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elision, aspect, μεν - δε and stuff: Menander Aspis

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elision, aspect, μεν - δε and stuff: Menander Aspis

Postby daivid » Sun Jul 06, 2014 7:52 pm

To remind you of the background: Kleostratos has taken his loyal slave Daos with him while he is serving as a mercenary in Lycia. Initially the army is succesful and Kleostratos acquires a large amount of plunder. He then orders Daos to take the loot home

Is esential for Meanader to get Daos away from the main camp to the coast (but no further) before the battle that is about to ensue for 3 reasons.
The loot must remain safe.
Daos must be far enough away for him not to witness what actually happens to Kleostratos.
He must not get so far away (by setting sail for instance) that he can't easily return to the site of the battle and so discover the battered shield of Kleostratos held by a bloated unrecognizable body that he takes to be Kleostratos.

It is in the following sentence he does it:
Daos is speaking this is lines 40-47:
ἐγὼ μὲν ἐξώρμων ἕωθεν, ᾗ δ' ἐγὼ ἀπῇρον ἡμέρᾳ λαθόντες τοὺς σκοποὺς τοὺς ἡμετέρους οἱ βάρβαροι λόφον τινα ἐπίπροσθ' ἔχοντες ἔμενον, αὐτομόλων τινῶν πεπυσμένοι τὴν δύναμις ἐσκεδασμένην – ὡς δ' ἐγένεθ' ἑσπέρα κατὰ σκηνάς θ' ἅπαν ἦν τὸ στρατόπεδον ἔκ τε χώρας ἄφθονα ἅπαντ' ἐχούσης, οἷον εἰκὸς γίνεται - ἐβρύαζον οἱ πλεῖστοι.
This is my attempt at a translation:
I on the one hand was setting out in the morning, on the other hand as I was departing on that day, escaping the notice of our scouts, the barbarians occupying a place behind a hill were waiting having learnt from certain deserters that the force was scattered; as it became night all the army was distributed among the tents having in abundance all the things from the region it was possible to happen the probable; the majority took to reveling.

First the elisons. What does "ἐπίπροσθ' " of "λόφον τινα ἐπίπροσθ' " expand to? And what does "θ' " "κατὰ σκηνάς θ' " expand to?
I get that ἐγένεθ expands to ἐγένετο.

Then there is ἐξώρμων and ἀπῇρον. I'm not sure my problem is the aspect as I have indicated in the subject line. If the setting out and departing refers to setting sail then it is clear that the imperfect is the only choice. It is clear that Daos has not set sail when survivors from the battle start arriving on the coast having fled from the inland camp. However, I'm fairly certain that what is described is Daos setting out from the inland camp and the departing is his journey from the camp and this is being done simultaneously with the quiet preparations of the enemy. Hence something of the sense "While I was heading towards the coast the enemy were gathering their forces for the attack."
But the construction is a bit more complicated than that.
First off the setting out is clearly a completed action so it might be expected that it would be in the aorist. Of course, Menander isn't at this stage focused on whether Daos actually completes the journey. As a process setting out and departing is what Daos is doing to fill in the time while the enemy ominously build up their forces. Hence making the journey to the coast imperfect draws the focus onto the enemy's preparations so leading us to expect the coming defeat. But then I would have expected ἐξώρμων and ἀπῇρον to be bracketed together. Instead using a μεν - δε contrast ἀπῇρον is bracketed instead with the enemies preparation for the attack.
It is at this point when I almost feel that I understand the sentence I feel it sliding away from me.

EDIT
ἕωθεν now inserted. A thank you to mwh for spotting that I'd missed it out.
Last edited by daivid on Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: elision, aspect, μεν - δε and stuff: Menander Aspis

Postby Qimmik » Sun Jul 06, 2014 10:32 pm

ἐπίπροσθ' is from ἐπίπροσθε(ν). LSJ:

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

θ' is simply τε before a vowel with a rough breathing. Note that σκηνάς remains oxytone.
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Re: elision, aspect, μεν - δε and stuff: Menander Aspis

Postby Qimmik » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:22 am

For the use of the imperfect here, see Smyth 1908:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Smyth+grammar+1908&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007

ἐγὼ μὲν ἐξώρμων ἕωθεν. ᾗ δ' ἐγὼ
ἀπῇρον ἡμέρᾳ, λαθόντες τοὺς σκοποὺς
τοὺς ἡμετέρους, οἱ βάρβαροι, λόφον τινα
ἐπίπροσθ' ἔχοντες, ἔμενον, αὐτομόλων τινῶν
πεπυσμένοι τὴν δύναμιν ἐσκεδασμένην.
ὡς δ' ἐγένεθ' ἑσπέρα, κατὰ σκηνάς θ' ἅπαν
ἦν τὸ στρατόπεδον, ἔκ τε χώρας ἄφθονα
ἅπαντ' ἐχούσης, οἷον εἰκὸς γίνεται,
ἐβρύαζον οἱ πλεῖστοι . . .

men/de sets up a contrast between two things going on the same time. Daos men was setting out at dawn; on the very same day de that he was setting sail, the barbarians were [staying] on the hill-top which they had seized (aorist particple). As Smyth notes, the imperfect puts the listener in the midst of the events as they were taking place. It's a more vivid, breathless way of telling the story.

