I have to say at this point.


Bill - many thanks. You're not being unhelpful at all; indeed, it's difficult to go much further.

I'm struggling to make sense of an idiom which (on Jowett's reading) could be either intensive or restrictive, especially when it's often far from clear from the context which is intended. As I've said, at 3.17.1 and (almost certainly) 4.105.1, the meaning is restrictive ('one of the largest'/'one of the most influential'). At 7.19.4 the intensive meaning ('the very first') would on the face of it seem more likely, but the restrictive meaning is not impossible even there. The examples from Book 8 seem to favour the restrictive sense ('among the foremost' etc.). If I had to plump for a single shade of meaning applicable to all contexts and examples, I'd (currently) go for the restrictive one, and that in fact is what I've done in my translation so far, as I don't feel confident enough to pick and choose on the strength of individual contexts.

What I haven't yet done is seek out and investigate any examples in other authors to see if they shed any light.

Anyway, thanks again - I hope your own reading of Thucydides is going well.

Best wishes,

John
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