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Reading Thucydides 2014

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Fri Feb 14, 2014 2:39 pm

I reached the Funeral Oration last night, including the sentence we've been discussing. I'm still not entirely convinced about what Thucydides means by ἀπὸ μέρους. Granted, compression to the point of obscurity is a fundamental feature of his style; but this seems too compressed and obscure even for him. I would have expected something like ἀπὸ κλήρων. But maybe the sentence would have been more readily intelligible to Thucydides' contemporaries. We do know that it was ambiguous in later antiquity, because the scholiast gives a different explanation from that of the papyrus commentary.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri Feb 14, 2014 4:16 pm

Bill - there are a couple of instances in Book 8 where μέρος is used of holding office 'in turn', viz.:

(i) 8.86.3 - τῶν τε πεντακισχιλίων ὅτι πάντες ἐν τῷ μέρει μεθέξουσιν, 'that all of the Five Thousand would share in the government in turn';

(ii) 8.93.2 - λέγοντες τούς τε πεντακισχιλίους ἀποφανεῖν, καὶ ἐκ τούτων ἐν μέρει ᾗ ἂν τοῖς πεντακισχιλίοις δοκῇ τοὺς τετρακοσίους ἔσεσθαι, ''they said that they would make known the Five Thousand, and that the Four Hundred would be chosen from these in turn by whatever method the Five Thousand decided'.

The second instance above is particularly interesting; I suppose 'by whatever method' could imply ἀπὸ κλήρων or something else.

I wonder whether the use of μέρος in these instances helps with your concerns on this score.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri Feb 14, 2014 5:21 pm

Bill - I'm conscious that in our discussion this week I may have come across as something of a cheerleader for the ἀπὸ μέρους = 'in turn' interpretation. In some ways I'm attracted to the 'on the basis of rank' school of thought, but I just can't make it work in a logical way within the flow and structure of the sentence as a whole. If one takes the 'rank' rendering, one ends up with something which could be freely paraphrased as follows:

'Our system is called "democracy", since it governs not for the few but for the many; everyone is equal before the law in private disputes, and public peferment is based not on rank but on merit; nor is poverty an obstacle ...'

This sounds like a straightforward paean to democracy. The problem with this is, of course, that the sentence includes not one but two instances of μὲν. . . δὲ, which - especially given Thucydides' penchant for elaborate structuring - must introduce some real nuances into the meaning in terms of caveats or qualifications. Mynott clearly sees this, and so dutifully inserts a 'but' into the middle of the sentence; unfortunately, all this does is create the logical non sequitur previously pounced upon by Gomme - 'We have a democracy, but preferment isn't based on rank'.

So far, I feel that only the 'in turn' interpretation enables one to make any sense of the force of the instances of μὲν. . . δὲ. That's the only reason I've advocated it so far, but I'm certainly open to persuasion to the contrary. And as you've pointed out, given the different views taken by the Oxyrhynchus commentator and the scholiast, difficulty on this score is as ancient as it is understandable.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri Feb 14, 2014 9:03 pm

One further thought arising from this passage. In 2.37.1 we have: καὶ ὄνομα μὲν ... δημοκρατία κέκληται: μέτεστι δὲ ... etc. A bit further on, in Thucydides' final appraisal of Pericles, we have (2.65.9): ἐγίγνετό τε λόγῳ μὲν δημοκρατία, ἔργῳ δὲ ὑπὸ τοῦ πρώτου ἀνδρὸς ἀρχή, 'And so in name it was a democracy, but in practice it became rule by the first man.' Here, then, is a further instance of δημοκρατία being qualified by means of a μὲν . . . δὲ structure. To hark back to our earlier passage, would Thucydides perhaps have regarded the ascendancy of Pericles (for whom he clearly had great admiration) as the ultimate example of preferment ἀπ᾽ ἀρετῆς?

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:34 pm

Those are very good points, John, and you've brought me around to favoring your view. Perhaps προτιμᾶται refers not to the attainment of official positions but rather the exercise of influence in the assembly.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:00 am

Thanks, Bill.

pster - in the light of the discussion since your initial post, have you yourself reached a view on ἀπὸ μέρους?

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:53 am

Here's another query. Early in Book 4, the Lacedaemonians have suffered a disaster through the Athenians' trapping a force of their hoplites on the island of Sphacteria, off Pylos. The Lacedaemonians therefore agree a temporary truce, and dispatch ambassadors to Athens to try to negotiate a settlement, in order to secure the return of their men. Near the start of the ambassadors' speech we have the following (4.17.2):

τοὺς δὲ λόγους μακροτέρους οὐ παρὰ τὸ εἰωθὸς μηκυνοῦμεν, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπιχώριον ὂν ἡμῖν οὗ μὲν βραχεῖς ἀρκῶσι μὴ πολλοῖς χρῆσθαι, πλέοσι δὲ ἐν ᾧ ἂν καιρὸς ᾖ διδάσκοντάς τι τῶν προύργου λόγοις τὸ δέον πράσσειν.

