Plural of modesty?

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Paul Derouda
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Plural of modesty?

Post by Paul Derouda » Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:39 pm

There has been some discussion recently on the use of the plural instead of the singular in the first person. Hylander quoted Smyth, according to which there is a sort of "plural of modesty" in Greek.
1008. Plural of Modesty.—A speaker in referring to himself may use the first person plural as a modest form of statement. In prose, of an author: ““ἔννοιά ποθ᾽ ἡμῖν ἐγένετο” the reflection once occurred to me” X. C. 1.1.1. In tragedy, often with interchange of plural and singular: εἰ κωλυόμεσθα μὴ μαθεῖν ἃ βούλομαι if I (Creusa) am prevented from learning what I wish E. Ion 391, ““ἱκετεύομεν ἀμφὶ σὰν γενειάδα . . . προσπίτνων” I entreat thee, as I grasp thy beard” E. H. F. 1206. See 1009.
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... 99.04.0007

Herodotus makes fairly often statements where he says something like "as far as we know...". Does this qualify for a plural of modesty, or is it rather some way to say "as is we [Greeks] generally know"? Example, Hdt 1.6.3:

οὗτος ὁ Κροῖσος βαρβάρων πρῶτος τῶν ἡμεῖς ἴδμεν τοὺς μὲν κατεστρέψατο Ἑλλήνων ἐς φόρου ἀπαγωγήν, τοὺς δὲ φίλους προσεποιήσατο. κατεστρέψατο μὲν Ἴωνάς τε καὶ Αἰολέας καὶ Δωριέας τοὺς ἐν τῇ Ἀσίῃ, φίλους δὲ προσεποιήσατο Λακεδαιμονίους.

Callisper
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Re: Plural of modesty?

Post by Callisper » Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:38 pm

It would generally seem to be a plural for singular.

For argumentation see David Chamberlain, (2001), ""We the Others": Interpretive Community and Plural Voice in Herodotus" in 'Classical Antiquity', 20(1), 5-34.

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Paul Derouda
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Re: Plural of modesty?

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Feb 16, 2019 11:18 pm

Thanks, I'm going to check that out!

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