Imperfect v. Aorist

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Lukas
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Imperfect v. Aorist

Post by Lukas » Fri Oct 11, 2019 3:03 am

Χαίρετε!

I am supposed to write this sentence in Greek, "The young men resolved [use impersonal δοκεῖ] to marry the daughters of the chorus trainer, for they hoped that each one would be both beautiful and wealthy."

I am not sure whether to put the verbs into the imperfect or aorist tense. On the one hand, someone may resolve but fail to do something, so it would not be just a one time act. On the other hand, one could be successful and it would be a one time event.

Imperfect or aorist?
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cb
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Re: Imperfect v. Aorist

Post by cb » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:32 am

Hi, the simple answer is to follow the example from the unit. I remember this from Mastronarde unit 20. See the e.g. Mastronarde gives on pg. 165 (2nd edition): it's in the aorist, not imperfect. You can use that as your guide for the exercise.

The complex answer is that both options are available, and that the choice comes down to a combination of multiple factors. You can see impersonal δοκεῖ in the aorist in e.g. Thucydides 7.43: ἔπειτα μηχαναῖς ἔδοξε τῷ Δημοσθένει πρότερον ἀποπειρᾶσαι τοῦ παρατειχίσματος, but in the imperfect in e.g. 2.3: ἐδόκει οὖν ἐπιχειρητέα εἶναι. There are many factors behind the choice, and not all of these have been identified yet (Duhoux 2000: s135), and so no need for you to dig into this (yet).

Cheers, Chad

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seneca2008
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Re: Imperfect v. Aorist

Post by seneca2008 » Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:14 am

Lukas wrote: I am not sure whether to put the verbs into the imperfect or aorist tense. On the one hand, someone may resolve but fail to do something, so it would not be just a one time act. On the other hand, one could be successful and it would be a one time event.
I think this is not the way to look at it. It’s not a question of trying and failing. On this one occasion “they resolved” it doesn’t matter whether they were successful or not. The sentence doesn’t say they resolved to do something and to continue to do it if not at first successful.

I think you are making this more complicated than it is. The idea of completion in terms of aspect here is not the same as success.

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Paul Derouda
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Re: Imperfect v. Aorist

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:52 pm

I might be wrong, but it seems to me that the aorist would be more likely used about a decision that is final, whereas the imperfect would be more appropriate in a context where the selected course of action is open to revision if the circumstances change. This is how I see the Thucydidean passages at least.

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seneca2008
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Re: Imperfect v. Aorist

Post by seneca2008 » Sat Oct 12, 2019 3:05 pm

Paul Derouda wrote: I might be wrong, but it seems to me that the aorist would be more likely used about a decision that is final, whereas the imperfect would be more appropriate in a context where the selected course of action is open to revision if the circumstances change. This is how I see the Thucydidean passages at least
My comment to Lukas was about his sentence which he was overthinking. Mastronarde is not asking students for anything complex here.

Lukas
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Re: Imperfect v. Aorist

Post by Lukas » Sat Oct 12, 2019 4:33 pm

I agree that I was overthinking it. Later I thought that if the results judged whether to put something in the aorist or imperfect, there would be very few aorists. :)
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Hylander
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Re: Imperfect v. Aorist

Post by Hylander » Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:02 pm

One way of thinking about it, using English equivalents (more or less):

ἔδοξε -- they decided

ἐδόκει -- it seemed like a good idea (at the time)

This is more or less consistent with what Paul wrote, I believe.

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jeidsath
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Re: Imperfect v. Aorist

Post by jeidsath » Sat Oct 12, 2019 8:57 pm

What, no discussion of γαμεῖν versus γῆμαι?

But here are two quotes from Xenophon to confirm Hylander on imperfect versus aorist impersonal δοκέω:

X.An.5.2.20: ὁ δὲ Ξενοφῶν καὶ οἱ λοχαγοὶ ἐσκόπουν εἰ οἷόν τε εἴη τὴν ἄκραν λαβεῖν· ἦν γὰρ οὕτως σωτηρία ἀσφαλής, ἄλλως δὲ πάνυ χαλεπὸν ἐδόκει εἶναι ἀπελθεῖν· σκοπουμένοις δὲ αὐτοῖς ἔδοξε παντάπασιν ἀνάλωτον εἶναι τὸ χωρίον.

X.An.6.1.25: ἡ δὲ στρατιὰ συνῆλθε, καὶ πάντες ἔλεγον ἕνα αἱρεῖσθαι· καὶ ἐπεὶ τοῦτο ἔδοξε, προυβάλλοντο αὐτόν. ἐπεὶ δὲ ἐδόκει δῆλον εἶναι ὅτι αἱρήσονται αὐτόν, εἴ τις ἐπιψηφίζοι, ἀνέστη καὶ ἔλεξε τάδε.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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