[B-Greek] Another Greek composition question

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Jul 1 16:46:21 EDT 2003


The following message reached me as a list-administrator in a roundabout
manner as a "bounce" from the list--evidently it wasn't originally
addressed directly to the list address. I'm forwarding it and responding to
it at the same time, somewhat reluctantly, inasmuch as this is at best
tangential to ordinary B-Greek concerns and is more germane to Classical
Attic style and pedagogy. Nevertheless, I know there are a few who may be
interested and I don't think that Charles Granby's questions should want
for a response. Those who are not interested can delete at once.


>Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 12:35:29 -0400
>From: GRanby at SAFe-mail.net
>
>Thank you for your lengthy posts Mr. Conrad, they were very informative.I
>would like to ask another composition question.
>
>I found the following sentence in English:
>
>Any man should be considered a fool until proven otherwise.
>
>I thought I could easily translate this to Greek until I actually sat down
>and >tried to do it.

I think that's the way almost any serious exercise in composition
operates--and quite frankly, as I suggested this morning, proverbial
statements or adages such as this are far more difficult to carry over than
are simple narrative or expository texts. A proverbial or pithy expression
of any sort is far more difficult to carry over. Moreover, there's no
single right answer to the question how to do it: there are numerous ways
of translating so that the thought is accurately represented even if the
structure of the original isn't; some ways will be better than others.

> (One of several really bad attempts I tried follows:)
>
>DEI DOKEIN TINA EINAI FLUARIA, AXRI OUTOS AUTON DEDEICAN AXIWS
>
>(it is necessary to reckon someone to be foolish, until this one worthily
>shows himself)

Probably better for the second clause would be something like "unless he
has shown himself to be wise"-- something which rather simply put would be
like EI MH hEAUTON SOFON EINAI EDEIXEN.

First of all, I think hHGEOMAI might be better here for "reckon": MWRON
hHGHSASQAI DEI EKEINON, hOSTIS ... ; then the linkage of the pronouns in
the two clauses should probably involve a relative pronoun in one and a
demonstrative in another: EKEINON ... hOS or hOSTIS, or else, as suggested
above, an "if" clause beginning with EI or EAN + subj.

>I didn't know for sure how to say 'proven otherwise' in greek so I
>switched it to something i thought would be understandable.

And that's exactly what one must do: rephrase it into something like some
Greek that you've seen. Another model that comes to my mind is that ending
of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex: "deem no man happy until he's passed his final
day without suffering anything untoward."

>Some Questions:
>Is it correct to switch from TINA to OUTOS ?

Still better, I'd say, is to link with a relative pronoun tied to a
demonstrative: "He who ..." = EKEINOS or hOUTOS and hOS or hOSTIS ...

>for the verbal idea in the expression 'proven otherwise' what would be a
>natural tense,voice to use for the greek verb?

Probably an aorist, alternatively a perfect; but be aware that an aorist
participle (passive, if need be) can take the place of a whole conditional
protasis (i.e. hOSTIS hEAUTON EDEIXEN or EI TIS hEAUTON EDEIXEN could just
as well be an articular participle, hO hEAUTON DEIXAS ...

The courses in Greek composition that I took in graduate school and the
courses that I have myself taught have always involved close reading and
analysis of a whole work or an extensive selection from a classical Attic
Greek model, following which sentences or a longer paragraph for
translation was assigned--sentences or a paragraph of good English focusing
on the same subject matter as the Greek text previously studied. In view of
the sentence suggested above, what comes to my mind immediately is the
passage in Plato's Apology, especially the section of Socrates' address to
the jury following upon his condemnation, when he tells them he will not
desist from his examination of any and every Athenian who claims to be wise
in one way or another, 38e and what follows, especially, EANTE GAR LEGW
hOTI TWi QEWi APEIQEIN TOUT' ESTIN KAI DIA TOUT' ADUNATON hHSUCIAN AGEIN,
OU PEISESQE MOI hWS EIRWNEUOMENWI; EANT' AU LEGW hOTI TUGCANEI MEGISTON
AGAQON ON ANQRWPWi TOUTO, hEKASTHS hHMERAS PERI ARETHS TOUS LOGOUS
POIEISQAI KAI TWN ALLWN PERI hWN hUMEIS EMOU AKOUETE DIALEGOMENOU KAI
EMAUTON KAI ALLOUS EXETAZONTOS, hO DE ANEXETASTOS BIOS OU BIWTOS ANQRWPWi,
TAUTA D' ETI hHTTON PEISESQE MOI LEGONTI.

I thought of this passage at once when I saw that sentence, "Any man should
be considered a fool until proven otherwise," and it seems to me that the
central proposition of Socrates that is so often quoted from this passage,
"hO DE ANEXETASTOS BIOS OU BIWTOS ANQRWPWi," is the model upon which I
would fashion a Greek phrasing of the sense of the English.

It needs to be reformulated into a "natural" Greek idea, along such lines
as this: "The man is a fool--what else?--whose wisdom has never been put on
trial?" That becomes something like: MWROS EKEINOS--PWS GAR OU?--hO DOKWN
MEN SOFOS EINAI OUDEPOTE DE EXETASQEIS THN SOFIAN AUTOU. More literally
that's: "That man's a fool--what else could he be?--who thinks he's wise
but has never had his wisdom put to the test."

>Thank You,
>Charles Granby, bravely struggling autodidact
-- 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/



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