Friday, May 04, 2018
I'd be up in arms if I ordered a Molon Labe flag and received a Molop Labe flag instead. Those who quote Greek should mind their pi's and nu's.
Plutarch, Spartan Sayings: Sayings of Leonidas the son of Anaxandridas, number 11 (= Moralia 225 D; tr. Frank Cole Babbitt):
When Xerxes wrote again, "Hand over your arms," he wrote in reply, "Come and take them."Other vendors sell the same flag with the botched Greek quotation.
πάλιν δὲ τοῦ Ξέρξου γράψαντος, "πέμψον τὰ ὅπλα," ἀντέγραψε, "μολὼν λάβε."
Did I myself botch the quotation, with a misplaced accent? Should the imperative be λάβε or λαβέ? Kevin Muse writes:
Thinking back to those pesky exceptions we learn for the accentuation of thematic aorist imperatives in first-year Greek, I wonder whether the accentuation μολὼν λάβε in the Loeb is correct. The TLG, after the Teubner, has μολὠν λαβέ. The grammarians (e.g., Herodian, Choeroboscus) suggest that λάβε was the usual pronunciation in Koine (cf. also Epictetus Discourses 3.22), and that λαβέ would have been an Attic pronunciation (cf. Smyth 424b). What would the Spartans have said? The accent on the theme vowel was the older form, as Michael Weiss, in his chapter "Morphology and Word Formation" in A Companion to Ancient Greek Language (Blackwell 2010) p. 114 writes: "Thematic aorists are characterized by a zero-grade root and thematic endings. Before the assignment of recessive accent to finite verbal forms the thematic vowel bore the accent. This pattern survives exceptionally in the imperatives ἰδέ, λαβέ, ἐλθέ and regularly in the participle (λιπών) and infinitive (λιπεῖν)." What would a Spartan have said? Had the accent shifted back in Doric by the time this was originally uttered? What would Plutarch have preferred to say?
Labels: typographical and other errors