In phrases like, we wish to be attacked by as few enemies as possible, ἐθέλομεν προσβάλλεσθαι ὑφ' ὅτι ὀλιγίστων πολεμίων, is it correct to leave out the definite article after ὅτι? I ask because, in English, it would be grammatically wrong to place a definite article inside the phrase as few enemies as possible. The word "few" (ὀλιγίστων) seems to take the place of the definite article, in the same way that the indefinite adjectives τις and τι would. If the omission is correct, is it due to the ὅτι construction?

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    My Greek is rusty, but shouldn't that be "hos" not "hoti"?
    – brianpck
    Nov 24, 2016 at 16:23
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    According to my textbook, both words can be used interchangeably. See the second definition at Wiktionary: en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/ὅτι.
    – ktm5124
    Nov 24, 2016 at 18:30
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    Not an answer because I don't have any evidence, but my sense is that you wouldn't want a definite article here. The enemies aren't definite, as far as I can see. In any case ὑφ΄ ὅτι τῶν ὀλιγίστων πολεμίων is definitely wrong; the position of τῶν looks ungrammatical to me.
    – TKR
    Nov 25, 2016 at 2:42
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    @brianpck. ὠς seems to be used in this meaning only with sup. adverbs, not with adjectives.
    – fdb
    Nov 25, 2016 at 13:31
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    By the way, since the enemies are countable, a better choice in this context might be ὅσος, which can be used with a superlative like ὅτι / ὡς: "... ὑπὸ πολεμίων ὅσων ὀλιγίστων". Also ἐθέλω (in Attic prose anyway) is more about "being willing" or "consenting" than more active "wanting", so I'd use βουλόμεθα here instead.
    – TKR
    Nov 25, 2016 at 17:29

1 Answer 1



ὅ τι (or ὅτι) is combined with a superlative adverb or a superlative adjective to mean “as X as possible”. In both cases it seems that it is never used with a definite article (see the quotations in LSJ). In the case of the adverbial usage this makes sense, and the adjectival usage is perhaps by analogy with the former.

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