From Lucian's De Morte Peregrini

Other Greek writings of the New Testament era, including papyri and inscriptions
Forum rules
Please quote the Greek text you are discussing directly in your post if it is reasonably short - do not ask people to look it up. This is not a beginner's forum, competence in Greek is assumed.
Post Reply
Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1025
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

From Lucian's De Morte Peregrini

Post by Barry Hofstetter » April 28th, 2014, 8:48 pm

I though it would be fun to revisit the text I did for my M.A. thesis back in the 1980's, Lucian's De Morte Peregrini. I think my Greek must have been better in those days, because I ran across a sentence for which I'd like people's opinion. From 1.3:
τὸν μὲν ποιητὴν οἶσθα οἷός τε ἦν καὶ ἡλίκα ἐτραγῴδει παρʼ ὅλον τὸν βίον, ὑπὲρ τὸν Σοφοκλέα καὶ τὸν Αἰσχύλον.


Now, I know what it's supposed to say, but I'm having trouble with the exact force of οἷός τε ἦν. Normally this is idiomatic for "be able" or "be capable" but that doesn't seem really to fit here, since it would normally be followed with an infinitive. This online English translation is not at all helpful in seeing the Greek construction, although I instinctively read it similarly:
As to our author, I say nothing: you know the man, you know the sublime utterances that marked his earthly course, outvoicing Sophocles and Aeschylus.
I liked the French translation:
Tu connais le poète, tu sais qu'il a joué la tragédie toute sa vie, à détrôner Sophocle et Eschyle.
Any suggestions appreciated... :? .
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

cwconrad
Posts: 2107
Joined: May 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm
Location: Burnsville, NC 28714
Contact:

Re: From Lucian's De Morte Peregrini

Post by cwconrad » April 29th, 2014, 12:49 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:I though it would be fun to revisit the text I did for my M.A. thesis back in the 1980's, Lucian's De Morte Peregrini. I think my Greek must have been better in those days, because I ran across a sentence for which I'd like people's opinion. From 1.3:
τὸν μὲν ποιητὴν οἶσθα οἷός τε ἦν καὶ ἡλίκα ἐτραγῴδει παρʼ ὅλον τὸν βίον, ὑπὲρ τὸν Σοφοκλέα καὶ τὸν Αἰσχύλον.


Now, I know what it's supposed to say, but I'm having trouble with the exact force of οἷός τε ἦν. Normally this is idiomatic for "be able" or "be capable" but that doesn't seem really to fit here, since it would normally be followed with an infinitive. This online English translation is not at all helpful in seeing the Greek construction, although I instinctively read it similarly:
As to our author, I say nothing: you know the man, you know the sublime utterances that marked his earthly course, outvoicing Sophocles and Aeschylus.
I liked the French translation:
Tu connais le poète, tu sais qu'il a joué la tragédie toute sa vie, à détrôner Sophocle et Eschyle.
Any suggestions appreciated... :? .
I love reading Lucian, a marvel of urbanity and grace of diction, composer of a Greek that rings as clear as a bell. Would that other "Atticists" had written prose as clean and elegant as his! And to think that he grew up in the Decapolis just across the water from Galilee.

I don't really think that οἷός τε differs in meaning from its regular usage; I do think that there's an elliptical infinitive, perhaps γράφειν or συγγράψαι or the like, perhaps even ποιεῖν in its quasi-technical sense of artistic creativity. I make it something like, "You know what a poet he was (= what he could do), the magnitude of his lifelong achievement in tragedy, surpassing Sophocles and Aeschylus."
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Barry Hofstetter
Posts: 1025
Joined: May 6th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Re: From Lucian's De Morte Peregrini

Post by Barry Hofstetter » April 29th, 2014, 8:34 pm

Yes, I agree with you in general about Lucian, but this particular sentence just didn't sync with me. I expected the syntax to do something really different to express the concept, and I just didn't get it... :(
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
Instructor of Latin
Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
ἐγὼ δὲ διδάσκω τε καὶ γράφω ἵνα τὰ ἀξιώτερα μανθάνω

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest