Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

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Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by Phil T » Thu May 31, 2018 7:34 pm

Hello,

I am puzzled. I read and translated the above mentioned passage in which βιάζομαι seems to function as a middle. It also seems like the two 1800's era English versions on Perseus also see it that way. Then I just saw that BDAG asserts that it is passive, but without an explanation of how that could be. What do you esteemed knights of fair Helles think?

Context - The section begins with the word for closed door repeated often. The stoic is meditating that he does not need to strive ambitiously for advancement from Caesar. He thinks whatever happens is from God. Since he desires no advancement, there are no closed doors before him. Later he notes that we should not push for advancement but, If something falls in the lap take it only in that measure., but will not pursue advancement. (the later portion discusses most of that) In the context of the full passage it makes no sense to have a passive biazomai. He is advocating for passivity and criticizing forcing one's way ambitiously.


[20] ... οὐ θέλω εἰσελθεῖν, ἀλλ᾽ ἀεὶ μᾶλλον ἐκεῖνο θέλω τὸ γινόμενον. κρεῖττον γὰρ ἡγοῦμαι ὃ ὁ θεὸς θέλει ἢ ὃ ἐγώ.
20 ... I do not choose to go in, but am always content with that which happens; for I think that what God chooses is better than what I choose.

προσκείσομαι διάκονος καὶ ἀκόλουθος ἐκείνῳ, συνορμῶ, συνορέγομαι, ἁπλῶς συνθέλω.
I will attach myself as a minister and follower to him; I have the same movements (pursuits) as he has, I have the same desires; in a word, I have the same will

ἀποκλεισμὸς ἐμοὶ οὐ γίνεται, ἀλλὰ τοῖς βιαζομένοις.
There is no being shut out for me, that is for those who force/press their way.

(passive would be those are are forced/constrained - I don't see the sense of that

[21] διὰ τί οὖν οὐ βιάζομαι;
21] Why then do I not force my way in?
Because I know that on the inside, nothing good is distributed to those who enter.
οἶδα γάρ, ὅτι ἔσω ἀγαθὸν οὐδὲν διαδίδοται τοῖς εἰσελθοῦσιν.

Thanks for any light you may shed my way!

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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by mwh » Thu May 31, 2018 10:28 pm

Yes it’s middle all right. Very common use. Try a different dictionary?

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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Thu May 31, 2018 10:45 pm

pass.

"." = age
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
(Keats, Ode to a nightingale, 1819).

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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by Phil T » Fri Jun 01, 2018 12:46 pm

谢谢 εκηβολος. That clears up some confusion.

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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Jun 01, 2018 3:52 pm

mwh wrote:Yes it’s middle all right. Very common use. Try a different dictionary?
BDAG wrote:③ go after someth. w. enthusiasm, seek fervently, try hard, the sense is sought w. burning zeal is preferred by HHoltzmann; FDibelius, StKr 86, 1913, 285–88; et al. for Mt 11:12. A variation of this interpretation is the sense try hard, but the support sought in Epict. 4, 7, 20f is questionable, for this latter pass. rather refers to attempts at forced entry when one is not welcome.


Appears to have in mind:
Moulton wrote:This last, however, implies an object. D. S. Sharp, Epictetus and the NT, p. 67, cites a good parallel from Epict. iv. 7. 20 f.: ἀποκλεισμὸς ἐμοὶ οὐ γίνεται, ἀλλὰ τοῖς βιαζομένοις. διὰ τί οὖν οὐ βιάζομαι; “those who (try to) force their way in,” as he rightly renders.
Moulton, J. H., & Milligan, G. (1930). The vocabulary of the Greek Testament (p. 110). London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Sharp, in addition to the actual translation that M&M cite, p. 67 says:
Sharp wrote:This word is used at least twice in E. and once in N.T. in the middle sense of ' force one's way
Sharp is available here: https://archive.org/details/epictetusnewtest00sharrich

Usually I can see the logic in such statements as in BDAG even when I disagree, but here I can see no good argument for the passive usage in Epictetus.
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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Jun 01, 2018 3:53 pm

Oh, so you are saying that pass. means passage and not passive? That puts a different slant on it, so BDAG is simply saying a difference of sense, not a difference of "voice." Duh. And I had such a nice post above. It's still a nice post (if I do say so myself). And I found Sharp, so that was worth it.
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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by jeidsath » Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:00 pm

