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ἑαυτοῦ δὲ προσελθόντος εἰπεῖν ὅτι δέοι αὐτὸν ἄγγελον ἀνθρώποις γενέσθαι τῶν ἐκεῖ καὶ διακελεύοιντό οἱ ἀκούειν τε καὶ θεᾶσθαι πάντα τὰ ἐν τῷ τόπῳ.

(My translation) And when Er approached, [the judges] said that there was need for him to be a messenger to men of the things in the world beyond, and they ordered him to both hear and behold all things in this place.

Plat. Rep. 10.614d

I am confused about two things in this passage. The first, why is the reflexive pronoun ἑαυτοῦ used as the subject of the genitive absolute, ἑαυτοῦ δὲ προσελθόντος? I thought that reflexive pronouns could never be subjects, and would have expected to see αὐτοῦ in its place. I translated ἑαυτοῦ as "Er", since that is the name of the character, but my literal translation would be "he", as in, "when he approached".

Second, I am confused about the phrase διακελεύοιντό οἱ. I assume that οἱ is being used as a demonstrative pronoun, staying true to its roots, so I would translate it as "these [judges]", or even just, "the judges". Am I correct about this? That said, I was half expecting to see the verb διακελεύοιντό be infinitive, not finite, since earlier we have εἰπεῖν (of which the judges are also the subject) take the infinitive. Why exactly is διακελεύοιντό finite and εἰπεῖν infinitive?

I have a guess... εἰπεῖν is part of an (implied) indirect statement, of which διακελεύοιντό is not a part? My textbook hints that there are a lot of indirect statements in this passage, where ἔφη is often implied. In which case, the below translation might be more literal.

And [he said] that when he approached, the judges said that there was need for him to be a messenger to men of the things in the world beyond, and the judges ordered him to both hear and behold all things in this place.

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  1. ἑαυτοῦ: this is reflexive because it's referring all the way back to the subject of the verb of speech that introduced this whole passage of indirect discourse. It's an "indirect reflexive": see the discussion in Smyth 1225ff.

  2. οἱ: this is not the nom. pl. of the definite article, but the enclitic dat. sg. of the third-person pronoun, "(to) him". The way to tell is that there is no noun accompanying with it; with few exceptions (e.g. οἱ μέν ... οἱ δέ), when οἱ is the definite article you will always see a noun following it.

  3. διακελεύοιντο: this is the trickiest part of this question; my tentative explanation is as follows. You're perfectly right that we would expect an infinitive διακελεύεσθαι, just like εἰπεῖν with which it is coordinated. What seems to have happened is that the verb got drawn into the construction of δέοι: that is, Plato had just used an optative form and automatically extended the same construction to this verb, even though grammatically it's doing something different. (Maybe the immediately following infinitives ἀκούειν τε καὶ θεᾶσθαι also deterred him from using an infinitive here.) This would presumably have been aided (or even caused) by the fact that optatives can be used in this way in indirect statement, even though in this case a different construction had been originally chosen: Plato is nesting one indirect statement inside another, and seems to be using the form appropriate to the outer statement instead of the one appropriate to the inner statement. This is anacoluthon, but of a type that's not infrequent in languages generally: cf. English sentences like The reason for his complaints are as follows -- strictly ungrammatical, but a commonly encountered type -- where the verb has been drawn into the plural because of a preceding plural noun.

  • 2
    Great answer, +1. In the Ionic dialect (e.g. Herodotus), "οἱ" is very commonly used in this way. – brianpck Mar 3 '17 at 22:36
  • Yes, thanks for the answer! I will take some time to go over this and make sense of your points. Then I will accept. – ktm5124 Mar 4 '17 at 23:52

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