previous next
[7] Similarly, “you wish to destroy him ( πέρσαι).”1 Jokes of both these kinds2 must be suitably expressed. Similar instances are such witticisms as saying that “the empire of the sea” was not “the beginning of misfortunes” for the Athenians, for they benefited by it; or, with Isocrates,3 that “empire” was “the beginning of misfortunes for the city”; in both cases that which one would not have expected to be said is said, and recognized as true. For, in the second example, to say that “empire is empire” shows no cleverness, but this is not what he means, but something else; in the first, the ἀρχή which is negatived is used in a different sense.

1 There is obviously a play on πέρσαι (aor. 1 infin. of πέρθω) and Πέρσαι (Persians), but no satisfactory interpretation of the joke has been suggested.

2 The paradoxical and verbal. “Suitably” may refer to the manner of delivery; to being used at the proper time; or to taking care that the word is one that may be used in the two senses.

3 Isoc. 5.61; Isoc. 8.101. The point in the illustrations lies in the use of ἀρχή, first in the sense of “empire,” then in that of “beginning.” It could be said that the “empire” of the sea was or was not “the beginning of misfortunes” for Athens; for at first it was highly beneficial to them, but in the end brought disaster, and thus was the “beginning” of evil.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Notes (E. M. Cope, 1877)
load focus Greek (W. D. Ross, 1959)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Athens (Greece) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: