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Headword: Μέγα
Adler number: mu,352
Translated headword: big
Vetting Status: high
[Big] and Small we say with respect to hearing; we also say this of sounds. And only hearing can discern the "big" and "small" of sounds, but touch and taste discern extent[1] in bodies.[2] When we speak of a white or black voice, we are speaking according to an analogy or comparison drawn from colors. And the opposition of "big" and "small" in sounds is not different from that of high and low pitch -- as the opposition of heavy and light, or rough and smooth, or each opposition of other things, with respect to touch, is different from that of hot and cold -- but indicates the tightening[3] or the loosening[4] of sounds; this is not characteristic of any other opposition. At any rate this sort of "big" and "small" can be found -- such as the "big" of honey, to take an example, and the "small" of dried figs, because sweetness is tightened/intensified in honey, and loosened/diminished in dried figs. But one might also call the color black "big" when it is deep,[5] and "small" when it is not so, but lighter -- simply applying the words "big" and "small" to intensity[6] and faintness.[7] [It is] worth investigating why it is -- given that "big" and "small" are said only of quantities[8] -- that we used the metaphor appropriately only with respect to intense and faint sounds, calling sounds "big" or "small," but not calling something very sweet a "big" sweet thing, or something having a faint sweetness "small," or thus with respect to anything else. I say that a sound is not some substantial, solid thing, but exists only in the act of coming into being. And it comes into being in time, and all time is continuous. Thus, we call a sound that comes into being over a long time "big," and a sound that comes into being over a short time "small." But that which is very sweet, or very black, and likewise with respect to other things, is such by the vehemence of the quality, not by the length of the time.
Greek Original:
Μέγα καὶ Μικρὸν περὶ τὴν ἀκοὴν λέγεται: λέγεται δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ψόφων. καὶ τὸ μὲν ἐν ψόφοις μέγα καὶ μικρὸν ἡ ἀκοὴ μόνη δύναται διακρῖναι, τὸ δὲ ἐν σώμασι τὸ συνεχὲς ἡ ἀφὴ καὶ ἡ γεῦσις διακρίνουσιν. ὅτε δὲ λέγομεν λευκὴν φωνὴν ἢ μέλαιναν, κατὰ ἀναλογίαν καὶ ὁμοιότητα τὴν ἀπὸ τῶν χρωμάτων φαμέν. καὶ τοῦ μὲν ἐν ψόφοις μέγα καὶ μικρὸν οὐκ ἔστιν ἑτέρα τις ἀντίθεσις παρὰ τὸν ὀξὺν καὶ βαρὺν φθόγγον, ὥσπερ ἐπὶ τῆς ἁφῆς παρὰ τὸ θερμὸν καὶ ψυχρὸν ἑτέρα παντελῶς ἀντίθεσις τὸ βαρὺ καὶ κοῦφον ἢ τραχὺ καὶ λεῖον καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἑκάστη, ἀλλὰ τὴν ἄνεσιν ἢ τὴν ἐπίτασιν δηλοῖ τῶν ψόφων: τοῦτο δὲ οὐκ ἔστιν ἑτέρας ἀντιθέσεως ἴδιον. τὸ τοιοῦτο γοῦν μέγα καὶ μικρὸν εὑρεῖν ἐστίν, οἷον τὸν μὲν τοῦ μέλιτος, εἰ τύχοι, μέγαν, τὸν δὲ τῆς ἰσχάδος μικρόν, ὅτι ἐπιτέταται ἡ γλυ- κύτης ἐν τῷ μέλιτι, ἀνεῖται δὲ ἐν τῇ ἰσχάδι. ἀλλὰ καὶ τὸ μέλαν χρῶμα τὸ μὲν κατακορὲς εἴποι τις μέγα, τὸ δὲ μὴ οὕτως ἔχον ἀλλ' ὑφειμένον μικρόν, τὸ σφοδρὸν ἁπλῶς καὶ ἀμυδρὸν τῇ τοῦ μεγάλου καὶ μικροῦ φωνῇ ὀνομάζων. ζητῆσαι δὲ ἄξιον τί δήποτε ἐπὶ μόνων τῶν μεγεθῶν λεγομένου τοῦ μεγάλου καὶ μικροῦ ἐπὶ μόνων τῶν σφοδρῶν ψόφων καὶ ἀμυδρῶν τῇ μεταφορᾷ οἰκείως ἐχρησάμεθα, μέγαν ψόφον λέγοντες καὶ μικρόν, οὐ μέντοι μέγα γλυκὺ τὸ ἄγαν γλυκύ, οὐδὲ μικρὸν τὸ ἀμυδρὰν ἔχον τὴν γλυκύτητα, οὐδὲ ἐπ' ἄλλου οὐδενός. φημὶ οὖν, ὅτι ὁ ψόφος οὐκ ἔστιν ὑφεστηκός τι ἀθρόον πρᾶγμα, ἀλλ' ἐν τῷ γίνεσθαι ὑφέστηκε: γίνεται δὲ ἐν χρόνῳ, πᾶς δὲ χρόνος συνεχής. διὰ τοῦτο τὸν ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ γενόμενον ψόφον μέγαν φαμέν, μικρὸν δὲ τὸν ἐν ὀλίγῳ. τὸ δὲ ἄγαν γλυκὺ καὶ ἄγαν μέλαν καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων τῷ σφοδρῷ τῆς ποιότητος τοιαῦτά ἐστιν, οὐ τῷ μήκει τοῦ χρόνου.
John Philoponus, Commentary on Aristotle's de anima 409.4-22; 28-410.1. The translator would like to thank David Morgan for his help with this passage.
[1] Or: continuity.
[2] Or: material objects.
[3] Or: intensifying or making sharper, i.e. higher.
[4] Or: diminishing or making flatter, i.e. lower.
[5] Or: dark.
[6] Or: vehemence.
[7] Or: dimness.
[8] ἐπὶ μόνων τῶν μεγεθῶν λεγομένου τοῦ μεγάλου καὶ μικροῦ . This would seem to make more sense if we omit the μόνων (perhaps it appears a result of diplography with the following ἐπὶ μόνων ?). The sentence would then read: "It is worth investigating why it is -- given that 'big' and 'small' are said of quantities -- that we use the metaphor appropriately only with respect to intense and faint sounds...."
Keywords: definition; food; meter and music; philosophy
Translated by: Christopher Blackwell on 16 April 2002@11:14:19.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (added note and keyword; internal reorganization) on 3 February 2003@06:56:54.
David Whitehead on 12 May 2013@08:12:21.
David Whitehead (coding) on 17 May 2016@08:54:42.


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