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The traditional text, “πολλῶν γὰρ ἂν καὶ μάταν πημάτων ἱκνουμένων”, is usu. understood; “"for, whereas sorrows were coming upon him in great number and without cause (καὶ μάταν), a just god may now lift him up once more."

In this there are two difficulties. (1) ἱκνουμένων is thus the partic. of the imperf.,=“ἐπεὶ ἱκνεῖτο”. But manifestly the partic. ought here to have a pres. sense, “"are coming on him."” When the pres. partic. (or inf.) serves for the impf., there is usually something in the context which prevents too great ambiguity, as is the case in 1587 (“παρών”), and O. T. 835τοῦ παρόντος”, where see n. Cp. Xen. Anab. 5.8.1Ξενοφῶντος κατηγορησάν τινες φάσκοντες παίεσθαι” (=“ὅτι ἐπαίοντο”) “ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ὡς ὑβρίζοντος” (=“ὅτι ὕβριζε”) “τὴν κατηγορίαν ἐποιοῦντο”. Dem. or. 20 § 119ταῦτα αὐτοί τε ποιεῖτε...καὶ τοὺς προγόνους ὀργίζεσθε ἐὰν μή τις φῇ ποιεῖν” (=“ὅτι ἐποίουν”).

(2) μάταν is strange in the sense “"without cause"” as=“"undeservedly."” Another proposed version, “"without any good result so far,"” seems inadmissible. Nor can the sense be “"wildly"” (temere). Hence there is ground for suspecting

καὶ μάταν. Buecheler's “πολλῶν γὰρ ἀνταλλαγὰν πημάτων” is brilliant, though the word occurs only in glossaries, and is slightly prosaic, as properly meaning “"barter."” But it leaves the blot ἱκνουμένων. I would suggest ἱκνούμενον, and, for ἂν καὶ μάταν, αὖ ῾ορ ἂν τέρματ᾽ ἂν: “"now that he is coming to the goal of many sorrows."” So the pl. El. 686δρόμου...τὰ τέρματα”. A doubled ἄν would not be unsuitable here, as expressing earnest hope; but αὖ, which MSS. often confuse with “ἄν”, would well mark the turning-point: and for its combination with πάλιν cp. 1418.—Another possibility would be “πολλῶν γὰρ ἂν ἀλλαγὰν πημάτων ἱκνούμενον” (cp. O. T. 1206ἀλλαγᾷ βίου”), or “ἱκνουμέναν” as=“"due"”: so oft. “ ἱκνούμενος χρόνος, ἡλικία”, etc.

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hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (5):
    • Demosthenes, Against Leptines, 119
    • Sophocles, Electra, 686
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 1206
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 835
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 5.8.1
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