Most likely meaning of τὴν τῶν ὅπλων ἕξιν;

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Wes Wood
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Joined: September 20th, 2013, 8:18 pm

Most likely meaning of τὴν τῶν ὅπλων ἕξιν;

Post by Wes Wood » October 8th, 2015, 2:46 pm

ταῦτ᾽ εἴη. καί μοι λέγε: κατὰ τί τὰ συσσίτιά τε ὑμῖν συντέταχεν ὁ νόμος καὶ τὰ γυμνάσια καὶ τὴν τῶν ὅπλων ἕξιν;

I am struggling a bit with the underlined phrase. I am wondering what your thoughts are about its most likely meaning. I feel like the particular phrase in question could mean 'the condition of the weapons', 'the possession of weapons', or perhaps describing something like 'the readiness of the weapons for defense'

I also wonder if I understand the verb with the correct sense. My initial thought was to take συντέταχεν as something like 'assess for taxation purposes', but I chose a more general meaning to give myself some wiggle room ;).
Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

cwconrad
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Re: Most likely meaning of τὴν τῶν ὅπλων ἕξιν;

Post by cwconrad » October 9th, 2015, 8:40 am

Wes Wood wrote:ταῦτ᾽ εἴη. καί μοι λέγε: κατὰ τί τὰ συσσίτιά τε ὑμῖν συντέταχεν ὁ νόμος καὶ τὰ γυμνάσια καὶ τὴν τῶν ὅπλων ἕξιν;

I am struggling a bit with the underlined phrase. I am wondering what your thoughts are about its most likely meaning. I feel like the particular phrase in question could mean 'the condition of the weapons', 'the possession of weapons', or perhaps describing something like 'the readiness of the weapons for defense'

I also wonder if I understand the verb with the correct sense. My initial thought was to take συντέταχεν as something like 'assess for taxation purposes', but I chose a more general meaning to give myself some wiggle room ;).
"The right to bear arms" is once again, in the light of the latest school massacre, in the limelight; its context in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not unrelated to a similar context in the polity of the ancient Greek city-state. Essential to the ancient πόλις were the intertwined educational and military institutions: the γυμνάσια shaped and trained the bodies of the ephebes who were to become citizens and the common mess shared by citizen-soldiers sustained and continued to secure the community. So I would understand συντάττειν as "arrange" or "arrange for" -- our essential term for grammatical arrangement derives from the same verb -- and I would take ὅπλων ἕξις as "bearing arms" or "carrying arms". Every male citizen kept weaponry -- sword and shield -- in his home and was required to bring these with him upon sounding of the summons to battle, whether boarding of ships or whatever.

So: κατὰ τί τὰ συσσίτιά τε ὑμῖν συντέταχεν ὁ νόμος καὶ τὰ γυμνάσια καὶ τὴν τῶν ὅπλων ἕξιν; = "On what basis has the law made provision for the common mess-hall and the gymnasia and the carrying of arms?"
οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

Wes Wood
Posts: 686
Joined: September 20th, 2013, 8:18 pm

Re: Most likely meaning of τὴν τῶν ὅπλων ἕξιν;

Post by Wes Wood » October 9th, 2015, 8:59 am

Thank you so much!
Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

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