Reading Thucydides 2014

Here you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Greek, and more.
Post Reply
User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by pster » Fri Sep 27, 2013 7:06 am

Argh. I knew that. I forgot it and LSJ buries that point. Some English writer (historian?) complained of Th. and asked, "Why does he write like that?" I think the same could be asked of LSJ!

John W.
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:23 pm

Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:27 pm

Qimmik wrote:This is a very frequent idiomatic use of φαίνομαι. With a present participle, it can sometimes be translated as "clearly" or "obviously".
Qimmik - does this apply only with a present participle? The reason I ask is that I'd translated the current passage as 'Hellas evidently undertook no concerted action'. Moreover this construction also occurs at 8.97.2:

καὶ οὐχ ἥκιστα δὴ τὸν πρῶτον χρόνον ἐπί γε ἐμοῦ Ἀθηναῖοι φαίνονται εὖ πολιτεύσαντες ...

The precise meaning of this passage has been much debated, but I've rendered it as:

'And for the first time, in my lifetime at least, the Athenians adopted a form of government which was manifestly excellent ...'

The sense of 'seem to' for φαίνονται in this passage, which is otherwise couched in such categorical terms of approval, doesn't feel right to me.

More generally, I've been operating on the (perhaps simplistic) basis that φαίνομαι + infinitive = 'seem to ...', whereas φαίνομαι + participle = 'manifestly/evidently be/do ...'.

Best wishes,

John

Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2090
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by Qimmik » Fri Sep 27, 2013 7:04 pm

I think that φαίνομαι + infinitive suggests things aren't necessarily as they seem.

φαίνομαι + participle suggests that things are as they seem, but I'm not completely sure as to the choice between "clearly," "manifestly," versus "evidently," "apparently". As to current circumstances, I think that it is more likely to mean "clearly," but with events in the remote past, as in Th. 1.3, where Th. didn't have direct knowledge, "evidently" or "it appears that" seems more appropriate than "it is clear that". So it seems to me that your translations of both passages are correct.

John W.
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:23 pm

Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Fri Sep 27, 2013 7:57 pm

Qimmik wrote:I think that φαίνομαι + infinitive suggests things aren't necessarily as they seem.

φαίνομαι + participle suggests that things are as they seem, but I'm not completely sure as to the choice between "clearly," "manifestly," versus "evidently," "apparently". As to current circumstances, I think that it is more likely to mean "clearly," but with events in the remote past, as in Th. 1.3, where Th. didn't have direct knowledge, "evidently" or "it appears that" seems more appropriate than "it is clear that". So it seems to me that your translations of both passages are correct.
Many thanks, Qimmik - that's a relief!

Best wishes,

John

User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by pster » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:47 am

I'm pretty confused now.

Mastronarde: with a participle it means "be clearly, obviously, openly doing X", with an infinitive it means "appear (seem) to be doing X".

Smyth: with an aorist participle it means "appear".

LSJ: cite examples with aorist, present, and perfect participles where it means "to be manifest".

John: basically takes Mastronarde's view.

Thucydides: both examples have aorist participles

Me: the tense of φαίνομαι, whether it is used with an infinitive or a participle very likely indicates when the appearing or the manifesting is occuring. In English we would say: Then it seemed she loved him, now it seems she does not. Or: It was then manifest that she loved him, it now no longer is.

Hornblower: on 8.97, "seem to me to have had a good constitutional arrangement". Despite a quite long note on this important passage where we get Th.'s opinion directly, Hornblower is mostly concerned with matters of chronology, and nowhere takes up what seems to me a very important question about whether Thucydides is saying something "appears" a certain way or whether it is "clearly" a certain way! Also problematic is H's gratuitous addtion of "to me" to his gloss.

I cannot emphasize strongly enough how big the difference between something being clearly X and something appearing to be X is in Western thought. LSJ, John, and Mastronarde seem to find a sharp distinction in the Greek. Hornblower and Qimmik seem to find something less sharp.

