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ἴσος ὢν ἴσοις, lit. ‘equitable towards the equitable’ (“ἴσοις” dat. of relation),—respecting the rights of others, as they respected his. In describing a man of peaceful and estimable character, the Greek tendency is to say, ‘he neither did nor suffered wrong’; i.e., he was not aggressive, nor was he forced into unpleasant relations with his fellow-men by their action,—since he provoked no enmities. See, e.g., Lysias or. 12 § 4 “οὐδενὶ πώποτε οὔτε ἡμεῖς οὔτε ἐκεῖνος δίκην οὔτε ἐδικασάμεθα οὔτε ἐφύγομεν, ἀλλ᾽ οὕτως ᾠκοῦμεν δημοκρατούμενοι ὥστε μήτε εἰς τοὺς ἄλλους ἐξαμαρτάνειν μήτε ὑπὸ τῶν ἄλλων ἀδικεῖσθαι”. This is the Athenian ideal of the “χρηστός, ἐπιεικής, ἀπράγμων”. And this is what ἴσος ὢν ἴσοις expresses here. It does not imply that he dealt with “ἴσοι” in one way, and with “ἄδικοι” in another, but merely denotes that reciprocity of fair dealing which his fairness caused. Hence the version, ‘living at peace with his fellowmen,’ is truer to the sense than (e.g.), ‘just among the just.’ Cp. Ai. 267κοινὸς κοινοῖσι λυπεῖσθαι”, to share the grief of friends who grieve. For ἴσος as=aequus, said of persons, cp. O. T. 677 n.

L has ἴσως (sic) ἐν ἴσοις. The objection to reading ἔν γ̓ is twofold. (1) The idea suggested would then be the same as in Eur. fr. 693 (quoted by Schneidewin), “τοῖς μὲν δικαίοις ἔνδικος, τοῖς δ᾽ αὖ κακοῖς” | ...“πολέμιος”. Here, however, the point is the generally inoffensive life of Ph. ,— not the distinction between his conduct towards just and unjust men respectively. (2) The participle “ὤν”, though not indispensable, is very desirable. It is possible that the blunder “ἴσως” in L may be connected with the original presence of “ὤν” in the text.

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  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Sophocles, Ajax, 267
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 677
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