Xenophon, Memorabilia, 1.1.2:

πρῶτον μὲν οὖν, ὡς οὐκ ἐνόμιζεν οὓς ἡ πόλις νομίζει θεούς, ποίῳ ποτ᾽ ἐχρήσαντο τεκμηρίῳ; θύων τε γὰρ φανερὸς ἦν πολλάκις μὲν οἴκοι, πολλάκις δὲ ἐπὶ τῶν κοινῶν τῆς πόλεως βωμῶν, καὶ μαντικῇ χρώμενος οὐκ ἀφανὴς ἦν. διετεθρύλητο γὰρ ὡς φαίη Σωκράτης τὸ δαιμόνιον ἑαυτῷ σημαίνειν: ὅθεν δὴ καὶ μάλιστά μοι δοκοῦσιν αὐτὸν αἰτιάσασθαι καινὰ δαιμόνια εἰσφέρειν.

My question particularly concerns the phrase «θύων τε γὰρ φανερὸς ἦν πολλάκις μὲν οἴκοι». My understanding thus far is that the imperfect ἦν (“he was”) is joined to the present participle θύων (“offering sacrifices”), and this is a so-called “imperfect periphrastic” construction. Is this correct? If so, what would be the difference (in sense) between this construction and that of the imperfect conjugation itself (ἔθυεν)?

1 Answer 1


Such periphrastic constructions are much more common in New Testament Greek.

There is a special construction, indicated towards the beginning of the LSJ entry for φανερός ( which includes several examples): φανερός + participle = "to be known to be doing X".

The idiom is readily understandable even without resorting to the dictionary. "θύων" is a present participle modifying the subject. You could parse the sentence literally as:

He, sacrificing, was often visible/manifest/known at home....

A more fluid translation:

He was often seen sacrificing at home and on the public altars of the city....

Note that an identical construction (with litotes) follows in the same sentence: οὐκ ἀφανὴς ἦν. Literally translated, this simply means, "He was not invisible consulting oracles...."

  • Thank you for that info on φανερός + participle in LSJ. I totally missed it! Nov 12, 2018 at 1:43

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