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Headword: Ἐπιτυχοῦσιν
Adler number: epsilon,2736
Translated headword: to just any people; to those who happen to be there; to people of no consequence; to those who happen to succeed
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
[Meaning] to worthless characters.
"[...] concerning consuls not to decide lightly, as it was not right to entrust rule to just any people [sc. who might happen to be candidates], when such great dangers surrounded the city."[1]
Greek Original:
Ἐπιτυχοῦσιν: εὐτελέσι. περὶ ὑπάτων μὴ ῥᾳθύμως σκοπεῖν, ὡς οὐ τοῖς ἐπιτυχοῦσι δέον ἐγχειρίσαι τὴν ἀρχήν, τοσούτων περιεστηκότων κινδύνων τὴν πόλιν.
Notes:
The headword, here in the dative plural, is the aorist active participle of a compound of τυγχάνω (tau 1147, epsilon 3344), ἐπιτυγχάνω , used in a variety of senses (cf. epsilon 2738, epsilon 2674, epsilon 2736, epsilon 2673, kappa 1009) over the long development of the concept of tyche from success to mere accident (tau 1232, tau 1233, tau 1234, eta 286 and refs.). It may be used of someone accurately hitting a target (with a bit of luck), all the way to the sort of person you happen to run into on the street (as glossed here); cf. LSJ II.4, web address 1.
[1] The author of this quotation -- apparently in reported speech -- is unknown. Adler’s suggestion of Polybius is implausible, as he does not use ἐπιτυχών in the sense required here (an observation I owe to F.W. Walbank in correspondence). If the passage refers to electing consuls carefully at Rome in times of danger, it might come from any one of many sources. Possibly, though, it refers to the choice of rejecting consuls in favour of the Roman institution of dictatorship (delta 1110, delta 1111, delta 1112; OCD(4) 448; cf. early dictators mentioned at iota 522, alpha 4696, phi 627, chi 240).
Either way, the use of ἐπιτύχουσι suggests Appian, who uses the participle quite often for those who arrive at high status without deserving it, a more likely sense than the one given by the gloss. They would then be in sharp contrast with L. Quinctius Cincinnatus (Κικιννάτος or Κιγκιννάτος : kappa 2732, lambda 846, OCD(4) 1250), dictator in 458 BCE against the Aequi, and chosen partly because he cared nothing for status. The quotation might equally refer to Manlius (mu 105), who actively sought a dictatorship.
Another possible source is Plutarch, for he uses τοῖς ἐπιτυχοῦσι in this sense in a similar context at Precepts on administering a republic 801b1.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; constitution; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; historiography; history; politics
Translated by: Robert Dyer on 5 June 2003@15:26:43.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (added keyword; cosmetics) on 6 June 2003@03:58:00.
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 22 October 2012@06:32:32.
David Whitehead (updated some refs) on 1 August 2014@08:56:21.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 8 November 2017@00:51:47.

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