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Difficult Sappho fragment

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Difficult Sappho fragment

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:48 pm

Hello,

I'm a new philhellene on this site. I just got the Loeb edition of Sappho and Alcaeus by mail a couple of days ago. After some reading I don't find Sappho so difficult at all, though I had been warned, as it's just about getting used to the Aeolic forms.

But I just can't make sense of this tiny fragment.

Ok, this is an entire fragment of Sappho (#56) from my Loeb edition:

οὐδ᾽ ἴαν δοκίμωμι προσίδοισαν φάοσ ὰλίω
ἔσσεσθαι σοφίαν πάρθενον εἰσ οὐδένα πω χρόνον
τεαύταν

It's translated as:
"I do not imagine that any girl who has looked on the light of the sun will have such skill at any time in the future"

I don't get this.

Ok, "ian prosidoisan phaos alio parthenon" go together, as on the other hand do "sophian teautan". I gather that "parthenon etc" is the subject of the accusative and infinitive construction with "essesthai" the infinitive verb. But how can this construction with "eimí" take an object in accusative "sophian teautan"? "Eimí" stands for "to be", not "to have".

The only bad explanation I can think of is that "essesthai" is for "hennumi", not "eimí". Perseus Word Study Tool does not agree with this theory :)

I'd be very grateful for help!
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Re: Difficult Sappho fragment

Postby spiphany » Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:06 am

Welcome!
Sappho is new to me, too, but I'll see whether I can offer some ideas.

Perhaps σοφίαν is an accusative of respect? "She will be of such skill/knowledge..."

As I think about it, I'm not sure whether τεαύταν belongs with πάρθενον or with σοφίαν. If the former, the translation "She will be of such a sort with respect to her skill..." seems plausible.
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)
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Re: Difficult Sappho fragment

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:44 am

Thanks, accusative of respect makes sense to me. I checked up in my grammar book, and of course I've seen this form many times before, though I didn't know it was called "of respect". I didn't know it could occur with eimí like this.

"parthenon teautan" now seems good to me too, rather than "sophian teautan".

I wonder if ancient native speakers of Greek would have found this at least a bit unclear, if not difficult, with this poetically mixed up word order and a whole jumble of accusatives. Maybe not ;)
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Re: Difficult Sappho fragment

Postby zeugma » Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:10 am

The "that" in the translation should be a clue to the use of indirect speech, which in this
case is the accusative+infinitive construction, commonly introduced by verbs of saying or
thinking (smyth 2016). If I were to translate "I think that man will throw the ball" into
classical greek, or latin, "man" would be in the accusative case and "will throw" would be
a future infinitive.
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Re: Difficult Sappho fragment

Postby jamesbath » Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:04 pm

zeugma wrote:If I were to translate "I think that man will throw the ball" into
classical greek, or latin, "man" would be in the accusative case and "will throw" would be
a future infinitive.


Sorry Paul. But I'm veering off of your subject for a moment by asking zeugma the following.

Zeugma, what case would you put the "ball" in? I'm not being smug. I really want to know because "ball" seems to occupy an accusative position in reference to "man" which, in its own turn, seems to occupy a nominative position in reference to "ball."

Thanks.
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Re: Difficult Sappho fragment

Postby NateD26 » Fri Dec 24, 2010 8:28 pm

jamesbath wrote:Zeugma, what case would you put the "ball" in? I'm not being smug. I really want to know because "ball" seems to occupy an accusative position in reference to "man" which, in its own turn, seems to occupy a nominative position in reference to "ball."

Indeed, ball is true accusative in reference to man either in direct or indirect speech. But when you do use indirect speech,
that which has been nominative, and is different from the subject of the main verb, becomes accusative, though translated the same.
Nate.
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Re: Difficult Sappho fragment

Postby jamesbath » Fri Dec 24, 2010 9:39 pm

NateD26 wrote:
jamesbath wrote:Zeugma, what case would you put the "ball" in? I'm not being smug. I really want to know because "ball" seems to occupy an accusative position in reference to "man" which, in its own turn, seems to occupy a nominative position in reference to "ball."

Indeed, ball is true accusative in reference to man either in direct or indirect speech. But when you do use indirect speech,
that which has been nominative, and is different from the subject of the main verb, becomes accusative, though translated the same.



Thanks for that answer, NateD26. One thing more in connection with it, if you don't mind: In the indirect form, when the nominative "man" becomes accusative, does "ball" remain accusative or does it's case change to something else?

Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ
Thank you very much.
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Re: Difficult Sappho fragment

Postby NateD26 » Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:17 pm

Ιt remains in accusative, jamesbath.

I think: "this man is telling the truth." = νομίζω· «οὗτος (ὁ) ἀνὴρ* τὰ ἀληθῆ λέγει.»
I think that this man is telling the truth = νομίζω τοῦτον (τὸν) ἄνδρα τἀληθῆ λέγειν.

But,
I think that I am telling the truth = νομίζω/δοκῶ μοι τἀληθῆ λέγειν.

* Smyth notes that the article in this case specifically was commonly omitted. I'll look for the reference later.
EDIT: In §1788e, it seems the phrase to which Smyth referred is "often contemptuous"
or express some emotion, which was not my intention in my example. So best to write the article,
or use οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος to be on the safe side. :)
Nate.
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Re: Difficult Sappho fragment

Postby jamesbath » Tue Dec 28, 2010 4:48 pm

NateD26 wrote:Ιt remains in accusative, jamesbath.

I think: "this man is telling the truth." = νομίζω· «οὗτος (ὁ) ἀνὴρ* τὰ ἀληθῆ λέγει.»
I think that this man is telling the truth = νομίζω τοῦτον (τὸν) ἄνδρα τἀληθῆ λέγειν.

But,
I think that I am telling the truth = νομίζω/δοκῶ μοι τἀληθῆ λέγειν.

* Smyth notes that the article in this case specifically was commonly omitted. I'll look for the reference later.
EDIT: In §1788e, it seems the phrase to which Smyth referred is "often contemptuous"
or express some emotion, which was not my intention in my example. So best to write the article,
or use οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος to be on the safe side. :)


Thank you, NateD26,

I think I have a fair grasp of it now.

ἱλαρόν νέα ἔτος (Happy New Year)!
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Re: Difficult Sappho fragment

Postby zeugma » Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:37 am

I missed the cue, but as said an object retains its case within such an indirect
statement. I may have misled by forgetting to put a that/this/the after the
initial that.
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Re: Difficult Sappho fragment

Postby jamesbath » Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:18 pm

zeugma wrote:I missed the cue, but as said an object retains its case within such an indirect
statement. I may have misled by forgetting to put a that/this/the after the
initial that.

Zeugma,
οὐκ τό πρόβλημα. εγώ ἐπίσταμαι.
Not a problem. I understand.
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