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Headword: *me/son
Adler number: mu,669
Translated headword: mean, middle term
Vetting Status: high
[The mean is] what participates in what is equal.[1]
For the excesses and defects, in being opposite each other, in moral virtues are [ranged] under the vice. By contrast, virtues, in being their means, are [ranged] under another genus, for [they are ranged] under virtue. Or because this happens [sc. to be so] not only to these means, but also to the opposite [states] of each extremity. For [it derives] from what is big and small, the one being in excess, and the other in defect, and what is intermediate to them, the equal, is [ranged] under the same genus. So what is of that sort according to the blending of extremities is a mean in the strict sense; and it must be under the same genus as the extremities. Virtue, however, is not a mean between evils; for 'mean' is said homonymously; for even in the circle the center is called 'mean'; but also a mean is the one underlying the limits and the one which is predicated of it or, in general, the [mean][2] that is assumed twice in the combination of premises.[3] And in such cases it is called 'mean' when both [premises] participate in the extremities; for the mean contains the cause for the thesis, the blending and the mixture of the state in all the cases.
Homer [writes]: "decide in the middle between both of us" It does not imply coming into the middle, but decide impartially, and do not indulge either him or me. This is why he also adds: "do not help [any part]".[4]
"But myself I am held in the mean." Meaning I am defeated. From a metaphor of athletes taking the middle [places].[5]
"A mean and a measure cannot become more and less. But since excess and deficiency go toward an infinite, this is why they used to call them an indefinite dyad."[6]
Greek Original:
*me/son: to\ mete/xon tou= i)/sou. e)pi\ ga\r tw=n h)qikw=n a)retw=n ai( me\n u(perbolai\ kai\ e)/ndeiai, e)nanti/ai ou)=sai a)llh/lais, u(po\ th\n kaki/an ei)si/n, ai( de\ a)retai\ me/sai au)tw=n ou)=sai u(p' a)/llo ge/nos ei)si/n, u(po\ ga\r th\n a)reth/n. h)\ o(/ti sumbe/bhke tau/tais ou) mo/non me/sais ei)=nai, a)lla\ kai\ e)nanti/ais e(kate/rwn tw=n a)/krwn: e)k ga\r tou= mega/lou kai\ mikrou=, o)/ntos tou= me\n e)n u(perbolh=|, tou= de\ e)n e)ndei/a|, kai\ to\ metacu\ au)tw=n, to\ i)/son, u(po\ tau)to\n ge/nos. e)/stin ou)=n kuri/ws me/son to\ kata\ mi/cin tw=n a)/krwn toiou=ton o)/n: kai\ a)nagkai=on u(po\ tau)to/n e)sti ge/nos toi=s a)/krois. h( de\ a)reth\ ou)x ou(/tw tw=n kakw=n me/sh: o(mwnu/mws ga\r to\ me/son le/getai: le/getai ga\r kai\ e)n ku/klw| me/son to\ ke/ntron: a)lla\ kai\ e)n o(/rois me/sos o( tw=| me\n u(pokei/menos, tou= de\ kathgorou/menos, h)\ o(/lws o( di\s lambano/menos e)n tai=s tw=n prota/sewn sumplokai=s. kai\ toi=s toiou/tois le/getai me/son, o(/tan a)mfoi=n mete/xh| tw=n a)/krwn: th\n qe/sei ga\r kai\ mi/cei kai\ kra/sei th=s sxe/sews ai)ti/an e)n a(/pasin o( me/sos e)/xei. *(/omhros: ei)s me/son a)mfote/roisi dika/sate. ou)k e)/stin ei)s to\ me/son parelqo/ntes, a)lla\ me/sws dika/sate, mh/te tou/tw| prosxarizo/menoi mh/te e)moi/. dio\ kai\ e)pife/rei, mhd' e)p' a)rwgh=|. e)gw\ d' e)/xomai me/sos. a)nti\ tou= h(/tthmai. a)po\ metafora=s tw=n a)qlhtw=n tw=n ta\ me/sa lhfqe/ntwn. o(/ti meso/ths kai\ me/tron ou) du/nantai ma=llon kai\ h(=tton gene/sqai: h( de\ u(perbolh\ kai\ h( e)/lleiyis, e)peidh\ e)p' a)/peiron proxwrei=, dia\ tou=to a)o/riston au)th\n e)/legon dua/da.
[1] cf. ps.-Zonaras 1340.
[2] This refers to the middle term in a deductive argument, that is, the one that appears in the premises (or is common to them, as Aristotle says: Prior Analytics 47A-B), but not in the conclusion.
[3] Alexander of Aphrodisias, Commentaries on Aristotle's Topica 328.3-16.
[4] Homer, Iliad 23.574, with material from the Aristonican scholia there.
[5] Aristophanes, Acharnians 571, with comment from the scholia there.
[6] (On the indefinite dyad see Aristotle, Physics 192a7-12.) This material comes from a Life of Pythagoras preserved in Photius' Bibliotheke (438b39-439a2).
Keywords: athletics; comedy; definition; epic; ethics; imagery; philosophy
Translated by: Marcelo Boeri on 20 June 2004@11:57:18.
Vetted by:
Catharine Roth (modified translation) on 21 June 2004@01:46:01.
David Whitehead (further adjustments to translation; augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 21 June 2004@03:48:41.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 18 October 2005@06:34:51.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 1 December 2005@08:29:46.
David Whitehead (augmented and tweaked notes; cosmetics) on 16 May 2013@08:40:38.
David Whitehead (codings) on 18 May 2016@03:42:05.


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