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οὐδείς, μηδείς

2736. οὐδείς, οὐδέν denote that which is actually non-existent or of no account; μηδείς, μηδέν denote that which is merely thought of as nonexistent or of no account. Both are used as the opposite of τὶς or τὶ (εἶναι) to be somebody (something, cp. 1269). The neuter forms are often used of persons; τὸ μηδέν (indeclinable) is used of persons and things.

νῦν μὲν οὐδείς, αὔριον δ᾽ ὑπέρμεγας oh thou who art now a nobody (an actual fact), but to-morrow exceeding great Ar. Eq. 158, ““ὄντες οὐδένεςbeing nobodiesE. And. 700, οὐ γὰρ ἠξίου τοὺς μηδένας for he was not wont to esteem (those whom he regarded as) nobodies S. Aj. 1114, τὸ μηδὲν εἰς οὐδὲν ῥέπει what was thought to be nothing now inclines (shows itself) to be actually nothing E. fr. 532, ὅτ᾽ οὐδὲν ὢν τοῦ μηδὲν ἀνέστης ὕπερ when though naught thyself (a fact) thou hast stood up for him who is as naught S. Aj. 1231. So τὸ οὐδέν zero, actually nothing, τὸ μηδέν abstract nonentity.

a. The construction may influence the choice between οὐδείς and μηδείς; as ἐὰ_ν δοκῶσί τι εἶναι μηδὲν ὄντες, ὀνειδίζετε αὐτοῖς rebuke them if they think they are something when in reality they are nothing P. A. 41e. Cp. 2737 b.

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