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Headword: Εἱμαρμένη
Adler number: epsiloniota,142
Translated headword: fate
Vetting Status: high
[Meaning] lot.[1]
When Sophocles said about Ajax, "shut Ajax inside his tents during this present light of day," he is averting fate.[2]
Philosophers say[3] that "divinity, intelligence, and fate are all one" and that "[this] is also called by other names".[4] Fate is the "concatenated cause of everything or the reason by which the universe is ruled";[5] or [it is] "an unalterable sequence"[6] and "concatenation",[7] on account of an "unavoidable" cause;[8] or "the power that moves matter".[9] But we acknowledge Christ as the god who governs everything.[10]
Greek Original:
Εἱμαρμένη: γένεσις. ὅτι εἰρηκὼς Σοφοκλῆς περὶ Αἴαντος, εἷρξαι κατ' ἦμαρ τοὐμφανὲς τὸ νῦν τόδε Αἴανθ' ὑπὸ σκηναῖσιν, ἀνατρέπει τὴν εἱμαρμένην. οἱ φιλοσόφοι ἕνα φασὶν εἶναι θεὸν καὶ νοῦν καὶ εἱμαρμένην καὶ ἄλλαις ὀνομασίαις ὀνομάζεσθαι. ἔστι δὲ εἱμαρμένη αἰτία τῶν ὅλων εἰρομένη, ἢ λόγος καθ' ὃν ὁ κόσμος διεξάγεται. ἢ εἱρμός τις καὶ ἐπισύνδεσις ἀπαράβατος, δι' αἰτίαν ἀναπόδραστον: ἢ δύναμις κινητικὴ τῆς ὕλης. οἱ δὲ Χριστὸν θεὸν ὁμολογοῦμεν διοικεῖν τὰ πάντα.
The first of three entries on the word. (See also epsiloniota 143, epsiloniota 144). It gives several definitions and/or etymologies for the word, mostly from Stoic philosophers, before ending with a Christian theological credo.
[1] The Greek word is γένεσις , a word that acquires the meaning "lot, that which is the lot for everyone from birth" from early astronomers on.
[2] Sophocles, Ajax 753-4 (with comment from the scholia there); see already at epsilon 1067. The seer Calchas asks Teucer, in vain, to shut Ajax inside the tents to avoid Athena's wrath; the logical subject of the sentence is therefore not Sophocles but Calchas or Teucer. Here is perhaps a rather inept attempt to etymologize εἱμαρμένη from εἴρω (2) "say", probably as the result of misunderstanding the common (but also wrong) ancient etymology of the word, which put it in relation with εἴρω (1) "fasten together, chain". See further below.
[3] What follows is a series of definitions of "Fate" by the Stoics. Fate had a central role in Stoicism: Zeno, Chrysippus, Posidonius and Boethius all wrote treatises On Fate.
[4] An almost literal quotation from the Stoic philosopher (C3 BC) Chrysippus (SVF 2.580 von Arnim = Diogenes Laertius 7.135). The quoted text says: "the divinity and intelligence and fate and Zeus are all one, and he [sc. the divinity] is also called by other names".
[5] A quotation from Chrysippus or some of his disciples: SVF 2.915 von Arnim = Diog.Laert.7.149. In this quotation and the following, there is an etymology of εἱμαρμένη from the root of the verb εἴρω . This was a common interpretation in antiquity: see Aristotle, de Mundo 401b10. The word, however, does not relate to εἴρω , but to the root of the verb μείρομαι ("receive as one's lot) and the substantives μέρος ("lot") and μόρος ("fate"). See Chantraine, Dict.Etym. s.v. μείρομαι . The quoted text (ed. Marcovich) says "everything that exists" (ὄντων ) instead of "everything" (ὅλων ).
[6] cf. Chrysippus, SVF 918 von Arnim = Nemesius, de nat. hom. cp. 37 p.299.
[7] cf. Chrysippus, SVF 917 von Arnim = Aetius, Placit. 1.28.4.
[8] ἀναπόδραστος , "unavoidable". The word is used by the first century CE Stoic philosopher L. Annaeus Cornutus (De natura deorum, p.13) in a chapter devoted to fate. The goddess Ananke (Necessity) is said to have given birth to Adrastea, who bears a name from the same root of this word. At the beginning of this chapter, Cornutus relates εἱμαρμένη with μείρομαι etymologically.
[9] Words attributed to the founder of the Stoa, the C4/3 BCE philosopher Zeno of Citium ( SVF 176 von Arnim = Aetius, Placit. 1.27.5).
[10] The 'we' is emphatic in the parallel entry in ps.-Zonaras (ἡμεῖς δέ... . And cf. also tau 1234: 'we Christians...'.
On the concept of "fate" in ancient Greece see:
Bobzien, S. Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press) 1998
Greene, W.C. Moira. Fate, Good and Evil in Greek thought. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard UP, 1944 (1963)
Dietrich, B.C. Death, Fate and the Gods. London: University of London, 1965
Keywords: Christianity; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; philosophy; religion; tragedy
Translated by: Daniel Riaño on 30 August 2000@19:08:32.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (Cosmetics) on 24 October 2000@11:14:59.
Marcelo Boeri (Minor corrections. Bibliography added.) on 24 October 2000@19:28:26.
David Whitehead (modified translation; augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 5 February 2003@08:49:22.
David Whitehead (another x-ref; tweaked tr) on 25 April 2007@07:06:39.
David Whitehead (another keyword; tweaking) on 25 November 2012@08:15:15.
David Whitehead (cosmetics) on 22 April 2016@03:44:43.


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