ἐρεθίζειν - set in motion independent action

Semantic Range, Lexicography, and other approaches to word meaning - in general, or for particular words.
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Stephen Hughes
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Joined: February 26th, 2013, 7:12 am

ἐρεθίζειν - set in motion independent action

Post by Stephen Hughes » October 14th, 2015, 6:57 am

One L&N's definitions (88.168) for ἐρεθίζειν seems strained. "to make some one resentful", "to make some one bitter". All the collocations in LSJ suggest that something is set in motion with an ἐρεθίζειν that is bigger than the trigger and goes on without the control of the the person that set it off; The string of the musical instrument continues to move, the wasps come and find who poked their nest, the murderous and brutal will have a bad effect when roused, the old woman will give you an ear-full, and so on.
Colossians 3:21 wrote:Οἱ πατέρες, μὴ ἐρεθίζετε τὰ τέκνα ὑμῶν, ἵνα μὴ ἀθυμῶσιν.
Perhaps asking, "What is resentment or bitterness?" would be a better approach. To my mind they seem to be a few steps along the line from whatever sets the children off. The two parts of the verse seem to be - if you set them off, what you are going to get (in the long run) is them being de-spirited /despondent. A definition like L&N's sort of puts the end at the beginning.

To look at it from the aspect of back translation, perhaps, "to make someone bitter" might be better expressed by πικραίνειν. Of course that might be the implied meaning of the overal phrase, but I think that the stated meaning of the word ἐρεθίζειν is "set off", or "trigger". It seems that they have entered a possible contextual meaning in as a lexical meaning. Subjectively speaking, if there is any distinction to be made between bitterness and rebellion, then that could perhaps be put as alternate route - depending on how different people's emotions work.

How do others feel about L&N definition in this case?
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(Menander, Γνῶμαι μονόστιχοι 108)

Tony Pope
Posts: 122
Joined: July 14th, 2011, 6:20 pm

Re: ἐρεθίζειν - set in motion independent action

Post by Tony Pope » October 15th, 2015, 8:41 am

Stephen Hughes wrote:Perhaps asking, "What is resentment or bitterness?" would be a better approach. To my mind they seem to be a few steps along the line from whatever sets the children off. The two parts of the verse seem to be - if you set them off, what you are going to get (in the long run) is them being de-spirited /despondent. A definition like L&N's sort of puts the end at the beginning.
Would these references help your case? A distinction seems to be made between the act of provocation and its consequences.
Vettius Valens 261K wrote:ἀλλὰ φυσικῶς τινες βάσκανοι καὶ φιλόνεικοι καὶ ἐναντιόβουλοι ὑπάρχοντες ῥᾳδίως ἁλίσκονται καὶ τιμωροῦνται, φύσις δὲ ῥυθμισθῆναι μὲν οὐ δύναται, ἀναγκασθεῖσα δὲ μετὰ αἰδοῦς καὶ λύπης πραΰνεται, ἐλεγχομένη δὲ ἀγανακτεῖ καὶ τολμηροτέρα γίνεται ἐρεθιζομένη.
[Men who are naturally malicious, ambitious, and contrary-minded /261K/ are easily seen to be such and are
punished, but their nature cannot be subdued: it can be made mild because of its shame and sorrow when
pressure is put upon it, but when it is proven wrong, it becomes angry and bold at this provocation.] (Riley)
Test. Dan 7.4.1-2, 4 wrote:Οὐκοῦν σύνετε τὴν δύναμιν τοῦ θυμοῦ, ὅτι ματαία ἐστίν. Ἐν γὰρ λόγῳ παροξύνει πρῶτον· εἶτα ἐν ἔργοις δυναμοῖ τὸν ἐρεθιζόμενον, καὶ ἐν ζημίαις πικραῖς ταράσσει τὸ διαβούλιον αὐτοῦ· ... [4] Πρῶτον γὰρ τέρπει τὴν ἀκοήν, καὶ οὕτως ὀξύνει τὸν νοῦν, νοῆσαι τὸ ἐρεθισθέν· καὶ τότε θυμωθεὶς νομίζει δικαίως ὀργίζεσθαι.
[Understand, then, how powerful anger is, and how deceptive it is. For first of all it provokes by word: and then it strengthens the man provoked by deeds, and creates disorder and provokes havoc in his mind. ... [4] For first it delights the ear, and so it alerts the mind to consider what has been said in provocation, and then, in a fit of rage, the man thinks his anger justified.] (de Jonge)
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