I have a 1979 second edition (BAG?) that was a gift. The version there is, as ἑκηβόλος writes, "passage." It seems like an unfortunate decision to reduce that to "pass." in a Greek lexicon. Is it a common abbreviation in other entries? I see "passage" all over the place in this 1979 edition.
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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Jun 01, 2018 4:15 pm

jeidsath wrote:I have a 1979 second edition (BAG?) that was a gift. The version there is, as ἑκηβόλος writes, "passage." It seems like an unfortunate decision to reduce that to "pass." in a Greek lexicon. Is it a common abbreviation in other entries? I see "passage" all over the place in this 1979 edition.
Not only that, but if you hover over it in the electronic Logos edition, it says the abbreviation can be either "passive" or "passage." It seems they could have used different abbreviations... :shock:

Oh, and the standard abbreviation for the second edition is BAGD.
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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by mwh » Fri Jun 01, 2018 8:42 pm

Still, even if the OP was wrong to think that BDAG takes it as passive, that’s surely not the best dictionary to use for Epictetus! Use of a less limited dictionary would have avoided confusion and shown how common the middle is.

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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:30 am

mwh wrote:Still, even if the OP was wrong to think that BDAG takes it as passive, that’s surely not the best dictionary to use for Epictetus! Use of a less limited dictionary would have avoided confusion and shown how common the middle is.
Actually, the entry in BDAG has a full discussion on the middle use but in the context of an exegetically difficult NT passage. Otherwise it's not all that different from LSJ. I won't cite LSJ (you're welcome) but here is the full BDAG entry:

