Monday, July 23, 2018

translating the subtleties

Translating the Subtleties. The Philosophical Categories in the Symeon Collection (Symeon’s Miscellany)
Dimka Gicheva-Gocheva, Diana Atanassova

Pre-print  publication of an article expected to be published in vol. No 18 of


We express once again our gratitude to Prof. Anisava Miltenova, who is the editor of the journal and who has invited us to participate in the International conference 
The medieval Slavonic literatures in the digital epoch: taxonomy of terms and real text in the manuscripts

Our work on the Old Bulgarian translation of the philosophical and theological categories in the Symeon’s Miscellany (Simeonov Sbornik) began in the autumn of 2016 – the year of the 2400 anniversary of Aristotle’s birth. We are still in the very beginning of a research, which might take years to be properly accomplished, and the primary results shared in this paper should be considered rather as a program for a future study and work hypotheses, not as indisputable conclusions.
It the autumn of 2016 we realized that it is no longer so difficult to start a study on this thought-provoking topic due to several important favorable circumstances, to which we are greatly indebted.
First, there are three excellent volumes of the Symeon’s Miscellany  at the disposal of the scholarly community. The Old Bulgarian translation and the studies done so far are published in the first volume, the dictionary and the indexes are in the second volume, and the Greek original is in the third volume.
Second, what is of great help for all interested in the problem: we have an excellent translation in modern Bulgarian of The Book of Salvation (Спасителна книга)  – which is the Greek original of the Symeon’s Miscellany.
Third, the Bulgarian translations of the most important texts of the classical Greek philosophy, and especially of the treatises of Aristotle, published in the recent decades, are also considerable. Moreover, all these publications , which have appeared in the past quarter century, are supplied with meticulous notes and abundant commentaries, and possess extremely rich indexes of thousands of terms, categories and concepts. Precisely the ones, which have been fundamental not only for the classical Greek and Byzantine philosophy of the remote past, but are an immanent part of the philosophical and theological discourse of the present day as well.
This has been one of the most motivating stimuli for our research, which, let us reiterate it once again, is still in the initial status. When we study translations from classical or Byzantine Greek into Old Bulgarian made centuries ago, we usually encounter two aspects of the question how: firstly, the how of the linguistic rendering, the how of the translation techniques used for one term or another. Morphemic imitation of the structure of the translated word, coining of new words, semantic rendering of the sense, accompanied with an explanation of the meaning, etc. This is the most obvious first step of every study in this field. The second aspect is that of evaluating the how: shall we praise or, on the contrary, express regrets in respect of the translator’s work. What engenders and causes the positive or negative evaluation of the techniques used by the Old Bulgarian translators centuries ago, which some contemporary scholars do not hesitate to express ? What are the conceptual premises for some of their judgements, especially when they are not favorable towards the writings of the past, and particularly to some of their translations available in Old Bulgarian?
Besides these two inherent aspects of the question how, a third one has arisen in the last three decades in Bulgaria. We have a long, in fact millennium long tradition of translating old Greek and Byzantine texts into Old Bulgarian, but with respect to the philosophical and theological terminology used nowadays, are we obliged to follow the patterns of the past, the forms of the language, suggested by this millennium long tradition? This question is not only ardently debated theoretically, but has also had practical implications for the translation of some of the most important treatises of Aristotle. Among these newer publications there are some which present Aristotle to the Bulgarian readers as Aristoteles latinus. Aristotle speaks to our reader using words such as substantia, accidentia, subiectum etc., because of the strong conviction of some of our respectable scholars that especially the six logical writings, comprised in the Organon, should not follow the linguistic matrix of the Old Bulgarian equivalents of the most important terms and categories, but stick to their Latin translations. Thus, these theoretical disputes and practical issues of present-day academic and cultural life have made the research on the Symeon’s Miscellany both urgent and rewarding.