'We shall be speaking at some length, not in contravention of our usual practice, but because it is our country's custom not to employ many words when few will suffice, but to use more when there is occasion to give instruction on some matter of importance in order to achieve by means of words what is required.'

My query is simply this: have I got the bit in bold right, or should it read:

' ... to give instruction on some matter of importance by means of words in order to achieve what is required.'?

The word order, in terms of the placement of λόγοις, seems to favour my original version, but I'd welcome any thoughts.

Many thanks,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:52 pm

Two more possibilities:

1. I wonder whether this isn't an example of extreme hyperbaton, as if the clause read: πλέοσι δὲ λόγοις [χρῆσθαι] ἐν ᾧ ἂν καιρὸς ᾖ διδάσκοντάς τι τῶν προύργου τὸ δέον πράσσειν. Placing πλέοσι δὲ at the beginning of the clause draws the contrast with μὴ πολλοῖς, while deferring λόγοις brings the clause back to the point--words--and the clause as a whole builds up to τὸ δέον πράσσειν. λόγοις may actually be understood both with μὴ πολλοῖς and with πλέοσι δὲ.

2. Perhaps χρῆσθαι isn't understood in the δὲ clause. On this reading, τὸ δέον πράσσειν would be parallel with χρῆσθαι, not a complement of καιρὸς ᾖ:

We shall be speaking at some length, not in contravention of our usual practice, but because it is our country's custom not to employ many words when few will suffice, but, when the occasion calls for it, to achieve what is necessary by expounding something useful at greater length [or maybe translate πλέοσι . . . λόγοις as "in a longer discussion."]

Otherwise, λόγοις seems to me better with διδάσκοντάς -- this is the verb that is implemented with words.

I would suggest "discussion" rather than just "words" for λόγοις.

τι τῶν προὔργου (spelled with crasis) seems to be an idiom that also crops up in Thucydides' contemporary Aristophanes, meaning "something useful." Also, τι προὔργου in other authors.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Dprou%29%2Frgou

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/searchresults?target=greek&collections=Perseus%3Acollection%3AGreco-Roman&all_words=&phrase=ti+tw%3Dn+prou%29%2Frgou&any_words=&exclude_words=&search=Search
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:43 pm

Bill - many thanks for your very helpful post. I can't quite make up my mind about this one at the moment, though I am attracted to your second option. I'll have to give it some more thought.

Best,

john
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:45 pm

pster - I sent you a PM a couple of days ago, and was wondering whether you received it; if not, please let me know and I'll resend it.

All the best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:09 am

2.42.4:

τῶνδε δὲ οὔτε πλούτου τις τὴν ἔτι ἀπόλαυσιν προτιμήσας ἐμαλακίσθη οὔτε πενίας ἐλπίδι, ὡς κἂν ἔτι διαφυγὼν αὐτὴν πλουτήσειεν, ἀναβολὴν τοῦ δεινοῦ ἐποιήσατο: τὴν δὲ τῶν ἐναντίων τιμωρίαν ποθεινοτέραν αὐτῶν λαβόντες καὶ κινδύνων ἅμα τόνδε κάλλιστον νομίσαντες ἐβουλήθησαν μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ τοὺς μὲν τιμωρεῖσθαι, τῶν δὲ ἐφίεσθαι, ἐλπίδι μὲν τὸ ἀφανὲς τοῦ κατορθώσειν ἐπιτρέψαντες, ἔργῳ δὲ περὶ τοῦ ἤδη ὁρωμένου σφίσιν αὐτοῖς ἀξιοῦντες πεποιθέναι, καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ τὸ ἀμύνεσθαι καὶ παθεῖν κάλλιον ἡγησάμενοι ἢ τὸ ἐνδόντες σῴζεσθαι, τὸ μὲν αἰσχρὸν τοῦ λόγου ἔφυγον, τὸ δ᾽ ἔργον τῷ σώματι ὑπέμειναν καὶ δι᾽ ἐλαχίστου καιροῦ τύχης ἅμα ἀκμῇ τῆς δόξης μᾶλλον ἢ τοῦ δέους ἀπηλλάγησαν.

The above is the text of Alberti, who adopts the conjecture of Dobree (1874) κάλλιον for the reading μᾶλλον of the mss. and Dionysius, reads τὸ ἀμύνεσθαι (the reading of the β family of mss. (ABEFM)) in lieu of τῷ ἀμύνεσθαι (the reading of the α family (CG)), and doesn't bracket τὸ in τὸ ἐνδόντες σῴζεσθαι. (There are a few other variant readings.)