βιάζω (Hom.+) nearly always as a mid. dep. βιάζομαι; aor. mid. ἐβιασάμην, pass. 2 sg. ἐβιάσθης Sir 31:21. Apart fr. Dg. 7:4; 10:15 most of this entry concerns probabilities relating to β. in Mt 11:12 and par. Lk 16:16. The principal semantic problem is whether β. is used negatively (‘in malam partem’) or positively (‘in bonam partem’), a problem compounded by the question of the function of these vss. in their literary context. In Gk. lit. β. is most often used in the unfavorable sense of attack or forcible constraint (s. L-S-J-M).
① to inflict violence on, dominate, constrain w. acc. (Herodas 2, 71; Menand., Dyscolus 253 [opp. πείθειν use of persuasion]; 371; Appian, Bell. Civ. 5, 35 §139; PAmh 35, 17 [213 B.C.] βιασάμενος αὐτούς; PGiss 19, 13; LGötzeler, Quaestiones in Appiani et Polybii dicendi genus 1890, 63; Esth 7:8 [rape]; En 103:14; 104:3) mistreat the poor people β. τοὺς ὑποδεεστέρους Dg 10:5.—With β. taken as pass., Mt 11:12 ἡ βασιλεία τ. οὐρανῶν βιάζεται is frequently understood in the unfavorable sense the reign/kingdom of heaven is violently treated, is oppressed (so the pass. e.g. Thu. 1, 77, 4; POxy 294, 16 [22 A.D.]; Sir 31:21. On the topic of violence to the divine, cp. Paus. 2, 1, 5 τὰ θεῖα βιάσασθαι=(it is difficult for a mere human) to coerce things in the realm of the divine.—GSchrenk, TW I 608ff; NRSV ‘has suffered violence’; its mng., w. β. understood as mid.: ‘has been coming violently’, s. 2 end); var. ways by which the violence is suffered have been suggested—(a) through hindrances raised against it (βιάζομαι=be hindered, be obstructed: cp. the use of the mid. in this sense: Synes., Provid. 1, 1, 89c of the evil man’s power, which strives εἴ πῃ τὸν θεῖον νόμον βιάσαιτο=[to see] whether it could perhaps ‘hinder’ the divine law; Jos., Ant. 1, 261). For the pass. in this sense, s. the versions: It., Vulg., Syr. Sin. and Cur. S. also Dalman, Worte 113–16; MDibelius, Joh. d. T. 1911, 26ff: hostile spirits.—(b) through the efforts of unauthorized pers. to compel its coming (s. HScholander, ZNW 13, 1912, 172–75)—(c) through attempts to occupy (an area) by force (a territory, Appian, Bell. Civ. 3, 24 §91).
② to gain an objective by force, use force, intr. (X., Mem. 3, 9, 10; Diod S 4, 12, 5 οἱ βιαζόμενοι=the ones who use force, the intruders; Plut., Mor. 203c; Epict. 4, 8, 40; Lucian, Necyom. 20, Hermot. 22; SIG 1042, 8 [Dssm., NB 85f (BS 258)]; 888, 24; 1243, 4f; PTebt 6, 31; PFlor 382, 54; Dt 22:25, 28; Philo, Mos. 1, 215; Jos., Bell. 3, 493; 518) of compulsion οὐ βιαζόμενος without using force (opp. πείθειν) Dg 7:4.—Of forcing one’s way (Demosth. 55, 17; Appian, Hann. 24 §106) w. εἴς τι enter forcibly into someth. (Thu. 1, 63, 1; 7, 69, 4; Polyb. 1, 74, 5; Plut., Otho 1072 [12, 10]; Philo, Mos. 1, 108 of a gnat forcing its way into bodily orifices εἰς τἀντὸς βιάζεται; Jos., Bell. 3, 423) ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ εὐαγγελίζεται καὶ πᾶς εἰς αὐτὴν βιάζεται the reign of God is being proclaimed and everyone takes (or tries to take [cp. Polemo Soph. B 11 Reader, s. p. 266f]) it by force Lk 16:16 (hyperbolic usage; on the question whether this is a perspective attributed to Jesus or to his opposition concerning moral miscalculation, s. FDanker, JBL 77, ’58, 234–36).—Makes its way w. triumphant force is preferred for Mt 11:12 by FBaur; TZahn; AHarnack, SBBerlAk 1907, 947–57; WBrandt, ZNW 11, 1910, 247f; ROtto, Reich Gottes u. Menschensohn ’34, 84–88; cp. NRSV mg. ‘has been coming violently’.—EGraesser, D. Problem der Parusieverzögerung, ZNW Beih. 22, ’57, 180ff; OBetz, Jesu heiliger Krieg, NovT 2, ’57, 116–37.
③ go after someth. w. enthusiasm, seek fervently, try hard, the sense is sought w. burning zeal is preferred by HHoltzmann; FDibelius, StKr 86, 1913, 285–88; et al. for Mt 11:12. A variation of this interpretation is the sense try hard, but the support sought in Epict. 4, 7, 20f is questionable, for this latter pass. rather refers to attempts at forced entry when one is not welcome.
④ constrain (warmly) if βιάζεται Lk 16:16 is to be understood as a passive, as POxy 294, 16 (22 A.D.), or in the same sense as the mid. in Gen 33:11; Judg 13:15, the sense would be invite urgently of the ‘genteel constraint imposed on a reluctant guest’ (so vHoffmann et al.; s. FDibelius [s. 3 above]; cp. the sense of Lk 14:23 ἀνάγκασον εἰσελθεῖν ‘compel them to come in’).—On usage at Qumran s. BThiering, NovT 21, ’79, 293–97.—DELG s.v. βία. M-M. TW. Spicq. Sv.


Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., pp. 175–176). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by mwh » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:55 am

Still seems perverse to resort to BDAG for Epictetus, or for any other author falling outside of that excellent dictionary's narrow remit. If only the attention lavished on the NT were paid to Philodemus, say, or Stesichorus! Or even Epictetus.

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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by Phil T » Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:23 pm

Thanks Barry for the quotes from MM and Sharp. Thanks also mwh for the caution on dictionaries. As I look at the BDAG's comment, I think they misinterpreted misinterpreted the meaning of Epictetus. I'm interested in your evaluation. BDAG's reason for rejected its use as an intransitive middle is because they see the usage of as "refers to attempts at forced entry when one is not welcome." However the extended discussion of what the Stoic is refusing to enter is Caesar's patronage system in which he holds out rewards of various political offices to the ambitious who will connive and flatter to earn Caesar's reward. Epic. likens this to children scrambling around for dried figs and nuts on the ground. Epic prefers to avoid this entire system and be content with what he has. (Somewhat similar to Paul's advice in Cor 7. In the same vein as Paul, Epic. says that if a reward falls in your lap take it. But he rejects the whole high pressure pushing for advancement.

Here is the rest of the passage:

[21] διὰ τί οὖν οὐ βιάζομαι;
οἶδα γάρ, ὅτι ἔσω ἀγαθὸν οὐδὲν διαδίδοται τοῖς εἰσελθοῦσιν.

