Stephen Carlson wrote:Yeah, English in fact needs the progressive form (BE + -ING) to make it non generic.
Another way to ask the question: How can I tell whether the singular indefinite ἱλαρὸν δότην is generic (for all cheerful givers, God loves them), or existential (there is exists a cheerful giver, and God is loving him/her (right now))?
I'm reminded of the old joke about the existentialist umpire who disdains both the pitcher's and the batter's judgment about whether the pitch was really
a ball or a strike. "It ain't
a ball or a strike until I say
it's a ball or a strike."
The more i think about the question originally asked, the more I wonder why it was asked at all. Is it being supposed that the ἱλαρὸς δότης must refer to a concrete particular giver because it lacks the definite article? I think the citation is clearly proverbial and the γνώμη is in the characteristic style, e.g. Callimachus' μέγα βιβλίον μέγα κακόν or Hesiod, WD, 355-6 δώτῃ μέν τις ἔδωκεν, ἀδώτῃ δʼ οὔτις ἔδωκεν./ δὼς ἀγαθή, ἅρπαξ δὲ κακή, θανάτοιο δότειρα.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)