[B-Greek] A Couple of Questions

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Jun 30 17:33:38 EDT 2003


At 2:47 PM -0400 6/30/03, Richard Ghilardi wrote:
>Hi b-greekers,
>
>1) Thayer's Corrected Edition of 1889 has a Greek quote in it which I
>find rather puzzling:
>
>ATELES OUDEN OUDENOS METRON
>
>I would English this as:
>
>"The incomplete serves as standard measure for nothing."
>
>If I've gotten this right, Thayer was an incredibly modest man. His
>"incomplete" work stood as the standard lexical "measure" for nearly 70
>years (at least in the English-speaking world) until BAG came along in
>1957! This is a very long time indeed considering the revolution in
>lexical studies that took place in the first half of the 20th century.
>(I'm not trying to build an apologetic for Thayer, but merely making some
>observations.) One more thing. Where does this quote come from?

My own guess at the above adage would be, "Nothing (that is) incomplete is
measure of anything"--but upon reflection, that's pretty close in sense to
what you've already offered. I would guess that this was Thayer's apologia
for issuing a "Corrected" edition. If so, it's a pretty good reflection
upon the inadequacy of all our tools: "completeness" or "perfection" in
lexicography or philology or grammatical understanding is, to cite Hamlet,
"a consummation devoutly to be wished."

Whether Thayer was citing something he'd seen I don't know, but the
formulation is reminiscent of the classical formulation of Protagoras:

	PANTWN CRHMATWN METRON ANQRWPOS, TWN MEN ONTWN, hWS ESTIN, TWN DE
MH ONTWN, hWS OUK ESTIN.

>2) I found a quote from Oliver Cromwell recently which looked like it
>might go easily into Greek:
>
>"He who ceases to be better, ceases to be good."
>
>My Greek rendering:
>
>AMEINWN EINAI hO PAUSAMENOS EPAUSATO AGAQOS
>
>Could this be improved?
>Is it necessary to repeat EINAI in the independent clause?
>Should AMEINWN and AGAQOS be accusative? (AMEINONA, AGAQON)
>Would it be better (no pun intended) to use BELTIWN rather than AMEINWN?

And this reminds me of the formulation by Aeschylus from "Seven against
Thebes":

	OU GAR DOKEIN ARISTOS, ALL' EINAI QELEI.

My own suggestion for Cromwell's bit--can't quite get it to scan--is:

	PWS hOUTOS AGAQOS, hOS OUKET' AREIWN PELEI?
-- 

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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