Reading Thucydides 2014

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John W.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:22 am

mwh - many thanks indeed for your further thoughts.

I'm still churning around with this passage. I now agree with you that ἐλασσούμενοι can't really be taken as 'settling for less than our due', but must mean something like 'suffer loss', or 'come off worst'; it's worth noting that just a little further on, in 1.77.4 we have ἤν τι ... καὶ ὁπωσοῦν ἐλασσωθῶσιν, which I have translated: 'if they should suffer any loss at all'.

With regard to ὁμοίοις, I'm pretty sure that elsewhere in Thucydides it is used in the sense of 'equitable', but I'll have to double check that. in any case, it could still mean 'the same' here as you suggest.

I see the attraction of your latest suggestion, and I'll give it further thought. With it, as with the concessive interpretation, there is still a stage of the thought process left out, but, as I've said before, that can happen in Thucydides.

Crawley's translation has many good qualities, though of the older ones I've found Dale's the most helpful - more literal, and with some useful notes. I like Lattimore's version very much too, though I have to say that it is marred by the number of seemingly inadvertent omissions - sometimes just a word or two, sometimes rather more (one of the worst is at 6.102, where the whole first sentence is missing). I don't know whether these omissions were ever corrected in a later printing.

Anyway, thanks again for you help; I'll keep thinking!

Best wishes,

John

John W.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:35 pm

My own translation currently stands as follows:

'For example, even though we often lose in lawsuits against our allies which are conducted under international agreements, and in our own courts have instituted hearings of cases under impartial laws, we are regarded as litigious.'

If this is on the right lines (of which I'm far from sure), the thinking would seem to be that, since the Athenians clearly have no advantage in lawsuits - abroad, because they often lose to their allies (perhaps because of bias in the allies' courts), and at home because their own laws ensure that they are on an equal footing with their allies in cases referred to Athens - they can have no incentive to constantly resort to legal channels, and so there can be no rational basis for regarding them as litigious. While this implied line of reasoning is I think possible, one would be more comfortable with a more transparent linkage between the first part of the sentence and the allegation of litigiousness.

I've recently found yet another interpretation in a piece by A.E. Raubitschek in The Speeches in Thucydides (ed. Philip A. Stadter, Chapel Hill, 1973), p. 44. Raubitschek translates our passage as follows:

'If in lowering ourselves, we arrange for trials under treaty provisions in cases against our allies and on the basis of legal equality in our own courts - we are called litigious.'

This takes ἐν ταῖς ξυμβολαίαις πρὸς τοὺς ξυμμάχους δίκαις and παρ᾽ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις as parallel: the Athenians are then pointing out that they are lowering themselves (ἐλασσούμενοι) both by accepting treaty provisions with their (weaker) allies, and by treating these same allies as equals in their own courts in Athens. However, I would have expected a word order along the lines
ἐλασσούμενοι γὰρ καὶ ἐν ταῖς ξυμβολαίαις ... δίκαις καὶ παρ᾽ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς ... if this was the intended sense (unless the first καὶ is trajected for some reason). This interpretation is nonetheless interesting, and further illustrates (if that is necessary) just how many potential takes on this sentence there are!

John

mwh
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by mwh » Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:28 am

Just a couple of helpless notes before I give up on this.

I still have great difficulty making sense of this sentence if the participles are taken as concessive. I really don't see how they can be anything other than causal, or at any rate neutral, circumstantial. Raubitschek seems to have taken the same view (since the condition implied by his "If" has clearly been satisfied), and so of course did Lattimore, despite his effectively subordinating elassoumenoi to poihsantes.

I'm still far from clear about en tois omoiois nomois, with the article. By "impartial" I guess you're taking omoioi to mean "the same for everyone, us and them alike", which seems perfectly acceptable in itself, but it's the attributive position of omoiois that slightly bothers me. Your "under impartial laws" seems more a translation of en omoiois nomois (or omoiois en nomois or en nomois omoiois), without article. I could understand en tois (sc. hmeterois) nomois omoiois (ousi), omoiois predicative, stressing that Athenian laws are impartial, but as the phrase stands "impartial" doesn't really seem to work (our impartial laws as distinct from our non-impartial ones?!). Maybe the difficulty I'm seeing is unreal, but this is what makes me wonder whether it rather means "the same laws" (or at least similar ones) –- raising the question the same as what? the same as are operative under the international agreements?? I'm handicapped by my ignorance of the actualities.

I don't know the Dale translation, and in fact no other besides the Penguin (which doesn't seem to me as bad as is sometimes made out). Lattimore's omissions, obviously inadvertent, I expect were made good in the second printing, but since I have only the first I can't check.

John W.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Sat Nov 09, 2013 6:05 pm

mwh – many thanks. Although I know you’ve withdrawn from the discussion, I thought I’d record my latest musings.

