Thursday, March 31, 2005

Republic 330a7-b7

"Well, in which way, Cephalus," I said, "did you gain the most -- did you inherit it or did you earn it?"
"What's this 'did I earn?' Socrates," he said. "As a businessman, I have come to be somewhere between my grandfather and father. For my grandfather and namesake, having inherited something close to what I now have earned, made it many times larger. But Lysanias my father thereafter made less of the same substance. I would be pleased if I did not leave to my sons here less than this, but, even in some small way, more than what I inherited."

[I'm trying to use "well" to capture the force of de/. Gr. has the word po/terov, which means "whether of the two?" It's not really translatable, but I've rendered it "in which way." "The most" is really "the more" (ta\ plei/wn), but it is bad English to use the comparative to say "gain the more."

Adam offers the translation "Do you want to know what I acquired, Socrates?" He gives some reasons for it, but I'm an inadequate judge of whether he or, say, Shorey or Bloom is correct. The translations of the latter two invoke the sense of derision, which Adam rejects, in C.'s question.

"Businessman" is a translation of xrhmatisth\v. It may be a bit anachronistic, if one takes it to imply the existence of a free market economy. But LSJ also offer "a man in business." (It's odd that "man of business" is offered in the Middle Liddell but not in LSJ, is it not?) Strictly speaking, it is in the nominative case, but I've made it the object of an adverbial phrase in order to make it sound right in English.

The verb "have come to be" is ge/gona, from gi/gnomai, whose usual meaning is to be born or to come into being. It's meaning here seems to be the latter, though the former is not completely absent.

A question: Is it worthwhile to examine the fact that C. was somewhere in between his father and grandfather? Chronologically, he is not in between them but after them.

See Shorey for the bit about the namesake. The fact that grandsons often took on their grandfather's name leads to a bit of confusion about who's who in Plato's world. For example, exactly how many Critias's are there in Plato's world? See this book for a detailed hypothesis.

I'm not quite sure how to translate the phrase I translated "I would be pleased if I did not leave . . . less than this." In Gr. it's e)gw de\ a)gapw= e)a\n mh\ e)la/ttw katali/pw tou/toisin. The difficulty is deciding whether or not a)gapw= is subjunctive or not. I think it is because it's followed by e'an, but then one would expect katali/pw in the indicative. It's not; it's aorist. So I'm probably missing something.

"My sons here" is only tou/toisin, "these," in the Gr., but it seems clear that he's referring to someone close by, and since the discussion is about inheritance, his sons are the obvious choice.

In the sequel, we find out why S. asks C. about how he got his money.]

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