Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

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Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:15 am

My question is about the position of περιτέθεικεν in the subject.

In what she says in the following excerpt Chilonis personifies pity.
Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 wrote:ἁψαμένη τῶν πέπλων καὶ τῆς κόμης ἀτημελῶς ἐχόντων, ‘τοῦτο,’ εἶπεν, ‘ὦ πάτερ, ἐμοὶ τὸ σχῆμα καὶ τὴν ὄψιν οὐχ ὁ Κλεομβρότου περιτέθεικεν ἔλεος,
The negative particle in the section οὐχ ὁ Κλεομβρότου περιτέθεικεν ἔλεος is being used at the discourse level of the composition (with the ἀλλ᾽ which follows) rather than the phrase level with περιτέθεικεν. Has Plutarch parenthesised the verb into the nominal phrase just to make that clear? Or is something else happening in the prosody or meter?

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τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ;

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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by Hylander » Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:38 pm

The emphasis is on ὁ Κλεομβρότου . . . ἔλεος, and that is what οὐχ negates, correcting a potential misimpression by Agis.
The verb περιτέθεικεν is the least important word in the phrase, almost unnecessary in context, but the expectation of a verb towards the end of the sentence has been set up by τοῦτο . . . ἐμοὶ τὸ σχῆμα καὶ τὴν ὄψιν.

So οὐχ is placed at the beginning of the noun phrase, ἔλεος, is the last element instead of the verb to give it prominence, and the verb περιτέθεικεν, instead of being placed at the end of the sentence, is sandwiched in so that it doesn't stand out. The noun phrase itself, the subject of the sentence, is placed at the end, again for emphasis.

There's nothing particularly remarkable about this: you could find thousands of examples of similar word order throughout Greek prose.

Of course it may seem odd to someone rooted in English word order, which is much less flexible because unlike Greek (or rather to a much greater extent that Greek), English word order is constrained by syntax, since word order determines the syntactic function of the words in a sentence (and this is especially true in English because so many English words can function as different parts of speech, e.g., as both a noun and a verb, unlike many other languages). In Greek, in contrast, syntactic functions are expressed largely through inflectional endings, not word order.

I doubt that Plutarch thought long and hard about the placement of the words in the phrase -- it undoubtedly came naturally to him as he put his thoughts on paper. And for the Greek reader, the sentence would have unfolded in a perfectly natural way, too.

To capture the effect of the Greek word order in translating, we would have to write something like: "It is not pity for Kleombrotas that has placed this dress and appearance on me; rather . . . " Not "pity for K. did not place . . . "

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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Thu Apr 04, 2019 3:13 pm

Okay. Got it. Thanks.

A little further down, in the phrase; δεῖ με σοῦ βασιλεύοντος ἐν Σπάρτῃ καί νικῶντος ἐγκαταβιῶναι ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς I can think of three possible reasons for adding the ἐν to the front of καταβιῶναι. Is it:

a) required by the grammaticalisation of ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς into the sentence,
b) expressing the idea of "continuing" for the verb in the aorist in a lexicosemantic way, and/or
c) written so as to make a parallel (ie make the contrast between their states more striking) to the ἐν in the ἐν Σπάρτῃ of the preceding genitive absolute.

Are there reasons for ranking those as more or less possible explanations?
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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by Hylander » Thu Apr 04, 2019 3:58 pm

I think you are looking at this the wrong way. Do you really think he first thought of writing καταβιῶναι and then thought, "Well, why don't I add ἐγ- for reason a [or b or c, take your pick]"? Does anyone write like that?

The expression δεῖ με . . . ἐγκαταβιῶναι ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς undoubtedly came to him as a complete thought. ἐγ- was not required for grammatical reasons: he used the verb ἐγκαταβιῶναι, "I have to live out my life in the midst of these misfortunes" for a semantic reason -- i.e., that was exactly the idea he was trying to express.

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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Thu Apr 04, 2019 4:56 pm

Hylander wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 3:58 pm
I think you are looking at this the wrong way. Do you really think he first thought of writing καταβιῶναι and then thought, "Well, why don't I add ἐγ- for reason a [or b or c, take your pick]"? Does anyone write like that?

The expression δεῖ με . . . ἐγκαταβιῶναι ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς undoubtedly came to him as a complete thought. ἐγ- was not required for grammatical reasons: he used the verb ἐγκαταβιῶναι, "I have to live out my life in the midst of these misfortunes" for a semantic reason -- i.e., that was exactly the idea he was trying to express.
Very well stated. I just wanted to add that in Hellenistic Greek one finds a lot more compound verbs where in Attic the simplex form would be used, and there is no real distinction in meaning.
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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Thu Apr 04, 2019 4:57 pm

Hylander wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 3:58 pm
I think you are looking at this the wrong way. Do you really think he first thought of writing καταβιῶναι and then thought, "Well, why don't I add ἐγ- for reason a [or b or c, take your pick]"? Does anyone write like that?
Okay, let me answer that obliquely.

