Reading Thucydides 2014

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John W.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Post by John W. » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:12 am

Qimmik wrote: After reading this passage and the various arguments, I think Thucydides' meaning here is irrecoverably opaque. This is simply a crux, and neither of the suggested lines of interpretation seems to make sense in a wholly satisfying and convincing way.
I'm sure you're right, Bill - but still I keep hoping that, if I do enough research on such passages, and study them intensively, everything will drop into place - a vain hope, I know, given that generations of distinguished scholars have frequently reached an impasse on them. The best I can realistically aim for is to find an interpretation that seems more convincing to me at the time than any other.

I sometimes wish that I'd 'done a Jowett' with my translation, in terms of recording alternative interpretations in footnotes. I didn't do so because I thought it would smack of vacillation, and because, once I'd started down that route, the number of instances in which I felt moved to do so might multiply; moreover, in some places it's not just a question of two possible interpretations, but of several (and sometimes with sub-options too!). So I think all I can do, with the kind assistance of colleagues on here, is, as Winston Churchill says in 'Victory of the Daleks' (any Doctor Who fans out there?), 'KBO'!

Best wishes,

John

John W.
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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Post by John W. » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:20 am

mwh wrote:As to 3), no I don't think it is too clever. That's kind of what I was suggesting. Comes oddly from Pericles, though.
There's also the fact that Thucydides immediately follows his version of this speech with a highly positive assessment of Pericles' policy, and criticism of his successors for not following it. So could he really be undercutting this in chapter 62 by implying that the stance encouraged by Pericles would eventually lead to disaster for the Athenians? (I'm not saying it's impossible, though - few things are with Thucydides.)

Further study of καταφρόνησις in Thucydides (and elsewhere) is probably called for.

Best wishes,

John

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Post by pster » Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:07 pm

Well, I think in the days ahead I am probably going to revert to my initial impression, ie that the sense here is largely hypothetical. Why?

First Corinthian speech:

Here they accuse the Spartans of the three things. You can find all three of them. Really, the Corinthians are quite rough with them.

But, you can't really find contempt.

Second Corinthian speech:

They begin by saying they can no longer make the accusation of deriliction of duty! They know the vote is going to go their way. So now, not only are the Spartans still not guilty of contempt, they have stopped being guilty of the three things.

1.122 is hypothetical. They are talking about what the opinion would be if they fail to act.

1.123 is where they just politely (as a Corinthian can be!) eschew explicitly making the point that the Spartans used to be guilty of the three things. Ie "We need not again in this second speech repeat all the stupid cowardly non-vigilant things you Spartans did in the past now that you have come to your senses. You know damn well what we think about your past conduct. And we have just warned you in 1.122 what opinion that conduct would merit."

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

One can use perfects for hypothetical (indirect) discourse just as one can use presents for it. Does anybody want to go on record and deny that?! Speak now or forever hold your peace! Let's see a show of hands! :lol: What makes the situation a bit tricky here is that the Spartans used to be guilty of the three things. That plus the fact that the Corinthians are actually being much more polite than in the past me thinks explains the seeming opacity. The contempt point is Thucydides being a bit too clever.

À demain!

8)

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Post by John W. » Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:54 am

pster - many thanks for these thoughts.

I'll consider them further, but my initial comments are:

(1) the speech is addressed not to the Lacedaemonians, but to the other allies. At the start of 120 the Corinthians say they can no longer find fault with the Lacedemonians for not voting for war themselves, and for not also bringing the allies together to vote for it; but that doesn't mean that they can't still complain of practical inaction, which has been, and is still, the situation until the allies actually vote for war (which is what the Corinthians are now urging them to do).

(2) At the moment I really do find it difficult to see the start of 123 as not following on from 122, and as referring instead to another speech on a different occasion (though I'll give it more thought).

(3) The behaviour of which the Corinthians are complaining is not just (potentially) future (if the allies do not vote for war), but also current - the cities are already suffering because of the actions of the Athenians, and the inaction hitherto of the allies.

I'll think about this further, however, and may yet change my mind in the light of your comments.

Best wishes,

John

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Post by John W. » Sun Dec 15, 2013 12:05 pm

Many thanks again for all the comments on 1.122. I'm not sure I can take that any further at the moment, though of course I may return to it at some stage!

Now for something which is (I hope) a little less fraught. 2.25 recounts amphibious operations conducted by the Athenians and their allies, in the course of which they reach Elis; what happened next is described in 2.25.3:

... σχόντες τῆς Ἠλείας ἐς Φειὰν ἐδῄουν τὴν γῆν ἐπὶ δύο ἡμέρας καὶ προσβοηθήσαντας τῶν ἐκ τῆς κοίλης Ἤλιδος τριακοσίους λογάδας καὶ τῶν αὐτόθεν ἐκ τῆς περιοικίδος Ἠλείων μάχῃ ἐκράτησαν.

