Author Topic: σκυτάλη -> club (Josephus, "Antiquities of the Jews" 18.61.2)  (Read 129 times)

NumberOneSon

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Hi,  I have a quick translation issue I was hoping someone might be able resolve.

In Whiston's translation of Josephus' Jewish War 2.9.4, Josephus describes a scene where Pilate orders his men to attack protesters using staves/clubs instead of ξίφη (swords).  Whiston's translation of the same event in Antiquities 18.3.2 says the soldiers carried daggers under their garments, but it appears the word σκυτάλη means "staff, cudgel, club", not the word we  normally associate with "daggers". 

Does anyone know if the Greek word σκυτάλη in the passage refers to the daggers, and if the English translation should be understood as referring to clubs instead of daggers? 

Thanks for any help!
« Last Edit: 17 Nov, 2017, 02:10:03 by billberg23 »


billberg23

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Re: σκυτάλη -> dagger?
« Reply #1 on: 17 Nov, 2017, 02:08:17 »
Whiston's 18.3.2 is the same as 18.61.2 in the standard Greek text.  As far as we can see, there is absolutely no justification for translating σκυτάλας as "daggers" instead of "clubs", especially since the assault is made πληγαῖς, "with blows", which might not be appropriate to the effects of daggers. Τhat those σκυτάλαι were made of wood seems to be confirmed by the passage you cite from the Jewish War (2.176.4, = Whiston 2.9.4), where the Jews are beaten ξύλοις, "with wooden clubs."
« Last Edit: 17 Nov, 2017, 02:30:03 by billberg23 »
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

NumberOneSon

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Thank you for the information!  On the surface it appeared Josephus was saying one thing in War and another in Antiquities, so your info creates a cohesion between the two accounts that wasn't evident before, at least for an English-only reader like myself.

So if "daggers" had been intended then would it be safe to say that another word like ξιφίδιον would have been used?  What would have been the most appropriate for "dagger"?
« Last Edit: 17 Nov, 2017, 04:20:14 by NumberOneSon »


spiros

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staff, cudgel, club, pole, strickle for levelling grain, wooden tally, wooden ticket, strip or rod of metal or ivory, scourge whip, etc.
https://lsj.translatum.gr/wiki/%CF%83%CE%BA%CF%85%CF%84%CE%AC%CE%BB%CE%B7

billberg23

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So if "daggers" had been intended then would it be safe to say that another word like ξιφίδιον would have been used?
Yes, ξιφίδια could have been used for "daggers";  also the more common word for "knives," μαχαίρας.

NumberOneSon

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Thank you both for the information.