John, this has been called "probably the most difficult sentence in Thucydides' history" (Rusten, quoting Flashar, Der Epitaphios des Perikles (1969)), and there doesn't seem to be much agreement among scholars as to its interpretation.

I'd be interested in your translation.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:15 am

Bill - it's certainly a most challenging sentence: I remember spending ages analysing it my first time round.

Anyway, for what it's worth, my translation currently stands as follows:

'In the case of these men, however, none of them either showed weakness by preferring the continued enjoyment of wealth, or through the hope connected with poverty (on the grounds that he might yet, if he could escape from it, even become wealthy) delayed the dreaded moment; but deeming the punishment of their adversaries more desirable than material success, and at the same time regarding this as the noblest of risks, they chose, by taking this course, to chastise their foes, and merely to aspire to riches, entrusting to hope the uncertainty of future prosperity, but resolving to rely on themselves in terms of action to meet the situation which was already before their eyes; and thinking that, in this context, to resist and perish was nobler than to save their lives by yielding, they fled from baseness of reputation, but endured the action with their bodies; and through the fortune of the briefest moment of crisis, and at the height of their glory rather than of their fear, they departed.'

I hope this helps - I'd be happy to discuss any specific points.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:25 am

With regard to 4.17.2 (τοὺς δὲ λόγους μακροτέρους οὐ παρὰ τὸ εἰωθὸς μηκυνοῦμεν, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπιχώριον ὂν ἡμῖν οὗ μὲν βραχεῖς ἀρκῶσι μὴ πολλοῖς χρῆσθαι, πλέοσι δὲ ἐν ᾧ ἂν καιρὸς ᾖ διδάσκοντάς τι τῶν προύργου λόγοις τὸ δέον πράσσειν) I'm still mulling over the possibilities. Quite a few commentators do seem to take λόγοις with τὸ δέον πράσσειν. If one goes along with that, I wonder whether it couldn't be regarded as a deliberate contrast, emphasising that the Lacedaemonians regard words/speeches exclusively as a practical means to an end, as indeed one would expect of them.

Just a thought.

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:36 pm

In 2.42.4 Rusten reads: καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ τὸ ἀμύνεσθαι καὶ παθεῖν μᾶλλον ἡγησάμενοι ἢ τὸ ἐνδόντες σῴζεσθαι

This preserves the reading of the mss. (both families). He translates: "thinking that in it [ἐν αὐτῷ = τῷ ἤδη ὁρωμένῳ, 'the task confronting them'] were involved fighting . . . rather than surviving . . . "

I'm not sure this is completely satisfying, but I'm troubled by substituting the conjecture κάλλιον for the reading of all the mss. μᾶλλον. LSJ s.v. ἡγέομαι suggests that μᾶλλον ἡγησάμενοι means "deem necessary":

4. ἡγοῦμαι δεῖν think fit, deem necessary, c. inf., And.1.23, D.1.20: without δεῖν, παθεῖν μᾶλλον ἡγησάμενοι ἤ . . Th.2.42 (s.v.l.); “ἡγησάμην διατάγματι αὐτοὺς σωφρονίσαι” Inscr.Magn.114 (ii A.D.); “ἡγήσατο ἐπαινέσαι” Pl.Prt.346b


Classen apparently conjectures δεῖν after παθεῖν (according to Rhodes' apparatus).

Rusten has apparently published an article on this sentence in HSCP 90 (1986) 49-76.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:53 pm

Rusten's article might well be worth a look. If one reads μᾶλλον, I'm not very happy with Rusten's suggested translation which you quote. Your suggestion seems better - though couldn't μᾶλλον ἡγησάμενοι perhaps mean 'deem preferable' rather than 'deem necessary'?

I see, though, that Classen-Steup reads κάλλιον, adding in a note that μᾶλλον ἡγησάμενοι, in the sense of 'think it better', lacks a precedent.


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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:56 am

μᾶλλον, if it's wrong, is a very early corruption (as I think most of the corruptions in Thucydides are believed to be) because it shows up in all the mss. and in Dionysius. So it must be earlier than the first century BCE. Earlier editors such as Dobree were quick to propose conjectures whenever they were dissatisfied with the received text. They knew Greek so well--perhaps too well--that they could come up with these brilliant conjectures the way we can read supply the right word for a typo in a newspaper. I think that's a particularly rash approach in the case of Thucydides, whose usage is nothing if not boldly unconventional. Dobree pulled κάλλιον out of thin air, and I'm not sure there's a paleographic explanation for the conjecture (I don't know enough to assert that with conviction, though). I think that sense can be made of μᾶλλον ἡγησάμενοι if you allow Th. his customary liberties, and wouldn't change the text--although, I should add, I don't know Th. as well as Alberti.

