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zompist bboard • View topic - Can you tell me what this says (Greek)?

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2015 11:36 pm 
Sumerul
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This is an architectural drawing for a mantle piece in a huge Victorian house. The Greek engraving intrigues me. Can you read it and translate it? Thanks in advance.




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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:32 am 
Avisaru
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It looks like "Γιγνωσκη Σηαῦτον". Gignōskē sēaûton.

It is clearly some variant of the Greek expression "γνῶθι σεαυτόν", "know thyself", but either it's some other variant or the artist just didn't rememebr it right. (iirc Gnothi has the stem gigno- in certain tenses, c.f. gignomai "I know").

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 2:43 am 
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Well, the actual present indicative to the aorist imperative γνῶθι is γιγνώσκω, so they got that part right. But I wonder why there are etas instead of epsilons in both words. Maybe another dialect than Attic? Or just a mistake?

(γίγνομαι is another verb BTW, with the meaning 'to be born, come into being')

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 1:01 pm 
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γιγνώσκῃ is the 3s subjunctive (saith Wiktionary), so perhaps it's intended to be "may he know himself".


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2015 8:35 pm 
Sumerul
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Thanks for your help so far. Unfortunately, this fireplace was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake so we'll never truly know. I've never seen Greek inscribed on a mantlepiece before, which is just another odd curiosity about this already odd house. Especially when you consider the Crocker family was in no way Greek. But there was a renewed interest in the Classics then, so perhaps that's all it was; a way to seem more bourgeois.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 1:42 am 
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:08 am 
Lebom
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BTW, googling Σηαῦτον only gives seven hits, and six of them are to Freemasonry pages (the seventh is a nonsense Greek page). But surprisingly, all of them point to Γνωθι Σηαυτον, and none to Γιγνωσκη Σηαῦτον. The latter expression doesn't give any hits. By contrast, γιγνωσκε σεαυτόν gives 10,000 hits, and its variant γιγνωσκε σαυτόν 13,000 hits.

I'm pretty confident now the etas are just a mistake. I'm also sure the master of that house was a Freemason.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2015 12:55 pm 
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