Beatitudines aliae 3 – stepping through the Greek once more

Let’s carry on looking at the Greek of Ephraim Graecus, Beatitudines aliae capita XX.  I apologise if it’s a bit dull, but it’s useful to me.  Into section 3:

γ’. Μακάριος ὃς γέγονεν π τς γς ς ἄγγελος οράνιος κα μιμητς τν Σεραφίμ, γνος ἔχων καθ’ κάστην τος λογισμούς.

Traversari’s modern translation (which helps quite a bit in sorting out the sense):

Beatus, qui in terra est tamquam Angelus coelestis, & imitator factus Seraphim, castas assidue cogitationes habet.

(I.e. Blessed [is he], who on earth is like an angel of heaven, & has become an imitator of the Seraphim, [and] continually has pure thoughts.)

As before, we start with “Μακάριος ὃς”, “Blessed [is he] who“, and we expect a verb.  This time we’re not getting a verb in participle form, but instead a normal main verb, a 3rd person perfect indicative active, “γέγονεν”, “he has become”.  The next bit is simple; π τς γς, meaning “upon the earth”.

Then we get ς, meaning “as, like”.[1]  Alright, Traversari tipped me off; so I hunted around until I found an excuse for it!  But it still fits.  Next ἄγγελος οράνιος, i.e., like a heavenly angel.  Finally “κα μιμητς τν Σεραφίμ”, “and an imitator of the Seraphim”.

So the first clause means:

Blessed [is he], who has become, on earth, like a heavenly angel and an imitator of the seraphim…

Nothing unusual here.

But the rest gets messy.

γνος | ἔχων | καθ’ κάστην | τος λογισμούς.

The object of this clause is the accusative plural, ἁγνος τος λογισμούς =  “pure thoughts”. 

In truth, I’m not sure that I would have recognised λογισμος as “thought”, from Liddell and Scott.  I got the idea from Traversari; but I see that even in Lampe’s Lexicon of Patristic Greek (p.806), meaning 1 is “argument, faith based”.  But meaning 2 is indeed “thought”, thankfully.

ἔχων = a present participle, “having”.

But what on earth is “καθ’ κάστην”?  From googling I find that it appears in Hebrews 3:13, where καθ’ means “each”, and “hekastos” is an adjective meaning “every”, but not as a phrase.  However I find “καθ’ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν” and “καθ’ ἑκάστην τὴν ἡμέραν” both rendered as “every day” in Mastronarde’s Introduction to Attic Greek p.159

This is in fact the meaning. I find in the 1826 A new Greek and English Lexicon by James Donnegan, p.292, in the middle of the entry for hekastos the following entry:

καθ’ ἑκάστην (ἡμέραν understood), every day.

This Traversari has rendered as “continually”.  So we end up with

Blessed [is he], who has become, on earth, like a heavenly angel and an imitator of the seraphim, having pure thoughts every day”.

That was harder work than it should have been!

  1. [1]A nice discussion of conjunctions here.

9 thoughts on “Beatitudines aliae 3 – stepping through the Greek once more

  1. To “live on earth like an angel” is a common-place in the hymnody in praise of ascetic saints.
    In this context logismoi are the “thoughts of the heart” rather than of the mind; dialogismoi with the same or similar meaning is more frequent in the NT.

  2. Adverbial καθ’ ἑκάστην came to be written as καθεκάστην; it has a separate entry in Lampe.

  3. From a correspondent:

    By the way, sorry about hastily translating “Μακάριος” last time as the name Macarios and not “blessed”…

    Anyway, in response to your query :

    Μακάριος ὃς γέγονεν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ὡς ἄγγελος οὐράνιος καὶ μιμητὴς τῶν Σεραφίμ, ἁγνοὺς ἔχων καθ’ ἑκάστην τοὺς λογισμούς.

    Blessed (is) he who has become on earth like a heavenly/celestial angel and emulator of the Seraphim(s), having (keeping) his thoughts pure/chaste/innocent/unadulterated each day.

    The word “εκάστην” on its own does indeed mean “each”, but its usage as “καθ’ εκάστην” implies “each or every day”

    There is a prayer that evidences this : «Καθ’ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν εὐλογήσω σε καὶ αἰνέσω τὸ ὄνομά σου…» “On each/every day I shall bless You and praise Your name …..”

    Note: the full form of the word before “ἑκάστην ” is normally “κατά”, i.e., on each/every day. BUT, according to yesterday’s “lesson” on cacophony, the word “κατά” is abbreviated, not only with an apostrophe, but the letter “t” is also replaced, by the letter theta.

    Why? Because it would be cacophony, if the text read like “κατά εκάστην” – where the preceding word ends with a vowel and the following word begins with one also. When read, it would be cacophonous. A word ending with the consonant “θ” helps correct this, and also provides a softer sound “th” in place of the abrupt sound of the letter “t”…

    In response I asked: ‘Can I ask what led you to “having his thoughts pure” rather than “having pure thoughts”?’

    Having pure thoughts is a statement, of an already existent quality/characteristic – one that he may well have been born with

    Keeping his thoughts pure is a voluntary spiritual exercise, to achieve (and maintain) that state.

  4. Relevantly or not very, this made me think of the Cherubic Hymn, and I see (for what that is worth) from the English Wikipedia “Cherubikon” article (as “last edited on 3 October 2018, at 21:38 (UTC)”) that the Carolingian Latin translation (of which there is also a nice photo) uses a form of the same verb as Traversari here (“imitamur”) though there to translate a different form of quite another Greek verb (transliterated “Iconizontes”).

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