There's another conjecture worth considering here. Poppo (first half of 19th century) changed ἐφίεσθαι to ἀφίεσθαι, and Gomme argues strenuously in favor of this. It seems to make more sense: they let go of their pursuit of material success, rather than "they merely yearned for material success, rather than pursuing it outright," which a very seems strained way to read ἐφίεσθαι. Poppo's conjecture, which requires a very small change (although one that doesn't seem readily explicable in paleographic terms) is tempting, but If that's what ἐφίεσθαι means, it's congruent with the thought expressed in the very next clause, ἐλπίδι μὲν τὸ ἀφανὲς τοῦ κατορθώσειν ἐπιτρέψαντες. Again, I would be cautious about changing the text.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:56 am

What you say about μᾶλλον/κάλλιον makes good sense to me. As you say, there was much rewriting on the part of some editors - there's quite a lot of it in Poppo-Stahl. I think Cobet is (nowadays) notorious for it, and I believe his influence is felt in one edition of Thucydides which I've never seen, viz. that of H. van Herwerden (5 vols., 1877-82), in which, apparently, there is a great deal of rewriting (often involving drastic excisions) of the text. This tendency to some extent survives in Gomme's volumes of HCT, where he not infrequently resorts to rewriting.

That said, as you know, I've nailed my colours to Alberti's mast for the purposes of my translation, and so I've retained κάλλιον.

The ἐφίεσθαι/ἀφίεσθαι point is interesting: editors are divided on this, with Krueger and Classen-Steup opting for ἐφίεσθαι, and Poppo-Stahl for ἀφίεσθαι. To my mind the arguments in favour of ἀφίεσθαι mainly stem from considerations of what was and was not in good taste from a modern, rather than a 5th century BCE, perspective.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:48 pm

Another small query, from the same speech of the Lacedaemonian ambassadors to the Athenians on which I previously posted.

The ambassdors are urging the Athenians to make peace while favourable terms are on offer. As part of their argument they point out the unpredictability of war, and argue that prudent men are the ones who recognise this; they add (4.18.3):

... καὶ ἐλάχιστ᾽ ἂν οἱ τοιοῦτοι πταίοντες διὰ τὸ μὴ τῷ ὀρθουμένῳ αὐτοῦ πιστεύοντες ἐπαίρεσθαι ἐν τῷ εὐτυχεῖν ἂν μάλιστα καταλύοιντο.

Some translators appear to render the bit in bold along the lines 'trusting to success in war', which to my mind means 'trusting that they will succeed in war'. However, I think it would make more sense within the context of the argument for the reference to be to success already achieved, and still enjoyed (though of course they also expect it to continue). I have therefore translated it as follows:

'... and such people [i.e. those who are prudent], who make the fewest mistakes, through not being elated by confidence based on their current success in war, would be the ones most ready to bring it to an end while they were experiencing good fortune.'

Does this seem a reasonable interpretation? Any thoughts would be welcome.

Many thanks,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Wed Feb 19, 2014 11:45 pm

John, your translation makes sense. Wouldn't a future participle ὀρθωσομένῳ be used instead of τῷ ὀρθουμένῳ if future success were meant?
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:45 am

Bill - many thanks. My translation originally read 'through not being elated by relying on their success in war', but on my latest read-through I wasn't very happy with that, as it seemed at best ambiguous, and not to fit into the train of thought very clearly.

I'm not sure about ὀρθωσομένῳ - you may well be right, unless, where neuter participial formulations are effectively being used as nouns, they are thereby removed from the normal considerations of tense. I don't remember seeing anything about that anywhere, nor can I recall at the moment whether Thucydides does ever use a future participle in this way, but I'll have a look/think.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:30 pm

In 4.56 an Athenian fleet is raiding coastal places around the Peloponnese; at the end of the chapter they head for Thyraea, which is currently occupied by the Aeginetans. The narrative continues (4.57):

[1] προσπλεόντων οὖν ἔτι τῶν Ἀθηναίων οἱ Αἰγινῆται τὸ μὲν ἐπὶ τῇ θαλάσσῃ ὃ ἔτυχον οἰκοδομοῦντες τεῖχος ἐκλείπουσιν, ἐς δὲ τὴν ἄνω πόλιν, ἐν ᾗ ᾤκουν, ἀπεχώρησαν, ἀπέχουσαν σταδίους μάλιστα δέκα τῆς θαλάσσης. [2] καὶ αὐτοῖς τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων φρουρὰ μία τῶν περὶ τὴν χώραν, ἥπερ καὶ ξυνετείχιζε, ξυνεσελθεῖν μὲν ἐς τὸ τεῖχος οὐκ ἠθέλησαν δεομένων τῶν Αἰγινητῶν, ἀλλ᾽ αὐτοῖς κίνδυνος ἐφαίνετο ἐς τὸ τεῖχος κατακλῄεσθαι: ἀναχωρήσαντες δὲ ἐπὶ τὰ μετέωρα, ὡς οὐκ ἐνόμιζον ἀξιόμαχοι εἶναι, ἡσύχαζον.