1. The Importance of the Symeon’s Miscellany with regard to the formation of the Bulgarian philosophical language

This precious Miscellany, compiled in the so-called Golden age of Bulgarian culture and the literacy during the reign of king Symeon the Great, has tremendous value. The content and the structure of this encyclopedic compilation, its language and style, its appearance and distribution, its influence and legacy, have received attention from the best Slavic studies scholars .  In order to be brief, let us refer to two estimations in recent works.
Firstly, in the conclusion of the Introduction to their translation of the Book of Salvation (into modern Bulgarian), Prof. Petya Yaneva and Sergei Ivanov summarize the rich variety of the encyclopedia. The Miscellany impresses with the amazing thematic scope of answers to general and specific questions – from fundamental dogmatic problems, posed by the Old and the New Testament, through issues with which every educated person should be familiar, to some everyday life and style matters. Prof. Petya Yaneva and Sergey Ivanov stress the fact that the number of the quoted writings and authors is respectable. Moreover, besides the explicit ones, there are plenty of hidden quotations from numerous ancient writers – geographers, historians, philosophers.
“This variety tells a lot about the multifaceted interests and tastes of the medieval reader and rejects the opinion of the limited role of these collections in the medieval intellectual and spiritual life. People were interested in the highest Christian dogmatic and liturgical practice, but also in ancient philosophy, in literary theory, in geography, in human nature, but in precious stones as well; in the garments of priests and the symbolics they carry; in medicine; in the female character and many other topics. At the same time, the extreme difficulty of some of these texts testifies that in the society there were individuals possessing immense erudition and capable of understanding them. In Bulgaria there had been people, who not only had been capable to understand, but also to translate them. That is why this collection is among the proofs that the so-called Golden age during the reign of king Symeon in Bulgaria is not a mirage, fancied by scholars, but reality, which includes our territories in a broader cultural areal…
With respect to the formation of the Bulgarian philosophical and theological language, the Symeon’s Miscellany is an extremely important source because from f. 222 to f. 237 a range of philosophical issues is discussed as answers to questions 29 and 30. This section of the writing includes clarification of terms, categories and concepts from the classical Greek and/or the Christian philosophy. This part of the encyclopedia is a real thesaurus for the historians of philosophy and theology, conceived and expressed in Greek, because:
1. the entries are many; 2. the terms are not just mentioned, but are properly defined and their meaning is explained;  3. the provided explanations of their meaning and sense are heterogeneous and point to different philosophical ancestors: some of them have Platonic and/or Aristotelian origin; others are part of the Neoplatonic conceptual and linguistic universe; a third part has strictly Christian genealogy.
If we add to these three features of the philosophico-theological section of the Symeon’s Miscellany the question of how these entries have been rendered into Old Bulgarian by the translator(s) millennium ago (in the three aspects of the how, mentioned above), we will realize that this segment of the writing represents a considerable challenge for scholars from several disciplines and demands profound interdisciplinary research.
 Compared with the numerous studies devoted to the general historic, cultural, linguistic, literary, paleographic, ornamental etc. merits of the Symeon’s Miscellany, the segment with the philosophical and theological categories has received relatively less attention so far. One recent study should be taken into account as groundbreaking. This is the article Conceptual structure and linguistic characteristics of the categories andlinguistic terms in the Symeon’s Miscellany by Dr. Adriana Christova and Prof. Ivan Christov . The study is preoccupied with the lexico-morphological and syntactic formation of the terms. It is to be followed by a monograph, which will clarify the significance of these terms as concepts in the thinking of several important philosophers, starting of course with Aristotle - the most important thinker to have exerted powerful influence on the Byzantine compilers of this segment of the encyclopedia. In the conclusion to their rigorous study founded on the idea of the ontological dominance of the terms in the philosophical chapter, Prof. Christov and Dr. Christova state that they have demonstrated all the types of lexico-morphological and syntactic formation of the terms. The overwhelming majority, accounting for 90% of the overall number of terms, are terms-words. The study shows the formative prefixes and suffixes. The evaluation of the work of the translator(s) is highly positive and rejects some negative assumptions: the translation is not literal and does not imitate the morphemic structure of the Greek terms, which are not calqued without genuine understanding. On the contrary - the translator has very often substituted one type of substantivized linguistic unit with another, belonging to a different part of speech, because the intuition of the mother tongue and the contextual meaning of the text have prompted it. Prof. Christov and Dr. Christova have also pointed out that the number of the Old Bulgarian suffixes and suffixoids is twice bigger than that of the Greek ones.
 The application of the strictest quantitative linguistic methods and the scrutiny of the conceptual analyses bring Prof. Christov and Dr. Christova to the following conclusion:
„From the point of view of the history of philosophy we have to admit the depth of the text. It contains a sketch of the fundamental ontological categories elaborated for the needs of the Orthodox theology. The Old Bulgarian translator faced a serious challenge, but his efforts constituted a high initial achievement of the national philosophical culture. A part of the terms used by the translator create a permanent lexical layer sustaining the contemporary philosophical usage in Serbian, Bulgarian and Russian. Some examples are: видъ (εἶδος), родъ (γένος), своиство (ἰδιότης), ѥстьство (φύσις), лишениѥ (στέρησις), бꙑтиѥ (ὕπαρξις, τὸ εἶναι), раꙁѹмъ (λόγος), мѣра (μέτρον), качьство (ποιότης), количьство (ποσότης), тождьство (ταυτότης) etc. That is why this translation occupies a prestigious place not only in the Bulgarian, but also in the Slavic philosophical tradition.” .
We support the conclusion of the two colleagues and could add to their list many other important ontological terms omitted by them because of the already mentioned controversy: the theoretical disputes and the translational practices of the past three decades in Bulgaria surrounding the dilemma of how. How to translate the classical Greek logical categories and ontological concepts: according to our millennium long tradition or in conformity with their Latin equivalents? At the top of this mountain of controversies is the debate how to translate οὐσία – as „същност” or битие, or as „субстанция”. There are at least ten more ontological concepts whose translation may be inspired nowadays by the achievements of the translators of the Symeon’s Miscellany.

2. Immanent difficulties in the analysis of the philosophical categories

Even when the section of the Symeon’s Miscellany (f. 222-237) with the philosophical and theological categories is read only in the original, without tackling the issue of translation, the study is thought-provoking for the historian of philosophy. In the first place, there are fundamental terms of the classical Greek philosophy which have triadic nature. Many of them have three facets - logical, linguistic and ontological. The difficulties of their proper interpretation and translation derive from the impossibility to separate this unity of the three aspects in any other language.
Another problem arises from their genealogy. Some of them belong to the most inherent conceptual kernel of the Platonic, and especially of the Aristotelian thinking. These are the ontological pillars οὐσία, φύσις, γένος, εἶδος as well as all the terms listed in the conclusion of the study of Ivan Christov and Adriana Christova, quoted above.
Some of the other philosophical terms in this section are either never mentioned by Plato and Aristotle in classical Greek philosophical texts, or although appearing in some texts as words, their usage is peculiar, non-terminological, every-day and technical. They have become ontological concepts much later. In the history of the late pagan and early Christian philosophy there is clear evidence about several humble words which have remained unrecognized as possible philosophical tools for centuries, and whose dialectical strength was appreciated only in Late Antiquity. There are concepts which have Neoplatonic origin, and in the Symeon’s Miscellany they come close to the definitions proposed by Plotinus in the Enneads, book VI, chs.1-3, or the Introduction (*Eisagoge) to the Categories of Aristotle by Porphyry. Undoubtedly, ὑπόστασις – собьство – ипостаса (ипостас) is one such concept. In modern Bulgarian, it is translated as ипостас in Christian writings, and as хипостаза in the case of pagan philosophers adhering to the Neoplatonic school. Only a further detailed analysis may prove or refute the conjecture that the Byzantine philosopher, who wrote these chapters of the Symeon’s Miscellany, followed the thinking of Plotinus, book V, ch. 1. Of course, in the Symeon’s Miscellany, this essential Neoplatonic concept is appropriated and follows the conception model of the Cappadocian Fathers .
The third group of concepts has explicit Christian and theological origin, and in the first place among them is πρόσωπον – лицe - лице (лице). This is the great conceptual novelty of the early dogmatics of the 3rd and the 4th centuries, which became widespread after 381 AD and after the changes in the Creed, approved at the Second Council of Constantinople.
Another cluster of questions arises around the definitions and the explanations of the concepts ἴδιον, διαφορά, συμβεβηκός and the predication of γένος and εἶδος. Are there hidden quotations from Porphyry’s Eisagoge in the Book of Salvation, and if there are such tacit borrowings, to what extent are they applied?
Let us give an example with regards to διαφορά - раꙁличьѥ - разлика (видово различие in the contemporary translations in modern Bulgarian). To whom stands closer the Byzantine philosopher when he defines it like that: Διαφορὰ δέ ἐστι το κατὰ πλειόνων καὶ διαφερόντων τῷ εἴδει ἐν τῷ τί ὲστι κατηγορούμενον. Does the Byzantine philosopher remain faithful to Aristotle, who vastly uses this conceptualization not only in the Metaphysics, but in all the biological treatises as well, or does in this case the Byzantine author of this part of the encyclopedia adheres much more to the Neoplatonic paradigm of thought?
There are many similar general questions, which might receive proper answers only after profound study.  For the purposes of the present paper, let us confine ourselves to the statement that they exhibit the discussed section of the Symeon’s Miscellany as an extremely interesting sketch of topics in philosophical, theological, linguistic and literature terms and concepts with millennium long history.

