Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

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Bernd Strauss
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Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by Bernd Strauss » Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:56 pm

Is the phrase “τυγχάνει συντελείας” rendered as “bring to completion” in the below text? Is the most literal rendering of the word τυγχάνω “reach; arrive at” rather than “bring to”? In the text, the word seems to be used in the active rather than passive voice.

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, book 1, chapter 4, section 2: “ἀφορμῇ δὲ πρὸς τὴν ἐπιβολὴν ταύτην ἐχρησάμεθα μάλιστα μὲν τῇ πρὸς τὴν πραγματείαν ἐπιθυμίᾳ, δι᾿ ἣν πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις τὸ δοκοῦν ἄπορον εἶναι τυγχάνει συντελείας, ἔπειτα καὶ τῇ ἐν Ῥώμῃ χορηγίᾳ τῶν πρὸς τὴν ὑποκειμένην ὑπόθεσιν ἀνηκόντων.”

Loeb Classical Library, C. H. Oldfather’s translation, volume 1: “As for the resources which have availed us in this undertaking, they have been, first and foremost, that enthusiasm for the work which enables every man to bring to completion the task which seems impossible, and, in the second place, the abundant supply which Rome affords of the materials pertaining to the proposed study.”

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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by polemistes » Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:51 pm

I think the translation is fine, if it's the sense you're after. The sentence is reconstructed so the English works better. There's a very minor inaccuracy in the translation which doesn't have to do with τυγχάνω συντελείας, which is that the enthusiasm doesn't "enables everyone to accomplish the impossible", but rather, the enthusiasm "enables the accomplishment of what seems impossible to everyone". But still, I would say the sense of the translation is near enough.

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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by jeidsath » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:06 pm

δι᾿ ἣν πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις τὸ δοκοῦν ἄπορον εἶναι τυγχάνει συντελείας

In the interests of literality, I think it's:

through which what appears impossible to everyone attains completion

The subject of τυγχάνει is τὸ δοκοῦν ἄπορον εἶναι
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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by bpk » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:37 am

Joel's literal rendering is very nice.



I might also add, to give a well-rounded overview of τυγχάνω in other texts (this definition/use does not apply here), it can also be used in a manner a bit similar to συμβαίνει (referring to the idea of 'happens (to be)' or something like that) or even ὑπάρχει (referring generally to being). This may be a bit later development (someone else with a better sense of diachrony can correct me on this). But here is a nice example:

Origen, Selecta in Psalmos. 12.1084.7–39
Οὐκ ἀγνοητέον οὖν, ὅτι καὶ τὸ εἶναι τὰς ἐνδιαθήκους βίβλους, ὡς Ἑβραῖοι παραδιδόασι, δύο καὶ εἴκοσιν, ὅσος ὁ ἀριθμὸς τῶν παρ’ αὐτοῖς στοιχείων ἐστὶν, οὐκ ἄλογον τυγχάνει·

'It ought not to go unnoticed, then, that even the fact that the canonical books, as the Hebrews have passed them down, are twenty two, [that is,] as many as the number of their letters, is not irrational.'

The core of the ὅτι clause is...

τὸ εἶναι ... οὐκ ἄλογον τυγχάνει 'The [canonical books] being [22, etc.] is not irrational.'


If I've understood this correctly (someone can correct me if I'm wrong), τυγχάνει is almost used like ὑπάρχει, συμβαίνει, or even ἐστίν.

In any case, I've come across numerous phrases like this in the church fathers, so it might be a later phenomenon.

And it has nothing to do with the passage you quoted, but may help for getting a sense of the trajectory and use of τυγχάνω as a whole.

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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by Bernd Strauss » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:29 pm

Thank you. Since the word τυγχάνει is shown to be in the active voice in the Perseus word analysis, apparently the more literal rendering of the phrase τυγχάνει συντελείας is “attains completion” rather than “bring to completion.”
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/mor ... +&la=greek

In Diodorus Siculus’ work quoted previously, the writer also states in the same chapter 4, section 6:

Ἐπεὶ δ᾿ ἡ μὲν ὑπόθεσις ἔχει τέλος, αἱ βίβλοι δὲ μέχρι τοῦ νῦν ἀνέκδοτοι τυγχάνουσιν οὖσαι, βούλομαι βραχέα προδιορίσαι περὶ ὅλης τῆς πραγματείας.

“Since my undertaking is now completed, although the volumes are as yet unpublished, I wish to present a brief preliminary outline of the work as a whole.”

If the word ἔχει is in the active voice and present tense, what would be a more literal rendering of the phrase ἔχει τέλος?

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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by jeidsath » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:46 pm

Bernd Strauss wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:29 pm
Since the word τυγχάνει is shown to be in the active voice in the Perseus word analysis, apparently the more literal rendering of the phrase τυγχάνει συντελείας is “attains completion” rather than “bring to completion.”
You are confused here. "Bring" and "attain" are both active in English.

He brings -- active
It is brought -- passive
He attains -- active
It is attained -- passive

To translate ἔχει τέλος word-for-word would give "has an end", which is not what the Greek is saying. This is simply the natural Greek idiom for "is now completed," is a perfectly fine literal translation of the Greek.
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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by Bernd Strauss » Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:26 pm

"Bring" and "attain" are both active in English.

