I'm translating the first sentence from Plato's Apology, and encountered a difficulty.

ὅτι μὲν ὑμεῖς, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, πεπόνθατε ὑπὸ τῶν ἐμῶν κατηγόρων, οὐκ οἶδα: ἐγὼ δ᾽ οὖν καὶ αὐτὸς ὑπ᾽ αὐτῶν ὀλίγου ἐμαυτοῦ ἐπελαθόμην, οὕτω πιθανῶς ἔλεγον.

How you, o men of Athens, have been affected by my accusers, I do not know: but I ... so persuasively did they speak.

As you can see, I'm having trouble translating ἐγὼ δ᾽ οὖν καὶ αὐτὸς ὑπ᾽ αὐτῶν ὀλίγου ἐμαυτοῦ ἐπελαθόμην. I think the verb ἐπελαθόμην is 1st sg aorist and means "I forgot". But how would you make sense of οὖν καὶ αὐτὸς ὑπ᾽ αὐτῶν ὀλίγου ἐμαυτοῦ?

I think the preposition ὑπ᾽ is part of what's throwing me off.

1 Answer 1


This is a bit of a convoluted sentence! The key is that the three genitives here have nothing to do with each other—one is a genitive of agent, one is a genitive of quantity a specific idiom, and one is the object of a verb that governs the genitive.

…δ᾽ οὖν καὶ…
And seriously…

…I myself…


…ἐμαυτοῦ ἐπελαθόμην
…forgot myself…

…ὑπ᾽ αὐτῶν…
because of them.

As a whole, "and indeed, even I almost started to forget who I was because of them". He's saying the accusers are misrepresenting him so persuasively he's forgetting his own real identity.

Ὑπ᾽ αὐτῶν is expressing the cause of the forgetting, referring back to the κατήγοροι from the previous clause—this use is most common with passive verbs, but sometimes shows up with non-passives too.

  • 1
    ὀλίγου = "almost" rather than "a little bit".
    – TKR
    Apr 26, 2020 at 0:51
  • @TKR Ahh, right, looked it up and apparently that's a specific idiom. Corrected!
    – Draconis
    Apr 26, 2020 at 0:53
  • Thanks for the clear explanation!
    – ktm5124
    Apr 26, 2020 at 1:43

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