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From the love of wonder arises the pleasure that we derive from (tragic) ‘catastrophes’ and ‘narrow escapes from danger’, which are all objects of wonder. Poet. XI init. ἔστι δὲ περιπέτεια μὲν εἰς τὸ ἐναντίον τῶν πραττομένων μεταβολή,...καὶ τοῦτο δὲ...κατὰ τὸ εἰκὸς ἀναγκαῖον. The term περιπέτεια therefore expresses merely the ‘sudden change or revolution of fortune’ of the actors in the drama; the later appellation καταστροφή (Polybius) conveys the same notion of ‘revolution’ (στροφή), with the additional annotation of a ‘downward’ tendency (κατά) or downfall, to degradation or ruin.

παρὰ μικρόν] The preposition, which in this and similar phrases, παρὰ βραχύ, παρ᾽ ὀλίγον, παῤ οὐδὲν (ἄγειν, τίθεσθαι, ἡγεῖσθαι), is usually translated in English by ‘within’, ‘within a little of’, ‘within an ace or an inch of’, in reality implies comparison; two things when set ‘side by side’ being more easily compared together. (Rhet. II 23. 30, παρ᾽ ἄλληλα φανερὰ... μᾶλλον, III 2. 9, διὰ τὸ παράλληλα τὰ ἐναντία μάλιστα φαίνεσθαι, Ib. 9. 8, 11. 9, 17. 3.) The comparison in these phrases is expressed in terms of quantity, ‘about as much as, amounting to˙’; and so παρὰ μικρόν becomes ‘nearly about, closely approaching to, or within a little of’. A few instances of a very common idiom are given in Jelf's Gr. Gr. § 637 on παρά, Vol. II, p. 301, [Kuhner's Ausführliche Grammatik, § 440, Vol. II, p. 445] and Matth. Gr. Gr. 588 a, who does not properly explain it. Victorius quotes from Phys. B 5, 8, 197 a 27, a sentence which conveys a sort of explanation of παρὰ μικρόν: διὸ καὶ τὸ παρὰ μικρὸν κακὸν ἀγαθὸν μέγα λαβεῖν δυστυχεῖν εὐτυχεῖν ἐστίν, ὅτι ὡς ὑπάρχον λέγει διάνοια: τὸ γὰρ παρὰ μικρὸν ὥσπερ οὐδὲν ἀπέχειν δοκεῖ.

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