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ἀθάνατον ἀρετὴν, ‘deathless glory.’ The difficulties felt regarding “ἀρετήν” have arisen from the words ὡς πάρεσθ᾽ ὁρᾶν, which imply some visible sign, and thus suggest that “ἀθάνατος ἀρετή” means something more than ‘undying fame of prowess.’ But no emendation is probable (see cr. n.). And the soundness of the text will appear from two considerations.

(1) The use of “ἀρετή” as=‘reputation won by merit’ was familiar: e.g., Lycurgus In Leocr. § 49 (quoted by Cavallin) “τὰ γὰρ ἆθλα τοῦ πολέμου τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἐστὶν ἐλευθερία καὶ ἀρετή”. By an easy transition, this idea of fame won by deeds passed into that of ‘distinction’: cp. Theog. 29 “μηδ᾽ αἰσχροῖσιν ἐπ᾽ ἔργμασι μηδ᾽ ἀδίκοισιν” | “τιμὰς μηδ᾽ ἀρετὰς ἕλκεο μηδ᾽ ἄφενος”: ‘and do not, by shameful deeds or unjust, grasp at honours, or distinctions, or wealth’; where the “τιμαί” refer to office or rank, and the “ἀρεταί”, as the context shows, also denote pre-eminence recognised in some external form.

(2) The force of the epithet should be observed. When Plato says, “ὑπὲρ ἀρετῆς ἀθανάτου...πάντες πάντα ποιοῦσιν” ( Symp. 208D), the “ἀθάνατος ἀρετή” is the reputation which survives on earth. But here “ἀθάνατος ἀρετή” is ‘the distinction of one who has been made immortal’: i.e., ‘deathless glory’ here means ‘glorious immortality.’ Thus the peculiar sense of “ἀρετήν” is helped by that sense which the context gives to “ἀθάνατον”.

ἔσχον, (‘ingressive’ aor.,) ‘came to have,’ ‘won’: Ant. 1229: Ai. 465ἔσχε στέφανον εὐκλείας.

ὡς πάρεσθ᾽ ὁρᾶν: a laurel-wreath perhaps sufficed as symbol of the apotheosis: see n. on 728.

hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (3):
    • Plato, Symposium, 208
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 465
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 1229
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