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Thucydides 1.70

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Thucydides 1.70

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue May 15, 2018 12:47 pm

The Corianthians' speech to Spartans about Athens:
[1]καὶ ἅμα, εἴπερ τινὲς καὶ ἄλλοι, ἄξιοι νομίζομεν εἶναι τοῖς πέλας ψόγον ἐπενεγκεῖν, ἄλλως τε καὶ μεγάλων τῶν διαφερόντων καθεστώτων, περὶ ὧν οὐκ αἰσθάνεσθαι ἡμῖν γε δοκεῖτε, οὐδ᾽ ἐκλογίσασθαι πώποτε πρὸς οἵους ὑμῖν Ἀθηναίους ὄντας καὶ ὅσον ὑμῶν καὶ ὡς πᾶν διαφέροντας ὁ ἀγὼν ἔσται. [2] οἱ μέν γε νεωτεροποιοὶ καὶ ἐπινοῆσαι ὀξεῖς καὶ ἐπιτελέσαι ἔργῳ ἃ ἂν γνῶσιν: ὑμεῖς δὲ τὰ ὑπάρχοντά τε σῴζειν καὶ ἐπιγνῶναι μηδὲν καὶ ἔργῳ οὐδὲ τἀναγκαῖα ἐξικέσθαι.

Hobbes:
"Besides, if there be any that may challenge to exprobate his neighbour, we think ourselves may best do it, especially on so great quarrels as these whereof you neither seem to have any feeling nor to consider what manner of men and how different from you in every kind the Athenians be that you are to contend withal. [2] For they love innovation and are swift to devise and also to execute what they resolve on. But you on the contrary are only apt to save your own, not devise anything new, nor scarce to attain what is necessary."

πρὸς οἵους ὑμῖν Ἀθηναίους ὄντας καὶ ὅσον ὑμῶν καὶ ὡς πᾶν διαφέροντας ὁ ἀγὼν ἔσται: the syntax here is difficult, to put it mildly. Does διαφέροντας go with both ὅσον ὑμῶν and ὡς πᾶν? If I approached this as if it were a math problem – is my solution correct? πρὸς (οἵους ὑμῖν Ἀθηναίους ὄντας ((καὶ ὅσον ὑμῶν) (καὶ ὡς πᾶν) διαφέροντας)) ὁ ἀγὼν ἔσται.

νεωτεροποιοὶ. Am I right that this word here has pejorative connotations, as often with derivatives of νεώτερος, so different from our "innovative" etc?
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Re: Thucydides 1.70

Postby John W. » Tue May 15, 2018 3:12 pm

Paul - sorry I wasn't around to help with your last Thucydidean query, though I see you had assistance from abler hands than mine.

In my view, διαφέροντας ὑμῶν is qualified by both ὅσον and ὡς πᾶν. In my translation, I rendered this bit as follows:

'... and not to have ever reflected on what sort of men the Athenians, with whom you will have to contend, are, and how greatly - and in fact completely - they differ from you.'

I don't think νεωτεροποιοὶ (which I have translated as 'innovators') is pejorative here, since the Corinthians are surely upbraiding the Lacedaemonians precisely because the latter aren't innovators, and so not capable of responding quickly to new challenges, as the Athenians are.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
John
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Re: Thucydides 1.70

Postby Hylander » Tue May 15, 2018 6:15 pm

I see καὶ ὡς πᾶν as more or less parenthetical, something that would be set off by dashes in English, not exactly coordinate with ὅσον ὑμῶν . . . διαφέροντας, but intensifying it: "and how different from you they are -- indeed [καὶ], completely [different]".

I'm wondering what the force of ὡς is here. Most likely, as in expressions such as ὡς μάλιστα: here, "as completely as possible"? Or does it slightly soften the categorical expression: "in fact, in just about everything"?

But I have good news: I can promise you that this is the last syntactic difficulty in Thucydides. The rest is smooth sailing, right down to the last sentence fragment at the end of Book 8.

