Re: Off-topic: Lucian again

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Feb 26 1997 - 07:04:19 EST

At 9:17 PM -0600 2/25/97, kdlitwak wrote:
>I have more Lucian quesions. I'm on the first
>sentence of How to Write History, #34.
>OIKOTHEN ECHONTA HE^KEIN (using Perseus transliteration).
>"I say therefore the one who composes the best history ????"
>I can't figure out how to translate (or even understand) ECHONTA
>HEKEIN. I looked through the LSJ entry for HEKEIN but didn't find it
>used as an infinitive with a participle. Any ideas on how to understand

If you've cited the text accurately (perhaps the broader context offers or
implies an accusative subject for hHKEIN; otherwise I'd expect an article
before ARISTA to yield as a substantival participle TON ARISTA HISTORIAN
SUGGRAFONTA, it ought to mean: "So I assert that (someone) who writes
history best comes (hHKEIN) already possessing at the outset (OIKOQEN
ECONTA) these two foremost elements (DUO MEN TAUTA KORUFAIOTATA) ..."
hHKEIN ECONTA here really implies that the historian already possesses the
2 fundamentals in question before he starts to write.

> Also,I haven't found a copy yet of the handy parsing guide that has
>been suggested to me yet,

Marinone or some such name, TUTTI I VERBI GRECI, but there's an English
translation of that now, and I just saw it in a catalogue within the last
two days. I'll find it and let you know.

and I can't figure out the fomr in How to
>Write History, #38, MELETW. Thislooks like a 3s imperative, but I can't
>find any suitable verb. MELLW seem sto nefver lose one of its Lambdas
>in anytense, and there's no such verb as MELW, nor a suitable looking
>contract verb, which wouldn't work anyway because there is no long vowel
>before the suffix. I'd appreciate a suggestion as to what it is or how
>I might figure it out. I tried Perseus and Perseus only identifies it
>as a form of the noun MELETWR. It's in the construction MH MELETW
>AUTWi. "Let is not to him." Thanks.

This verb is impersonal; it is related to MELETAW and to MELLW, but it is,
in fact regularly a 3rd sg. MELEI used with a dative and infinitive,
meaning "it is a concern to X (in the dative) to do (whatever the verb of
the infinitive is). An amusing phrase found in casual graffiti is OU MELI
(= MELEI) MOI, "It doesn't matter to me" or "I don't give a damn." The form
you have, Ken, you have correctly diagnosed as 3d sg. imperative, but you
were looking for a present tense MELW or MELEW. Actually if it were an EW
verb, the form would be MELEITW. I think I find MELW in the little
Langenscheidt lexicon which is the only one I have at home under MELW,
showing the middle MELOMAI and clearly listing the idiom I've just
mentioned. MH MELETW (presumably an AUTWi is implicit or expressed) should
mean "He need not be concerned about ..." (lit. "it should not be a concern
to him ...").

>Ken Litwak

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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