I don't think you should twist yourself in knots trying to make real Greek conform to the black-and-white grammar book rule that the aorist denotes completed actions while the imperfect denotes actions that are in process. Verbal aspects is a very subtle feature of all languages--at least all that I've studied. Ancient Greek sees things somewhat differently from English; the Greek aorist doesn't always map perfectly onto the simple English preterite and the imperfect doesn't always map perfectly onto the English progressive past. The meaning here is clear--I would suggest that you just notice how the Greek expresses it and note the difference from English.

Note: I went back and fixed the slip noted by mwh below. Also, I punctuated the passage, using periods (full stops) where normal Greek punctuation would use raised dots (semi-colons), which my keyboard doesn't allow me to use. I wanted to present the passage as verse, which makes it much easier to follow the syntax, or lack thereof (and to supply a critical word or two Daivid left out).
Last edited by Qimmik on Mon Jul 07, 2014 12:41 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: elision, aspect, μεν - δε and stuff: Menander Aspis

Postby mwh » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:23 am

Your analysis is pretty good, daivid, and you put your finger on the right points.

Could be translated:
I started out at dawn [you’ve left this out of the Greek], but the day I left the barbarians held a forward ridge without the lookouts noticing and lay in wait [lit. having escaped the notice of our lookouts in holding a ridge in front they lay in wait; έχοντες is grammatically subordinate to λαθόντες; it's a tricky construction], … When evening came and the army was all in tents, and from a land with everything in plenty—the sort of thing that naturally happens—most were reveling.

If you feel the sentence is slipping away from you it’s because it does! Especially at the end. “When it was evening and … and …”—but we never reach the main verb: either because he’s interrupted or more likely because he’s lost track of the sentence (resulting in what ancient grammarians and modern ones too call an anakolouthon—something that “doesn’t follow” syntactically).

As for μέν … δέ, the opposition is set up as between ἐγώ and οἱ βάρβαροι, as you realize, but οἱ βάρβαροι is deferred until he’s specified the day and the fact that they were unobserved.

This is all loose, casual Greek, a simulacrum of real everyday speech (but in verse, never forget that)*.

As for the imperfects:
ἐξώρμων : he started setting out, he proceeded to set out. Aor. would be perfectly possible, but impf. is more graphic. “There I was, setting out …”, as it were.
ἀπῇρον similarly.
ἔμενον they stayed and went on staying (until evening); they proceeded to lie in wait. Here aor. would be possible but would mean they took up a waiting posture.
ἐβρύαζον: that’s what they were doing.

Note the perfect participles too:
πεπυσμένοι: being in possession of intelligence (as distinct from πυθόμενοι, after acquiring intelligence)
ἐσκεδασμένην: scattered, in a scattered state, precisely as you have it (as distinct from σκεδασθεῖσαν, “that it had been scattered”).

Your translation betrays a number of grammatical misunderstandings, which I don't go into. My translation may help you sort them out.


EDIT: Posted independently of Qimmik above, and now perhaps redundant.

* We should read verse line by line, as Qimmik presents the passage. (There's one slip: τινα doesn't start the 4th verse but follows λοφον at the end of the third verse. That way the verses scan, and enclitics can't begin verses anyway).
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Re: elision, aspect, μεν - δε and stuff: Menander Aspis

Postby Qimmik » Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:05 am

By the way, ἐπίπροσθ' demonstrates the drawbacks of relying exclusively on an on-line dictionary, one which you can't scan through visually to find a word whose exact form you don't know.
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Re: elision, aspect, μεν - δε and stuff: Menander Aspis

Postby daivid » Mon Jul 07, 2014 11:26 am

Please delete post
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Re: elision, aspect, μεν - δε and stuff: Menander Aspis

Postby Qimmik » Mon Jul 07, 2014 12:39 pm

"έχοντες is grammatically subordinate to λαθόντες"

Isn't it the other way around? ". . . they held the hill, having eluded our scouts . . . "

"we never reach the main verb: either because he’s interrupted . . . " Yes, he's interrupted at this point by Smicrines, but we don't really need to be told what follows: the Greek audience, even if not familiar with Iliad 10 (which they probably were), would be well aware of the consequences of an army off its guard in night-time revelry.
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Re: elision, aspect, μεν - δε and stuff: Menander Aspis

Postby mwh » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:21 pm

Qimmik wrote:"έχοντες is grammatically subordinate to λαθόντες"

Isn't it the other way around? ". . . they held the hill, having eluded our scouts . . . "

I don’t think so. As an independent clause it would be έλαθον τοὺς σκοποὺς λόφον έχοντες, wouldn’t it? In English we put it the other way round.

