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what does τι χρῆμα mean here? (Chariton 1.1)

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what does τι χρῆμα mean here? (Chariton 1.1)

Postby daivid » Wed Jun 04, 2014 1:39 pm

This is from Chariton 1.1

Ἑρμοκράτης, ὁ Συρακουσίων στρατηγός, οὗτος ὁ νικήσας Ἀθηναίους, εἶχε θυγατέρα Καλλιρρόην τοὔνομα, θαυμαστόν τι χρῆμα παρθένου καὶ ἄγαλμα τῆς ὅλης Σικελίας:
My best translation is this:
Hermocrates the Sicilian general the one who defeated the Athenians had a daughter, Kallirhoe by name, wonderous of maidens and an ornament of the whole of Sicily.

My first question is what does τι χρῆμα add to the meaning?

My second is why is there a τ in front of τοὔνομα?
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Re: what does τι χρῆμα mean here? (Chariton 1.1)

Postby Scribo » Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:12 pm

daivid wrote:This is from Chariton 1.1

Ἑρμοκράτης, ὁ Συρακουσίων στρατηγός, οὗτος ὁ νικήσας Ἀθηναίους, εἶχε θυγατέρα Καλλιρρόην τοὔνομα, θαυμαστόν τι χρῆμα παρθένου καὶ ἄγαλμα τῆς ὅλης Σικελίας:
My best translation is this:
Hermocrates the Sicilian general the one who defeated the Athenians had a daughter, Kallirhoe by name, wonderous of maidens and an ornament of the whole of Sicily.


Hermokrates, a general of Syracuse, who defeated the Athenians, had a daughter Kallirhoe by name. A wonder of a maiden and an ornament for all Syracuse.

daivid wrote:My first question is what does τι χρῆμα add to the meaning?


Yeah you're seeing something which becomes increasingly common as ancient Greek developed into modern Greek but also had ancient antecedents which is ti + another word as an exclamation almost, but not quite with the force of English "what a bastard" sort of thing.

Here it is paired with a genitive in a common construction, Parse it like you would tis thnetwn (= a moral) or tis thewn (= a god) . See here: http://www.ntgreek.org/pdf/genitive_case.pdf it actually kind of fits a few different types almost.

ti xrhma = what wonder = what a wonder + the genitive = what a wonder of a girl! but the languages don't match up well here, it's not supposed to sound Benny Hill like.

daivid wrote: My second is why is there a τ in front of τοὔνομα?


Article plus noun. It's ou either because parthenou was used earlier and that's the sound in the writers mind (analogy) or habit/phonology e.g how would you write ths plus onoma?
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Re: what does τι χρῆμα mean here? (Chariton 1.1)

Postby Qimmik » Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:27 pm

Isn't τοὔνομα crasis for το ονομα? ο + ο > ου. Accusative of respect -- "Kallirhoe, by [the] name."

θαυμαστόν τι χρῆμα παρθένου -- to translate literally, "some wonderful thing of a girl!" As Scribo says, we would probably say something like "what a wonder of a girl!" in English.
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Re: what does τι χρῆμα mean here? (Chariton 1.1)

Postby daivid » Wed Jun 04, 2014 3:44 pm

Thank you for both of your replies. With the two of them everything is now clear.
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Re: what does τι χρῆμα mean here? (Chariton 1.1)

Postby mwh » Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:16 am

Just to be clear: the τι is (of course) not interrogative or exclamatory but attaches to θαυμαστον: a kinda wondrous thing of a girl. This use of χρημα is well attested in earlier Greek too; the classic instance is Herodotus’ ὑὸς χρημα μεγα, of a boar. (The genitive is a defining genitive [a thing consisting of a girl]; different in kind from τις αθανατων, which is partitive.) χρημα doesn’t objectify Kalliroe as such a phrase would in English (though of course it's her looks he's focussed on). Rather it connotes impressiveness.

As to τοὔνομα, there again Qimmik has it right. The noun is not ουνομα but ονομα, and τοὔ- is the regular crasis with το.
“He had a daughter called K.” or “He had a daughter, K. by name”: here we have the regular Greek way of saying that. You always have the article, since that is the name she had [“K. as to her name”]
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Re: what does τι χρῆμα mean here? (Chariton 1.1)

Postby daivid » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:48 am

mwh wrote:Just to be clear: the τι is (of course) not interrogative or exclamatory but attaches to θαυμαστον: a kinda wondrous thing of a girl. This use of χρημα is well attested in earlier Greek too; the classic instance is Herodotus’ ὑὸς χρημα μεγα, of a boar. (The genitive is a defining genitive [a thing consisting of a girl]; different in kind from τις αθανατων, which is partitive.) χρημα doesn’t objectify Kalliroe as such a phrase would in English (though of course it's her looks he's focussed on). Rather it connotes impressiveness.

I had rather assumed that he was both objectifying her and celebrating her impressiveness. Kalliroe in the story is utterly passive and the way Chariton puts her on a pedestal would give any modern woman the creeps(to say the least). But if it can be applied to a boar which generally are not passive then your warning to not assume that thing has the same connotation as it would in English is very welcome.

mwh wrote:As to τοὔνομα, there again Qimmik has it right. The noun is not ουνομα but ονομα, and τοὔ- is the regular crasis with το.
“He had a daughter called K.” or “He had a daughter, K. by name”: here we have the regular Greek way of saying that. You always have the article, since that is the name she had [“K. as to her name”]


Thank you very much for all the extra clarification.
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Re: what does τι χρῆμα mean here? (Chariton 1.1)

Postby mwh » Wed Jun 11, 2014 12:25 pm

Yeah she's thoroughly objectified and xrhma does comport with that. I should have said χρημα doesn’t objectify Kalliroe as much as such a phrase would in English.
Something like "a stunning creature" might get it.
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Re: what does τι χρῆμα mean here? (Chariton 1.1)

Postby ailuros » Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:22 pm

I would perhaps be bolder and translate it to the effect that she was a "piece," which I think is the real intent here (i.e., she was sexy). "Piece" in this context (short for the vulgar "piece of a**") may be just a US usage (I don't know for sure, but have a suspicion that it's pretty universal), and it is objectionable in a way that calling a man a "hunk" is not, although the intent behind both usages seems the same: objectification, a hunk, or piece, of something desirable. And I don't mean to condone the usage of "piece" for these situations as a rule, but if Chariton was writing in a gossipy, salacious manner (and I know no Chariton, nor have any idea what follows this passage), then a rougher term might not be out of place (another, more dated choice might be "dish," another concept I suspect is pretty universal). I hope I haven't lowered the level of discourse on the board, but I do think sometimes we are all a bit too chaste when translating the Greeks.
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Re: what does τι χρῆμα mean here? (Chariton 1.1)

Postby mwh » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:35 pm

No that would be quite wrong for Chariton, whose language is as chaste as the fair maiden herself—well, chaster, in fact. A sex goddess, yes, but that becomes clear only in the continuation.
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Re: what does τι χρῆμα mean here? (Chariton 1.1)

Postby ailuros » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:59 pm

Thanks for the clarification, mwh. Guess I should get to better know my Chariton!
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