The problem with this passage essentially boils down to the meaning of the various instances of τὸ τεῖχος (in bold above). The first clearly refers to the coastal fort which the Aeginetans were building with the help of Lacedaemonian troops from a local garrison. Some commentators take the second and third instances to refer not to the coastal fort, but to the city wall of the upper city (τὴν ἄνω πόλιν). While this is possible, it would seem a bit of a stretch even for Thucydides to use τὸ τεῖχος so confusingly in two different senses so close together. I therefore incline to take all three instances as referring to the coastal fort, and to take ἠθέλησαν as pluperfect in sense. The sequence of events would then be that the Aeginetans retired to the upper city after the Lacedaemonians' refusal to go into the coastal fort with them. On this basis, my translation currently reads:

'While, then, the Athenians were still sailing towards them, the Aeginetans abandoned the coastal fort which they were building at that time, and withdrew to the upper city, in which they lived, and which was about ten stades from the sea. The troops from one of the Lacedaemonian garrisons stationed around the country, who were helping to build the fort, had been unwilling to go into it with the Aeginetans when they asked them to do so, as there seemed to them a danger that they would be penned in there; and after retiring to the heights, as they did not think themselves strong enough to give battle, they remained inactive.'

Does this seem sensible/plausible, or must we accept the use here of τὸ τεῖχος in two senses? Comments would, as always, be much appreciated.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:09 pm

αὐτοῖς [the Aeginetans, who are in the upper city] τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων φρουρὰ μία . . . ξυνεσελθεῖν μὲν ἐς τὸ τεῖχος οὐκ ἠθέλησαν δεομένων τῶν Αἰγινητῶν

Doesn't it seem that the the Aeginetans are begging the Lacedaemonian contingent to come with them into the walls of the upper city where the Aeginetans themselves have fled? This seems to me to be the most natural reading, notwithstanding the use of τεῖχος in the preceding sentence to refer to a semi-constructed fortification separate and at a distance from the fortified upper city. There were no Aeginetans for the Lacedaemonians to join in the unfinished fort by the sea because the Aeginetans fled into the city. I don't think this is a stretch; a Greek reader would assume that the upper city was walled, I think.

I would translate this as pluperfect: ἥπερ καὶ ξυνετείχιζε, explaining what the Lacedaemonian contingent had been doing when the Athenian ships approached.
Last edited by Qimmik on Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:00 pm

Many thanks, Bill - I think you're probably right. To keep to a single point of reference for τεῖχος I'd envisaged that the Aeginetans had initially wished to occupy the (albeit unfinished) coastal fort with the Lacedaemonians, and only withdrew to the upper city when the Lacedaemonians declined to join them in the fort; on reflection, however, I believe that your interpretation is more natural and plausible. I've therefore tweaked my translation to read:

'The troops ... who had been helping to build the fort, were unwilling to go inside the city walls with the Aeginetans when they asked them to do so, ...'

Thanks again for your help with this.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:37 pm

A minor suggestion: δεομένων τῶν Αἰγινητῶν -- this might be translated in an adversative sense: "[they were unwilling] . . . despite the Aeginetans' entreaties"
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:02 pm

Qimmik wrote:A minor suggestion: δεομένων τῶν Αἰγινητῶν -- this might be translated in an adversative sense: "[they were unwilling] . . . despite the Aeginetans' entreaties"


Bill - many thanks for this too.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:03 am

Another small query from Book 4.

In 4.80 the Lacedaemonians are planning to send a force of helots out to the region towards Thrace with Brasidas, partly for military reasons and partly to get some of the helots out of the way. Thucydides explains that the Lacedaemonians had always regarded the helots as a potential source of trouble, and had once even resorted to a ruse by pretending to offer freedom to those helots who claimed to have done them the most service in their wars:

... πεῖραν ποιούμενοι καὶ ἡγούμενοι τούτους σφίσιν ὑπὸ φρονήματος, οἵπερ καὶ ἠξίωσαν πρῶτος ἕκαστος ἐλευθεροῦσθαι, μάλιστα ἂν καὶ ἐπιθέσθαι.

I have translated this:

'... thus testing them and thinking that these, the very individuals who were the first to claim their freedom, would through their high spirit also be the most likely to attack them.'

