Author Topic: All I know is that I know nothing -> Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα, Εν οίδα ότι ουδέν οίδα, ΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ ΟΤΙ ΟΥΔΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ (late — medieval? — attribution to Socrates)  (Read 43223 times)

tom84

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All I know is that I know nothing -> Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα, Εν οίδα ότι ουδέν οίδα, ΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ ΟΤΙ ΟΥΔΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ
Socrates


I know no Greek modern or other wise, but had a thought recently about the famous quote from socrates in which he proclaims that all he knows is that he knows nothing!

please help, what is the original Greek (according to plato presumably) and are there many ways to translate it?
any offers on exact literal translations? 

the text is phraedrus (sp?) i think that means wolf, is that true?

please please please if you are a philosopher or anyone interested, there's a reward for the most helpful £5 or equivalent paypal users only.

thank you
« Last Edit: 13 Aug, 2016, 22:30:50 by billberg23 »


spiros

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Re: Socrates - All I know is that I know nothing!
« Reply #1 on: 21 Jul, 2005, 00:48:05 »
Greek polytonic (Ancient Greek accentuation): Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα
Greek monotonic (Modern Greek accentuation): Εν οίδα ότι ουδέν οίδα
Capitals: ΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ ΟΤΙ ΟΥΔΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ
Pronunciation:  enn ee-da o-tee oo-den ee-da
(Stressed syllables in bold type.  Pronounce "d" like "th" in "this.")
Literal translation: Εν [one] οίδα [I know] ότι [that] ουδέν [nothing] οίδα [I know].

See also
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates
« Last Edit: 17 Feb, 2011, 12:54:54 by spiros »

sherm

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Re: Socrates - All I know is that I know nothing!
« Reply #2 on: 25 May, 2008, 15:26:31 »
'All that I know is that I know nothing' = Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα / ΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ ΟΤΙ ΟΥΔΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ

That's got it, champ.  (We threw in the diacritical marks to make it look more authentic for you.)
Good luck!
« Last Edit: 25 May, 2008, 15:50:05 by billberg23 »


sherm

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Much appreciated!

It has just occured to me that were I to get such a tattoo, I wouldn't know how to pronounce it.  Any help on that front?

Regards,
 sherm

billberg23

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Pronunciation:  enn ee-da o-tee oo-den ee-da
(Stressed syllables in bold type.  Pronounce "d" like "th" in "this.")

By the way, the boy's name is spelled "Phaedrus," and it means "radiant, brilliant."  "Wolf" in Greek is lykos.

In any case, the quotation is not from Plato's Phaedrus.  It's from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, Book 2 sec. 32.
Τί δέ τις; Τί δ' οὔ τις; Σκιᾶς ὄναρ ἄνθρωπος. — Πίνδαρος

sherm

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If this quote is attributed to Diogenes Laertius, would it still be appropriate to have it written in ancient greek? 

I intend to get this phrase as a tattoo and want to be sure it's appropriate before it's too late (if that makes sense).

Once again, the assistance is highly appreciated.

Regards,
 sherm   


billberg23

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If this quote is attributed to Diogenes Laertius, would it still be appropriate to have it written in ancient greek? 
Indeed, since Diogenes Laertius (3rd century A.D.) was Greek and wrote in ancient Greek.  In attributing the saying to Socrates, he was undoubtedly relying on ideas represented in Plato's Apology of Socrates, which is much closer in time to Socrates.  If you haven't read it already, I'd heartily recommend it!
Of course, Socrates himself wrote nothing, or at least nothing that survived. (Which has led some to doubt his very existence!)  We depend on the literary tradition for everything he (might have) said.

sherm

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Thanks!

I've just finished The Last Days of Socrates which included The Apology for my philosophy course.  :D

You answered my question perfectly, as my main concern was not knowing the origin of Diogenes.

Regards,
 sherm
« Last Edit: 25 May, 2008, 18:14:16 by billberg23 »

Brettmercier

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Hello,
First of all, excuse my English, it's not my first language.

It seems that the popular saying ''I know that I know nothing'' from Socrates would be ΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ ΟΤΙ ΟΥΔΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ in ancient Greek. I am puzzled about the source of this saying. The closest source would be Plato's Apology I guess, but the sentence is nowhere to be found literally. I read here that the sentence is from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, Book 2 sec. 32 (Thanks billberg23 !). But I checked an online version of the manuscript http://www.mikrosapoplous.gr/dl/dl02.html#sokratis, under section 32 and I am unable to find that sentence (but keep in mind that I don't read Greek !). Did I missed it ? Is it just a different section system ? Did Diogenes wrote it in a different way ?

Second, I'm also thinking about a tattoo inspired by that saying (I guess I'm not the first one here to think about an ancient Greek tattoo lol). I would like to know, in the times of Socrates (around 469 BC–399 BC), how would it be written (by that I mean the form of the letters) ? Anyone has a font or consistent example ? Is it just really similar to modern capital letter Greek ? Would an archaic style fit ?

Also, for the purpose of the tattoo, I like the archaic lettering we sometime see. I saw the MgGreekArchaic font (http://www.magenta.gr/font_samples/mggreekarchaic.pdf), but it is not exactly what I'm looking for. I also saw this example from vbd. : that I like a lot. Would someone know where I could find this font ? Or if it is a private thing, could someone provide an example of what ΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ ΟΤΙ ΟΥΔΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ would look like ? And of course, if anybody has another cool font like that, please share haha !