Seriously, one characteristic of Thucydides' style is that he often avoids strict syntax and especially parallelisms, so that trying to analyze him algebraically as in your original post often doesn't work. Sometimes it's almost as if he's in revolt against syntactic regularities altogether, and in particular, against the neat, syntactically balanced men/de antitheses that are particularly characteristic of some 5th century Attic prose under the influence of Gorgias.

We can see an example of this in the very next sentence: οἱ μέν γε νεωτεροποιοὶ καὶ ἐπινοῆσαι ὀξεῖς καὶ ἐπιτελέσαι ἔργῳ ἃ ἂν γνῶσιν: ὑμεῖς δὲ τὰ ὑπάρχοντά τε σῴζειν καὶ ἐπιγνῶναι μηδὲν καὶ ἔργῳ οὐδὲ τἀναγκαῖα ἐξικέσθαι. In the δε clause, there's no adjective that parallels ὀξεῖς in the μεν clause, on which τὰ ὑπάρχοντά τε σῴζειν καὶ ἐπιγνῶναι μηδὲν καὶ ἔργῳ οὐδὲ τἀναγκαῖα ἐξικέσθαι could depend, and ὀξεῖς itself doesn't really fit (it would be an oxymoron here).

So be on your guard against presuming strict parallelism, especially when you're reduced to using a translation to sort out the syntax (and, if you're like me, this will happen a lot).

I agree with John about νεωτεροποιοὶ -- the Corinthians are sarcastically excoriating the Lacedaemonians for their stolid conservatism, contrasting them with the Athenians' quickness to innovate.
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Re: Thucydides 1.70

Postby mwh » Wed May 16, 2018 3:07 am

I think the grammar itself is straightforward enough. If it were simply πρὸς οἵους ὑμῖν Ἀθηναίους ὄντας ὁ ἀγὼν ἔσται there’d be no problem. Thuc interposes καὶ ὅσον ὑμῶν καὶ ὡς πᾶν διαφέροντας in amplification of the first phrase: it’s a matter of what Athenians are like (οιους οντας) and more particularly how different they are (οσον διαφεροντας). οιους οντας and οσον διαφεροντας are in syntactical parallel, and they jointly lead to specification in the follow-up. So Paul your algebra already doesn’t work.

As to και ως παν, I think John’s “how greatly - and in fact completely - they differ from you” captures the sense, though I’d agree with Hylander that the και doesn’t mean “and.” Steve Lattimore gives “what sort of opponents you will have in the Athenians, how greatly, let us say totally they differ from you.” That elides the και before οσον, defensibly in my opinion, and his rendering of και ως παν I think is good, and not significantly different from John or Hylander. The ὡς qualifying παν is necessary. The phrase wouldn’t really be intelligible without it.

The next sentence, if we choose to think of it as a sentence rather than in apposition, is in epexegetical asyndeton (assuming we shouldn’t read γαρ). οἱ μέν γε νεωτεροποιοὶ καὶ ἐπινοῆσαι ὀξεῖς καὶ ἐπιτελέσαι ἔργῳ ἃ ἂν γνῶσιν, ὑμεῖς δὲ τὰ ὑπάρχοντά τε σῴζειν καὶ ἐπιγνῶναι μηδὲν καὶ ἔργῳ οὐδὲ τἀναγκαῖα ἐξικέσθαι. It doesn’t have perfect Isocratean symmetry (boring!) but it’s reasonably close, each half (οι μεν ... υμεις δε) having a mutually corresponding trio of items, and each a tricolon crescendo:
(a) τὰ ὑπάρχοντά τε σῴζειν ~ νεωτεροποιοὶ
(b) και ἐπιγνῶναι μηδὲν ~ και ἐπινοῆσαι ὀξεῖς
(c) και ἔργῳ οὐδὲ τἀναγκαῖα ἐξικέσθαι ~ και ἐπιτελέσαι ἔργῳ ἃ ἂν γνῶσιν.