However, some translators take οἵπερ καὶ ἠξίωσαν πρῶτος ἕκαστος ἐλευθεροῦσθαι as meaning 'the very individuals who claimed that they should be the first to be freed'; I find this less satisfactory, as it seems to me to make more sense to be singling out the ones who were the first to come forward.

Any thoughts?

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:39 pm

John, this seems to me a very close call, but I'm inclined towards your translation. That's exactly how I understood the sentence when I read it before looking at your translation.

In general, ἀξιόω means (1) "to deem worthy," which would support the alternative reading "those who thought they should be freed first," but it can also mean (2) "to submit or assert a claim," which would allow "those who first came forward with a claim to be freed."

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Da%29cio%2Fw

LSJ doesn't provide any examples of the second meaning in Thucydides, but that meaning seems more consonant with the underlying idea of the passage: their promptness in asserting their claim to be freed made them suspect, not the fact that they thought they should be freed before anyone else. Have you checked Betant to see if there is a parallel in Thucydides? Not that I would exclude (2) even if you can't find a parallel in Th.

I might translate φρόνημα by "boldness."
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:48 pm

Bill - many thanks for your very helpful comments.

I wonder if an instance at 4.58.1 (mentioned by LSJ under A.IV) is close enough, viz. διαφερομένων καὶ ἀξιούντων, 'disagreeing and making demands' (referring to the Sicilian cities who had convened at Gela in an attempt to settle their differences). At any rate, that seems the most apposite example I've found so far.

Best,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:58 am

In 4.103 Brasidas is moving against Amphipolis, aided especially by the Argilians, some of whom live within Amphipolis itself, and are liaising with Argilus over betraying Amphipolis to Brasidas:

[4] μάλιστα δὲ οἱ Ἀργίλιοι, ἐγγύς τε προσοικοῦντες καὶ αἰεί ποτε τοῖς Ἀθηναίοις ὄντες ὕποπτοι καὶ ἐπιβουλεύοντες τῷ χωρίῳ, ἐπειδὴ παρέτυχεν ὁ καιρὸς καὶ Βρασίδας ἦλθεν, ἔπραξάν τε ἐκ πλέονος πρὸς τοὺς ἐμπολιτεύοντας σφῶν ἐκεῖ ὅπως ἐνδοθήσεται ἡ πόλις, καὶ τότε δεξάμενοι αὐτὸν τῇ πόλει καὶ ἀποστάντες τῶν Ἀθηναίων ἐκείνῃ τῇ νυκτὶ κατέστησαν τὸν στρατὸν πρὸ ἕω ἐπὶ τὴν γέφυραν τοῦ ποταμοῦ.[5] ἀπέχει δὲ τὸ πόλισμα πλέον τῆς διαβάσεως, καὶ οὐ καθεῖτο τείχη ὥσπερ νῦν, φυλακὴ δέ τις βραχεῖα καθειστήκει ...

Here, as apparently with τεῖχος in 4.57, we have Thucydides risking confusion by using the same word with two different referents in close proximity, since the first instance of πόλις above refers to Amphipolis, while the second (δεξάμενοι αὐτὸν τῇ πόλει) must mean Argilus.

Throughout my translation I've simply rendered πόλις as 'city', rather than as 'city-state' (or just transliterating it). While that generally works, it runs into difficulties in a passage such as this, where we then read of the πόλισμα of Amphipolis. Some render this as 'town', which looks odd after references to Amphipolis as a city. I suppose 'city centre' might be one possibility, though that does convey a certain impression of modern-style suburban sprawl, whereas what we seem to be talking about is the 'built' part of the city, as opposed to the countryside immediately surrounding it. Would 'urban centre' fit the bill?

Any thoughts on how best to deal with the translational problem here? I'd really like to avoid anything which entails my going back and retranslating all the references to πόλις as something other than 'city'!

Many thanks,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:03 pm

John, I would retain "city" for ἡ πόλις and use a circumlocution for τὸ πόλισμα. Perhaps, "the central" or "built-up part of the city's territory." "City center," despite its anachronistic ring, might do. You might use "town" for τὸ πόλισμα and explain the difference between ἡ πόλις and τὸ πόλισμα in square brackets. Surely a number of concepts that don't correspond to anything in the contemporary world will have to be explained. Or else use "the city's territory" for ἡ πόλις here alone and use "the city itself" for τὸ πόλισμα.

Bill
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:27 am

Many thanks, Bill - for conciseness I've gone with 'city centre'.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:44 pm

Or maybe "central city" would sound less anachronistic.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Thu Mar 06, 2014 8:15 pm

I’ve now shuffled forward into Book 5.

