Page 1 of 1

[Ancient Greek] Aristotle's Definition of a "friend"

Posted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:16 am UTC
by Interactive Civilian
Hey all. I hope this isn't too off topic to post here, but I'm looking for some help for making an engraving for a friend.

According to Wikiquote, when asked "What is a friend?", Aristotle once replied, "A single soul dwelling in two bodies."

I've searched around a bit to try to find the original quote in Greek, but my lack of Greek ability and not really knowing where to search or what terms to Google for (beyond the obvious which turned up nothing, or my google-fu is weak) have kept me from making progress.

Does anyone know what the original is or where to find it? Or, failing that, is anyone here knowledgeable enough in the Greek of Aristotle's time to take a guess what he would have said or how he would have phrased that?

To keep this more on topic for the linguistics forum, I would love an explanation of the Greek phrase, i.e. the meanings of each word and the grammar involved.

Anyone help? Thanks in advance. :)

Re: [Ancient Greek] Aristotle's Definition of a "friend"

Posted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:57 am UTC
by Naurgul
I'm not sure where he said it but if he did we'll probably find it after some searching. First of all, there are quite a few of texts that are attributed to Aristotle on the Greek Wikisource. I'm currently trying to see if it's there. My knowledge of Ancient Greek is not very good but I think I'll be able to spot it if I come across it. I'll also check if we have any books in the house that may include it although I doubt it.

Edit: Found it:
Φιλία εστί μία ψυχή εν δυσί σώμασιν ενοικουμένη.

However, the site I saw it on doesn't strike as a very good source. There's also the issue that the are some special symbols in that don't appear on this version because it's using the modern Greek standards. If I could remember the rules, I'd put them myself, but it's been a while. Also, I'm not sure how to use the symbols on a computer; never done it before. I'll post back if I have any updates.

Edit again: Since there really was no minuscule form of the Greek letters or diacritics when Aristotle was around, you might as well use this and be done with it:

Unfortunately, I can't find any relevant books in my bookcase and with the absence of more websites about it, I don't think we have enough sources to be certain about it. Still, it's probably right. Seems right to me, at any rate.

Edit yet again: I can actually ask on a Greek writers' forum I'm a member of too, although we don't get along too well. They'd probably be in position to verify or even find the proper minuscule ancient Greek text. If you want to be absolutely sure about it and nobody else here can help, I'll go ask.

Re: [Ancient Greek] Aristotle's Definition of a "friend"

Posted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:39 am UTC
by JayDee
All those shitty quote sites make googling difficult. That quote seems to be from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers. Greek text here. I think this is the bit:

ἐρωτηθεὶς τί ἐστι φίλος, ἔφη, "μία ψυχὴ δύο σώμασιν ἐνοικοῦσα."
When asked "What is a friend?", Aristotle once replied, "A single soul dwelling in two bodies."

While I think I could guess at cases and stuff, I'll leave that to someone who knows what they are talking about.

Re: [Ancient Greek] Aristotle's Definition of a "friend"

Posted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:34 pm UTC
by Interactive Civilian
No time for a proper response now, as it's time for bed on this side of the planet. However, I just want to say thank you so much for the responses. You guys are awesome. :)

I am seriously interested in the linguistics of these phrases, so if anyone is bored and wants to break them down and explain them, I'd really appreciate it. Anyway, I'll take a closer look at these tomorrow and post a more proper response (or edit this one), but for now, I just wanted to say thanks. Thank you so much. 8)

JayDee wrote:μία ψυχὴ δύο σώμασιν ἐνοικοῦσα.

(doing my best, probably incorrect transliteration, since I don't know proper Greek transliteration)

"mia psyche duo somasin enoikousa" (??)
one soul two bodies dwelling

I'm guessing. So, anyone help out here? I know "σώμα" is body (right?). Does -σιν make it plural?

Am I assuming correctly that "ἐνοικοῦσα" is a present participle of "to dwell"? What is the infinitive/root form/whatever?

(just satisfying my curiousity)

Also, how different is this compared to saying it in modern Greek?

Re: [Ancient Greek] Aristotle's Definition of a "friend"

Posted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:40 am UTC
by Asleep or Wrong
-σι(ν) is dative plural. δύο doesn't look anything like that because it's indeclinable, but it is indeed of the same form and a modifier of the other word.
you're right about ἐνοικοῦσα, it's the present active participle of ἐνοικέω (infinitive ἐνοικέιν, probably have the accent wrong). the verb is itself a compound of ἐν in, within, on, at, by with datives and οἰκέω inhabit, live (at a place), dwell. And verbs compounded with prepositions usually can take whatever case the preposition takes and makes something of a prepositional phrase out of it.

edit: brief note, greek philology uses the first singular present active indicative verb as the primary dictionary form of a verb. so οἰκέω really means I inhabit, live (at a place), dwell.