At present my translation of this reads:

'... landing at Pheia in Elis they laid waste the land for two days and defeated in battle three hundred picked men, who had come to the rescue from those living in Hollow Elis and from the Eleans in the surrounding area.'

However, Gomme comments that saying that the 300 picked men came from Hollow Elis and from the surrounding area 'is both unlikely in itself and, if true, unnecessarily complicated in expression (why not simply προσβοηθήσαντας Ἠλείων τριακοσίους λογάδας?)'. I wonder, therefore, whether τῶν αὐτόθεν ἐκ τῆς περιοικίδος Ἠλείων could mean (as similar expressions do in some other places) 'some of the Eleans in the surrounding area', so that one could translate:

' ... and defeated in battle three hundred picked men who had come to the rescue from those living in Hollow Elis, and also some of the Eleans from the surrounding area.'

The word order suggests that this second interpretation could be right; the main problem is the fact that, on the face of it, the genitives τῶν ἐκ τῆς κοίλης Ἤλιδος and τῶν αὐτόθεν ἐκ τῆς περιοικίδος Ἠλείων seem to be serving a similar function, and to be both going with προσβοηθήσαντας ... τριακοσίους λογάδας.

One further issue which needs to be addressed here is whether Ἠλείων goes with both groups; if so, would it then be more difficult to treat the two genitives differently as per my second option? If it does go with both, perhaps my current translation should in any case be revised to read:

' ... and defeated in battle three hundred picked men, who had come to the rescue from the Eleans living in Hollow Elis and also from the Eleans in the surrounding area.'

Any thoughts on this would, as always, be much appreciated.

Best wishes,

John

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Post by Qimmik » Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:13 pm

I would be inclined to treat τῶν ἐκ τῆς κοίλης Ἤλιδος and τῶν αὐτόθεν ἐκ τῆς περιοικίδος Ἠλείων as parallel.

As I understand it, the point of Gomme's remark (which reflects commentary by Wilamowitz and Classen--although not in my 1889 copy of Classen-Steup--both of whom proposed textual emendations to solve their perceived difficulties) seems to be that Pheia is located in peripheral territory that was dependent upon or subject to Elis ("τῆς περιοικίδος"), but not in Elis proper ("τῆς κοίλης Ἤλιδος"), and that the inhabitants of the periphery were generally treated as metics and not as Eleian citizens and therefore would not have been among the specially chosen soldiers. But he solves this difficulty by assuming that τῶν αὐτόθεν ἐκ τῆς περιοικίδος Ἠλείων refers to Eleian landowners or other citizens living close-by in the periphery, not to the local non-citizen population.

Personally, I think the parallelism of τῶν ἐκ τῆς κοίλης Ἤλιδος τριακοσίους λογάδας and τῶν αὐτόθεν ἐκ τῆς περιοικίδος Ἠλείων is inescapable without resorting to emendation, even in Thucydides, and in the end Gomme thinks so too. So I think your first translation, which includes Eleans from the periphery, as well as from Elis proper, in the 300, is correct.
Last edited by Qimmik on Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Post by pster » Sun Dec 15, 2013 4:15 pm

Hornblower says that in the Elean context, as in the Spartan, perioikoi are not just neighbors but subjects. A. Andrewes has an article on the subject in a collection of essays. Let me know if you want the full reference.
Last edited by pster on Mon Dec 16, 2013 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Post by Qimmik » Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:36 pm

Mynott's translation: "300 picked men who had come out from lowland Elis and had been joined by some Eleans from the surrounding area subject to Elis."

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Post by mwh » Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:37 pm

Haven't properly considered this, nor consulted comms etc, but it seems to me that from a grammatical point of view it's extremely difficult not to take the two twn phrases in parallel, rather than the 2nd as partitive gen. (So Qimmik.) That would make the perioikoi a component of the 300 logades. That's hard to swallow: the perioikoi are surely subjects (so pster). So I imagine Thuc is writing loosely: twn … Eleiwn not grammatically partitive but nonetheless not to be understood as included in the 300.

—Or perhaps not. Would subject perioikoi be described as Eleans? Contrast helots (but they're distinct from Spartiates, not from Lacedaemonians?). Eleiwn surely applies only to the 2nd phrase, would be redundant with the first; so added to distinguish from subject perioeci??

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Re: Reading Thucydides 2014

Post by Qimmik » Sun Dec 15, 2013 6:42 pm

mwh: Gomme solves the difficulty by assuming that the Eleans who are among the 300 are Elean citizens living in the periphery, not non-citizen subjects. As you suggest, "Eleiwn surely applies only to the 2nd phrase, would be redundant with the first; so added to distinguish from subject perioeci" [question marks omitted]. For me, this makes the best sense and gives effect to the parallelism.

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