22] τί ἔτι διωθοῦμαι; ἰσχαδοκάρυά τις διαρριπτεῖ: τὰ παιδία ἁρπάζει καὶ ἀλλήλοις διαμάχεται:
οἱ ἄνδρες οὐχί, μικρὸν γὰρ αὐτὸ ἡγοῦνται. ἂν δ᾽ ὀστράκια διαρριπτῇ τις, οὐδὲ τὰ παιδία ἁρπάζει.

22 Why do I still strive to enter? A man scatters dried figs and nuts: the children seize them, and fight with one another; men do not, for they think them to be a small matter. But if a man should throw about shells, even the children do not seize them.

[23] ἐπαρχίαι διαδίδονται: ὄψεται τὰ παιδία. ἀργύριον: ὄψεται τὰ παιδία. στρατηγία, ὑπατεία: διαρπαζέτω τὰ παιδία: ἐκκλειέσθω, τυπτέσθω, καταφιλείτω τὰς χεῖρας τοῦ διδόντος, τῶν δούλων:
ἐμοὶ δ᾽ ἰσχαδοκάρυόν ἐστιν.’

23 Provinces are distributed: let children look to that. Money is distributed: let children look to that. Praetorships, consulships are distributed:
let children scramble for them, let them be shut out, beaten, kiss the hands of the giver, of the slaves:
but to me these are only dried figs and nuts.

[24] τί οὖν, ἂν ἀπὸ τύχης ῥιπτοῦντος αὐτοῦ ἔλθῃ εἰς τὸν κόλπον ἰσχάς; ἄρας κατάφαγε: μέχρι τοσούτου γὰρ ἔστι καὶ ἰσχάδα τιμῆσαι. ἵνα δὲ κρύψω καὶ ἄλλον ἀνατρέψω ἢ ὑπ᾽ ἄλλου ἀνατραπῶ καὶ κολακεύσω τοὺς εἰσιόντας, οὐκ ἀξία οὔτ᾽ ἰσχὰς οὔτ᾽ ἄλλο τι τῶν οὐκ ἀγαθῶν, ἅ με ἀναπεπείκασιν οἱ φιλόσοφοι μὴ δοκεῖν ἀγαθὰ εἶναι.

24 What then? If you fail to get them, while Caesar is scattering them about, do not be troubled: if a dried fig come into your lap, take it and eat it; for so far you may value even a fig. But if I shall stoop down and turn another over, or be turned over by another, and shall flatter those who have got into (Caesar's) chamber, neither is a dried fig worth the trouble, nor any thing else of the things which are not good, which the philosophers have persuaded me not to think good.

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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by mwh » Sun Jun 03, 2018 11:55 pm

You seem to think BDAG “reject[s] its use as an intransitive middle.” Whatever makes you think that?

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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by Phil T » Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:17 am

I am trying to understand the reasoning in BDAG section 3 of the βιαζω article in relation to Matthew 11:12:

3. go after someth. w. enthusiasm, seek fervently, try hard, the sense is sought w. burning zeal is preferred by HHoltzmann; FDibelius, StKr 86, 1913, 285–88; et al. for Mt 11:12. A variation of this interpretation is the sense try hard, but the support sought in Epict. 4, 7, 20f is questionable, for this latter passage rather refers to attempts at forced entry when one is not welcome.
[p. 176]

It seems their reasoning is that Epict. here is not used in a similar fashion to the traditional (Clement of A.) understanding of 'go after something with enthusiasm fervently:...' because of forcing entry where you are not welcome." Upon my reading of Epict. what he is refusing to go after enthusiastically, is the reward held out by Caesar, which includes fighting competitors but also includes flattering supporters and/or Caesar himself. It seems BDAG is drawing a distinction between the two that I just don't see. They seem largely the same thing. Both are offers of blessing in someone's kingdom if you zealously go for it.

I'm interested in your perspectives what Epict. means and/or what BDAG means here.