If she she was imagining living out the rest of her days, but realised that the person she was speaking to had the power to pass sentence of death, she could say something like ἐπίτρεψόν μοι καταβιῶναι. If she realised that her husband was going to be killed and she would be left to live out her life without him, then she could say something like ἐπίτρεψόν μοι συγκαταβιῶναι τῷ ἀνδρὶ in which case the συν- was added to the καταβιῶναι to aid in the grammaticalisation of the ἀνήρ. Disambiguation - asking themselves whether they will be understood as they intended - is a form of self-checking that people do as they write. Thinking that they had better add various words to make things clear. In this case, with only the dative τῷ ἀνδρὶ there might be ambiguity, so "to help in the grammaticalisation" a συν- is added to the verb to make it clear which grammatical relationship the verb has with the dative.

If the king said in sentencing that συνθανατωσεσθε συ και ο ἀνὴρ, if she replied Ἔα μάλλον υμιν συγκαταβιῶναι one could speculate that she added the συν- to mirror his words.

For me at least, language is structured and constructed. I think most everybody actively filters what they are about to say. Your writing on the forum is too targeted, polished and precise for me to believe that you don't actively and critically make conscious choices based on the a), b), c) type criteria.

Personally, I think it is that she was avoiding grammatical ambiguity.
τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ;

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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by jeidsath » Thu Apr 04, 2019 5:06 pm

ὁ περιτέθεικεν ἔλεος would have been unusual — though not impossible — but ὁ Κλεομβρότου is much more separable, almost able to stand on its own.
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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Thu Apr 04, 2019 5:33 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 4:56 pm
In Hellenistic Greek one finds a lot more compound verbs where in Attic the simplex form would be used, and there is no real distinction in meaning.
Why does the Apple fall? It goes to its natural place. A simple observation of what happens - apples fall, and verbs get prefixed prepositions. Allow me to over think (as you put it) this.

One of the features of a language moving out from its natural speaker base and being adopted by different communities with different outlooks and experiences of life is that it has to become more explicit - in the sense that less can be left to inference. If you are talking to somebody whose first language is not your own, and you say, "We are going to the park to watch the football. Would you like to come?" and they say, "I prefer to watch the dog because it moves." then you know you need to be more explicit. Another native speaker with a shared cultural background would know that the afternoons on the weekend are for watching the football match. After you say, "watch a football match", they agree to come along.

As you all go to the park, the same generic non-native speaker meets Chilonis and she says δεῖ με καταβιῶναι ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς, and they say, "Oh they seem awful, but I'm so glad they help". Chilonis then decides to add an ἐν- and says δεῖ με ἐγκαταβιῶναι ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς, they then reply, "that's awful, you must feel hemmed in."
τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ;

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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:11 pm

ἑκηβόλος wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:15 am
Chilonis personifies pity.
Merde! What have I done? Our generic non-native speaker friend may reply, "Yes, she is so kind."

I mean the transitive verb - anthropomorphises, not the intransitive - typifies.
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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by Hylander » Fri Apr 05, 2019 2:23 am

ἐγκαταβιῶναι was exactly the word he wanted to use -- the mot juste. It fits perfectly. No reason to engage in speculation.

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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by mwh » Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:31 am

(@ ἑκηβόλος. Written earlier but not posted)
δεῖ με … ἐγκαταβιῶναι ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς.
Your proffered alternative, δεῖ με … καταβιῶναι ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς would scarcely make sense. He could have written δεῖ με καταβιῶναι ἐν ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς, but the preposition was already incorporated in the infinitive, and that obviated the need to repeat it. He didn’t need to think about alternatives. He said exactly what he meant.

Of course language is “structured and constructed,” as you put it. That’s in the nature of language. But people can speak without consciously making choices about the structuring and constructing of what they say, and Plutarch’s writing has less self-consciousness about it than you seem to imagine. He thinks in Greek, after all, and he writes Greek without thinking too hard about it.

We can analyze what he wrote (or dictated). He didn’t need to. I agree with Hylander: you’re looking at it the wrong way.

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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:47 am

Hylander wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 2:23 am
ἐγκαταβιῶναι was exactly the word he wanted to use -- the mot juste. It fits perfectly. No reason to engage in speculation.
Yes, without enquiry (speculation followed by contemplation, comparison, extrapolation and reevaluation) knowledge stays at a very simple level.

