Construction involving ἀκούω

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Construction involving ἀκούω

Post by Cheiromancer » Fri Mar 21, 2014 1:56 pm

I am reading "Lucian, the Ass" and there is a part where he meets a woman who warns him that the wife of Lucian's host is a witch. She introduces herself as follows:

Ἐγὼ Ἄβροιά εἰμι, εἴ τινα τῆς σῆς μητρὸς φίλην ἀκούεις,...

I don't understand the grammar here. I suppose that Abroia is a friend of Lucian's mother, and that she thinks he may have heard of her, but I can't make sense of the grammar. ἀκούω takes the accusative for the thing heard, and the genitive for the source of the sound. So if Lucian was hearing his mother, she would be in the genitive. But why is ἀκούεις in the present as opposed to the perfect? Why is τινα φίλην in the accusative? I would have thought there would be some sort of chained sequence of genitives (the second one is in the dative, right?) such as in English: "if you've heard of a friend of your mother".

Please excuse my flailing around. I just want to convey where my confusion lies.

P.S. I see the forum software doesn't like the title of Pseudo-Lucian's work. Are there really so many attempts at profanity here that a profanity filter is needed? Anyway, Ὄνος, or donkey, is what is meant.

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Re: Construction involving ἀκούω

Post by Scribo » Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:18 pm

The verb is historic present, an annoying thing that tends to become more common the further you get into Greek chronologically, so parse it like that mentally.

He's not exactly hearing the mother either (and, again, the rule of objects in accusative and emitters in genitive sort of breaks down in later Greek and in anyway gets more fluid depending on sentence construction). He's hearing that someone happens to be a friend of his mothers.

Case usage, if in doubt break it down after having tried a few times.

[Ἐγὼ Ἄβροιά εἰμι]

τῆς σῆς μητρὸς,

εἴ τινα φίλην ἀκούεις

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Re: Construction involving ἀκούω

Post by cb » Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:47 pm

hi, just to add, here the construction is analogous to plato's savage attack on the nose of one of socrates' accusers, impossible to forget this sentence, present tense of verb referring to current knowledge:
ἔστι δὲ τῶν δήμων Πιτθεύς, εἴ τινα νῷ ἔχεις Πιτθέα Μέλητον οἷον τετανότριχα καὶ οὐ πάνυ εὐγένειον, ἐπίγρυπον δέ. - Euthyphro 2b

similarly here, in your e.g. the verb is really referring more to knowing (now) by hearsay in the past, e.g. see plato's gorgias 503c at the beginning of plato's attack on pericles and other famous statesmen as flatterers of the mob:
Τί δέ; Θεμιστοκλέα οὐκ ἀκούεις ἄνδρα ἀγαθὸν γεγονότα καὶ Κίμωνα καὶ Μιλτιάδην καὶ Περικλέα ...

see LSJ on this verb, para 2:
2. know by hearsay, ἔξοιδ’ ἀκούων S.OT105: pres. is used like a pf., νῆσός τις Συρίη κικλήσκεται, εἴ που ἀκούεις Od.15.403, cf. 3.193; in Prose, Pl.Grg.503c, Luc. Gall.13.

cheers, chad

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Re: Construction involving ἀκούω

Post by Cheiromancer » Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:59 pm

Let's see if I understand.

In translationese I think she wants to say "you have heard me to be a friend of your mother". So the "me" and the "to be" are omitted as understood by context, and "have heard" (perfect of ἀκούω) is given in the present tense. And she's not sure that Lucian has in fact heard of her (how did she recognize him, I wonder?), and so she drops an εἰ in front to make it almost a question. (Like prefixing the above with "No doubt")

Thank you both for your prompt and informative replies. And special thanks to you, chad, for the parallel examples and the reference to the "present used like a perfect." Now it makes 'perfect' sense!

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