Early in this Book, we read of Cleon’s campaign against Amphipolis, which is now held by Brasidas and his troops. Cleon has advanced from Eion to Amphipolis itself, but on seeing signs of enemy activity within the city has decided to withdraw. Seeing signs of incipient panic among the departing Athenians, Brasidas prepares to launch a surprise attack, and rushes forth from the gates to strike the centre of the Athenian column (5.10.6):

καὶ ὁ μὲν κατὰ τὰς ἐπὶ τὸ σταύρωμα πύλας καὶ τὰς πρώτας τοῦ μακροῦ τείχους τότε ὄντος ἐξελθὼν ἔθει δρόμῳ τὴν ὁδὸν ταύτην εὐθεῖαν, ᾗπερ νῦν κατὰ τὸ καρτερώτατον τοῦ χωρίου ἰόντι τροπαῖον ἕστηκε, καὶ προσβαλὼν τοῖς Ἀθηναίοις πεφοβημένοις τε ἅμα τῇ σφετέρᾳ ἀταξίᾳ καὶ τὴν τόλμαν αὐτοῦ ἐκπεπληγμένοις κατὰ μέσον τὸ στράτευμα τρέπει.

‘He [Brasidas] then went out through the gates leading to the palisade (the first ones in the long wall which stood at that time) and rushed at a run along the straight section of this road, where the trophy now stands as one goes via the strongest part of the place; and having attacked the Athenians, who were both frightened through their own disorder and astonished at his daring, he routed their army in the centre.’

It’s the bit in bold that is particularly troubling me. Gomme (HCT) takes it as ‘if you went along the strongest part of the city’, which I find problematic, as κατὰ [+ acc.] ἰόντι seems to me more likely to mean ‘going via’ rather than ‘passing’ (κατὰ + acc. is used in Thucydides of troops stationed opposite others, or of vessels moored off a place, but not I think in the sense of passing by somewhere).

Some commentators take the expression to mean something like ‘going via the steepest part of the place'. καρτερός is used of locations elsewhere in Thucydides, e.g. ἐπὶ λόφου καρτεροῦ at 5.7.4, which I’ve rendered as ‘on a strong hill’. Here too some render καρτερός as ‘steep’, but to my mind that is only a partial paraphrase. Surely the primary thought is of the position’s natural suitability for defence, which might be due to its steepness, but could equally relate to its height (rather than steepness per se) and/or difficulty of approach.

All this, I hope, helps to explain why, at 5.10.6, I’ve translated κατὰ τὸ καρτερώτατον τοῦ χωρίου ἰόντι as ‘as one goes via the strongest part of the place’; this could simply refer to part of the road which passes over some ground which is steep, high or otherwise naturally strong.

Does my translation make sense? Any thoughts would, as always, be much appreciated.

Many thanks,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:46 pm

John, I'm afraid I don't have a good answer--or really any answer at all--for this. "Through", which I think is close to your "via", seems a possibility. Maybe also "towards." But without a knowledge of the topography, as it existed in antiquity, and the location of the trophy, I think it's difficult to come to a conclusion. Th. was obviously familiar with the area.

I'm not entirely comfortable with Gomme's note in favor of "along the strongest part of the city"--I'm not sure that he can identify the features of the ancient topography as confidently as he thinks. His map was drawn by Phyllis Gomme--his wife? How much is due to accurate measurement of the topography and archeological remains and how much to imagination? But (like you) Gomme certainly has thought the issue through, and he has surely visited the site himself, which I haven't.

Incidentally, I've finished Book 2 and am now launched on Book 3. The naval operations in 429 were particularly interesting to me, since my traveling companions and I passed through the area in October 2012, crossing the Corinthian Gulf at Rio-Antirrio (Rhion-Antirrhion) on the way from Delphi through Nafpaktos to the Peloponnese. There is a spectacular new suspension bridge across the gulf, a feat of engineering. We took the ferry, though--less expensive and more fun.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rio%E2%80%93Antirrio_bridge

http://www.aecom.com/What+We+Do/Transportation/Practice+Areas/Long-Span+Bridges/_projectsList/Rion-Antirion+Bridge
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:35 pm

Bill - many thanks. I agree there is no clear or easy answer, and I think I'll leave my version as it is unless I have any blinding flashes of insight (unlikely). Like you, I'm not overly impressed by Gomme's idea that the reference is to going past a well-defended part of the city; it seems to me more likely that the monument was placed in a prominent position on some high (and hence 'strong') ground.

Because of its significance in Thucydides, and in particular his own role as a general in the area, Amphipolis is one of the places I want to visit if my tour of Greece ever materialises - perhaps this might shed some light on the topography!

Thanks for the information on the bridge linking the Rhiums - I'd certainly not heard of this. Another thing I'd like to visit is the remains of the diolkos, mentioned in Thucydides, which I understand are near the western end of the Corinthian canal.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:39 pm

[Deleted - JW]
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:08 am

Here's a little query about a specific use of ἐπεὶ.

