I read in the very beginning of Platon's Laches (perseus edition):

τεθέασθε μὲν τὸν ἄνδρα μαχόμενον ἐν ὅπλοις, ὦ Νικία τε καὶ Λάχης: οὗ δ᾽ ἕνεκα ὑμᾶς ἐκελεύσαμεν συνθεάσασθαι ἐγώ τε καὶ Μελησίας ὅδε, τότε μὲν οὐκ εἴπομεν, νῦν δ᾽ ἐροῦμεν. ἡγούμεθα γὰρ χρῆναι πρός γε ὑμᾶς παρρησιάζεσθαι.

What bothers me is the meaning of πρός γε ὑμᾶς I read in Kenneth Quandt 's translation:

Now you have seen the man's display of fighting in armor, Nicias and Laches. Why we asked you to watch it with us, Melesias here and myself, we did not tell you before but now we will, and the reason we will is that we are sure it is right and good to speak openly to you, given who you are.

Kenneth Quandt writes about "πρός γε ὑμᾶς" (note 4):

πρός γε ὑμᾶς, γε causal.

and translates:

[good to speak openly to] you, given who you are

The particle γε has many meanings and I thought to something simpler, maybe "to speak openly, especially to you"(emphasis) or "to speak openly, at any rate to you"(restriction).

Anyway, I never heard of a "γε causal" and I don't understand what it could be but Quandt's translation makes sense and sounds interesting. Do you have any reference explaining such a meaning ?

  • 1
    I've never heard of "ge causal" either, and would also translate it as "to you in particular".
    – Draconis
    Jan 15, 2019 at 21:44
  • 2
    FWIW Denniston's massive Greek Particles doesn't seem to recognize a "γε causal" either. That said, in this context it's not too hard to understand what Quandt means: Lysimachus is saying "I wouldn't discuss these things with just anyone, but I will with you, because you're the kind of people who would get it", hence Quandt's causal translation "given who you are".
    – TKR
    Jan 15, 2019 at 23:33
  • Its use here seems to be roughly equivalent to quidem in Latin, for what that's worth.
    – cnread
    Jan 16, 2019 at 0:07
  • 1
    Isn't this limitative γε? - and it is in Denniston.
    – Alex B.
    Jan 16, 2019 at 1:14
  • 1
    @AlexB. Interesting; I hadn't considered those two the same. But that would make a good answer!
    – Draconis
    Jan 16, 2019 at 15:51

1 Answer 1


(This answer may not be satisfying, and I'm happy to have it supplanted in the future! But for now…)

I've never heard of a "γε causal", nor have any of the classicists I've talked to. A Google search brings up physics papers talking about "gamma-epsilon geodesics", which seem to be something in relativity, but no relevant results about Ancient Greek.

In this case, I took γε as intensifying the prepositional phrase: we wouldn't talk to just anyone, but we would definitely talk to you (because you're Socrates). This is the same idea Quandt is using in his translation; he's just embellishing a bit more, to make it sound idiomatic in English.

Notably, γε has some causal descendants: it's the root of γάρ, which could absolutely be called causal. But I've never seen γε alone with this meaning.

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