Incidentally, I’m not absolutely sure I was correct in taking the first τε (θ’ after κατὰ σκηνάς) as meaning “and.” It could be correlative with the second τε, έκ τε χώρας …. “When evening came, (i) the army … and (ii) …” Then the construction is grammatically complete. But while I should probably check Menandrian use of τε, I feel my first way of taking it is right. The loose parataxis seems in keeping.

"καί can of course mean 'and'," J.D. "Greek Particles" Denniston was once overheard to remark.
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Re: elision, aspect, μεν - δε and stuff: Menander Aspis

Postby Qimmik » Mon Jul 07, 2014 2:31 pm

"As an independent clause it would be έλαθον τοὺς σκοποὺς λόφον έχοντες, wouldn’t it?"

Yes, you're absolutely right. That's the way Greek would put it.

"καί can of course mean 'and',"

and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
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Re: elision, aspect, μεν - δε and stuff: Menander Aspis

Postby daivid » Mon Jul 07, 2014 8:37 pm

Qimmik wrote:men/de sets up a contrast between two things going on the same time. Daos men was setting out at dawn; on the very same day de that he was setting sail, the barbarians were [staying] on the hill-top which they had seized (aorist particple). As Smyth notes, the imperfect puts the listener in the midst of the events as they were taking place. It's a more vivid, breathless way of telling the story.

It was the "contrast between two things going on the same time" that was giving me trouble. Setting out (ἐξώρμων) seemed to me to describe Daos saying goodbye to and setting his first foot on the road to the coast. Departing (ἀπῇρον ) seemed to me to describe the journey from the inland camp. Taken together they could indeed be happening at the same as the barbarian preparation. However, setting off must occur before the departing and so how could the two be happening simultaneously as the μεν - δε contrast implies?

But, if I understand you correctly, the μεν - δε conveys here a kind of general to more specific things. First the general "I was setting off in the morning" and a "and these are the things that were happening on that day".

You seem to favor ἐξώρμων and ἀπῇρον as referring to the departure by sea rather than the journey from the inland camp to the location on the coast. If I knew the words better I might well see why. The difficulty for me with that interpretation is the fact that if Daos was supposed to be leaving by ship on the day of the enemy preparations he should've been at sea when the night attack came where as it is clear that he was still at the coast. It would explain the imperfect though.

Qimmik wrote:I don't think you should twist yourself in knots trying to make real Greek conform to the black-and-white grammar book rule that the aorist denotes completed actions while the imperfect denotes actions that are in process. Verbal aspects is a very subtle feature of all languages--at least all that I've studied. Ancient Greek sees things somewhat differently from English; the Greek aorist doesn't always map perfectly onto the simple English preterite and the imperfect doesn't always map perfectly onto the English progressive past. The meaning here is clear--I would suggest that you just notice how the Greek expresses it and note the difference from English.


I do get that aspect is about how the speaker wishes to portray events. Hence imperfect can simply mean that the speaker just doesn't feel it to be important whether an action is completed not that the speaker is saying that the action definitely wasn't completed.

Given that it is so important for the rest of the plot for Daos to get to the coast before the attack I would have expected Menander to care very much whether Daos completes the journey. However, maybe for that very reason he downplays it. He want's the audience to know that Daos reached the coast but doesn't want the audience to pay too much attention to that as if they do they may start to see how clever he has been in crafting the plot and then the illusion of reality is broken.
The actual speaker, Daos, also should care about having got to the coast. Had he still been on the road when the attack came he could have been overtaken by the rout and cut down by the pursuers. But for Daos to be too overwrought by the loss of the beloved master (who he raised and probably acted more truly in the role of father than Kleostratos' actual father) to think how lucky he was to have got to the hill that was the rallying point complements the picture that Menander is endeavouring to create.

Anyway thanks to both of you the aspect bit of this sentence (verse) is clear. And no, mwh, what you wrote wasn't redundant as it always helps to have something said in a different way.
Thank you.
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