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τὸν οὐκ ὄντα μᾶλλον μηδένα, one who exists no more than a nonentity. In “μηδένα, μή” has its generic force: one who is such as to be a mere cipher. Cp. Ai. 1114οὐ γὰρ ἠξίου τοὺς μηδένας”. O. T. 1019καὶ πῶς φύσας ἐξ ἴσου τῷ μηδενί”; (dat. of “ μηδείς”,—he who is “μηδείς” in respect to consanguinity). Here “τὸν μηδέν” would have been equally fitting: cp. Ai. 1231ὅτ᾽ οὐδὲν ὢν τοῦ μηδὲν” (the dead) “ἀντέστης ὔπερ”.—Postgate suggests (Trans. Cambridge Phil. Soc., 1886, p. 58) that this use of the oblique cases of “μηδείς” in sing., and of “οὐδείς” and “μηδείς” in plur., may have come from an attraction of the neuter by the masc. article: e.g., “τοὺς μηδένας” from “τοὺς μηδέν”. We do not find “ μηδείς”. When it became declinable, the phrase could dispense with the article; e.g., “τὸν μηδέν” could be simply “μηδένα”.

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  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 1114
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 1231
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 1019
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