3. Exemplifying the subtleties

Let us focus on two conceptual pairs, discussed in two chapters: Περὶ ποσοῦ καὶ ποσότητος О количьствѣ и о мѣремꙑихъ; Περὶ ποιοῦ καὶ ποιότητος О качьствѣ и о творитвьнѣѣмь

Symeon’s Miscellany, 3 (Симеонов сборник, Т. 3, стр. 1076-1079)

Περὶ ποσοῦ καὶ ποσότητος

Ποσότης μέν ἐστιν αὐτὸ τὸ μέτρον καὶ ὁ ἀριθμός, ὁ μετρῶν καὶ ὁ ἀριθμῶν, πόσα δὲ τὰ τῷ ἀριθμῷ καὶ μετρῷ ὑποκείμενα· ἤγουν τὰ μετρούμενα καὶ ἀριθμούμενα. Τῶν δὲ ποσῶν τὰ μέν εἰσι διωρισμένα, τὰ δὲ συνεχῆ. Διωρισμένα μέν εἰσι τὰ ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων κεχωρισμένα, ὡς ἐπὶ δέκα λίθων ἢ ι´ φοινίκων· ταῦτα γὰρ κεχωρισμένα εἰσὶν ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων καὶ ἀριθμεῖσθαι λέγονται, εἰ μὴ διὰ σμικρότητα καὶ πλῆθος μετρηθῶσι μοδίῳ ἤ τινι τοιούτῳ, ὥσπερ σῖτος καὶ τὰ ὅμοια. Συνεχῆ δέ, ὅτε ἕν ἐστι τὸ μετρούμενον, ὥσπερ ἓν ξύλον  εὑρίσκεται δίπεχυ καὶ τρίπεχυ ἢ λίθος, ἤ τι τοιοῦτον καὶ ἓν ὑπάρχον μετρεῖται, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο λέγεται συνεχὲς ποσόν. Ποσὸν τοίνυν λέγεται, ἤτοι καὶ ποσότης, ἀριθμὸς καὶ ὄγκος, καὶ χρόνος, καὶ τὰ διαστήματα. Ἀριθμὸς μὲν οἷον μονάς, δυάς, τριὰς καὶ οἱ ἐφ’ ἑξῆς ἀριθμοί. Ὄγκος δὲ οἷον μικρόν, μέγα, στατήρ, τάλαντον καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα. Χρόνος δὲ οἷον ὥρα, ἡμέρα καὶ μήν, καὶ ἐνιαυτὸς. Διάστημα δὲ οἷον μῆκος, πλάτος, βάθος.
О количьствѣ и о мѣремꙑихъ

Количьство оубо ѥсть сама та мѣра мѣрѧштиꙗ  и чьтѹштиꙗ· коликоже ѥже подъ чисменьмь и мѣроѭ подъложить· рекъше мѣримаꙗ и чьтомаꙗ· количьства же ова сѫть раꙁлѹчѧѥма· ова же съдрьжима· раꙁлѹчаѥмаꙗ же сѫть ꙗже сѧотъ себе раꙁлѹчаѭть· ꙗкожесе три десѧти камꙑкъ или о десѧти фѹникии та бо раꙁлѹчена сѹть отъ себе и чьтома наричѫть сѧаште не мальствомь и множьствъ-м-ѣ-рима бѹдѹть· спѹдъмь илиинѣмь тацѣмьжде акꙑ пшеницаи прокоѥ· съдрьжаштаꙗ же сѧѥгда ѥсть мѣримоѥ<ѧ>кожесе ѥдино дрѣво обрѣтаѥть сѧдъвоѭ локътѫ· или трии локътъ· или камꙑкъ иличьто такꙑихъ иѥдино сꙑ мѣрить сѧ· да сего дѣлѧнаричеть сѧсъдрьжимаꙗ мѣра· число же наричеть сѧрекъше раꙁночьтомоѥи множьство и врѣмѧи растоꙗниꙗ·числоѹбо рекъше ѥдиньница дъвоица троица·и прокаꙗ числа· мѣра же рекъше малъ великъ· статирь талантъ и такаꙗжде· врѣмѧ же рекъше чѧсъ дьнь и мѣсѧць и лѣто· дальство же рекъше длъгота широта глѹбꙑни.

Symeon’s Miscellany, 3 (Симеонов сборник, Т. 3, стр. 1078-1080)

