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Μή I have a little help ?

Posted: March 21st, 2020, 5:25 pm
by Daniel Semler
Hi ya,

Apologies for the dreadful pun.

I'm looking at Arrian's letter in Epictetus' discourses and I ran across this :
Arrian 5 ἀλλ᾿ ἐμοί γε οὐ πολὺς λόγος, εἰ οὐχ ἱκανὸς φανοῦμαι συγγράφειν, Ἐπικτήτῳ τε οὐδ᾿ ὀλίγος, εἰ καταφρονήσει τις αὐτοῦ τῶν λόγων, ἐπεὶ καὶ λέγων αὐτοὺς οὐδενὸς ἄλλου δῆλος ἦν ἐφιέμενος ὅτι μὴ κινῆσαι τὰς γνώμας τῶν ἀκουόντων πρὸς τὰ βέλτιστα. εἰ μὲν δὴ τοῦτό γε αὐτὸ διαπράττοιντο οἱ λόγοι οὗτοι,
Arrian 6 ἔχοιεν ἂν οἶμαι ὅπερ χρὴ ἔχειν τοὺς τῶν φιλοσόφων λόγους·
In bold above, μὴ is the sticking point. The sentence would appear to say that "when he said these things, it is evident he was aiming at nothing else, than not to move the opinions of those who heard towards the best things". No one translates it this way. The μἠ is apparently ignored in the translation. I've poked about the grammars a bit and there are other examples of οτι μη which translate as "... because you did not ...." depending on the verb.

I'm aware of the double negative emphatic in Greek as in ου μη. Is this μη acting in this way here with οὐδενὸς ?

Basically my question is how does understand this use of μη in the Greek ?


Re: Μή I have a little help ?

Posted: March 22nd, 2020, 10:26 am
by Barry Hofstetter
When I first read this, I took ὅτι μή as a variety of εἰ μή, "except." Lo and behold LSJ:
b. ὅτι μή except, ὅτι μὴ Χῖοι μοῦνοι Hdt.1.18, cf. Th.4.26; ὅτι μὴ πᾶσα ἀνάγκη Pl.Phd.67a; ὅσον μή ib.83a; ὅσα μὴ ἀποβαίνοντες provided only that they did not disembark, Th.4.16.
Liddell, H. G., Scott, R., Jones, H. S., & McKenzie, R. (1996). A Greek-English lexicon (p. 1124). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

BTW, as a collector of bad puns, and especially bilingual bad puns, I loved it!

Re: Μή I have a little help ?

Posted: March 22nd, 2020, 12:59 pm
by Daniel Semler
Many thanx Barry. That makes total sense.