I now incline to agree with you that the participles cannot viably be possessive. We would expect 77.1 to follow on in sense from 76.4 - ἡμῖν δὲ καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ἐπιεικοῦς ἀδοξία τὸ πλέον ἢ ἔπαινος οὐκ εἰκότως περιέστη, ‘however, in consequence of our very reasonableness, ill repute more than praise has unfairly accrued to us’. What we really require at the start of 77.1 is an example of Athenian ἐπιείκεια; the ἀδοξία would then in turn be illustrated by the charge of φιλοδικεῖν.

I’m starting to think that Raubitschek may in fact be on the right lines, though I’m not necessarily convinced by the parallelism he finds between ἐν ταῖς ξυμβολαίαις πρὸς τοὺς ξυμμάχους δίκαις and παρ᾽ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις, with ποιήσαντες τὰς κρίσεις applying to both (one of the many problems in trying to interpret Thucydides is recognising, on the one hand, his love of balance, and on the other hand, his fondness for some degree of variation, and then working out into which category any given passage falls).

Factoring all that in, my latest attempt at this work in progress is (with the Greek requoted first for convenience):

καὶ ἐλασσούμενοι γὰρ ἐν ταῖς ξυμβολαίαις πρὸς τοὺς ξυμμάχους δίκαις καὶ παρ᾽ ἡμῖν αὐτοῖς ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις ποιήσαντες τὰς κρίσεις φιλοδικεῖν δοκοῦμεν.

‘For when we actually (καὶ) diminish our status (ἐλασσούμενοι) by engaging in legal actions under international agreements against our allies, and by having arranged for hearings of cases against them in our own courts to take place under equitable[?] laws, we are regarded as litigious.’

The idea that the first καὶ emphasises ἐλασσούμενοι is found in Forbes’ 1895 edition of Book 1, citing the preceding καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ἐπιεικοῦς (76.4) as a parallel.

With regard to ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις, the possibilities include the following:

(i) the article might be emphasising that the laws are well known or familiar to the audience, as perhaps it does in ἐν ταῖς ξυμβολαίαις ... δίκαις;

(ii) as you suggest, it could mean that the same laws apply both in the allied courts and in Athens;

(iii) Raubitschek takes it as meaning that, even when the Athenians have a ‘home advantage’, they apply the same laws to their allies as to themselves.

For the moment I’ve left ‘equitable’ in my translation, though I am attracted by your option (ii). That, of course, depends on whether we are talking about a single type of case, or whether the ξυμβολαίαις ... δίκαις are being distinguished from cases involving the allies which have to be referred to Athens under different legal provisions. I too don’t know enough about the realities to be able to decide on this; more research, I fear, beckons.

Best wishes,

John
Last edited by John W. on Sun Nov 10, 2013 12:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

mwh
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by mwh » Sat Nov 09, 2013 11:53 pm

Thanks for posting your follow-up, John. By "possessive" I take it you mean "concessive."
For what it's worth (very little, I fear):

1. "when we … diminish our status by engaging in" seems a bit of stretch for elassoumenoi en (particularly for the en), however attractive on its own terms.

2. You are now making the poihsantes phrase grammatically subordinate to elassoumenoi, and in parallel (kind of!) with the simple prepositional phrase en tais … dikais. I can't say Thucydides couldn't do that, but I find it difficult without some particular pointer to this construal, such as <kai> en tais or en <te> tais. Even then I'd find the degree of imbalance disconcerting. You elide the imbalance with your "by engaging … and by having arranged."

3. "hearings of cases against them":
(i) <the> cases? Of course the main question here is the relation between the dikai and the kriseis, which I can't answer.
(ii) I take it "against them" is your own interpretive expansion, or are you detaching autois from par'hmin (which would seem pretty well impossible to me)?

I'm sorry all I can do is criticize! If a case-closed cogent reading strikes me overnight I'll let you know. Don't hold your breath.

All best,
Michael

John W.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Sun Nov 10, 2013 2:25 pm

Michael – many thanks. I am sorry for continuing to drag you down in this maelstrom with me.

Yes, I did mean ‘concessive’ – my apologies for the slip.

On reflection I agree with all you say regarding my latest stab at this sentence. Specifically:

1 – Yes, I was stretching ἐλασσούμενοι rather (too) far in an attempt to reach a more satisfactory overall sense. But really it ought to mean something like ‘incurring losses’ or ‘being at a disadvantage’.

2 – I too feel the lack of some coordinating signpost such as τε ... καὶ if two elements are to be subsumed under ἐλασσούμενοι. I was trying to circumvent this, but I don’t think one can, and it is a strong objection to my (and Raubitschek’s) take on the sentence. As I recall, Poppo (in his editio maxima) raised a similar objection back in 1831 to an attempt by Bloomfield (in his translation of 1829) to do something similar.

3 – Yes, ‘against them’ is (now) my own expansion. I did at one stage follow some scholars in detaching αὐτοῖς from παρ᾽ ἡμῖν, but I’ve abandoned that.