You've made the same assertion about the word's suitability twice now without explanation. Perhaps you are hinting that we ought to discuss the literary construction? My understanding of that is that the four words - μένω, σύντροφος, σύνοικος and καταβιῶναι all fit in perfectly to the personification. In fact, by using these household words, she is saying that her world is "peopled" by grief and calamity. Is it that literary construction of the personification that you feel fits perfectly, or something else?
τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ;

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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Fri Apr 05, 2019 11:33 am

mwh wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:31 am
Of course language is “structured and constructed,” as you put it. That’s in the nature of language. But people can speak without consciously making choices about the structuring and constructing of what they say, and Plutarch’s writing has less self-consciousness about it than you seem to imagine. He thinks in Greek, after all, and he writes Greek without thinking too hard about it.

We can analyze what he wrote (or dictated). He didn’t need to. I agree with Hylander: you’re looking at it the wrong way.
Well, the notion that thoughts come to people fully formed seemed so naïve that I didn't want to address it directly. To caricature that a little, we are not marionettes through which the muses give expression to their words.

If we talk about a professional athlete's actions, we use language that sounds a lot more deliberate than the actions are. Saying, "He sees the ball coming off the edge of the bat, so he dives to the left and raises his right hand in a circular motion, while being careful to keep his eye on the ball. His aim is to catch the ball as his hand reaches the highest point of the arc." sounds like the actions are deliberate, but that is just a way of description.

The whole, "you're looking at it the wrong way" line seemed like it could do nothing but lose face for hylander. He helped me a lot with the first half of Demosthenes 25. I tried to brush that "came to him" misconception under the carpet with an oblique reply, avoiding possible embarrassment.
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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:56 pm

mwh wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:31 am
(@ ἑκηβόλος. Written earlier but not posted)
δεῖ με … ἐγκαταβιῶναι ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς.
Your proffered alternative, δεῖ με … καταβιῶναι ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς would scarcely make sense. He could have written δεῖ με καταβιῶναι ἐν ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς, but the preposition was already incorporated in the infinitive, and that obviated the need to repeat it.
My proffered Greek is unidiomatic. I did exactly what I intended not to. I added an element without even considering whether my (modified) construction followed one of the patterns.

The absolute use of the verb in like Philostratus the Athenian, Vitae Sophistarum, 13 καὶ καταβιοὺς ἀπέθανε γηράσκων ἤδη has no other elements. To add a place or circumstance one uses ἐν- + dat. or ἐν + dat.., etc. Simply adding an element in the dative is not one of the admissible syntactic patterns for καταβιόω (or for κατοίκων, which seems to use the same syntactic patterns).

Is it generally recognised that adding elements (increasing the valence of a verb) is sometimes achieved by prefixing prepositions? My entire discussion of the a), b), c) assumes that that is a generally recognised feature of the morphosyntax.
Last edited by ἑκηβόλος on Fri Apr 05, 2019 1:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Fri Apr 05, 2019 12:57 pm

(@mwh - further to the final statement in the previous post)
If I was to say that prefixed preposition perform one of three roles (as listed below), would you say that is a figment of my imagination and Joel protect the power structures of knowledge and the epistemological limits of Greek scholarship by censoring it and consigning it to the academy, or would you say, yes of course that's obvious, everybody knows that?
A prefixed preposition is added for one of three reasons either:
  1. they have lexicosemantic adverbial role - modifying the meaning of the verb,
  2. they have discourse adverbial role - not modifying the meaning of the verb, but showing its relationship to other actions outside the phrase, or
  3. they allow more elements to be added to the verb phrase - not modifying the meaning of the verb, but serving as prompts to readers that there is another element in the verb phrase (and spelling out its relationship to the verb phrase).
Within the numbering system, un-prefixed prepositions can only perform the third role.
If that is not something that you scoff down at, from you broad experience and knowledge of earlier Greek texts, does earlier Greek that exhibits tmesis allow all three usages for prepositions, implying that the first two uses came to be attached while the third remained free in some circumstances?
τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ;

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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by mwh » Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:05 pm

I wouldn't speak of reasons but of functions. And I'd deconstruct your tripartition.
That's all from me for now.

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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by Callisper » Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:53 pm

ἑκηβόλος wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 10:47 am
You've made the same assertion about the word's suitability twice now without explanation. Perhaps you are hinting that we ought to discuss the literary construction?
He is not, and Hylander explained as follows:
Hylander wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 3:58 pm
ἐγ- was not required for grammatical reasons: he used the verb ἐγκαταβιῶναι, "I have to live out my life in the midst of these misfortunes" for a semantic reason -- i.e., that was exactly the idea he was trying to express.
that is, the difference between ἐγκαταβιῶναι and καταβιῶναι is more than simply in grammatical construction: there is a specific semantic sense to each. It is this meaning that Plutarch is electing, not the grammatical construction (or whatever you were debating about).

