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Embarrassed to ask another question about this text so soon, but I'm confused by the presence of both εἰπεῖν and εἰρήκασιν in this clause. I believe that both verbs mean "to say", or something like that, yet I'm not sure why they belong together here, or why one is conjugated and the other infinitive. It seems one would suffice.

καίτοι ἀληθές γε ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν οὐδὲν εἰρήκασιν.

I also don't see how the rest of it fits together. I believe ἀληθές is an adjective meaning "true", ἔπος a noun meaning "word", and οὐδὲν an adjective meaning "not one". Yet these three words which seem to belong together ("not one true word") are separated by other words. How do all these parts work together?

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  • Unfortunately the link seems to be broken.
    – Draconis
    Apr 26 '20 at 2:13
  • @Draconis Thank you, fixed the link!
    – ktm5124
    Apr 26 '20 at 2:14
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The phrase ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν is an expression, meaning something like "so to say". So a very rough translation would be, "they have said (perfect tense) nothing truthful, so to say". Apparently, "they said nothing truthful" is itself also an expression.

As to ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν, I believe ὡς is not seldom used with an infinitive rather than a finite verb, so perhaps the infinitive is not so surprising.

The particle γε often gives emphasis to the preceding word (I'm not sure whether it has a more specific connotation here).

The fact that ἀληθές and οὐδὲν are so far apart is not very unusual: gender, number, and case make it clear that they belong together; Greek and Latin are simply such that you can put phrases or clauses between words belonging to the same syntactic constituent.

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  • Thank you! So εἰρήκασιν οὐδὲν ἀληθές means "they said nothing truthful", right? It makes sense that ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν can come between οὐδὲν and ἀληθές, since we often insert "so to say" in between clauses. But what does the particle γε contribute here?
    – ktm5124
    Apr 26 '20 at 2:18
  • 1
    @ktm5124: I've tried to answer in my answer!
    – Cerberus
    Apr 26 '20 at 2:23
  • No wonder I was so confused! There is an idiom that was throwing me off. Thank you!
    – ktm5124
    Apr 26 '20 at 2:31
  • 2
    To add a little about ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν -- it often appears with words like "nothing, everything, no one, everyone", and seems to express a slight hedge, "practically nothing", "just about everyone".
    – TKR
    Apr 26 '20 at 2:34
  • Thanks for the comment, @TKR. Good to see you here!
    – ktm5124
    Apr 26 '20 at 3:25
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εἶπον is the suppletive aorist and εἴρηκα the suppletive perfect of φημί or λέγω. It is a question of definition whether you regard them as three separate verbs, or as different tenses of the same verb.

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