Reading Thucydides 2014

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pster
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by pster » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:53 am

John W. wrote:
I agree with you that, in 6.39.2, the omitted copula seems more likely to be finite - presumably ἐστιν to go with the neuter plural.
Right, I should have used the singular.
John W. wrote: Looking at these two passages again, I think that the construction can be straighforwardly analysed as personal:

6.39.2: ἀδύνατα [ἐστιν] ... κατασχεῖν = 'are impossible to secure';
One thing I don't like about this is that the subject would have to be the ἃ phrase. But I don't think that is allowed. On my reading, we can take the ἃ phrase as a predicate where a demonstrative has dropped out--at least I think that is what I would have to say. On your reading we would have to have the demonstrative drop out of the subject which is probably not really allowed. Or perhaps you are thinking to take the entire first part beginning with ὀλιγαρχία as the subject for your ἐστιν? That's bold. Actually, I kind of like it now that I look at it. No disappearing demonstrative needed! Of course, I could probably try and smuggle in the whole first part as my object.
John W. wrote: 1.1.3: τὰ ... εὑρεῖν ... ἀδύνατα ἦν = 'the [events] were impossible to discover'.
Here, the infinitve is so far out in front of the adjective, that I am uncomfortable. Although this usage is supposed to give us some sense of the infinitive being originally a dative and we do put datives out in front. So maybe not so bad.
John W. wrote: For the use of an active verb after an adjective where one might logically expect a passive verb, Smith (on 6.39.2) refers us to section 763 of Goodwin's Moods and Tenses (incidentally, I never seem to see this work mentioned on here: am I the only who who still consults it?). Unfortunately Goodwin does not cite any Thucydidean examples, but he does give one from Plato's Phaedo (90c-d), λόγου ... δυνατοῦ κατανοῆσαι, 'a speech possible to understand', which seems a useful parallel.
I mentioned this as one of my two slippery features at the outset. "still consults it?"--Today was my first time ever consulting Goodwin.

------------------------------

I think to times when I am uttering long sentences. It seems that there are plenty of times when I am on a roll, especially when I start leaving out copulas and what not or when I start linking sentences in subtle ways, that there are likely more than one way to diagram the sentences.

However, I think that in these adunata examples because the plural gets used so often quasi-impersonally with the infinitive and because that is such a flexible formulation, that there is a certain semantic pull to it that almost no syntax can really control. And so even if a speaker sets out to employ a personal usage, the quasi-impersonal one comes along as a kind of freebe.

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:56 am

John W. wrote:For the use of an active verb after an adjective where one might logically expect a passive verb, Smith (on 6.39.2) refers us to section 763 of Goodwin's Moods and Tenses (incidentally, I never seem to see this work mentioned on here: am I the only who who still consults it?). Unfortunately Goodwin does not cite any Thucydidean examples, but he does give one from Plato's Phaedo (90c-d), λόγου ... δυνατοῦ κατανοῆσαι, 'a speech possible to understand', which seems a useful parallel.
I've since found this same example from Plato cited by Smyth (section 2006).

John

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by pster » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:31 am

Yes, Cameron references 2006.

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:50 am

pster - many thanks for your comprehensive analysis; your conclusions as to the 'impersonality' of ἀδύνατα in these passages may, after all, be correct.

One key question for me, which we've not specifically addressed, is this: if Thucydides wished to use the word in its impersonal sense, would he have opted for the neuter form ἀδύνατα in such close, and potentially misleading, proximity to the neuter plurals ἃ and τὰ in these two passages, or would he have used the singular ἀδύνατον to obviate any risk of confusion? That said, of course, I certainly accept that this is by no means an overwhelming argument, given that Thucydides can scarcely be said to go out of his way to avoid potential confusion of one sort or another in many different places!

One other example in Betant's list has struck me as interesting in this context: 2.72.2, i.e. ἀπεκρίναντο αὐτῷ ὅτι ἀδύνατα σφίσιν εἴη ποιεῖν ἃ προκαλεῖται ἄνευ Ἀθηναίων. Despite the proximate presence of ἃ, the use of ἀδύνατα here looks impersonal (Betant certainly classifies it as such), which I think may reinforce your argument as to the other two passages we have discussed.

Best wishes,

John

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by pster » Mon Jan 14, 2013 11:15 am

I'll have more in 24 hours. I need to go back to bed now.

