Author Topic: Wise people, even though all laws were abolished, would still lead the same life -> ἐὰν πάντες οἱ νόμοι ἀναιρεθῶσιν, ὁμοίως βιώσομεν [oἱ φιλόσοφοι] (Aristippus of Cyrene via Diogenes Laertius 2.68.8)  (Read 1726 times)

Frederique

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"Wise people, even though all laws were abolished, would still lead the same life"
- Αριστοφάνης

Dear Bill,
I would deeply appreciate if you could help me find the exact quote in Greek and where it is from.
« Last Edit: 07 Nov, 2014, 22:48:35 by billberg23 »
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billberg23

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Dear Frederique,
This is one of those viral Internet "quotes" attributed to an ancient author without ever citing an actual text source, no matter how often it's repeated.  It does sound a bit like Aristophanes, but also a bit like Plato ("Socrates") or even like Aristotle.  Surprisingly, it never appears in German (or in any other modern language that I know of:  you might double-check the French).  It looks spurious to me, but I'd be happy to be proved wrong.
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

Frederique

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Thanks Bill, that confirms what I thought - the phrase is easily found on the internet, but without citing any text as you say.

Oh an update here: I found a very similar quote "The wise man would continue to behave rightly if all laws were abolished" attributed to Aristippus the elder - (Αρίστιππος ο Κυρηναίος). http://praxeology.net/chap5.pdf
« Last Edit: 07 Nov, 2014, 21:54:53 by Frederique »


billberg23

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Good for you, Frederique!  That's the real thing (Diogenes Laertius 2.68.8):
ἐὰν πάντες οἱ νόμοι ἀναιρεθῶσιν, ὁμοίως βιώσομεν [oἱ φιλόσοφοι]
Obviously, someone couldn't remember the unfamiliar name "Aristippus," so wrote "Aristophanes" instead.  That's how "knowledge" is spread on the Internet!

Frederique

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Ha ha, so true - thanks so much for finding the Greek!

crystal

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Uh, one small correction (Bill you may also give us your valuable insight on that): The sentence is ungrammatical as to the "even though" part; it makes no sense, unless we say even if all laws were abolished.


billberg23

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Seems to have made enough sense for the 68,500 results for that quote on Google, where it's invariably "even though," not "even if." But let us know where we can find the rule; Fowler doesn't discuss it.  To me (U.S.-speak) it seems O.K. to use "even though" with the subjunctive "were," but "even if" sounds somehow cleaner, neater.  Let us all ponder the question, and thanks for bringing it up, Crystal!

crystal

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To me (U.S.-speak) it seems O.K. to use "even though" with the subjunctive "were," but "even if" sounds somehow cleaner, neater.  Let us all ponder the question, and thanks for bringing it up, Crystal!

Well, I may be able to explain this in terms of grammar and meaning.

Even though (the same as although) requires a first clause with the "hindering condition", and then a 2nd one with what we were actually able to do despite that "hindering condition"; of course, let us also not forget that a subject predicate is required right after even though.

e.g. Even though Greece is amidst an economic crisis, a number of businesses have continued to thrive.

Even if, on the other hand, cannot substitute even though in the latter example, because it (i.e. even if) holds a future condition and not an already existing one. That is why in the example just used, we have present simple followed by present pefect simple, whereas in the quote we have a 2nd conditional (if + past simple ---> would/could/might etc.) to refer to a future, imaginary (or at least more unlikely) situation (and not a subjunctive).

Likewise, in the initial quote, the use of even though is wrong and should not substitute even if; to me it sounds as totally poorly used (perhaps even translated, back-translated, or with L1 interference) English.

I hope I've shed some light into the matter and I'm awaiting your view on that, too. :)


« Last Edit: 08 Nov, 2014, 08:26:46 by crystal »

billberg23

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Dear Crystal,
Many thanks for the time and effort that went into your arguments, which are, to put it simply, overwhelming.  So not only have thousands followed an erroneous attribution; they've also followed the bad grammar of the quotation!  Though it's always good to cite authoritative sources, I would consider your own excellent academic background to be enough of an authority.
It makes us wonder what leads people to make and perpetuate such errors. There are a good many Google pages devoted to this controversy, starting with https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=even%20if%20vs%20even%20though.  In none of them, however, do I find (so far) the issue of the subjunctive with "though" or "even though" (which I brought up in my previous post) addressed.  The simple presence of a contrary-to-fact condition, as we have it here in "even though … were" is probably not a sufficient excuse for using "though" instead of "if;" still, it comes all too readily to the native speaker's tongue, possibly due to the heavy influence of King James English, which competes with Shakespeare in shaping our modern usage.  The King James bible, with its artificially archaeizing style, was not even "good" English for the 17th century; nevertheless, it produced lasting models for "though" + subjunctive followed by future main clause, like "Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear" (Psalm 27).  That influence persisted more in U.S. than in British usage, since U.S. usage, from the late 18th century on, was cut off and evolved less rapidly than that of the mother country. 
Thanks to the Internet, solipsisms, malapropisms, misquotations, misspellings, and grammatical mistakes are perpetuated to the extent of being accepted as "standard" English (this even happens on Translatum, of all places!).  Thanks to the vigilance of people like yourself, we can recognize, and hopefully dethrone, such errors.
We look forward to learning even more from you (e.g. the meaning of erudite terms like "L1 interference"!).  (-;


« Last Edit: 08 Nov, 2014, 19:26:01 by billberg23 »

crystal

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Dear Bill,

First of all, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your opinion, and, honestly, I feel like your characterisations are just too good for me.

As to the citations mentioned, I would love to be able to send you all my grammar books (as an English teacher) and my other resources (as a Translation, English Language and Literature & currently MA student, and... student, in general) but most of them are hard copies, and it would require a lot of time, as well as copious work to do so (guilty as charged, I admit). All I can do is simply refer anyone to sites like this one with regards to the 2nd conditional, and this one with regards to the subjunctive mood, even though they certainly cannot be claimed to be highly reliable sources; yet, they do show "something", which is unboutedly better explained in the books I mentioned before.

Having delved into the wonders (wonders for me, at least) of the English language over the years, I have always been fascinated by the beauty of the subjunctive mood, since, as a student at first, I could just intuitively sense the "hi-story" behind it, and then as a teacher, I was able to see, or better read, the formal, grammatical "why's" behind it.

The explanation you so kindly offered to us is not only something that completely satisfies my curiosity as to why this mood is more prevailing in the American English than in the British English, but also something that no other book had been able to do so far! You just shed light on that, dark up until now, "pathway" of older structures into the English of today, and thank you for that!

I do have noticed how easily and rapidly language can be degenerated over the Internet, so I'm more than glad to be able to "set some things straight" as to the correct versus the predominant use of the language.

Finally, I would be filled with joy to "adorn" my views with the terms I'm getting familiarised with (such as "L1 interference", to name but a few), for anyone who is interested in that. I would actually be honoured to do so. :)
« Last Edit: 08 Nov, 2014, 19:32:45 by crystal »