μηδεν in (b) effectively opposes οξεις, an emphatic βραδεις so to speak, while the approximate force of οξεις (e.g. προθυμοι) bleeds back to control σωζειν in (a) too, each (a) and (b) being quasi-doublets. ἔργῳ οὐδὲ τἀναγκαῖα in (c) opposes ἔργῳ ἃ ἂν γνῶσιν (the ουδε ταναγκαια going it one better; stronger than παντα vs. ουδεν). The repeated εργῳ is pointed, delivering the punch. The sentence is not too tidy, but it's tidier than it looks, and much more expressive and meaningful than if it were impeccably balanced.

νεωτεροποιοι like νεώτερα takes its color from its context, and here it’s surely the opposite of pejorative. Of course the Athenians wouldn’t want their allies politically neoterizing.
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Re: Thucydides 1.70

Postby Paul Derouda » Wed May 16, 2018 8:13 pm

Thanks for your excellent answers, each of you. All three seem to agree that νεωτεροποιοὶ isn't pejorative, so I guess that's about it then.

I've read about Thucydides' style avoiding strict parallelisms, and this is indeed a case in point. But the fact is that I'm still struggling so much with understanding the gist of what I'm reading that I'm not too attentive to style. I've read less than 10 % of it all, so there's still plenty of time for that. Luckily it's a lot easier from now on, says Bill. Thanks to Michael for a close analysis of what's going on here.

I like your rendition, John, it's quite elegant (if I'm any judge). The only drawback is that it's quite understandable, shouldn't you muddle it just bit? :D

I've been reading the text now alongside Gomme. It seems very good to me. The introduction dealt for example with the realia of war, why the Greeks didn't employ guerrilla tactics, didn't make much use of cavalry etc. I'm sure someone will say that part of it is outdated, but I still think I've learnt quite a lot. I even learnt new things about Herodotus.
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Re: Thucydides 1.70

Postby Hylander » Wed May 16, 2018 8:35 pm

"Luckily it's a lot easier from now on, says Bill."

Unfortunately, that was a joke.

But the speeches are very difficult. The narrative segments are generally much more straightforward.
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Re: Thucydides 1.70

Postby John W. » Thu May 17, 2018 11:19 am

Paul Derouda wrote:I like your rendition, John, it's quite elegant (if I'm any judge). The only drawback is that it's quite understandable, shouldn't you muddle it just bit? :D


Thanks, Paul - that's very kind.

As the only translation on this scale I've ever attempted, the project made me think hard about how far to reflect the difficulties of the text in translation. I certainly didn't want to make it easy reading (insofar as Thucydides could ever be that!); on the other hand, to attempt to replicate in English all the asperities of the Greek would have produced something that was probably incomprehensible. As a compromise, I've tried wherever possible to adhere to the sentence structure of the original (rather than chopping the text up into lots of short sentences); at the same time, I've aimed to produce intelligible, albeit sometimes demanding, English, while still staying close to the Greek.

If I ever find a way of getting it published, you and others can decide whether I've succeeded!

Best wishes,
John
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Re: Thucydides 1.70

Postby Hylander » Thu May 17, 2018 3:48 pm

The next sentence, if we choose to think of it as a sentence rather than in apposition, is in epexegetical asyndeton (assuming we shouldn’t read γαρ).


Are you suggesting that γαρ might be better than γε, to connect with what precedes? I would never have come up with this idea on my own--I don't know Greek well enough--but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me: the transition is abrupt without γαρ (and what is the force of γε here?). It's probably not beyond what is possible in Greek and especially in Thucydides, but one would normally expect the "epexegetical" sentence to be connected with the general statement by γαρ.
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Re: Thucydides 1.70

Postby mwh » Thu May 17, 2018 6:59 pm

I doubt γαρ would be questioned if that were the transmission—it’s probably what you or I might write—but on reflection I think asyndeton is distinctly better, and not distinctly Thucydidean. It's a typical use of asyndeton. Smyth 2165a, 2167b. And γε is fully in order.
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