Περὶ ποιοῦ καὶ ποιότητος

Ποιότης ἐστὶν ἐνούσιος δύναμις οἷον ἐπὶ μὲν τῶν γενῶν αἱ συστατικαὶ διαφοραί, τουτέστι λογικότης, θνητότης, ἀθανασία καὶ τὰ ὅμοια, ἐπὶ δὲ ἀσωμάτων λογικῶν νοερότης, ἀυτεξουσιότης, ἀεὶ κινησία, ἐπὶ δὲ τῶν σωμάτων χρῶμα οἷον λευκότης, μελανότης, ξανθότης καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα, καὶ σχῆμα οἷον περιφερές, εὐθύ, καμπύλον, τετράγωνον καὶ τὰ ὅμοια· καὶ πάλιν ὑγρότης, ξηρότης, θερμότης, ψυχρότης, μαλακότης, σκληρότης, μανότης, πυκνότης· καὶ οἱ χυμοί, οἷον ὀξύτης, γλυκύτης, δριμύτης καὶ τὰ ὅμοια. Ποιότης οὖν ἐστιν, καθ’ ἣν ποιότητες ὀνομάζονται παρωνύμως ὡς μετέχοντες τὰ ἀυτῆς. Ἐκ γὰρ τῆς φρονήσεως φρόνιμος λέγεται ὁ ἔχων τὴν φρόνησιν καὶ θερμὸς ὁ ἔχων τὴν θερμότητα. Λέγεται δὲ πολλάκις καὶ αὕτη ἡ ποιότης ποιόν, ὥσπερ καὶ το ποσόν ποσότης, τῆς δὲ ποιότητος εἶδός ἐστιν καὶ ἡ δύναμις, καὶ ἡ ἐνέργεια· ἅτινα οὔκ εἰσιν μὲν ἐνέργεια, ἔχουσι δὲ ἐπιτηδειότητα καὶ δύναμιν φυσικήν. Λέγεται γὰρ ἡ μὲν κατ’ἐπιτηδειότητα, ἡ δὲ κατ’ἕξιν, ἤγουν ἐνέργειαν. Κατ’ ἐπιτηδειότητα μέν, ὡς ὅταν εἴπωμεν τὸ παιδίον δυνάμει γραμματικὸν εἶναι, καθότι ἔχει ἐπιτηδειότητα πρὸς τὸ γενέσθαι γραμματικόν. Κατ’ ἕξιν δέ, ὡς ὅταν εἴπωμεν τὸν ἠρεμοῦντα γραμματικόν· δύναται μετὰ τὴν ἠρεμίαν τὴν τέχνην ἐνδείξασθαι. Ἢ ὡς ἐπὶ τοῦ κόκκου τοῦ σίτου·τοῦτο γάρ πῃ μὲν στάχυς ἐστίν, καθ’ ὃ ἀποστελεῖ στάχυν σπειρόμενος, ἐνεργείᾳ δὲ οὔκ ἐστιν στάχυς, ἀλλὰ σίτος κατὰ τὸ χλιαρόν. Ἐνεργείᾳ μὲν οὔτε ψυχρόν, οὔτε θερμόν ἐστιν, δυνάμει δὲ πάντως, καθ’ὃ δύναται γενέσθαι ψυχρὸν μὲν ψυχώμενον, θερμὸν δὲ θερμαινόμενον. Καὶ πάλιν τὸ παιδίον ἐνεργείᾳ μὲν οὔτε ἀρετὴν λέγεται ἔχειν, οὔτε κακίαν, δυνάμει δὲ πάντως, καθ’ ὃ δύναται σχεῖν. Λέγεται δύναμις καὶ ἡ ἰσχύς, καὶ ὁ στρατός. О качьствѣ и о творитвьнѣѣмь

Качьство ѥсть въсѫщьнаꙗ сила· рекъше о родѣхъ ѹбо съставьнаꙗ роꙁличьꙗ· рекъше словесьноѥ съмрьтьноѥ· бесъмрьтьѥ·и прокаꙗ·о бесплътьнꙑихъ же словесьныихъ· роꙁѹмьноѥ самовластьноѥ присношьстьноѥ·о тѣлесехъ же тварь· рекъше бѣлота чрьнота рѹсость и такаꙗ·и видъ· рекъше обьло право· прѣведено на четвьрьти·и подобьнаꙗ сии пакꙑ мокрота· сѹхота· теплота· стѹдено· мѧкота· жестокоѥ· рѣдъко·чѧстое·и глѣни· рекъше гнѣвьноѥ· сладъкоѥ· бридъкоѥ·и подобьнаѧ·качьство ѹбо ѥсть по немѹже каци дрѹꙁии наричѫть сѧ· съ имене ѥкоже приѥмлюште отъ него·отъ мꙋдрости бо мѹдръ наричеть сѧ· ꙗкоже имꙑ мѹдрость·и теплъ ижеимать топлотѹ· наричеть же сѧ многашьдꙑ и само то качьство какоѥ· ꙗкоже имѣра число·качьствꙋ же видъѥсть и силаи дѣиство· ꙗже не сѹть ѹбо дѣиство·имꙋть же ѹстроии силѹѥстьствьнѹѭ· наричеть бо сѧ ова по ѹстроѥнию ово по нравѹ рекъше по дѣиствѹ по покошьнѹѹмѹ же· како се ѥгда речемъ дѣтиштѫ силоѭ кънижьникъ бꙑти има·имьже има покошьноѥ ꙗкоже бꙑти кънїхъчии· по нравѹ же ꙗкоже ѥгда речемъ млъчаштѫѹмѹ кънигъчиѭ можеть по млъчании хꙑтрость покаꙁати·или ꙗкоже о ꙁрьнѣ пьшеничьнѣ· се бо овогда класъ ѥсть· ѥгда створи класъ ꙁьрѣѧ дѣиствъмь же нѣсть класъ нъ пьшеница·и топлоѥ дѣиствъмь ѹбо ниѥ топло ниѥ горѧште· силоѭ же всѧко по немѹже можеть стѹденоѥ ѹбо стѹдимо· тепло же грѣѥмо·и пакꙑ дѣтишть ни добротꙑ имꙑ ни ꙁлобꙑ силоѭ же вьсѧко по неиже имѣти нарицаѥть сѧ силаи мошть и вои⁘

These two pairs of concepts are excellent illustration of the high difficulty of the envisaged chapters and the philosophical sophistication of the authors of the Miscellany.

