Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Exhortation on the Battlefield

Herodotus 9.17.4 (speech of Harmocydes to the Phocians; tr. A.D. Godley):
For it is better to end our lives in action and fighting than tamely to suffer a shameful death.

κρέσσον γὰρ ποιεῦντάς τι καὶ ἀμυνομένους τελευτῆσαι τὸν αἰῶνα ἤπερ παρέχοντας διαφθαρῆναι αἰσχίστῳ μόρῳ.
ἀμυνομένους: J. Enoch Powell, A Lexicon to Herodotus (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1938), p. 18 (s.v. ἀμύνω, sense II.1, middle voice): defend oneself

παρέχοντας: Id., p. 293 (s.v. παρέχω, sense I.5, citing only this passage): submit ... dub.

Despite Powell's "dub.", I see no variants or conjectures in N.G. Wilson's Oxford Classical Text edition and no discussion in his Herodotea: Studies on the Text of Herodotus (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). Powell's translation of this passage is unavailable to me. I might translate the sentence as follows:
For it is better to finish life while doing something and defending oneself than to perish by a most shameful death while submitting.
On Harmocydes' speech as a whole, see Vasiliki Zali, The Shape of Herodotean Rhetoric (Leiden: Brill, 2015), pp. 297-300.

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