Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infinitive?

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brometheus
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Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infinitive?

Post by brometheus » Sat Aug 06, 2016 5:57 pm

I'm wondering about the following:

255 "Ὄρσεο δὴ, νῦν, ξεῖνε, πόλινδ' ἴμεν, ὄφρα σε πέμψω
256 πατρὸς ἐμοῦ πρὸς δῶμα δαΐφρονος, ἔνθα σέ φημι
257 πάντων Φαιήκων εἰδησέμεν ὅσσοι ἄριστοι
."

I am having a bit of trouble understanding why ὅσσοι ἄριστοι is in the nominative, because it looks like the object of φημι is the whole infinitival phrase in line 257, and then σε in 256 is the object of εἰδησέμεν.

Does my question make sense? Can anyone help me make sense of this? I wonder if it has to do with ὅσσος somehow beginning a clause of its own--"[the people] of the Phaiacians, as many as are noble" or something like that. Would that mean that there is an ellipticized accusative ἀνθρώπους or something implicit in 257? The genitive on its own just doesn't make sense to me.

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Paul Derouda
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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Aug 06, 2016 6:34 pm

brometheus wrote: I wonder if it has to do with ὅσσος somehow beginning a clause of its own--"[the people] of the Phaiacians, as many as are noble" or something like that.
This is how I explain this; ὅσσοι ἄριστοι being a clause of it's own with ellipsis of the copula (=the verb "to be").

This is of course different, but in some cases the genitive, used on its own, comes pretty close to being used like an object. (A partitive genitive, or something like, is what this is called)

E.g. Od 11.95-96:
ἀλλ᾽ ἀποχάζεο βόθρου, ἄπισχε δὲ φάσγανον ὀξύ,
αἵματος ὄφρα πίω καί τοι νημερτέα εἴπω.
"in order that I may drink some blood"

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by Timothée » Sat Aug 06, 2016 6:56 pm

The partitive genetive is in French, too:
Je bois du sang.
De is of course also used to form genetive in French.
And (sorry to be so esoteric!) also in Finnish:
Juon verta
where verta is in a case called partitive but what is the original ablative, still seen e.g. in Finnish kotoa 'from home', takaa 'from behind'.

This is hardly surprising, as Greek has no more ablative, which merged mainly into genetive. Also French de originally denotes ablative, as seen from the Latin preposition . Note also English of, which now is mainly used as genetive but was originally used ablatively (cf. The Merry Wives of Windsor, "of" here actually meaning 'from', I think).
Last edited by Timothée on Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Aug 06, 2016 6:58 pm

Timothée wrote:Je bois du sang.
Cheers! ;)

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by mwh » Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:04 pm

brometheus, you understood it well. Think of it this way. He could have simply said παντας Φαιηκας, “all the Phaeacians,” but he wants to say “all the best of the Phaeacians,” which comes out as “of all the Phaeacians as many as (are) the best.” The genitive as in “the best of the Achaeans” (a “partitive” gen.), no understood accusative, ὅσσοι ἄριστοι (sc. εἰσίν) here effectively equivalent to τους αριστους.
(Paul’s example of a partitive gen., as he says, is rather different, since it depends directly on the verb. Likewise Timothée's.)

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:16 pm

mwh wrote:(Paul’s example of a partitive gen., as he says, is rather different, since it depends directly on the verb. Likewise Timothée's.)
True. I hope I didn't mix things up more. I just thought to point out, as a general statement, that cases where genitives depend directly on the verb on their own do exist.

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by Timothée » Sat Aug 06, 2016 7:21 pm

Yes, partitive genetive used with noun is a little different. This is common in Latin, as well:
Nostri melior pars animus est
Though the denotation genetiuus partitiuus is misleading, and my former teacher rightly called it genetiuus totius instead, as it tells the totality, not portion.

Recently we discussed a few matters in Ilias A, where we also have (l. 69)
Κάλχας Θεστορίδης, οἰωνοπόλων ὄχ' ἄριστος
Again, partitive genetive. But, as mwh said, it's a little different from it depending directly on the verb, in the Odyssey cited by Paul and in French (and Finnish).

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by brometheus » Sat Aug 06, 2016 9:53 pm

Thanks for the responses, everybody!

The only reason I thought partitive genitive was unlikely here was because I read πάντων Φαιήκων as the subject of εἰδησέμεν and σε as the object, and I don't know examples of that--e.g., *du fromage se trouve dans le réfrigérateur.

I've been using Lattimore as my guide for dubious semantics, and he has "...where I am confident you will be made known to all the highest Phaiakians," which to me suggested a more literal underlying "...where I am confident all the highest Phaiakians will see you."

