Posted by Dennis » Add Comment »
Here’s a brain bender for you.
I’ve just started on Thucydides 3. 82 and was almost immediately hit with what Marchant calls “perhaps the most extraordinary anacoluthon in Thuc.” All of the commentaries say that the men-de construction sets a participle against a finite verb, but I just can’t get myself to believe that:
καὶ ἐν μὲν εἰρήνῃ οὐκ ἂν ἐχόντων πρόφασιν οὐδ’ ἑτοίμων παρακαλεῖν αὐτούς, πολεμουμένων δὲ καὶ ξυμμαχίας ἅμα ἑκατέροις τῇ τῶν ἐναντίων κακώσει καὶ σφίσιν αὐτοῖς ἐκ τοῦ αὐτοῦ προσποιήσει ῥᾳδίως αἱ ἐπαγωγαὶ τοῖς νεωτερίζειν τι βουλομένοις ἐπορίζοντο.
Is it at all possible that the men-de construction is part of an elaborate genitive absolute? (The genitive absolute is, afterall, a kind of circumstantial participle.)
My reading would run thus:
“And though they neither had a reason to nor were prepared to summon them [i.e. the Athenians or the Spartans] in peacetime, but–while they were at war–(they) even (had reason and were willing to summon their) allies together with either side [i.e. Athenians and Spartans again] for the ruin of their opponents and, from the same thing, for their own gain, the introductions [i.e. of the Athenians or Spartans] were easily contrived by those who wanted to change the system a bit.”
The argument as I see it is that while the people weren’t prepared to bring in foreigners in peacetime, but were in war, those who wanted to shake things up found reasons to bring in foreigners and thus to agitate things sufficiently to effect change.
Does that make sense? Can anyone make better sense?
Am I being unreasonable in refusing to accept “perhaps the most extraordinary anacoluthon” in Thucydides?