I know that's a lot of questions ... but, thanks a lot in advance to anyone who could answer it !

Brettmercier

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Oh and I forgot a question !

In various sources on Internet, I keep seeing the archaic Alpha in two different ways : and . Many of those sources seems reliable. Any thought on wich side would be the more appropriate ?

billberg23

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I read here that the sentence is from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, Book 2 sec. 32 (Thanks billberg23 !).
billberg23 is not to be thanked here.  He blushes to admit that, in his youthful innocence, he blindly followed the reference to Diogenes 2.32 in Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations — a normally reliable source.  As you’ve noticed, however, the words Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα don’t actually appear in Diogenes, and we really don’t know where they came from originally.  In Diogenes, Socrates ἔλεγε … εἰδέναι μὲν μηδὲν πλὴν αὐτὸ τοῦτο (“kept saying that he knew nothing except for the very fact of knowing nothing”).

In Plato, however (six hundred years earlier), we have perhaps a more authentic version of this sentiment (Apology 21).  Socrates there claims that he has this advantage over supposedly “wise” people:  ἃ μὴ οἶδα οὐδὲ οἴομαι εἰδέναι (“what I don’t know, I don’t even suppose that I know”).

Now that you know the awful truth about your favorite quotation, you may or may not want to change the wording for a tattoo.  If you still want to go for a tattoo, I would recommend the Lithos font, and there are some on this site who can help you with that.

billberg23

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In various sources on Internet, I keep seeing the archaic Alpha in two different ways : and . Many of those sources seems reliable. Any thought on wich side would be the more appropriate ?
During the archaic period, many localities in Greece were still writing from right to left or right->left, left->right on alternate lines (so-called boustrophedon, like an ox going back and forth across a field with its plough).  When they did write from left to right (the way we do), the archaic Greeks generally began the alpha cross-stroke in the lower left corner.

That being said, let's recall that Socrates lived well after the archaic period.  By the time of his death, the Athenian alphabet had received a full complement of Ionic letters and looked pretty much like the modern Greek upper case.  And for at least 50 years before that, the alpha had looked just like our capital A.

Brettmercier

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Well, isn't that a good demonstration that we should never be completely sure of our knowledge ? That's what this quotation is all about ! ;)

But more seriously, there is a lot of very impressing knowledge about ancient Greek here, thanks a lot for sharing it with me Billberg. Too bad we don't know exactly where the quotation is from, maybe a re-translation from Latin ? It seems that something like ''Hoc tantum scio, me nihil scire'' is more commonly known than the Greek counterpart ... About the tattoo, now I know the ugly truth hehe, but it really doesn't matter that much. Socrates never wrote so the exact words are not as important as the meaning. “What I don’t know, I don’t even suppose that I know” is very similar to the quotation, only in a more negative form.

So, if we forget about the sources; would ''ΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ ΟΤΙ ΟΥΔΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ'' still be the best way to say ''All I know is that I know nothing'' in ancient Greek ?
And maybe the quote from Diogenes could produce something cool as well. If we change the subject of the sentence with ''myself'', what do we get ? (So the exact sentence would be ''I know nothing except for the very fact of knowing nothing'').

I would also be curious to see if the reworked quote from Diogenes, in capital letters, would have more ''typical Greek letters''. Those always improve a tattoo ;)

Thanks !
« Last Edit: 09 Oct, 2009, 21:54:24 by Brettmercier »

billberg23

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Too bad we don't know exactly where the quotation is from, maybe a re-translation from Latin ?
Yes, it could well be a "back-translation" from Latin.  The expression ἓν οἶδα is, as far as I know, unknown elsewhere in Greek literature or epigraphy, while the expressions unum hoc scio and hoc unum scio are frequent in colloquial speech all the way from Plautus to Erasmus.
Quote
''I know nothing except for the very fact of knowing nothing''
Sure, we can make Diogenes' indirect discourse into a direct quote:
Οὐδὲν οἶδα πλὴν αὐτὸ τοῦτο
ΟΥΔΕΝ ΟΙΔΑ ΠΛΗΝ ΑΥΤΟ ΤΟΥΤΟ
— which means "I know nothing except for that very fact [of knowing nothing].
« Last Edit: 19 Dec, 2009, 09:53:25 by billberg23 »

Brettmercier

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Thanks a lot !
That is the translation I will use.

Language is a fascinating thing. When I started to study ancient philosophers, I vaguely told myself that I should learn some ancient Greek to gain a better understanding of the texts. This small translation problem demonstrate very well that I should. And indeed, I think I will seriously consider it.

May I ask you what is the pronunciation and the word-to-word meaning ?
My quick guess would be  ''oo-den ee-da  plee-n au-tau too-tau''
And world meaning : Οὐδὲν (nothing) οἶδα (I know) πλὴν (?) αὐτὸ (?) τοῦτο (?)

I have the feeling I'm starting to ask you a lot. Is there any way I can compensate your monetarily for your knowledge, even if only symbolically ?

P.S. If I do start to learn ancient Greek, in your opinion, would it be better to start to learn modern Greek, and then switch to ancient, or the opposite ?