But it probably makes more sense for σε to be the subject of that εἰδησέμεν (also because of its proximity to φημι), and then a partitive genitive as the object: "...where I am confident you will look upon des Phéaciens--as many noble ones [as there are]."

Thanks!

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by mwh » Sun Aug 07, 2016 5:03 am

You’re right that σε will be subject not object. Formally it’s ambiguous and would make sense either way, but Homeric compositional practice strongly supports you, cf. e.g. Il.5.103 βέβληται γὰρ ἄριστος Ἀχαιῶν, οὐδέ ἑ φημί | δήθ’ ἀνσχήσεσθαι κράτερον βέλος (“For the best of the Achaeans is hit, and I reckon he won’t be withstanding the strong missile for long”), where ἑ is the subject of the infinitive, and there are many other such passages. I haven’t checked but I’d expect an accusative personal pronoun followed by φημί always to be the subject of the upcoming infinitive.

On the other hand it’s not the genitive that’s the object. Your des Phéaciens is not analogous. The genitive depends on αριστοι, “the best of all the Phaeacians,” and ὅσσοι ἄριστοι is functionally equivalent to τοὺς ἀρίστους, as I said. Grammatically speaking it’s the whole clause οσσοι αριστοι παντων Φαιηκων that functions as the object. But from a compositional point of view the genitive at line beginning anticipates something that will serve as object of the imminent infinitive, and that something turns out to be not simply αριστους as it might have been but οσσοι αριστοι, which nicely fits the available slot at the end of the line. The poet must have had some form of αριστος in mind when he gave the genitive. The genitive is just the same as in αριστος Αχαιων in the Il.5 passage I just quoted. This kind of genitive is common with superlative adjectives, in Greek as in English (and in French, of course, but Fr. des doesn't always correspond to the Greek genitive plural—that's where you went wrong).

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by Paul Derouda » Sun Aug 07, 2016 7:20 am

brometheus wrote:I've been using Lattimore as my guide for dubious semantics, and he has "...where I am confident you will be made known to all the highest Phaiakians," which to me suggested a more literal underlying "...where I am confident all the highest Phaiakians will see you."
Lattimore's problem is that he tries to write a crib and poetry at the same time. Probably the best crib in existence is the revised Loeb (from the nineties), which follows the Greek constructions very closely.

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by seneca2008 » Sun Aug 07, 2016 10:57 am

I don't agree with this. Lattimore is not writing a crib. One of the fortunate side effects of the decline in classics in education is that cribs are no longer produced. I can understand that you might want to use it as a crib but that doesn't mean it is. (I suppose that some followers of Wittgenstein might take issue with this) As Lattimore says in his introduction he tries to follow as fas possible as far as the structure of English will allow the formulaic practice of the original. A more detailed account is to be found in the introduction to his Iliad translation. Nowhere does he claim to be writing or even attempting to write a crib.

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by Hylander » Sun Aug 07, 2016 11:48 am

Why is there no understood accusative demonstrative correlative with ὅσσοι? I would have explained this as:

ἔνθα σέ φημι πάντων Φαιήκων [τους/τουτους/τοσσους] εἰδησέμεν ὅσσοι ἄριστοι [εισι]

*****
Juon verta
Those Finns Timothée and Paul are back to their ancestral habits again.

ἀνδροφάγοι δὲ ἀγριώτατα πάντων ἀνθρώπων ἔχουσι ἤθεα, οὔτε δίκην νομίζοντες οὔτε νόμῳ οὐδενὶ χρεώμενοι: νομάδες δὲ εἰσι, ἐσθῆτά τε φορέουσι τῇ Σκυθικῇ ὁμοίην, γλῶσσαν δὲ ἰδίην, ἀνδροφαγέουσι δὲ μοῦνοι τούτων.

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by brometheus » Sun Aug 07, 2016 2:12 pm

Why is there no understood accusative demonstrative correlative with ὅσσοι?
I think there is. I think τόσσους makes the most sense.

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Re: Parsing Od. VI.256-7 : nominative subject of an infiniti

Post by mwh » Sun Aug 07, 2016 11:18 pm

You’re free to “understand” an invented antecedent if you wish, but I see no reason to, and I think that to do so would be false to the genetics of the Homeric locution, which I tried to explain. Traditional grammar books, based primarily on Attic prose, might speak of “implied” or “omitted” antecedents. I think it’s better to say there’s no antecedent (cf. e.g. 1 Jn.1.1!). The entire clause functions as a substantive, without expressed case. Some of us were looking at Menander’s ὃν οἱ θεοὶ φιλοῦσιν, ἀποθνῄσκει νέος ("Whom the gods love dies young") just the other day, where the relative clause serves as a nominative. An Attic prose writer would probably add οὗτος before ἀποθνῄσκει. But Homer is not writing Attic prose.

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