In 6.89 Alcibiades has fled to the Lacedaemonians, with whom he is trying to ingratiate himself. As part of this he attempts to explain away aspects of his previous conduct for which they blame him; one aspect of this is his (and his family's) active participation in democracy. As part of his explanation he says (6.89.6):

ἡμεῖς δὲ τοῦ ξύμπαντος προέστημεν, δικαιοῦντες ἐν ᾧ σχήματι μεγίστη ἡ πόλις ἐτύγχανε καὶ ἐλευθερωτάτη οὖσα καὶ ὅπερ ἐδέξατό τις, τοῦτο ξυνδιασῴζειν, ἐπεὶ δημοκρατίαν γε καὶ ἐγιγνώσκομεν οἱ φρονοῦντές τι ...

The force of ἐπεὶ at first sight seems perplexing, as the clause which it introduces isn't a logical consequence of what proceeds. Most translators appear to ignore or circumvent this problem, either translating ἐπεὶ simply as 'since', or (perhaps sensing the difficulty) introducing a full stop before it.

I wonder whether the use here isn't somewhat elliptical, implying something along the lines of '<and that is the only reason why we supported the democracy>, since ...' On this basis, rather than expanding the possible ellipsis, I've rendered ἐπεὶ as 'although', which means that my version runs:

'We, however, were at the head of the whole state, thinking it right to assist in preserving that form of government under which the city was in fact greatest and most free, and which we had inherited, although those of us with any sense certainly understood democracy ...'

After reaching this view I (somewhat belatedly) turned to LSJ, which does indeed note elliptical uses of ἐπεὶ (though none is specified in Thucydides) and suggests 'although' as a possible translation in some such cases. But I'd welcome any thoughts as to whether I'm right to take the present instance in this way.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby Qimmik » Sun Apr 20, 2014 2:54 pm

John, I think you're right that something is necessary here to convey the contrast between the public support of democracy by Alcibiades and his family and their private contempt for it.

How about translating ἐπεὶ . . . γε καὶ as "even while" or "even when", taking ἐπεὶ in an almost temporal sense? Something like this: "We acted as leaders for the city as a whole . . . even while/when those of us who had any sense at all knew democracy for what it is . . . " I think γε καὶ gives ἐπεὶ this sense.

By the way, I've reached 4.97 in my own reading of Th., which is just about the midpoint.

Best wishes,

Bill
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:12 pm

Bill - many thanks for your help with this point; it's strange that more commentators/translators haven't addressed it.

I'm glad you're still pressing on with Thucydides - hope it's going OK.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Postby John W. » Fri May 16, 2014 5:19 pm

I've now made it into Book 8, but am struggling with part of chapter 8.

The Lacedaemonians have decided to send a fleet to Chios and Ionia. They have assembled a fleet of some 39 vessels in the Gulf of Corinth, which they intend to transport (using, though Thucydides does not explicitly mention this, the diolkos) across the isthmus of Corinth and into the Saronic Gulf, from where it will sail for Chios. Rather than waiting for the whole fleet to be carried across, they decide to take half of them over the isthmus first, and for these to set sail straightaway, before the others have been carried over (8.8.3):

διαφέρειν δὲ τὸν Ἰσθμὸν τὰς ἡμισείας τῶν νεῶν πρῶτον, καὶ εὐθὺς ταύτας ἀποπλεῖν, ὅπως μὴ οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι πρὸς τὰς ἀφορμωμένας τὸν νοῦν μᾶλλον ἔχωσιν ἢ τὰς ὕστερον ἐπιδιαφερομένας.

It's the exact signification of the bit in bold that is troubling me. Usually in Thucydides the idiom μὴ ... μᾶλλον ἢ ... is best translated as 'less than'; on that basis, the passage above could be rendered:

'... and to carry across the isthmus half the ships first, and for these to sail off straightaway, so that the Athenians would focus less on those which were setting out than on those which were additionally being carried across afterwards.'

A number of commentators (e.g. Poppo-Stahl) and translators (e.g. Weil) seem content with this; however, I'm not entirely happy with the sense. Would the Lacedaemonians really wish the Athenians to focus on one half of their entire fleet, albeit the half which had not yet set off? In his Macmillan edition, Tucker suggests an alternative rendering: '... might be led to pay as much attention to the later ones as to these'. If that is acceptable, one might perhaps render it:

'... so that the Athenians would have their attention divided between those which were setting out and those which were additionally being carried across afterwards.'

This seems to yield a better sense, viz. that the Athenians would fall between two stools, as it were, and in trying to attend to both groups of ships would end up stopping neither. But, as always, I'd be grateful for any thoughts.

Best wishes,

John
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