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by pster » Mon Jan 14, 2013 1:48 pm

John W. wrote: One other example in Betant's list has struck me as interesting in this context: 2.72.2, i.e. ἀπεκρίναντο αὐτῷ ὅτι ἀδύνατα σφίσιν εἴη ποιεῖν ἃ προκαλεῖται ἄνευ Ἀθηναίων. Despite the proximate presence of ἃ, the use of ἀδύνατα here looks impersonal (Betant certainly classifies it as such), which I think may reinforce your argument as to the other two passages we have discussed.

The presence of σφίσιν makes that one somewhat easier. The dative of agent is only used by perfect passives and verbal adjectives. According to Chantraine, dunatos is a verbal adjective. And the privative adunatos/a presumably gets treated as such.

I can find no discussion of the agent for the so-called "epexegetical infinitive" but if such a thing even exists, I assume it would have to be in the accusative.

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by pster » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:16 pm

In that 2.72 example, are supposed to just assume that the antecedent has dropped out? Ie that ταῦτα ἃ has been reduced to just ἃ?

If so, then it is striking Smyth doesn't give this neuter plural case any special attention around section 2509. One would think that it would be the most common of all dropped antecedents.

Or am I missing something?

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by pster » Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:53 pm

John W. wrote:
One key question for me, which we've not specifically addressed, is this: if Thucydides wished to use the word in its impersonal sense, would he have opted for the neuter form ἀδύνατα in such close, and potentially misleading, proximity to the neuter plurals ἃ and τὰ in these two passages, or would he have used the singular ἀδύνατον to obviate any risk of confusion?
Great question. I know that it has nothing to do with hiatus.

Overall, I am most impressed with how LSJ only has one entry for the singular quasi-impersonal, but many entries for the plural. So now, since you raised this question, I am working through the list of examples that Bebant gives under "Impersonaliter".

One thing that is becoming clear is that it is a strange word. Smyth classifies it as a quasi-impersonal, and Chantraine says that the non-privative dunatos is a verbal adjective, but adunatos/a has many attributive uses, especially for persons.....I wanted to produce some sweeping observation here, but stalled...

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by pster » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:45 pm

I got to do my Polybius to get away from it for a while, and there it is as substantive!

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:29 am

Another point, I'm afraid, on which your views would be welcome.

Early in Book 5, the Athenians and Lacedaemonians make a peace treaty (quoted in chapters 18-19). In chapter 17 Thucydides has already made it clear that 'what was being negotiated was not satisfactory' to some of the Lacedaemonians' allies, who refused to sign up to it at that time.

In chapter 22 the Lacedaemonians have another crack at persuading their recalcitrant allies to ratify the treaty (5.22.1):

οἱ δὲ ξύμμαχοι ἐν τῇ Λακεδαίμονι αὖθις ἔτυχον ὄντες, καὶ αὐτῶν τοὺς μὴ δεξαμένους τὰς σπονδὰς ἐκέλευον οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι ποιεῖσθαι. οἱ δὲ τῇ αὐτῇ προφάσει ᾗπερ καὶ τὸ πρῶτον ἀπεώσαντο οὐκ ἔφασαν δέξεσθαι, ἢν μή τινας δικαιοτέρας τούτων ποιῶνται.

'At that time the allies were again in Lacedaemon, and the Lacedaemonians urged those of them who had not accepted the treaty to sign up to it. They, however, citing the same grounds on which they had rejected it in the first place, said they would not accept it, ...'

As you will see, my translation above is incomplete, and omits the concluding words of the Greek text (shown above in bold). My query is just this: what is the subject of ποιῶνται? Four options seem to present themselves:

(i) Most translators, from Hobbes onwards, appear to take it as passive, in which case one could translate: '... unless a fairer treaty than this was made'. However, I'm a little uneasy about this, especially so soon after the middle use of ποιεῖσθαι.

(ii) It would yield good sense if the Lacedaemonians were the understood subject, in which case the meaning would be: '... unless the Lacedaemonians made a fairer treaty than this [i.e. with the Athenians]'. However, could the subject switch to the Lacedaemonians without a pronoun to signal this?

(iii) The third option would be for the subject to remain the allies, and for ποιῶνται to mean 'ratify' or 'sign up to' (as ποιεῖσθαι does). In that case the meaning might be: '... unless they [= the allies] could sign up to a fairer treaty than this'.

(iv) Finally, ποιῶνται could I suppose apply generally to all parties, actual and prospective, to the treaty - the Athenians, Lacedaemonians and their allies. In that event one could render: '... unless all the parties involved made a fairer treaty than this'.

Your thoughts would be much appreciated since, as far as I can see, none of the commentaries offers any help on this point!

Best wishes,

John

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