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 ;).
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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?"
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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)

Wes Wood
Posts: 690
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!
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Ἀσπάζομαι μὲν καὶ φιλῶ, πείσομαι δὲ μᾶλλον τῷ θεῷ ἢ ὑμῖν.-Ἀπολογία Σωκράτους 29δ

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