Date: Sun May 18 1997 - 16:26:06 EDT
The next paragraph is a rerun and says about all that seems good for me to have
said about Polybius 2,56,14:
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." What had just been described was tuntec0ai =
typtesthae, the act of being beaten.
It will have been more salutary to ignore some of the impertinent information
that has been volunteered. Certain reputable lexica and concordances will have
been justified in listing apxwv = archon as a first form separately from apxw =
The narrow question, in itself, of how touto fits in does not prove crucial to
me. It would have been readily possible for me to see touto as adverbial all
along. Moreover, I could still translate it forthrightly as a direct object and
not bat an eye.
In fact, through the decades in my seminars one of our practices had been to
express English conceptualizations of infinitives, now as nouns and now as
adverbs, to develop a feel for their probable pristine status as well as the
utilitarian grammatical diagnosis that grammarians have often invoked. But the
bases of my speaking thus would never justify my professing a system that would
require many such infinitives to be seen as indeclinable accusative objects and
then allege that this one must be seen differently, and that's an issue that
may benefit some subscribers to b-greek.
Surely on b-greek, where those as sharp as Don, Bartholomew and Carl operate,
many have adduced some quasi-axiomatic maxims (better known as minims) like:
Those ancients dyed into this or that Hellenistic linguistic pool (sometimes
more than one) will have seldom performed our grammatical analyses in their
minds. It seems that a couple of similar comments passed through my downloads
Now is the time to explain my indifference toward viewing all infinitives as
Our young scholars are blessed with painstaking analyses of the historical
origins of forms, like C. D. Buck's incomparable Comparative Grammar of Latin
and Greek, as well as the older Manual of Giles. Infinitive formal endings
indeed show that they probably originate as ancient oblique case forms and
often bear a resemblance to locatives.
In the light of Giles and Buck my continuing students over the decades have
undertaken practice in transmuting the view of infinitive as noun to the more
pristine, or aboriginal, concept of the infinitive.
Nevertheless, in the light of the huge corpora of material on dialectics,
rhetoric and grammar that had accumulated in Hellenistic times, it would seem
far more likely that any analyses that passed through their minds would reflect
those terms, and not the C. D. Buck analysis based on formal considerations.
Therefore examination of the Indoeuropean historical development turns out to
be a very different matter from assuming a conceptual framework that treats
many as nouns and that simultaneously excepts some from the noun category.
The ancient trivium (which originated long before the middle ages) seems most
often to have introduced grammar by the useful, but dogmatically inconsistent
Stoic method that persists in most classrooms today. Compared to the curricula
by which Cicero or Caesar will have learned Greek, and which had been imposed
upon their native Latin, our own curricula will have omitted some very useful
distinctions and set up some far less logical categories, but, at the same
time, will have introduced some acute observations of further utility. (It
works about like the calculus. You have Green's theorem and few other things,
but by and large one could safely say it hasn't changed since Newton.)
It has been remarkable in my classroom career that the inflectional systems
that my best students took months or years to master seem to have given Homer's
incredible hulk Achilles no sweat. Infantile brained as he was, he could hear a
form and know in a nannosecond that another entirely different looking word 4
or 5 or 6 lines down should be understood with it. But when Helmut, Linda,
Marion or some other student of mine, whose i.q. pushed 200, read those lines,
the reaction was -- duh -- guess what: "What does this go with?" all because
Thetis didn't slobber Aeolic, Doric & Ionic forms over them in the cradle?
Moreover, this anecdote reminds me of a second, similar issue: the difference
between an accusative object and other types of accusatives.
So. G_d grant that some of you may understand, when functional terms like
direct object are used, that this could really violate a perspicacity achieved
by studying the history of forms and functions. (Has the world seen a
philological linguist since Wackernagel?) But, if it constitutes a major box in
your grammatical array, you must justsify assigning it to a different box.
Now let's turn to the question of the accusative. No one should feel obliged to
conceptualize Hebrew or Greek direct objects as we tend to conceptualize
English direct objects.
To examine all the species of accusatives and to formulate inductively one
genus from them forces us to a concept something like specification or
limitation. Indeed, if one's imagination be not too earthbound, one could take
this pristine viewpont of any accusative, and knead the English to conform to
the conceptualization. Thus "I hear paul" becomes a quasi-adverbial < "I am a
listener at paul" or from "from paul" (as one recalls the variation of cases
with akouw = acuo).
