History, Department of


Date of this Version

November 2000


Published in Classical Quarterly 50.2 (2000), pp. 526-530. Published for The Classical Association by Cambridge University Press. Used by permission.


At Quaestiones Graecae 32.298c-d, Plutarch raises the question, τίνες οι αειναυται παρα Μιλησίοις, ‘Who were the Perpetual Sailors among the Milesians?’; he frames the circumstances of his answer using a genitive absolute clause: των περι Θόαντα και Δαμασήνορα τυράννων καταλυθέντων (‘when the tyrants around Thoas and Damasenor had been overthrown’). In the absence of any other mention of these men in the extent sources, these words--especially the appellation τυράννων --have caused concern among editors and commentators of Plutarch. In the Teubner edition of 1935 Titchener changes τυράννων to the accusative τυράννωυς, while Halliday in his Oxford commentary suggests that the word should be deleted as a gloss. Each of these suggested changes to the received text is motivated by the occurrence here of the common idiom οι περι + Accus. nominis proprii. This expression is, from the time of Polybius on, frequently used by Greek historians to indicate succinctly a group or faction, especially one centred around an important personage. Furthermore, a rather odd periphrastic usage of this phrase has been identified by scholars of Greek grammar as common from at least the Roman period. In this usage, οι περι τινα serves as the equivalent of the simple proper name. Thus των περι Θόαντα και Δαμασήνορα may be a periphrasis for Thoas and Damasenor alone.

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