Re: Polybius 2,56,14

From: kdlitwak (
Date: Wed May 14 1997 - 19:54:17 EDT

Let me make just a couple of quick comments. My professor's
understanidng of the text has nothing to do with the translation I
offered as I hadn't even been to our seminar, which is to day, to offer
the translation. I did find the suggeston that Ineed a new prof a bit
over the edge. Second, there are multiple ways this sentence CAN be
construed. While I heard this mornin at least two versions that take
TOUTO as a straight dirct object "suffere this," I think it can be
easily argued from the context that Polybius is saying that if someone
is a ruler (ARGWN is in fact a participle, which was used regularly as a
substantive meaning ruler, but it is still a participle) of unjust
hands, he may suffer on account of this fact. The context relates to
the reasons or bases upon wich people are punished or suffer. Thus
understanding TOUTO here as "for this," i.e., on account of possessing
unjust hands. It could equally be "if a certain ruler suffers this by
unjhust hands," but there is no clear antecedent then for TOUTO in my
opinion. Of course, the whole passage is hard to interpret I thik, so
leaving the reader to wonder what TOUTO refers to, if this means
"suffers this" would not be surprising. My impression of Polybius from
reading just a couple of sections, especially 2.56.10, is that either he
is a bad writer because he does not express him self very clearly or he
deliberately chose to not eschew obfuscation. Which it is I suppose
depends upon one's agenda.

Ken Litwak wrote:
> I think it was Ken who asked about this citation.
> Polybius 2,56,14
> There can't be anything resembling an indirect object anywhere in your
> sentence. Even if some translator had something like 'for this' it would have
> to be understood unlike interest and more in a 'because of' sense of 'for'.
> You could have talked to some of my beginners 50 years and they would never
> have seen the difference between for in "Jo did it for Bu." and for in "Ti was
> hanged for murder." But let's rethink the structure of your sentence by putting
> it into English word order:
> eav tic apxwv adikwv xeipwv na0h touto, kpivetai nenov0evai dikaiwc
> ean tis archon adikon cheiron pathe tuto, crinetae peponthenae dicaeos
> if any ruler (anyone in high office) of unjust hands (wicked practices) should
> suffer this (what has just been described), he would be judged (thought) to
> have suffered [it] justly.
> Especially when I held seminars in Thucydides only one or two of my students
> were ever able to penetrate the Greek quickly enough mentally to translate it
> in class without rewriting the Greek into English word order. If your teacher's
> too inexperienced to know exactly where you're missing it from listening to
> your English (no matter how free it is -- freedom not being a synonym for
> vagueness), such a teacher could surely tell what's happening in your mind by
> reading your recast of Greek words into English word order. And, if the teacher
> can't do that much, for goodness sake get another teacher.
> Your English reflects two likely misunderstandings. In class I never start a
> critique dogmatically, but thus. You seem not to have noticed that the accent
> of adikwv groups it mentally with xeipwv and negates taking it as participle.
> Did you really not see na0h as active subjunctive 2 aor. with direct object
> touto? In a seminar I would not have jumped to the upshot of the thing so
> directly, but would have probed more gradually, so that the student might think
> about not having thought through the sentence in Greek.
> Except for manuscriptal or editorial errors, where literate material (unlike
> Ogr!) like Polybius is in question, if you understand a sentence, every single
> part of it will be perfectly lucid. You will not find yourself in a fog.
> Plenty of so-called 'adverbial accusatives' can be seen as means, but there is
> certainly not one in your sentence.
> In grammar any phenomenon can be shown to be equivalent to a seemingly infinite
> number of other phenomena & therefore, since human communication will have been
> rendered thereby impossible, scil. since all things equal the same thing, the
> Eternal has to work a miracle every time a thought passes from mind to mind.
> shalom,
> bearded bill of asheville <>
> unca not having approved either whom or thereof.
> P.S. Of course my Thucydideans were not required to recast them all, but only
> the ones they'd stumble over and waste the other students' valuable time.

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