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Headword: *)ergola/bos
Adler number: epsilon,2907
Translated headword: contractor; profit-maker
Vetting Status: high
The meaning we normally think it right to give to this word, using e)rgola/bos to denote a person who receives a wage for certain services and works with the collaboration of other employees,[1] is not the same the orators apply to e)rgola/bos.[2] Rather, they use the word in reference to disreputable matters, as Demosthenes [does] in the Letter to the council and the people:[3] "for the present situation is far more in need of goodwill and generosity than[4] turmoil and malice, as[5] they are using, in excess, the profit-makers to your detriment,[6] with a view to gaining advantages -- may they be deceived [in such calculations]!"
Also [sc. attested is] e)/rgon, in reference to what is difficult.[7]
Polybius [writes]: "during their siege of Syracuse the Romans had a hard time, since they had not taken into due consideration Archimedes' ability".[8]
Greek Original:
*)ergola/bos: ou)k w(/sper e)n th=| sunhqei/a| dokou=men e)rgola/bon kalei=n to\n u(pe/r tinwn e)/rgwn misqo\n lamba/nonta kai\ e)/xonta tou\s sunergazome/nous, ou(/tw kai\ oi( r(h/tores e)cede/canto to\n e)rgola/bon: a)ll' e)pi\ flau/rwn pragma/twn xrw=ntai tw=| o)no/mati: w(s *dhmosqe/nhs e)n th=| pro\s th\n boulh\n kai\ to\n dh=mon e)pistolh=|: polu\ ga\r ma=llon eu)noi/as kai\ filanqrwpi/as ta\ paro/nta pra/gmata dei=tai e)k taraxh=s kai\ dusmenei/as, w(s u(perbolh=| xrw/menoi toi=s e)rgolabou=si kaq' u(mw=n ei)s u(podoxh\n pragma/twn, w(=n diayeusqei=en. kai\ *)/ergon, e)pi\ tou= dusxerou=s. *polu/bios: oi( de\ *(rwmai=oi poliorkou=ntes tou\s *surakousi/ous e)/rgou ei)/xonto, ou) logisa/menoi th\n *)arximh/dous du/namin.
[1] For this usual meaning of e)rgola/bos as "contractor" (clearly from the noun e)/rgon and the verb lamba/nein), see e.g. Plato, Republic 373B; Plutarch, Pericles 31; and many epigraphical attestations. LSJ entry at web address 1.
[2] A trace of a usage of e)rgola/bos in a legal context, referring to advocates as 'contractors of lawsuits', occurs in Themistius, Orations 21.260b. What the Attic orators use with the Suda's meaning is actually the verb e)rgolabe/w, which also occurs most probably in the quotation (see note 5). LSJ entry at web address 2.
[3] Demosthenes, Letter 3 (Concerning the sons of Lycurgus) at ch.34 (web address 3).
[4] Reading h)/, from Demosthenes, for the Suda's e)k.
[5] The translation renders the Suda's text w(s; but a better reading is w(=n in, again, the direct transmission. Referring to taraxh\ kai\ dusme/neia, it implies a slightly different translation: "using them [= turmoil and malice] against you all, etc."
[6] A third instance of textual corruption in the quotation: the Suda's toi=s is actually tines in Demosthenes' text. The misreading of an abbreviation led a scribe to think of e)rgolabou=si as a dative plural participle governed by xrw/menoi, despite the presence of another dative. It is in fact a third person plural indicative, providing the main verb of the clause.
[7] For idioms like e)/rgon e)sti/, e)/. eu(rei=n, e)/. parasxei=n tini/ see LSJ at web address 4; and cf. generally epsilon 2909, epsilon 2911.
[8] An approximation of Polybius 8.3.3 -- perhaps via an epitome: the original is much longer, and does not contain the phrase 'had a hard time'. (Archimedes, surprisingly, does not have his own Suda entry [alpha 4113 is a homonym], but for this episode cf. under alpha 2797, epsilon 945, sigma 669.)
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4
Keywords: biography; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; economics; ethics; geography; historiography; history; law; military affairs; rhetoric; science and technology
Translated by: Antonella Ippolito on 28 November 2005@22:56:55.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (tweaked tr; augmented notes and keywords) on 29 November 2005@05:48:00.
Catharine Roth (betacode typo) on 29 November 2005@11:26:51.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 13 December 2005@08:06:06.
David Whitehead (more x-refs and keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 25 October 2012@06:58:12.
David Whitehead (tweaks to tr; expanded some notes; coding) on 6 February 2016@05:54:52.
Catharine Roth (typo) on 17 December 2020@00:56:44.


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