One final shot for now, factoring in your previous comments on ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις, but otherwise reverting to one of the two main interpretations I identified at the outset:

‘For example, because we were at a constant disadvantage (ἐλασσούμενοι) in legal actions against our allies conducted under international agreements, and so transferred the hearings of such cases to our own courts under the same laws, we are regarded as litigious.’

The reference to ‘the same laws’ could then mean that the cases were heard under the same laws as would have applied under the international agreements if the cases had been heard in the courts of the allied states in question, but without any anti-Athenian bias in the actual hearings, from which the Athenians were (allegedly) suffering when the cases were heard elsewhere. The weakness of this is (at least) threefold:

(i) the role of the first καὶ on this interpretation – what does it add to the sentence?

(ii) the relevance to the charge of φιλοδικεῖν – unless the fact of the Athenians’ bringing all such cases into their own courts could serve as the basis for such a charge;

(iii) the lack of external evidence that the Athenians did in fact transfer all such hearings to their own courts.

So back to the drawing board yet again, probably.

Finally, there’s certainly no need to apologise for offering your critique – it’s much appreciated, and with this sentence one certainly needs all the help one can get!


Best wishes,

John

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by Qimmik » Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:44 pm

ἐν τοῖς ὁμοίοις νόμοις

This brings to mind the beginning of Demosthenes' speech On the Crown, 18.2, where he reminds his audience of their sworn obligation τὸ ὁμοίως ἀμφοῖν ἀκροάσασθαι, "to hear both sides impartially." Admittedly, this was written 70-80 years after Thucydides, but this language is apparently a "verbatim quotation" of the heliastic oath jurors were required to swear. See Yunis' note ad loc. in the Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics edition of On the Crown (2001), citing Bonner and Smith, The administration of justice from Homer to Aristotle (1938), vol. 2, 152-5. So there is good authority for taking ὁμοίοις to mean "impartial."

Bill

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by mwh » Sun Nov 10, 2013 5:11 pm

You seem to have ended up basically agreeing with Lattimore after all! The objection to that was the tense of elassoumenoi, which you now deal with that by taking it to be imperfective (as I imagine SL did too). That's what I suggested in my first post on this, only to withdraw it immediately but too hastily I now think. (I thought it would require edokoumen rather than dokoumen, but I suppose it doesn't really.) I suggested inceptive, you iterative; I suppose either is a possible way of reading it.

As to the initial kai, again in my first post I wrote "I'm not sure of the effect of holding up the γαρ. Does it tie the και more closely to ελασσουμενοι?" I've just done a quick TLG search for other instance of kai X gar in Thuc and find just two others (not counting instances where the gar belongs to an embedded sentence), 7.48.5 kai xrhmasi gar … and 8.109.1 kai entauqa gar …. It looks to me as if in each case the deferment of gar serves to decouple it from the kai, so that kai functions independently of the gar. In 7.48 I'd take it as coordinating with the upcoming kai's (a chain of 3 participial phrases), while in 8.109 it clearly belongs with entauqa ("for there too …"). In our sentence it seems we are free to take it either specifically with elassoumenoi or as correlative with the second kai, or however else we'd like. If we have to choose, I'd hesitantly incline to the first, giving a bit of punch to the participle. Anything in Denniston?

The relevance to the filodokein charge – wasn't this satisfactorily accounted for in earlier posts, where it was related to the overall Athenian argument about their goodness in preferring to pursue the legal route rather than just imposing their will by force as they could have done without incurring such ill will?

Your current interpretation seems to me perfectly viable in itself, but I see no hope of attaining certainty without better knowledge of the historical actualities – which I have not investigated at all. "transferring," for instance, is unsupported by the Greek itself, as is the relationship between the two participles. Hinc illae lacrimae.

Michael

PS Posted this before seeing Qimmik's helpful note.

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by John W. » Sun Nov 10, 2013 8:31 pm

Bill, Michael - many thanks indeed for your very helpful posts. Partly under their influence, I've now tweaked my last version so that it stands as follows:

'For example, because we were at a constant disadvantage in lawsuits against our allies under international agreements, and so instituted hearings of such cases in our own courts under impartial laws, we are regarded as litigious.'

That's probably about as far as one can pursue it at present - certainty does indeed seem unachievable in this (as in so many other Thucydidean) instances - though if either of you (or anyone else) has any further flashes of insight, I'd naturally love to hear them.

By the way, I did have a look at Denniston re καὶ ... γὰρ, but couldn't find anything to take us beyond what had already been discussed.

Thanks again to both of you for your patience and help.

With all good wishes,

John

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2013

Post by mwh » Mon Nov 11, 2013 3:11 am

Very glad to have been of help. This has been a most interesting thread.

So there finally turns out to be no substantive difference between you and SL at all, unless one counts your "under impartial laws" vs. his "under our impartial laws"! He really is very good.

Best,
Michael

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