Digamma in Plato (?) Euthyphro 12a - Burnett

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jeidsath
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Digamma in Plato (?) Euthyphro 12a - Burnett

Post by jeidsath » Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:15 pm

Euthyphro 12a9
Ζῆνα δὲ τὸν [θ'] ἔρξαντα καὶ ὃς τάδε πάντ᾽ ἐφύτευσεν
οὐκ ἐθέλει νεικεῖν· ἵνα γὰρ δέος ἔνθα καὶ αἰδώς.

a9 θέρξαντα B: στέρξαντα T γρ. BW: ῥέξαντα Stobaeus Apostolius schol. ap. Cram. Anecd. Par. I, p. 399: θ᾽ ἕρξαντα B_2 W

b1 ἐθέλει νεικεῖν scripsi : ἐθέλεις εἰπεῖν B T ( νείκεσιν [small σ above the σ --Joel] schol. T) : ἐθέλειν εἰπεῖν W corr. B_2: ἐθέλειν εἴκειν schol. ap. Cram. l. c.
An interesting note from Burnett
Ζῆνα δὲ κτλ. 'Even he who was the author of all these things will not revile Zeus who wrought it; for where there is fear there is shame.'

See C.Q. viii. 235. The best-attested reading is certainly στέρξαντα (T and γρ. BW), but it does not seem to give any acceptable sense. The θέρξαντα of B (made into θ᾽ ἕρξαντα by W and B_2) will not do either; for ἔρδω never had a rough breathing. The ῥέξαντα of Stobaeus does not explain the corruptions in the MSS. I can see no way of accounting for the tradition except by supposing that Plato wrote τὸν ϝέρξαντα. He was, of course, quite familiar with the 'digamma', which was still written in many dialects in his day. It is true that there is no evidence of a written ϝ in epic verse, but it was still written in copies of e.g. Alcman, Sappho, and Alcaeus (cf. Ar. Rhet. 1367a 12), and there is one clear instance in the Alcman papyrus (ϝάνακτα), and others which can be certainly restored (Kühner-Blass, i, p. 78). Now this letter remained in use as a numeral (=6), and was written in Byzantine times so as to be hardly distinguishable from the ligature of στ (maunde Thompson, Introd. to Greek and Latin Palaeography, p. 91). That would account for στέρξαντα, while θέρξαντα would represent a mistake of a different kind. The reading ἐθέλει νεικεῖν (for ἐθέλεις εἰπεῖν BT) is also well attested by the ἐθέλειν εἴκειν of the scholium in Cramer's Anecdota and the νείκεσιν in the margin of T. The first stage of corruption is shown by the ἐθέλειν εἰπεῖν of W.
The point about στέρξαντα seems very strong. στ = ϝ would sound like an error that might be seen elsewhere if this reasoning is correct.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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Re: Digamma in Plato (?) Euthyphro 12a - Burnett

Post by Hylander » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:56 pm

There's no need to think that Plato actually wrote a digamma. The line is a fragment of hexameter verse in the epic tradition, which preserved traces of the digamma in the form of hiatuses and lengthening of light syllables, even though the digamma itself would not have been written or even pronounced in Plato's day -- and very probably not even in "Homer's" day, either, since it's not consistently observed in the Homeric poems.

Burnet was writing before the oral-formulaic nature of archaic Greek hexameter poetry and its capacity to preserve traces of the digamma in formulas were understood. But τον έρξαντα doesn’t seem like an archaic formula in which a digamma trace might have been preserved: it seems post-Homeric, given the article. Formulas in which traces of the digamma were preserved are pre-Homeric.

The lengthening of τον apparently bothered later editors, who resorted to various unconvincing conjectures to make it work metrically, including στερξαντα. A ms. from the same family as W, Cod. Vat. gr. 225 (which Burnet didn't take into account; see vol. i of the new OCT), preserves the correct reading ερξαντα, which, unless it's a happy conjecture itself, strongly suggests that all the incorrect variants, none of which makes any sense, are simply conjectural efforts of later editors to fix the metrical irregularity.

But that leaves the question of how the metrical irregularity found its way into the fragment Plato quoted. Inept versification? A slip on Plato's part?
Last edited by Hylander on Fri Jul 19, 2019 8:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Digamma in Plato (?) Euthyphro 12a - Burnett

Post by Hylander » Fri Jul 19, 2019 7:47 pm

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Re: Digamma in Plato (?) Euthyphro 12a - Burnett

Post by jeidsath » Sat Jul 20, 2019 11:03 pm

it seems post-Homeric, given the article
What if that's actually demonstrative?

But Zeus having worked that, even he who made all things was not willing to contend against him. For since fear was there, shame also.

Referring to Zeus' castration of his father, I imagine. Which would make the rest of the discussion slightly ironic.

EDIT:

For ἔρδω LSJ has "κακῶς Hdt.6.88, E.Med.1302: without an Adv., ἔ. τινά to do one harm, S.Ph.683 (lyr.)". So But Zeus having harmed that one...
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