From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Sep 28 1999 - 15:56:27 EDT

I've followed this thread with interest; I found particularly interesting
Mike Sangrey's suggestion of Paul's hand gestures, primarily because I
think that the span of fingers of a hand probably is the right way to
understand the function of DIA with genitive of time. I'm not sure,
however, that DIA is necessarily even HEARD when DIA appears with the
genitive in this temporal expression; evidently it is classical and
traditional. Here's what LSJ at Perseus has for the temporal use of DIA
with genitive:

2. of the interval which has passed between two points of Time, DIA CRONOU
POLLOU or DIA POLLOU CRONOU after a long time, IDEM = Hdt. 3.27,
Aristoph. Pl. 1045; DIA MAKRWN CRONWN Plat. Tim. 22d: without an Adj., DIA
CRONOU after a time, Soph. Phil. 758, Xen. Cyrop. 1.4.28, etc.; DI'
hHMERWN after several days, Ev.Marc.2.1; and with Adjs. alone, DI' OLIGOU
Thuc. 5.14; OU DIA MAKROU IDEM=Thuc. 6.15,au=Thuc. 6.91=lr; DIA POLLOU
Luc.Nigr.2, etc.: with Numerals, DI' ETEWN EIKOSI . 6.118, cf. OGI56.38
(iii B. C.), etc.: but DIA THS hEBDOMHS till the seventh day,
Luc.Hist.Conscr.21: also distributively,CRONOS DIA CRONOU PROUBAINE time
after time, Soph. Phil. 285; ALLOS DI' ALLOU Eur. Andr. 1248.

It does seem a bit strange, but apparently it got established as a standard
usage fairly early; it strikes me as a bit like our "in" with expressions
of a time-span: "I'll see you in a week"--meaning a week from now, or
"He'll return in a fortnight"--meaning two weeks from now. German uses a
phrasing, "heute in acht Tagen" meaning "a week from today." It may be that
the original sense of DIA was completely lost in such expressions of
'span.' The word for a musical octave began as DIA PASWN (CORDWN), the span
of all the chords/strings, then became a single noun, hH DIAPASWN, whereof
only the article is inflected and DIA and PASWN may be written as one word
or as two.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649

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