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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by ἑκηβόλος » Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:03 am

Phil T wrote:I am trying to understand the reasoning in BDAG section 3 of the βιαζω article in relation to Matthew 11:12:

3. go after someth. w. enthusiasm, seek fervently, try hard, the sense is sought w. burning zeal is preferred by HHoltzmann; FDibelius, StKr 86, 1913, 285–88; et al. for Mt 11:12. A variation of this interpretation is the sense try hard, but the support sought in Epict. 4, 7, 20f is questionable, for this latter passage rather refers to attempts at forced entry when one is not welcome.
[p. 176]

... It seems their reasoning is that Epict. here is not used in a similar fashion to the traditional (Clement of A.) understanding of 'go after something with enthusiasm fervently:...' because of forcing entry where you are not welcome." Upon my reading of Epict. what he is refusing to go after enthusiastically, is the reward held out by Caesar, which includes fighting competitors but also includes flattering supporters and/or Caesar himself. BDAG is drawing a distinction between the two that I just don't see. They seem largely the same thing. Both are offers of blessing in someone's kingdom if you zealously go for it.

I'm interested in your perspectives what Epict. means and/or what BDAG means here.
My perspective [on] what BDAG means? Look at the language BDAG uses there in the entry. This is a rare moment where the lexicographer bares his soul with humility. He is writing in a register of politeness - "for", "latter", "rather". He makes the "questionable" comment with a sense of humility. Here the scientist takes off his lab coat and chats with you over a nice cup of tea. If you are looking for "reasoning", as you put it, it has to be somewhat fuzzy, because the lexicographer is politely avoiding making definitive statements here.

Two things might be helpful for your understanding of the issue here. First, if you work with the wider grammatical range of the Greek present tense as including the English senses of "need to" and "try to", in addition to the more often than not adequate equivalence of "be ...-ing", that might help you to not put too much strain on the Greek voice system. The second thing is to look at the difference between when the internal motivation of the person is being described vs. the context in which the action takes place. In the passage you are grappling with, ἀποκλεισμὸς ἐμοὶ οὐ γίνεται, ἀλλὰ τοῖς βιαζομένοις. διὰ τί οὖν οὐ βιάζομαι; I think there is a change from action to introspection in the two βιαζεσθαι's (both of them are middle, as both BDAG and Michael have said). One issue that arises from the BDAG entry is whether there really is correlation between not being welcome, and somebody having or not having βιαζεσθαι. In answer to your request about reponders perspectives on this Epictetus passage, let me discuss a few things briefly.

Some value that you might get in more fully describing the meaning of βιάζεσθαι based on Epictetus' writing is to look at what he implies that it is not. (I'm really not qualified to speak on this, but with my present rather limited understanding, let me say by way of example the following). In saying that he συνορμᾷ, συνορέγεται, ἁπλῶς συνθέλει, he is implying that βιάζεσθαι consists of "will", and that without self-will, there is no βιάζεσθαι. Either in description of θέλησις, (which in turn describes βιαζεσθαι) or in description of βιαζεσθαι itself, he says that (according to his understanding of the world) there are both ὁρμή (impulse, initial will) and ὀργή (disposition, directed will) in it. Another thing you might get from reading Epictetus is that from the overall context, it is very clear that Epictetus, (within his system of thinking), believes that βιάζεσθαι is something that to some extent works against the achievement of its goal. Whether that amounts to just a slight hinderence or complete thwarting is something you might consider. Another thing, the question of whether the meanings and nuances that a word has within one system of thinking (world-view) has validity within another is something that can be left up to your own informed judgement.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
(Keats, Ode to a nightingale, 1819).

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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by mwh » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:03 am

I am trying to understand the reasoning in BDAG section 3 of the βιαζω article in relation to Matthew 11:12
Don’t waste your time. Speculation about the reasoning behind lexicographers’ behavior, beyond what they state or can readily be inferred from the organization of their entries, is rarely profitable. What’s more, BDAG is an extreme example of the lexicographical habit of drawing distinctions based on interpretations of particular passages that go well beyond the semantic import of the words themselves. So I’m not going to encourage indulgence in this sort of game. It would be better to start at the other end: βιάζομαι (middle) means only one thing, to use βία, force. There's nothing out of the ordinary about its syntactical use in these two Epictetus instances: LSJ βιάζω II.3 is what you should be looking at (secondarily supplemented by the BDAG entry if you wish and can read it properly).

At Mt.11:12 the verb is clearly passive. At Lk.16:16 it's just as clearly middle. But that's by the way.

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Re: Epictetus Discussions 4.7.20-21 Middle or passive

Post by Phil T » Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:43 pm

These are good cautions, I can't speak for overall qualities, but I have found that βιαζω seems to generate less fair minded research than I would expect form otherwise good dictionaries. I generally start with LSJ, then go to Louw and Nida and then BDAG in that order. But most of all I like original research. Just not enough time for it...

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