Hylander tried to indicate that meaning with his translation - probably not successfully - IMO you can only learn these things on the job. (That is, by reading and, if you don't get a feel for it, inspecting examples)
mwh wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:31 am
δεῖ με … ἐγκαταβιῶναι ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς.
Your proffered alternative, δεῖ με … καταβιῶναι ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς would scarcely make sense. He could have written δεῖ με καταβιῶναι ἐν ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς, but the preposition was already incorporated in the infinitive, and that obviated the need to repeat it. He didn’t need to think about alternatives. He said exactly what he meant.
He must be asking why Plutarch wrote ἐγκαταβιῶναι + Dat not καταβιῶναι + ἐν+Dat. Or, put in other terms, what the difference is.

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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing theinstead verb inside the subject

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Fri Apr 05, 2019 7:24 pm

Callisper wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:53 pm
Hylander explained as follows:
Hylander wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 3:58 pm
ἐγ- was not required for grammatical reasons: he used the verb ἐγκαταβιῶναι, "I have to live out my life in the midst of these misfortunes" for a semantic reason -- i.e., that was exactly the idea he was trying to express.
that is, the difference between ἐγκαταβιῶναι and καταβιῶναι is more than simply in grammatical construction: there is a specific semantic sense to each. It is this meaning that Plutarch is electing, not the grammatical construction (or whatever you were debating about).
I wish people would state what they mean clearly instead of leaving me to guess, which "a semantic reason" is it? I can think of two different patterns based on semantic (and pragmatic) and meaning ...

My understanding of the semantic reason is this:
καταβιόω without any additional prefixed preposition means live out one's life. It is monovalent having only the subject.
If there is another element to be added (ie becomes bivalent), the semantic reason that either ἐγκαταβιόω or συγκαταβιόω is chosen is based on what the meaning of the word that's relationship to the person's living is.

First pattern (semantic and pragmatic):
Semantic:
If the meaning of the nominal element to be added is a place or a state (all bad states in the examples I looked at), we use ἐγκαταβιόω and the place or the state is in the dative. If the meaning is a person, we use συγκαταβιόω and the person in the dative.
Pragmatic:
If the meaning is person and the person is vexatious ie representing a state that affects the way that live is carried out, the person is used in the construction representing the trouble that they cause, ie. ἐγκαταβιόω with the vexatious person in the dative.
In one case, person (with the attribute + involved) with συγκαταβιόω was expressed with the preposition μετά + genitive instead of with the dative.

Alternatively:
Only semantic:
If the meaning of the noun being added to καταβιόω is person it is differentiated between involved συγκαταβιόω or uninvolved ἐγκαταβιόω, while if the meaning is place or state it are always ἐγκαταβιόω. In every case, the nominal phrase is in the dative.
Exception: once person with συγκαταβιόω was expressed with the preposition μετά + genitive instead of with the dative.

In either analysis, the choice of either συγκαταβιόω or ἐγκαταβιόω prompts the reader of listener to expect a certain class of noun to follow.
Last edited by ἑκηβόλος on Fri Apr 05, 2019 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Plutarch, Agis, 17.2 placing the verb inside the subject

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Fri Apr 05, 2019 8:25 pm

mwh wrote:
Fri Apr 05, 2019 3:05 pm
I'd deconstruct your tripartition.
If you mean that this is a simplified model, and actually different prefixed prepositions are represented in different proportions in different partitions of the model, then yes, this is the most simplified statement of the model.

It is nothing novel, in fact, and it is a very simple analysis tool - a way of organising masses of metalinguistic data to aid comprehension. It's something that people could ignore without being ignorant.

It is just a way of sorting the meanings in the lexicon into functions (that are already in the lexicon). Adverbial - επιβιβαζω is a particular type of βιβαζωing. Discourse function - επορθόω is related to some correction done previously. Increasing valence - ἐπιποθέω when it is in the meaning "yearn after".

In LSJ, ἐπιποθέω means "desire besides or yearn after" - desire besides is a discourse significance, while yearn after is an increase valence - an assumption that the verb has somehow become so intransitive (self-contained) that it needs a prefixed preposition to be associated with objects.

The Plato's Laws 855e reference in the LSJ citation quite clearly shows the way that including an object (increasing valence) is achieved by prefixing the appropriate preposition. When the judge doesn't feel something is lacking the verb is the simple ποθέω, but when the thing lacking is written, the ἐπι- is prefixed and an "object" can be added, viz. μετὰ δὲ τὸν πρεσβύτατον ἑξῆς ἅπαντας χρὴ διεξελθεῖν ὅτι ἂν παρ᾽ ἑκατέρου τις τῶν ἀντιδίκων ῥηθὲν ἢ μὴ ῥηθὲν ἐπιποθῇ τινα τρόπον: ὁ δὲ μηδὲν ποθῶν ἄλλῳ τὴν ἀνάκρισιν παραδιδότω.

My assumption is that this is a really obvious differentiation that everybody is already used to.
τί δὲ ἀγαθὸν τῇ πομφόλυγι συνεστώσῃ ἢ κακὸν διαλυθείσῃ;

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