Concerning περὶ ποσοῦ καὶ ποσότητος, О количьствѣ и о мѣремꙑихъ, we may note the following.
First, the grounds for distinguishing between them are highly speculative, in the most positive aspect of the word ‘speculative’, as the supreme level of dialectics. Of course, the distinction goes back to the famous treatises of Aristotle. We may compare at length how they are defined and exemplified in the Categories (ch. 4 and 6) and in the Metaphysics (book Delta, V, ch. 13 and book Lambda, ch. 5, 1071 а 27).
Second, the author(s) of the Symeon’s Miscellany conceive of this speculative distinction in an even more speculative manner, defining it like that: Ποσότης μέν ἐστιν αὐτὸ τὸ μέτρον καὶ ὁ ἀριθμός, ὁ μετρῶν καὶ ὁ ἀριθμῶν, πόσα δὲ τὰ τῷ ἀριθμῷ καὶ μετρῷ ὑποκείμενα· ἤγουν τὰ μετρούμενα καὶ ἀριθμούμενα. Количьство оубо ѥсть сама та мѣра мѣрѧштиꙗ  и чьтѹштиꙗ· коликоже ѥже подъ чисменьмь и мѣроѭ подъложить· рекъше мѣримаꙗ и чьтомаꙗ. In an intentionally literal translation this will sound like that: Quantity-ness is the measure itself and the number, which measures and counts those things that might be subjected to counting and measurement: that is the measurable and the numberable things. Or a shorter explanation: quantity-ness is both the measure and the measured, the number and the numbered (counted and/or enumerated).
Third, the usage of ὑποκείμενα – one of the specific Aristotelian terms with triadic nature, is even more tricky. Obviously, in this case its meaning is neither grammatical, syntactic (the subject in a sentence), nor logical (the subject in a proposition to which the predicates are predicated). Here ὑποκείμενα functions ontologically and means ‘the measurable and the numberable things’, ‘those things that might be subjected to counting and measurement’, everything which is susceptible to counting and measurement.
Fourth, in the next lines another important pair comes to the fore: the discrete and the continuous. The Byzantine authors introduce the dychotomy between the divisible and the indivisible, continuous things: Τῶν δὲ ποσῶν τὰ μέν εἰσι διωρισμένα, τὰ δὲ συνεχῆ. Further on, the authors follow strictly Aristotle.
Fifth, the terms ‘number’, ‘magnitude’, ‘time’ and ‘distance’, or even better ‘extension’ (διάστημα), are not defined, but are properly exemplified.

Concerning περὶ ποιοῦ καὶ ποιότητος, О качьствѣ и о творитвьнѣѣмь,we may note the following.
 First, we may once again go back to Aristotle’s treatises to look for the beginning of the distinction: in the Categories (the pair is discussed at length in chapter 8, 8b25-11a37) and in the Metaphysics (ποιόν is clarified in the philosophical vocabulary – book Delta, ch. 14 and book Каppа, ch. 12,1018а 18, 1021а 12, 1022b 15, 1024b 6-9, 1068a 9, 1020b 1-16).
      Second, the closer examination of the definition of the quality-ness reveals that there are two stronger conceptual actors defining the definiendum: Ποιότης ἐστὶν ἐνούσιος δύναμις οἷον ἐπὶ μὲν τῶν γενῶν αἱ συστατικαὶ διαφοραί, τουτέστι λογικότης, θνητότης, ἀθανασία καὶ τὰ ὅμοια. Качьство ѥсть въсѫщьнаꙗ сила· рекъше о родѣхъ ѹбо съставьнаꙗ роꙁличьꙗ· рекъше словесьноѥ съмрьтьноѥ· бесъмрьтьѥ·и прокаꙗ·
a) The first of them is δύναμις, which has the traditional meaning of ‘power’, ‘might’, ‘strength’, ‘force’ and the more unpopular mathematical meaning of ‘the diagonal in a triangle with a right angle’. Precisely this geometrical meaning is used by Plato in the Theaetetus, in the three untranslatable pages with the puzzle about the 17 right-angled triangles (147c–148e). But in the specific vocabulary of Aristotle, to which the author of the Symeon’s Miscellany loyally adheres, it has the function of a modal category and means, depending on the context,  ‘possibility’, ‘potentiality, or potency’, ‘faculty’, ‘capacity’. We see that the Оld Bulgarian translator has decided to stay faithful to the etymology rendering ἐνούσιος δύναμις as въсѫщьнаꙗ сила.
b) The second actor is the ontological concept of συστατικαὶ διαφοραί - the constituent differences, the differentiae specificae, which are immanent characteristics in every existing thing. The examples that follow are easy to understand, because they are suggested in a convincing dychotomy. Some of the qualities, which are mentioned, pertain to creatures, who are endowed with reason and are mortal, i. e. the humans. Others of the qualities are characteristics of creatures, endowed with reasohn and immortal, i.e. all bodiless entities.
Third, the chapter, devoted to the discussion of the seeming paronims and synonyms ‘quality and quality-ness’ explicates the conceptual training of the author in the Aristotelian modal paradigm ἡ δύναμις καὶ ἡ ἐνέργεια, which regarding the different contexts means potency-actuality, or potentiality-actualization, or probability-realization, or predisposition-fulfillment. It is amazing, but true: the word ἐνέργεια never ever existed in the Greek language and is among the hundreds of words and strange phrases coined by Aristotle. There is a sentence in which six philosophical terms from the tools of the peculiar Aristotelian stock are used: τῆς δὲ ποιότητος εἶδός ἐστιν καὶ ἡ δύναμις, καὶ ἡ ἐνέργεια· ἅτινα οὔκ εἰσιν μὲν ἐνέργεια, ἔχουσι δὲ ἐπιτηδειότητα καὶ δύναμιν φυσικήν. Λέγεται γὰρ ἡ μὲν κατ’ἐπιτηδειότητα, ἡ δὲ κατ’ἕξιν, ἤγουν ἐνέργειαν.
качьствꙋ же видъѥсть и силаидѣиство· ꙗже не сѹть ѹбо дѣиство·имꙋть же ѹстроии силѹѥстьствьнѹѭ· наричеть бо сѧ ова по ѹстроѥнию ово по нравѹ рекъше по дѣиствѹ.
From the examples, offered afterwards, we may infer that the author of the Symeon’s Miscellany is familiar with the treatise On the Soul (in Latin De anima), because the anthropological and epistemological meaning of δύναμις as capacity and/or faculty of the human soul (to see, hear, smell, touch, taste, learn and understand) is vastly engaged.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

handout on Epinomis

Tbilisi State University Ivane Javakhishvili

International Conference
Plato’s Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Context
Souls and bodies in the Epinomis[1]
Dimka Gicheva-Gocheva
Sofia University “Saint Kliment Ohridsky”;
29 May 2018


Some conjectures about the context: the problem of phronesis

   In the very first lines of the late Platonic dialogue the Epinomis there is one word, mentioned twice. The word is phronesis – once it is in the genitive, and once in the accusative case (973 a 1-5): ΚΛ. Πρὸς μὲν  τὸ τῆς ὁμολογίας ἥκομεν ἅπαντες ὀρθῶς, ὦ ξένε, τρεῖς ὄντες, ἐγὼ καὶ σὺ καὶ Μέγιλλος ὅδε, τὸ τῆς φρονήσεως ἐπισκεψόμενοι τίνι ποτὲ χρὴ λόγῳ διεξελθεῖν, ὃ τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην ἕξιν φαμέν, ὅταν διανοηθῇ, κάλλιστ’ ἔχειν ποιεῖν πρὸς φρόνησιν ὅσην δυνατὸν ἀνθρώπῳ σχεῖν. 
   The hidden focus of the dialogue: not only wisdom and moderation, but also understanding: understanding, understood not only and solely in the strict epistemological sense, but also and primarily as the seed of the dianoetical virtue, which plays such an important role in the ethical treatises of Aristotle.

