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trans quote from Sophocles??

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trans quote from Sophocles??

Postby vivitur » Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:37 pm

could someone kindly help translate this?

η πολλα βροτοις εστιν ιδουσιν
γνωναι. πριν ιδειν δ' ουδεις μαντις
των μελλων ο τι πραξει

All I can manage is something like .......Indeed, I know/recognize that mortals see many things/events
Before seeing, no prophet (implies "knows" or "can foretell")
What of fated events will happen

I find such maxims to be tricky because of the special uses of language involved and the
often omitted or implied words....

any advice much appreciated, thank you
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Re: trans quote from Sophocles??

Postby rkday » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:41 pm

Let's have a go:

η πολλα βροτοις εστιν ιδουσιν
γνωναι. πριν ιδειν δ' ουδεις μαντις
των μελλων ο τι πραξει

In truth, it is (possibly sc. 'possible' - the metre might not have permitted εξεστιν) for mortals to see and know many things. But before seeing, no prophet (presumably, as you say, sc. 'knows') which of the things-about-to-be-done he will perform.

I don't think it can be "I know/recognize that mortals see many things/events" because "γνωναι" is an infinitive - it's "to know", not "I know".

Can you give the original source of the quote? Context and accentuation might be helpful.
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Re: trans quote from Sophocles??

Postby NateD26 » Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:22 pm

Ajax, Lines 1418-20
{ΧΟ.} Ἦ πολλὰ βροτοῖς ἔστιν ἰδοῦσιν
γνῶναι· πρὶν ἰδεῖν δ' οὐδεὶς μάντις
τῶν μελλόντων ὅ τι πράξει.
Nate.
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Re: trans quote from Sophocles??

Postby NateD26 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:05 am

{ΧΟ.} Ἦ πολλὰ βροτοῖς ἔστιν ἰδοῦσιν
γνῶναι· πρὶν ἰδεῖν δ' οὐδεὶς μάντις
τῶν μελλόντων ὅ τι πράξει.

    Many things can be known (i.e. it is possible for them to know) for mortals upon seeing (them),
    but no one can be a fore-teller/can predict whichever of future events will happen before seeing (it happens).
Nate.
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Re: trans quote from Sophocles??

Postby NateD26 » Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:52 pm

I see that I was wrong in my initial translation and according to English translation by R. C. Jebb, there is a comma after τῶν μελλόντων
(he refers to Antigone 1160 where he translated a genitive in a similar construct as "about, concerning") and in his notes, ὅ τι πράξει is
translated as "how he (himself) shall fare".
[English translations and Notes @Perseus.]

    It is possible for mortals to know/learn many things by seeing (them), but before seeing it happens,
    no one can be a prophet concerning future events, [or]* how he shall fare.

* I do not understand the addition of or in his translation.
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Re: trans quote from Sophocles??

Postby dissata » Fri Aug 06, 2010 5:02 pm

* I do not understand the addition of or in his translation.


I think the or is just the translator using poetic license. The phrase when translated into English is weak.

I translate the whole thing as something literally like:

there are many mortals that come to know by seeing
but there is no foreteller that knows before (it happens) of the future, what (action) might happened.

I would probably pretty it up by saying:

There are many men that know by sight but no one can see what might happen in the future.

just my $.02
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