Qimmik, what sayest thee? Let's go back to the outset, where do you find the distinction between present and other participles?
Last edited by pster on Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

John W.
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:23 pm

Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:06 am

As I've said, I think 'seem' is too feeble a meaning at 8.97.2, where Thucydides is giving a strong endorsement of the Government of the Five Thousand, and so would be unlikely to qualify it by 'seem'. I think it would also be too feeble a sense at 1.3.1, since there Thucydides is saying that the weakness of ancient times is demonstrated to him not least by this fact; he would hardly say something was 'demonstrated' (or 'made clear') to him (δηλοῖ δέ μοι) if he could only apply the term 'apparently' to the evidence he cites.

Best wishes,

John

Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2090
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by Qimmik » Sat Sep 28, 2013 3:09 pm

"the difference between something being clearly X and something appearing to be X" This is the distinction between φαίνομαι with the participle and φαίνομαι with the infinitive.

φαίνομαι + infinitive suggests things aren't necessarily as they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream.

φαίνομαι + participle suggests that things are as they seem. It literally means "to be shown" or "to be seen". Translate it "clearly" if you like with all tenses.

I think that in Thucydides 1.3 it probably means something like "there is no evidence that the Greeks did anything in common before the Trojan War," suggesting that in fact they did nothing in common before the Trojan War, but maybe you could translate it "clearly." Or else "The Greeks are not shown to have done anything in common . . . ." I don't see much difference between "evidently" and "apparently" here, but maybe "clearly" is a little too strong.

When I wrote that φαίνομαι with the present participle can be translated as "clearly", I was misleading--this is not exactly right. I meant that in describing contemporary events, it can be translated as "clearly." For events in the remote past, I'm not sure it's appropriate to ascribe that degree of certainty to Thucydides.

We probably shouldn't get too caught up in fine distinctions between English words--again, the core meaning of the Greek is "the Greeks are not shown to have achieved . . . " And the most important point is that he's not suggesting that there is a possibility that the Greeks did in fact, contrary to appearances, achieve something in common before the Trojan War. Here absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

John W.
Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 423
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:23 pm

Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Mon Sep 30, 2013 7:51 am

Qimmik wrote:We probably shouldn't get too caught up in fine distinctions between English words--again, the core meaning of the Greek is "the Greeks are not shown to have achieved . . . " And the most important point is that he's not suggesting that there is a possibility that the Greeks did in fact, contrary to appearances, achieve something in common before the Trojan War. Here absence of evidence is evidence of absence.
I think this must be right. The position is complicated by the way English itself has changed - 'apparently' once meant 'clearly', and only later shifted towards implying a contrast with reality. We still say 'it is apparent that ...' when we mean 'it is clear that ...'.

It would be interesting to trace how, in Greek, the distinction between φαίνομαι + infinitive and
φαίνομαι + participle evolved.

In my translation of 1.3.1, I think 'evidently' - referring to Thucydides' conclusion based on the available evidence of the past - is appropriate, whereas the stronger 'manifestly' sits better at 8.97.2, where he is talking (in positive terms) of events in his own lifetime.

Best wishes,

John
Last edited by John W. on Mon Sep 30, 2013 1:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Qimmik
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 2090
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by Qimmik » Mon Sep 30, 2013 11:24 am

In my translation of 1.3.1, I think 'evidently' - referring to Thucydides' conclusion based on the available evidence of the past - is appropriate, whereas the stronger 'manifestly' sits better at 8.97.2, where he is talking (in positive terms) of events in his own lifetime.
I think these are good choices in both passages.

User avatar
pster
Textkit Zealot
Posts: 1071
Joined: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:05 am

Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by pster » Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:24 pm

I accept all that. I just don't know where Smyth got even the germ of the idea that different participles are treated differently. It's not in Mastronarde nor LSJ.

Post Reply