ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς → either with this or on this, come back victorious or dead, victorious or dead

nephilese · 14 · 76730

nephilese

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Ancient Greek polytonic: Ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς
Ancient Greek monotonic: Ή ταν ή επί τας
Capitals: Η ΤΑΝ Η ΕΠΙ ΤΑΣ
Literal Translation: Either with this or on this
Translation: Come back victorious or dead
— Plutarch, Moralia 241

This was the farewell phrase Spartan mothers or wives said to their departing warrior sons or husbands, upon giving them their shield. A warrior returning with his shield meant that he did not flee the battlefield. Had he done so, he must have dropped the large, heavy bronze shield in order to run faster. A warrior returning on his shield was dead, and his corpse would have been carried home thus. Therefore a Spartan warrior's options were to return either victorious or dead. Returning in shame without a shield was not an option. "Rhipsaspides" (shield droppers) were executed upon return, and their family members took part in the execution lest the shame of their cowardly relative stain the family reputation. The few Spartans who cowered in battle preferred to commit suicide rather than return to Sparta.
« Last Edit: 25 Oct, 2021, 14:27:18 by spiros »


Marisa_R_C

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"H ταν ή επί τας" = Either this or on this

A phrase told to young Spartan warriors by their mothers, "this" referring to their shield, roughly meaning "either bring your shield back or I would rather they brought you (lying) dead on it".

A cheerful farewell to arms, wouldn't you say?
« Last Edit: 27 Nov, 2005, 13:43:16 by nickel »



banned8

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A brief English version that has been suggested is "Come back victorious or dead".
« Last Edit: 27 Nov, 2005, 13:43:34 by nickel »




banned13

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schell51

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Hey I'm trying to get the ancient greek translation for the quote "Come back with this shield or on it"  If someone could help me out I would greatly appreciate it!!!
« Last Edit: 28 May, 2007, 08:12:38 by wings »


YanniRC

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I am getting deployed to Afghanistan and was wondering what this is like in CAPS so I can get it tattooed before I leave. Is there a gramatically right way and wrong way whether I use all CAPS or not in Ancient Greek or just personal preference. How would you translate this to English in your own words; it is in fact the Spartan saying of the mothers correct? Thanks alot, great site!

Yanni Celestial


spiros

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Multilingual translation
ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς - Ancient Greek (LSJ)

16. Ἄλλη προσαναδιδοῦσα τῷ παιδὶ τὴν ἀσπίδα καὶ παρακελευομένη· "τέκνον" ἔφη, "ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς."
Λακαινών Αποφθέγματα - Βικιθήκη
« Last Edit: 25 Oct, 2021, 14:25:57 by spiros »


vmelas

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I am getting deployed to Afghanistan and was wondering what this is like in CAPS so I can get it tattooed before I leave. Is there a gramatically right way and wrong way whether I use all CAPS or not in Ancient Greek or just personal preference. How would you translate this to English in your own words; it is in fact the Spartan saying of the mothers correct? Thanks alot, great site!

Yanni Celestial

Hello! Stay safe in Afghanistan (Hubby just got out of the army so I feel you). What unit are you with? How long is your deployment for? (The explanation has already been given, just read the thread) :)


vbd.

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Hi. Yes, this is what a mother would say when sending her son to war. She'd give him the shield and say "either this one, or on it". A loose translation would be "Either bring back your shield, or may your dead body return to me on it". It shows to what extent fleeing was unacceptable in this Spartan society. Upper or lower case is not a matter of grammar in ancient Greek. People in ancient Greece used to write in upper case only. The lower case letters is a later invention. Both are equally correct and acceptable.

Η ΤΑΝ Η ΕΠΙ ΤΑΣ
At last, I have peace.


YanniRC

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That was quick, thank you all for all the fast and informative answers everyone. Best wishes to you and your family Valentini. Im in the ARMY 1397th DDSB, cant give an exact day count of our deployment on here, but is definitely over a year! Hopefully things with India settle down so I dont get extended. Again thanks.


vmelas

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That was quick, thank you all for all the fast and informative answers everyone. Best wishes to you and your family Valentini. Im in the ARMY 1397th DDSB, cant give an exact day count of our deployment on here, but is definitely over a year! Hopefully things with India settle down so I dont get extended. Again thanks.


You are from California? Transportation/port management ? :)

Hubby's a ranger medic with the 173rd (airborne).
« Last Edit: 12 Dec, 2008, 22:03:29 by billberg23 »


YanniRC

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Yes...howd you know...lol...Ranger medic ey, now thats some good training. Its so sad whats going on in Greece!
« Last Edit: 12 Dec, 2008, 22:04:20 by billberg23 »


vmelas

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Yes...howd you know...lol...Ranger medic ey, now thats some good training. Its so sad whats going on in Greece!

Once in the Army my friend, always in the Army. Hubby keeps tabs on deployments so all I had to do was turn around and asK "Hey, where does the 1397th come from? What do they do?" LOL

Keep in touch Yanni. I am not sure how well "cabled" you will be over there but once in a while drop by a leave us a line.
« Last Edit: 12 Dec, 2008, 22:05:36 by billberg23 »


 

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