I was reading through Plato's (incomplete) Critias yesterday and came across the following passage:
δίκης δὴ κλήροις τὸ φίλον λαγχάνοντες κατῴκιζον τὰς χώρας, καὶ κατοικίσαντες, οἷον νομῆς ποίμνια, κτήματα καὶ θρέμματα ἑαυτῶν ἡμᾶς ἔτρεφον, πλὴν οὐ σώμασι σώματα βιαζόμενοι, καθάπερ ποιμένες κτήνη πληγῇ νέμοντες, ἀλλ᾽ ᾗ μάλιστα εὔστροφον ζῷον, ἐκ πρύμνης ἀπευθύνοντες, οἷον οἴακι πειθοῖ ψυχῆς ἐφαπτόμενοι κατὰ τὴν αὐτῶν διάνοιαν, οὕτως ἄγοντες τὸ θνητὸν πᾶν ἐκυβέρνων. (Critias, 109b-c)
So by just allotments they [i.e. the gods] received each one his own, and they settled their countries; and when they had thus settled them, they reared us up, even as herdsmen rear their flocks, to be their cattle and nurslings; only it was not our bodies that they constrained by bodily force, like shepherds guiding their flocks with stroke of staff, but they directed from the stern where the living creature is easiest to turn about, laying hold on the soul by persuasion, as by a rudder, according to their own disposition; and thus they drove and steered all the mortal kind.
I am unsure of the antecedent of the second, non-reflexive "αὐτῶν." I am unsure if it refers to (1) the gods' disposition or (2) the mortals' disposition.
In favor of the first reading:
- It makes more intuitive sense of the passage: the gods are directing mortals as they wish.
- There is no obvious plural antecedent: one would expect "αὐτοῦ" if it was meant to refer to "ζῷον."
In favor of the second:
- It's possible that Plato is establishing the contrast between force ("βιαζόμενοι") and persuasion ("πειθοῖ") by showing that the effect of the gods' ruling is that mortals will end up with the same disposition, and thus act according to it.
- Crucially, "αὐτῶν" is not reflexive. Earlier in the same sentence, the reflexive was used for the gods.
If my instincts are correct, this may boil down to a simple question: are there cases, such as this syntactically convoluted sentence, where the reflexive pronoun is not used, even though it is referring to the subject of the sentence?