“ἐν μέσῳ νυκτῶν”

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Constantinus Philo
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“ἐν μέσῳ νυκτῶν”

Post by Constantinus Philo »

is this always used in plural, or can it be used in sing as well, νυκτός?
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phalakros
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Re: “ἐν μέσῳ νυκτῶν”

Post by phalakros »

Yes, νύκτες usually plural in expressions for “midnight,” μέσαι νύκτες, ἐν μέσῳ νυκτῶν, etc., referring to the three different watches of the night. The singular is much rarer. I don’t think it ever occurs in Attic prose.

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jeidsath
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Re: “ἐν μέσῳ νυκτῶν”

Post by jeidsath »

You'll see the singular in NT/LXX, etc. for the "middle night". A weird way to put it, when you think about precisely what it's saying. Maybe coming in from the Hebrew LXX translation? But there are more instances in Ionic prose (Herodotus, Hippocrates).

This is pretty unique, from Xenophon's econ-paper: "ἐν μέσῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ"

Also, notice the LSJ entry for νύξ. Phalakros could provide a useful service here if he'd like to break down why a student should suspect the primarily plural use in Attic prose, just going by this entry. Or I can, if he'd like instead.
μέσαι νύκτες midnight, Sapph.52, Pl.R.621b; περὶ μ. νύκτας X.An.7.8.12; ἐν μέσῳ νυκτῶν Id.Cyr.5.3.52; πρωΐτερον μέσων νυκτῶν Th.8.101; ἔξω μέσων ν. D.54.26.
3. in pl., watches of the night, ib.256; three such, παροίχωκεν δὲ πλέων νὺξ τῶν δύο μοιράων, τριτάτη δ’ ἔτι μοῖρα λέλειπται Il.10.252; τρίχα νυκτὸς ἔην, for τρίτον μέρος τῆς νυκτὸς ἦν, it was the third watch, i. e. next before morning, Od.12.312.
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