19 September 2007

Tisis and Anti-tisis?

My thoughts have turned recently to the famous passage (see below) from Simplicius, depending on Theophrastus, about Anaximander.

The passage raises several interesting questions, which I hope to post on in the week to come. For today, I'll put up the passage in full, and not piecemeal or partially, as one tends to see in collections.

I began thinking about this because of an offhand comment by Kurt Pritzl in his lecture on Anaximander last week (in the Presocratics Lecture Series at CUA) --that διδόναι γὰρ αὐτὰ δίκην καὶ τίσιν ἀλλήλοις τῆς ἀδικίας perhaps contains two distinct claims, not one.

I hadn't ever raised that question to myself, which is why I began thinking about the passage from this entry point.

For example, Burnet apparently takes δίκην καὶ τίσιν to be a unit, a repetition of the same thing, since he renders, "for they make reparation and satisfaction to one another for their injustice according to the appointed time". Here reparation and satisfaction amount to the same thing: when one party is making reparation, it is at the same time making satisfaction. Note that on this reading ἀλλήλοις τῆς ἀδικίας governs both. Note too that on this reading the passage refers only to what each party gives up to the other.

KRS render: "for they pay penalty and retribution to each other for their injustice according to the assessment of Time".

But here I don't know whether the clauses are supposed to mean the same thing or something different, because "paying retribution to someone" is not idiomatic English. Do KRS take the same view as Burnet, or do they think that διδόναι δίκην and διδόναι τίσιν are correlative: that is, that when the one party is paying the penalty, it's the other which is exacting retribution? On that reading, the passage would be talking both about what each party gives up to the other, and about what each takes from the other.

This seems like a small point, but I'm not sure it is. And, even if there are difficulties, given the importance of the fragment shouldn't we at least be precise about how we resolve them?

For a somewhat extreme version of understanding the clauses differently, consider the following, a translation of Heidegger: "for they let order and thereby reck belong to one another (in the surmounting) of disorder", in which, as Lucid explains, 'reck' means 'esteem'. (Hah, and now I've linked to Daily Kos!)

Τῶν δὲ ἓν καὶ κινούμενον καὶ ἄπειρον λεγόντων ᾿Αναξίμανδρος μὲν Πραξιάδου Μιλήσιος Θαλοῦ γενόμενος διάδοχος καὶ μαθητὴς ἀρχήν τε καὶ στοιχεῖον εἴρηκε τῶν ὄντων τὸ ἄπειρον
, πρῶτος τοῦτο τοὔνομα κομίσας τῆς ἀρχῆς. λέγει δ' αὐτὴν μήτε ὕδωρ μήτε ἄλλο τι τῶν καλουμένων εἶναι στοιχείων, ἀλλ' ἑτέραν τινὰ φύσιν ἄπειρον, ἐξ ἧς ἅπαντας γίνεσθαι τοὺς οὐρανοὺς καὶ τοὺς ἐν αὐτοῖς κόσμους· ἐξ ὧν δὲ ἡ γένεσίς ἐστι τοῖς οὖσι, καὶ τὴν φθορὰν εἰς ταῦτα γίνεσθαι κατὰ τὸ χρεών. διδόναι γὰρ αὐτὰ δίκην καὶ τίσιν ἀλλήλοις τῆς ἀδικίας κατὰ τὴν τοῦ χρόνου τάξιν, ποιητικωτέροις οὕτως ὀνόμασιν αὐτὰ λέγων· δῆλον δὲ ὅτι τὴν εἰς ἄλληλα μεταβολὴν τῶν τεττάρων στοιχείων οὗτος θεασάμενος οὐκ ἠξίωσεν ἕν τι τούτων ὑποκείμενον ποιῆσαι, ἀλλά τι ἄλλο παρὰ ταῦτα. οὗτος δὲ οὐκ ἀλλοιουμένου τοῦ στοιχείου τὴν γένεσιν ποιεῖ, ἀλλ' ἀποκρινομένων τῶν ἐναντίων διὰ τῆς ἀιδίου κινήσεως· διὸ καὶ τοῖς περὶ ᾿Αναξαγόραν τοῦτον ὁ ᾿Αριστοτέλης συνέταξεν.