Question on famous quote

How do I work out the meaning of a Greek text? How can I best understand the forms and vocabulary in this particular text?
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Alan Patterson
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Question on famous quote

Post by Alan Patterson » November 23rd, 2016, 1:59 pm

The following phrase is supposed to be the famous Socrates statement: The unexamined life is not worth living.

ο δ ανεζεταστος βιος ου βιωτος ανθρωποι


However, I am not sure how ανθρωποι fits into this. Is this the correct Classical Greek for this famous phrase? If so, can you give me a "literal" translation of each word? Where does the word "worth" come from in this Greek phrase?
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χαρις υμιν και ειρηνη,
Alan Patterson

cwconrad
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Re: Question on famous quote

Post by cwconrad » November 23rd, 2016, 3:43 pm

Alan Patterson wrote:The following phrase is supposed to be the famous Socrates statement: The unexamined life is not worth living.

ο δ ανεζεταστος βιος ου βιωτος ανθρωποι


However, I am not sure how ανθρωποι fits into this. Is this the correct Classical Greek for this famous phrase? If so, can you give me a "literal" translation of each word? Where does the word "worth" come from in this Greek phrase?
One factor that may help is that two types of verbal adjectives, those in -τός and in -τέος are generally considered passive in sense and construe, as do perfect passives, with a dative of the agent. The -τέος form is often used in the neuter singular with or without ἑστι in th sense, "to do x is obligatory for y': ζητέον ἡμῖν: "it is incumbent on us to seek" or more simply, "we must seek." The simpler verbal adjective in -τός expresses, ordinarily, that such an action can be performed -- by a person indicated by a dative. So:the celebrated dictum of Socrates means "The life that is not (subject to) examination is not livable for a human being." I'd even expand on those key adjectives ανεζεταστος and βιωτος to draw out what I think are the fuller implications of Socrates' challenge to Athenians he meets in the street -- or on the jury sentencing him to death: "The life that can't stand up to rigorous examination is not worth living for a human being."
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)

Robert Emil Berge
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Joined: August 24th, 2016, 1:34 pm

Re: Question on famous quote

Post by Robert Emil Berge » November 23rd, 2016, 5:31 pm

This is the phrase: "ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ", which comes from Plato's Apology 38a. The literal meaning is "And an unexamined life is not worth living for man". So the "for man" was left out in your translation. Here are the meaning of each word: ὁ - the, δέ - and, but, ἀνεξέταστος - unexamined, without enquiry, βίος - life, οὐ - not, βιωτός - worth living, ἀνθρώπῷ - man, woman (singular, dative). There is no verb here, and that is normal where "is" is implied.
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Jason Hare
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Re: Question on famous quote

Post by Jason Hare » November 24th, 2016, 5:28 am

Alan Patterson wrote:The following phrase is supposed to be the famous Socrates statement: The unexamined life is not worth living.

ο δ ανεζεταστος βιος ου βιωτος ανθρωποι


However, I am not sure how ανθρωποι fits into this. Is this the correct Classical Greek for this famous phrase? If so, can you give me a "literal" translation of each word? Where does the word "worth" come from in this Greek phrase?
Were you confused about the specific form ἀνθρώποι, since it should be ἀνθρώπῳ?
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Jason A. Hare
Tel Aviv, Israel

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