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Headword: *ei(marme/nh
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:
*ei(marme/nh: ge/nesis. o(/ti ei)rhkw\s *sofoklh=s peri\ *ai)/antos, ei(=rcai kat' h)=mar tou)mfane\s to\ nu=n to/de *ai)/anq' u(po\ skhnai=sin, a)natre/pei th\n ei(marme/nhn. oi( filoso/foi e(/na fasi\n ei)=nai qeo\n kai\ nou=n kai\ ei(marme/nhn kai\ a)/llais o)nomasi/ais o)noma/zesqai. e)/sti de\ ei(marme/nh ai)ti/a tw=n o(/lwn ei)rome/nh, h)\ lo/gos kaq' o(\n o( ko/smos dieca/getai. h)\ ei(rmo/s tis kai\ e)pisu/ndesis a)para/batos, di' ai)ti/an a)napo/draston: h)\ du/namis kinhtikh\ th=s u(/lhs. oi( de\ *xristo\n qeo\n o(mologou=men dioikei=n ta\ pa/nta.
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 ge/nesis, 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 ei(marme/nh from ei)/rw(2) "say", probably as the result of misunderstanding the common (but also wrong) ancient etymology of the word, which put it in relation with ei)/rw(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 ei(marme/nh from the root of the verb ei)/rw. This was a common interpretation in antiquity: see Aristotle, de Mundo 401b10. The word, however, does not relate to ei)/rw, but to the root of the verb mei/romai ("receive as one's lot) and the substantives me/ros ("lot") and mo/ros ("fate"). See Chantraine, Dict.Etym. s.v. mei/romai. The quoted text (ed. Marcovich) says "everything that exists" (o)/ntwn) instead of "everything" (o(/lwn).
[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] a)napo/drastos, "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 ei(marme/nh with mei/romai 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 (h(mei=s de/.... 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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