1.      Debates about the authorship of the dialogue. Arguments and counterarguments for attributing the dialogue to Plato and Philip[i]; conjecture about the possible authorship of Aristotle. Werner Jaeger and many scholars have paid attention to the fact that all the members of the Academy had written dialogues. They had been obliged to do so by their tutor and master[ii]. Aristotle had written poetry and his dialogues did not concede in respect of the prosaic refinement to any of the belletristic masterpieces of Plato[iii]. On the other hand, we don’t know anything about other possible writings of Philip; his highest erudition in the mathematical astronomy and the tables of the correlation between the days in the calendar and the corresponding celestial phenomena, known as parepegmatics[iv]. (Festugière, A.-J. La révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste; van der Waerden, Лосев, D. R. Dick vs. Tarán and Hans-Jochan Krämer,  Brisson).
2.      The usual attribution of the dialogue to the hand of Philip and moreover the dating of the dialogue  Epinomis in the decades after the death of Plato, fail to explain  the author’s motive for composing it[v].
3.      The greatest rival of the Academy and personally of Plato in the last two decades of his life was not anyone from the sophists. They had been traveling intellectuals, the best of them were no longer on the scene of life and if not all of them, at least some of them were good philosophers. The greatest rival to Plato and the Academy was Isocrates and his rhetorical school[vi]. The great competition between the two schools probably reached its extreme in the year 355 BC, when Isocrates published his enormous auto-apology Antidosis, in which he re-stated in a neat and systematic form his ideology about the nature of the general education, the higher education as he saw it and the respective disciplines in the curriculum: what is to be studied or not, for how long and for what purpose. The credo of his educational practices and teachings is confessed: the human nature is incapable of real knowledge and cognition[vii].
    [271] I understand it quite simply. Since human nature cannot attain knowledge that would enable us to know what we must say or do, after this I think that the wise (sophoi ) are those who have the ability to reach the best opinions (doxai ) most of the time, and philosophers are those who spend time acquiring such an intelligence as quickly as possible.
     4. De philosophia and Protrepticos[viii]; the  Epinomis and the Academy in Plato’s last years.  Several places in the Epinomis in which the phrase human nature is explicitly mentioned and germane (e.g. in 977 c2 the understanding of the humans is bounded with the ability to conceive of number). 
5. Understanding, possible for everyone
6. Baby-maths will not suffice, as Burnyeat puts it, or correspondingly, some baby-science[ix].  What a mortal man must learn in order to be wise?[x] (973b). Those who strive to live as nobly as they can during their life and at the end to die a noble death have a good hope of attaining after they die everything for which they have striven (973 c).
* understanding phronesis is given in and attainable as a potentiality in every human being (974b So, the dialogue offers an understandable description: starting from the difficulties, endangering the conception of the fetus in the womb, passing through the structure of the Whole and the visible and invisible inhabitants in its realm, adding some new sketches to the explanation of the moving of the celestial dynameis, etc., and finishing with the trip to the Isles of the Blest after the physical death (992b-c).                     
7. the final book of the Laws[xi]; the exclamation of Clinias:
        I hope that this is the goal of your laws, that people will sing hymns to the gods and live purer lives, and then meet with the end that is at once best and finest. (980b) 
         More impressive in the Epinomis is not this undeniable connection with the Laws and the aforementioned exaggerated failure to provide a legislature for something important, although the conversation happens as if on the following day. More remarkable is the general recapitulation of ontological and theological statements, which are fundamental in the previous dialogues. There is a short, but important micro dialogue-precision between Clinias and the Athenian guest (between 979d and 981 b) in which it is clarified that the chief concern of the dialogue is not the finalization of the Laws, but the ambition to sketch a decent account of the most important issues in theology and theogony, and man’s proper conduct, in order for his life to be pious and wise. After having asked for help in his prayer, the Athenian reveals:
    Since people in the past have failed badly in describing the generation of gods and living things, it appears that I must begin by constructing an account based on my previous one, taking up again my attack on impious accounts, and declaring that there are gods who care for all things, great and small, who are inexorable in matters of justice. I suppose you remember, Clinias, since you have received a written record. What we said then was quite true. The most important point was that as a whole, soul is older than any body. Do you recall? You surely must remember. For what is superior, older and more godlike is obviously so in relation to what is inferior, younger and less honorable, and what rules or leads is in every way older than what is ruled or led. (980c-981 b)

