[B-Greek] Active for Passive?

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Wed Apr 14 11:17:44 EDT 2010


>> Text and translation from Horsely [see below]:
>> Μῆνα ἐγ Διοδότου Ἀλέξανδρος Θαλούσης μετὰ Ἰουλίου καὶ τῆς ἀδελφῆς ἐλυτρώσαντο
>> τὸν θεὸν ἐξ εἰδότων καὶ μὴ εἰδότων. Ἔτους σλγ’
>> MHNA EG DIODOTOU ALEXANDROS QALOUSHS META IOULIOU KAI THS ADELFHS ELUTRWSANTO
>> TON QEON EX EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN. ETOUS SLH’
>> "Alexander, son of Thalouse, with Julius and his sister
>> paid to the god Men of Diodotos a ransom for things known and not
>> known. Year 233 (= 148-49 CE)."
>
> What I don't understand is why people talk about a passive meaning here. Maybe
> they look at the English above and take "things" as subject for (be) known, or
> maybe I am missing something? It seems to be a rather short and ellipsed
> statement since the scenario is common knowledge:
> Alexander, Julius and his sister paid a ransom to the god Men because of the
> things/sins which they knew about and the things/sins which they did not know
> about (as sins).
>
> The subject for knowing (the Experiencer) is the three people while the object
> is the implicit things/sins, and that means no passive idea as far as I can
> tell. With an elision, the subject for EIDOTES is supplied from the preceding
> context.

I suppose you mean ellipsis rather than elision.

This seems reasonable, except for the EX + genitive construction where we
could so much more easily have EIDOTES KAI MH EIDOTES in the
nominative with the subjects -- well, maybe not, since two of them are indicated
as genitive objects of META. On the other hand, we have a singular subject
ALEXANDROS with a plural verb ELUTRWSANTO, suggesting that perhaps
more of this inscription's text is "constructio ad sensum" than meets the eye. 
The
genitive participles are almost like genitive absolutes -- but again there's 
that
preposition EX. It does seem evident that the inscaription follows a more or
less standard formulaic pattern. Yancey has shown two of them with (E)IDOTWN
KAI MH (E)IDOTWN. One would like to know of any other instances of this
phrase and the contexts in which they are found.

Carl W. Conrad
---------------------

Yes, I meant ellipsis, and I also agree with Yancy that EX EIDOTWN is probably a 
contracted or shorthand form for the longer EX hWN EIDOTES. Quite often a 
participle functions as a relative clause, and it would have been clearer to 
expand the phrase with a relative pronoun, but the contracted form was 
apparently still understandable, especially if it was a common way of expressing 
the idea.

Iver Larsen 




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