He brings -- active
It is brought -- passive
He attains -- active
It is attained – passive
I can see that the word “bring” in the English translation is in the active voice. What I intended to say is that the action can be viewed as done by the undertaking itself (“the undertaking reaches completion”) rather than by someone else (“bring the undertaking to completion”). I do not recall how such distinctions are called in the English language.
To translate ἔχει τέλος word-for-word would give "has an end", which is not what the Greek is saying. This is simply the natural Greek idiom for "is now completed," is a perfectly fine literal translation of the Greek.
The Perseus word analysis lists two words ἔχω which have the form ἔχει. The first word ἔχω is defined as “have; hold” in LSJ among other meanings, whereas the second word ἔχω is defined as “bear; carry; bring.” How can it be determined which word is used in Diodorus’ text?

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/mor ... +&la=greek

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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Thu Feb 14, 2019 5:25 pm

Bernd Strauss wrote:
Thu Feb 14, 2019 3:26 pm

The Perseus word analysis lists two words ἔχω which have the form ἔχει. The first word ἔχω is defined as “have; hold” in LSJ among other meanings, whereas the second word ἔχω is defined as “bear; carry; bring.” How can it be determined which word is used in Diodorus’ text?

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/mor ... +&la=greek
ἔχω (B), bear, carry, bring, imper. ϝεχέτω Schwyzer686.24 (Pamphyl., iv B.C.): Cypr. e-we-xe, perh. ἔϝεξε, brought as an offering, ICS245, (Cf. Skt. váhati, Lat. veho, Γαιάϝοχος.)

Liddell, H. G., Scott, R., Jones, H. S., & McKenzie, R. (1996). A Greek-English lexicon (pp. 750–751). Oxford: Clarendon Press.


For one, ἔχει τέλος is a rather standard and easily recognizable idiom, as mentioned above. Secondly, ἔχω (B) is actually found in the in the LSJ supplement, and is an extremely rare usage lightly attested, and is a dialect word, as shown by the use of the digamma.
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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by Bernd Strauss » Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:06 pm

Thank you. Apparently the word ἔχω is used with the first meaning. If the word were used with the second meaning, perhaps the word τέλος would have to be in a different case (τέλει or τέλους) in order to read “bring to an end” (ἔχω εἰς τέλους).

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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by jeidsath » Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:57 pm

"Bring to an end" is an English idiom/metaphor, not present in Greek.
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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by Bernd Strauss » Sat Feb 16, 2019 6:38 pm

jeidsath wrote:
Sat Feb 16, 2019 3:57 pm
"Bring to an end" is an English idiom/metaphor, not present in Greek.
In the below example from another passage in Diodorus’ work, the words πρὸς, τέλος, and ἄξειν (a form of ἄγω (“carry; bring")) seem to be used similar to how the phrase “bring to an end” is used in the English language.

Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, book 11, chapter 42, section 5: “Πολλῷ δὲ μᾶλλον θαυμάσαντος τοῦ δήμου τὴν δεινότητα καὶ μεγαλοφροσύνην τἀνδρός, ἐκέλευον ἐν ἀπορρήτοις εἰπεῖν τῇ βουλῇ τὰ δεδογμένα· κἂν αὕτη κρίνῃ τὰ δυνατὰ λέγειν καὶ συμφέροντα, τότε ὡς ἂν συμβουλεύσῃ πρὸς τὸ τέλος ἄξειν αὐτοῦ τὴν ἐπιβολήν.”

Loeb Classical Library, C. H. Oldfather’s translation, volume 4: “Thereupon the people were far the more amazed at the man’s shrewdness and greatness of mind, and they urged him to disclose his ideas secretly to the Council, assuring him that, if that body decided that what he said was feasible and advantageous, then they would advise it to carry his plan to completion.”

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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by jeidsath » Sat Feb 16, 2019 6:51 pm

To "carry to completion" means to accomplish a thing. To "bring to an end" means to destroy it.
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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by seneca2008 » Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:01 am

To "bring to an end" means to destroy it.
I think this is wrong. You can bring any process to an end it doesn’t mean the process is destroyed it simply means it has ended.

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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by jeidsath » Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:10 am

It's not limited to processes. Things in general can be "brought to an end," though they cannot always be completed. And, in fact, even for things or processes that can be completed, there is a serious distinction: "his graduate studies were completed" says something entirely different from "his graduate studies were brought to an end."
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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by seneca2008 » Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:24 am

I bring my contributions to this thread to an end. Nevertheless the thread survives. I was simply giving a counterfactual to your assertion to show that whatever else the phrase might mean it doesn't simply mean "to destroy it". Indeed you have provided an excellent example where it doesn't mean that.

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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by jeidsath » Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:36 am

Thank you for the contribution then. "Bring to an end" can be applied to cities, nations, peoples, in the grand Biblical manner, and also, as you point out, to processes, in order to mean that they are somehow cut off, often with the implication of pre-mature end. As here. You imply that you could contribute more, but choose not to.

What we don't have yet is an example of this idiom being replicated in Greek. Again, the example given above, "πρὸς τὸ τέλος ἄξειν αὐτοῦ τὴν ἐπιβολήν" means to carry out, precisely the opposite of bring to an end.

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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by mwh » Sun Feb 17, 2019 3:30 am

Excuse me, but this is a ridiculous thread, as all of the OP's are. (He is fixated on parousia in the NT.) His complete ignorance of both Greek and grammar means that he asks tomfool questions and cannot even begin to understand the answers he is given. And now the thread seems to have turned into an argument about what “bring to an end” means in English. :roll:

Time to move on?

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Re: Translation of the Phrase Τυγχάνει Συντελείας

Post by seneca2008 » Sun Feb 17, 2019 9:13 am

I agree time to move on. I thought I was being helpful to the OP who does not seem to be a native English speaker. It appears Joel in his assertion was talking about a translation from Greek rather than the meaning of a phrase in English. Like so many of the spats here we are at cross purposes.

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