Tuesday, December 06, 2005

O Anthropos part I

I have been in a bit of a debate on another blog, Iustificare, where it was being argued that 'o anthropos' is a male representative word. First, I am not quite sure what a male representative word is, but I was distinctly surprised that there was someone who did not know that 'anthropos' meant mankind, or the human race, or a member thereof. As in anthropology, which the last time I checked was the study about humans, not about 'man alone'.

So I mentioned the meaning of anthropos, given by Liddell and Scott, 1871. I have inherited some books from a great aunt who taught Greek at McGill many years ago. I have had this dictionary since she died when I was fourteen. No one else in the family was using it at the time.

ὁ ἄνθρωπος - man, Latin homo (not vir) pl. ὁι ἄνθρωποι, men in general, mankind; ... As opposed to ἀνήρ, it exresses contempt, as Latin homo opp. to vir: used in addressing slaves ὤ ἄνθρωπε. The fem. ἄνθρωπος ἡ, (like homo fem. in Latin) a woman.

(Homo as in homo sapiens)

This definition is from a classical Greek lexicon dated 1871 remember. It was not written to prove that 'anthropos' means human being or person. It is not part of a feminist plot to undermine the male in the Bible.

The Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon is a dictionary one can buy; or search by accessing it through the English-Greek search tool at the Perseus project. I put in the word 'man' in English and then went to 'anthropos'. Here is a relevant article on The Value of A Greek-English Lexicon (LSJ) for Biblical Studies.

I studied classical Greek for many years but I don't assume that these tools are very applicable if you don't read Greek. However, I will be blogging about a few dictionary entries now and then, simply because I have been so surprised by what others are either being taught or are allowed to infer.

Here is the full entry from Liddell and Scott at the Perseus Project.

anthrôpos [prob. from anêr, ôps, manfaced]

I. man, Lat. homo (not vir), opp. to gods, athanatôn te theôn, chamai erchomenôn t' anthrôpôn Il.
2. with or without the Art. to denote man generally, Plat., etc.
3. in pl. mankind, anthrôpôn, andrôn êde gunaikôn Il.; ho aristos en anthrôpois ortux the best quail in the world, Plat.; malista, hêkista anthrôpôn most, least of all, Hdt., etc.
4. with another Subst., to give it a contemptuous sense, anthr. hupogrammateus, sukophantês, Oratt.; so homo histrio Cic.:--so, anthrôpos or ho anthrôpos was used alone, the man, the fellow, Plat.:-- also in vocat. it was addressed contemptuously to slaves, anthrôpe or ô 'nthrôpe, sirrah! you sir! Hdt., Plat.
II. fem. (as homo also is fem.), a woman, Hdt., etc.; with a sense of pity, Dem.

More here.

Gerald, the author of Justicare, admits that he looked in six other lexicons and they all agree that 'anthropos' means man generic, a human being. (He seemed surprised.) However, he protests. For some reason he thinks that because the person refered to usually is a man this makes the word mean man.

If I heard the word 'American' used in movie titles and book titles only for a male American, would I then think that the word 'American' meant 'male'? Well, that is a distinct possibility, but I suppose someone would eventually correct me and tell me that female Americans are equally American.

No comments: