Re: empsukhon

From: Stephen C. Carlson (
Date: Wed Oct 30 1996 - 07:08:15 EST

At 09:47 10/30/96 PST, wrote:
>Can someone email me (I'm not subscribed to b-greek) a *literal*
>definition, grammar and comprehensive etymology of "empsukhon" with
>documentation? Various suggestions have included "animal food," "flesh"
>and "meat" (for the latter two I would have expected "kreas" or "sarx") in
>translating a phrase by Hegesippus found in Eusebius EH II, xxiii, 5
>describing James: "oude empsukhon ephagen." I doubt the phrase is as
>simple as it has been widely accepted to be.

I looked it up last night in my "Great Scott" lexicon. "Empsykhos,"
from "en" (in) + "psykhe" (soul) is an adjective that means "animate"
or "having life within it." In several contexts, it means an animal
[cf. Latin "animalis" < "anima" (soul)], e.g. Thucydides. In some
references, e.g. Herodotus, it is clear that does not merely refer
to mammals but to ants and snakes as well. Its antonym is "apsykhos"
and Euripides used it in the phrase "apsykhe bora" to signify
"non-animal food."

Therefore, I would understand that "oude empsukhon ephagen" to mean
"he ate no [food from an] animal." In other words, he was a vegetarian.

By the way, the online version of Liddell-Scott-Jones lexicon is found
at the Perseus web site:

Stephen Carlson

Stephen C. Carlson                   : Poetry speaks of aspirations,              : and songs chant the words. :               -- Shujing 2.35

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