The structure of the “beautiful bodies” in the Timaeus and the Epinomis

   In respect of the material structure of the Whole, the Epinomis inherits, first, three great ontological axioms from the previously mentioned works, mainly from the Timaeus. 1. The fundamental dichotomy between the most divine entity, the soul of the cosmos, and the body of the cosmos; 2.The perfect unity between the soul and the body, which every living creature imitates, following the pattern of the beautiful symmetry between them on the cosmic level. This conjunction is needed in order every living being to be perfect, harmonious and healthy one. The soul and the body are initially distinct, but from a certain moment onwards they are inseparable in the created cosmos (36d-e). There are five elemental, stereometric bodies, accordingly to the eikos logos (981b3).  The Epinomis is on the same conceptual track. The first entity, the soul, according to the Athenian guest, is older and invisible, intelligent and intelligible; it shares memory (here remains unspecified with whom or what, but probably with the gods and the invisible daimones), and also it is capable of calculating what is susceptible to odd and even.
    *the five physical elements: fire, water, air, earth and ether. All living creatures reach perfection with one of these bodies ruling or dominating in their material compositions. (981c6-8). The living creatures, whose lives are bounded with the earth, are of course, the humans, the animals, possessing many legs, the reptiles and self-understandable, the plants. They all are genera of living creatures, in the composition of which all the material-corporeal ingredients are used, but under the domination of the earth in the mixture. (981d6) Next in the enumeration of the Athenian guest come the creatures, in whose composition the fire dominates, but also they contain some portions of earth and air, and some miniscule particles of the other (two) basic ingredients. The creatures with this type of corporeal composition are part of the entity of becoming, they are perceptible and visible. In conformity with the Timaeus, but also stepping a little bit aside, the Athenian guest determines that these are the celestial living beings in the divine genus of the stars. Let’s point out and emphasize that this refers to the stars, to the stellar constellations, whereas the movement of the planets requires and correspondingly receives another explanation – both in the Timaeus, and in the Epinomis. These divine and living celestial dwellers – the fixed stars and their constellations possess the most beautiful kind of body and they are endowed with the most blissful and best soul. (981e2-6). The celestial bodies have twofold ontological nature, which imposes the dilemma: whether they are either absolutely imperishable and immortal, or though not eternal in an absolute sense, they have such an eternal duration (from the point of view of the mortals) of their lives, that requires nothing more.
    The perfectly moving celestial bodies are phronimoi. The constant and unchangeable order in their movement testifies that they are understanding. Again, this is in tune with what is said by Timaeus in the dialogue, named after him. There is one more stable bridge, connecting the Epinomis with the core values and the fundamentals of the ontology and the theology of the emblematic dialogues. The celestial bodies possess reason (nous) and the absolute necessity in this cosmic order is guarded by the three Moirai (982 b-c), as the myth of Er narrates in the final book of the Republic. 
     * striking differences between the dialogues in the aspect of the five bodies; the ether;
     **important question. If this is the stereometrical figure of the All, or of the Whole, and as the mathematicians since Euclid has proved, even though it perfectly exhausts any given sphere, better than any other regular polyhedron, how this perfectly congruent dodecahedron correlates with the perfect sphere of the body of the cosmos, so much praised in many instances for its smoothness and evenness, for the conditions, which it creates for the incessant, regular and constant movement of the celestial sphere and the boundless running of time?    
      These questions most probably had been rigorously debated in the Academy, not only because Aristotle might have written some of the chapters of the De caelo still being a member of the school in the life-time of his tutor, but the Epinomis does not pose them at all. There is no stereometry and nothing about the structure of the five bodies is specified.

Conclusion: the invisible inhabitants of the bodies

      The Epinomis holds a position at an equal distance from the spatial concept of the ether both in the Timaeus and in the De caelo and pretty much anticipates the Aristotelian idea of the symphyton pneuma.  
      Instead of mathematical details, the author of the Epinomis aimed at the understanding-phronesis and the believe of the readers: there are spiritual-and-material invisible creatures everywhere in all these spheres of the cosmos.
      The ether is used in the first place and as a primary source for their creation.
       We may suppose that soul fashions living things out of it which (like the other kinds of living things) are for the most part characterized by that substance, but which also possess smaller amounts of the other kinds in order to bond them together. After ether, soul fashions a different kind of living things out of air, and a third out of water… it is plausible that soul filled the entire heaven with living things, employing each according to its character, since all share in life.(984c)
***prototype of divine servants – the good ones, are depicted here, in the Epinomis.
    The daimones, made of ether and air, are wholly imperceptible and invisible. (984e) The demigods, made of water, are “sometimes seen, sometimes hidden and invisible, provoking wonder through its dim appearance” (985c).
         And the divine deeds of all these living, intelligent and sensitive assistants of the gods, shaped by the cosmic soul in all realms of the five beautiful bodies, really do happen, because:
     They have a wonderful intelligence, being of kinds that learn quickly and have good memories, and we should say that they know all our thoughts and both love those of us who are noble and good and hate those who are extremely evil, since already with these kinds we are discussing beings that experience pain. (985a)
Text, interpretations and translations:

Text: Leonardo Tarán’s edition of the Greek text in:

Academica: Plato, Philip of Opus, and the Pseudo-Platonic Epinomis. (Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society; v. 107). Philadelphia, 1975.

The one quoted all over in the paper: the English translation by Richard D. McKirahan, Jr, In: Plato. Complete Works. Edited, with introduction and notes by John M. Cooper. Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis/ Cambridge.
Novotný, Franciscus. Platonis Epinomis Commentariis Illustrata. Pragae 1960. In aedibus Academiae Scientiarum Bohemoslovenicae.
German translation: EPINOMIS. Anhang zu den "Gesetzen" . Nach der Übersetzung von Franz Susemih. On the internet:
The Russian translation by A. N. Egunov: Диалоги Платона. Послезаконие.
The French translation and the commentary of Édouard des Places. In: Platon. Oeuvres completes. Tome XII. Les Lois. Livres XI-XII. Epinomis. Paris, 1956, Les belles lettres.
First draft of the Bulgarian translation by Nikolai Gochev. Preprint publication:

Brisson, Luc. Platon. Timée. Critias. Traduction inédite, introduction et notes par Luc Brisson. Flammarion, Paris, 1992.

Brisson, Luc and Walter Meyerstein. Inventing the Universe. Plato’s Timaeus, The Big Bang, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge. State University of New York Press, 1995.

Brisson, Luc. Plato’s Natural Philosophy and Metaphysics. In : Gill, Mary Louis and Pierre Pellegrin (editors). A Companion to Ancient Philosophy. Blackwell Publishing. 2006. p. 212-231.
Brisson, Luc. Le programme d’études des membres du Collège de veille dans l’Epinomis. In : Epinomide. Studi sull’Opera e la sua ricezione. A cura di Francesca Alesse e Franco Ferrari con la collaborazione di Maria Cristina Dalfino. Bibliopolis, 2012.
Brisson, Luc. Epinomis : authenticity and authorship. In : Pseudoplatonica. Akten des Kongresses zu den Pseudoplatonica vom 6-9 Juli 2003, Bamberg. Hrsg. von Klaus Döring, Michael Erler, Stefan Schorn. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 2005.       

Burnyeat, Myles. Plato on Why Mathematics is Good for the Soul. In : Proceedings of the British Academy, 103, 1-81.