(Such ploys will have put direct objects on the same footing as so-called
accusatives of extent of space or of duration of time or of respect or of the
affected part or, if you will, adverbial. Hebraists too would be keenly aware
how many of those verbs insert be, ke, le, min which will have gratified a
feeling for syntax completely different from our own. Recall the ancient
grammatical ragbag 'oblique' nlagioc = plagius and reflect on its probable
As students 'read' Greek (in their internal mode of reading) they usually don't
think in Greek anyway, they let the Greek cause them to think English, which
they think may correspond to the Greek. Again, in understanding the wording in
question their mind was not choosing between "suffer this" or "become a
sufferer in this area." But a modern student's choice of English may reflect a
given perception of the structure of the original, and that seems to be where
this thread began.
Take apxomai nei0ec0ai = archomae peithesthae. A pristine viewpoint might not
see the syntax as "I begin to obey" as having a direct object equivalent to
'obedience'. An ur-syntax, however, might seem even cleaner to them, even
though our English might fall all over itself to express it: "I am
jump-starting my persona in the realm of obeying."
Therefore, again, one may choose to look upon all oblique objects of Greek
verbs as quasi-adverbial. Outside the parameters of a given grammatical
setting, the choice of how to do it becomes arbitrary and capricious and
affords no trace of evidence for (although they're widely thought to do so) the
original Hellenic or Hellenistic understanding on the part of either the author
or the party addressed. But, again, if one sets oneself firmly within a
tradition that recognizes accusative direct objects, one must have good reasons
for assigning accusatives that seem most naturally to qualify for membership to
a different category.
Anyone inclined to oppose my treatment of the locus citatus would be quite
deceived to think that the foregoing constitutes some kind of capitulation. Far
from it. It merely seeks to register a broader-minded view of the possible
assumptions out of which one might operate. One must not lose sight of the
setting of the original question, because it operated out of the assumptions
that most instances of touto that looked like objects might not be analogous to
the one in Polybius 2,56,14.
One must also consider the grammatical viewpoints widely assumed in the world
of learning at the time of Polybius, especially if the writer seems likely to
have been exposed to those viewpoints. Texts that illustrate the ancient
trivium (Philo documenting both quadrivium and trivium long before the middle
ages), e.g. authors like Apollonius Dyscolus abound. The statements about
infinitives found there will have influenced many standard Greek and Roman and
provincial authors of the Hellenistic period, and none of their conscious
conceptualizations will have been likely to resemble either those of C. D. Buck
or of A. T. Robertson.
As some of you may have noted I have already staked out my claim on Anglican as
not being a grammarian of essentially Stoic, but rather of Peripatetic,
tradition. I recognize only three 'parts' of what the ancient Greeks meant by
'speech' (logoc = logus roughly 'assertion'), namely the part that constitutes
the subject of the predication, the assertive part that does the predicating
and any left over parts that function to tie these parts together.
So. Although some alterations in my wording might have anticipated some of the
flack over our Polybius passage, nothing has been said that would alter my view
of the syntax, scil. so long as the assumed system recognizes some infinitives
as being verbal nouns and potential objects of verbs.
As for the 'indirect object' mentioned in the post that launched the thread, it
is still a mystery to me exactly what was meant by it or just how any mention
of it was supposed to fit into any explication of the text. It looked to me
like an elementary mistake that always comes up in the first couple of weeks of
Greek or Latin, where interest will have been confused with other senses of
The whole mess has made me want to ramble again with a couple of general
B-Greek has already seen a short plea from me to liberate Hellenistic Greek
exegesis from its servility to excessive grammatical terminology into the
normally cleaner methods that Rashi used to illuminate his Hebrew text. (He
would appeal, and almost always in the simplest possible terms, to specific
loci citati. His choices usually seem incontrovertible. They so pointedly
anticipate objections, that one seldom entertains the possibility of offering a
satisfactory rebuttal. This should be hoped for on b-greek, that instances like
to aduvatov tou nomou = to adynatum tu nomu would one day be met with an
immediate barrage of instances of the conceptual potential to be analogous,
instead of having to fuss down a long thread regarding definition of terms,
even to get started on the real questions. Even if you don't do much Hebrew at
all, it would really pay off for you to buy a cheap old edition like
Silberman's and trace the process by which Rashi's beautifully clear original
becomes the translator's often top-heavy grammatical comment.
Finally, a point of curiosity will have been the lack of reaction here to my
throwing in a little intellectual grenade, as when I pointed out how gauche and
confusing it was, in the light of the ancient and medieval linguistic
application of the adjective koivh = coene, for some inventive soul to impress
it into service as a modern generic term to describe the spectrum of mixed
literary and demotic linguistic pools represented in the earliest Christian
Please forgive typos. i saw justsify float by. peripatetic logoc had better be
statement than assertion, the predicating phma = rhema might better serve as
bearded bill of asheville <email@example.com>
unca not having approved either whom or thereof.
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