Burnyeat, Myles. Eikos mythos. In : Rhizai. Vol. II, No2, 2005, p. 143-165.
Burnyeat, Myles. The Theaetetus of Plato. With a translation of the dialogue by M.J. Levett. Hackett Publishing Company. Indianapolis Cambridge, 1990.
Cherniss, Harold. Die Ältere Akademie. Ein historishes Rätsel und seine Lösung. Heidelberg, 1966, Carl Winter Universitätsverlag. Übersetzt von Josef Derbolav from the original in English The Riddle of the Early Academy. University of California Press, 1945.
Gill, Mary Louis and Pierre Pellegrin (editors). A Companion to Ancient Philosophy. Blackwell Publishing. 2006.
Dick, D.R. Early Greek Astronomy to Aristotle. Ithaca, New York. 1970.
Düring, Ingemar. Aristotle’s Protrepticus. An Attempt at Reconstruction.  Göteborg, 1961. Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis.
Düring, Ingemar. Aristotle in the Ancient Biographical Tradition. Göteborg, 1957.
Düring, Ingemar. Aristoteles. Darstellung und Interpretation seines Denkens. Heidelberg, 1966.
Festugière, A.-J. La révélation d’Hermès Trismégiste. T. 1-4, Paris, 1950-1954.
Jaeger, Werner. Aristoteles. Grundlegung einer Geschichte seiner Entwicklung. Berlin, Weidmansche Buchhandlung, 1923. English translation: Aristotle. Fundamentals of the History of his Development. Oxford. 1934.
Krämer, Hans Joachim. Grundbegriffe akademischer Dialektik in den biologischen Schriften von Aristoteles und Theophrast. In: Rheinisches Museum, 1968, 293-333.
Krämer, H.-J. Philippos von Opus und die “Epinomis”. Geschichte der Griechischen Philiosophie, vol. 3, S. 103-120.
Kraut, Richard. The Cambridge Companion to Plato. 16th printing, 2005. 
Platonis Dialogi secundum Thrasylli Tetralogias Dispositi. Ex recognitione Caroli Friderici Hermanni, vol. I-VI. Lipsiae. In aedibus B.G. Teubneri. MCMXV-MCMVII. Reprinted photographically by D. Papadimas, Athens, 1977.
Rabinowitz, W. G. Aristotle’s Protrepticus and the Sources of its Reconstruction. Göteborg, Berkeley and Cambridge, 1957.
Rose, V. Aristotelis Fragmenta. Leipzig, 1886. Teubner.
Ross, W. D. Aristotelis Fragmenta Selecta, Oxford, 1955. Clarendon.
Untersteiner, Mario. Aristotele. Della filosofia. Roma, 1963. 
Van der Waerden. Title in Dutch; translated in English as Science Awakening* in German Die Erwachende Wissenschaft*; in Russian Пробуждающаяся наука.
Гоготишвили, Л. А. Платонизм в Зазеркалье ХХ века, или Вниз по лестнице, ведущей вверх. Приложение в: Лосев, А. Ф. Очерки античного символизма и мифологии. М., изд. „Мысль“, 1993, с. 922-942.
Лосев, А. Ф. Замечание о „Законах“ и „Послезаконии“. В: Очерки античного символизма и мифологии. М., изд. „Мысль“, 1993, с. 597-599.
Николова, Мария. Бележки относно Платоновите многостени. Послеслов в: Аристотел. За небето. За възникването и загиването. С., СОНМ, 2006. Превод на За небето и встъпителна студия Димка Гочева. Превод на За възникването и загиването Димитър Илиев.

[1]The English translation all over the text: Richard D. McKirahan, Jr, In: Plato. Complete Works. Edited, with introduction and notes by John M. Cooper. Hackett Publishing Company, Indianapolis/ Cambridge The paper has been edited by Associated Prof. Svetla Slaveva-Griffin from the Florida State University.

[i]  In the debates concerning the authorship my sympathies are on the side of É. Des Places in his commentary to the French translation in the edition of “Les belles letters” series from 1956, p. 97-105. The stylometric analysis also gives strength to this thesis: see the chapter of Leonard Brandwood ‘Stylometry and chronology’ in The Cambridge Companion to Plato. Ed. by Richard Kraut. 1995, 16th printing, 2005. p. 90-120. Elegant irony for those, who doubt the authorship of Plato, in the chapter, dedicated to Plato’s astronomy in D.R. Dick’s Early Greek Astronomy to Aristotle, op.cit. in the bibliography. A third solution of the problem : Brisson, Luc. Epinomis : authenticity and authorship. In : Pseudoplatonica. Akten des Kongresses zu den Pseudoplatonica vom 6-9 Juli 2003, Bamberg. Hrsg. von Klaus Döring, Michael Erler, Stefan Schorn. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 2005.       
[ii] Jaeger, Werner, Aristoteles…op. cit. in the bibliography, S. 53-102.
[iii] Cicero had mentioned this in the lost dialogue of his Hortensius. See Jaeger, op.cit., loc.cit.
[iv] D. R. Dick. Early Greek Astronomy to Aristotle. Ithaca, New York, 1970. P. 84-85.
[v] Hans-Jochan Krämer. Philippos von Opus und die “Epinomis”. Geschichte der Griechischen Philiosophie, vol. 3, S. 103-120.
[vi] Myles Burnyeat qualifies Isocrates as the arch-rival in Plato on Why Mathematics is Good for the Soul, op.cit., p. 3 and the following. For opposite commentaries see Mauro Tulli and Maddalena Vallozza.
[vii] Isocrates. The quotation in Greek, which follows, is from the TLG edition. The translation in English is the one by Yun Lee Too in The Oratory of Classical Greece. Series editor Michael Gagarin. Isocrates. Translated by David C. Mirhady and Yun Lee Too. University of Texas Press, Austin, 2000. I am indebted also to the comments and the introductions to the different speeches in the Bulgarian translation, made by Violetta Gerdjikova and Nikolai Sharankov in the edition Изократ. Речи. 2008, Колекция Архетип. Фондация за българска литература. But the ironic comments in respect of Isocrates are entirely my responsibility.
[viii] Editions of the fragments of the early writings by Aristotle: in the books by Rabinowitz, Ross, Rose, Düring аnd Untersteiner in the bibliography.
[ix] Burnyeat, Myles. Plato on Why Mathematics is Good for the Soul. In : Proceedings of the British Academy, v. 103, ed. Timothy Smiley, p. 4.
[x] All the quotations from the Epinomis in the paper are from the translation of Richard McKirahan, Jr.
[xi] The place is the same, the dramatis personae are the same, and the conversation continues as if on the following day(s).