It’s Not Greek To You

Lucian, having been caught employing a word incorrectly, responds to his critic in overblown terms and suggests that his rustic illiteracy prevented his understanding:

Lucian, Pseudologistes (§14):

“Alright then,” someone might say, “but some ancient words are spoken today and some are not – in particular, we avoid those which are not common to many people, so that we don’t disturb their hearing and wound their ears.” For my part, my good man, I messed up in saying that about you and to you. I should have, indeed should have used the old ways of the Paphlagonians or Cappadocians or Bactrians to talk to you, so that you could understand what I was saying and maybe even find it pleasant. But I think that it’s right to interact with other Greeks using the Greek language.

Ἔστω, φησί τις, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῶν παλαιῶν ὀνομάτων τὰ μὲν λεκτέα, τὰ δ οὔ, ὁπόσα αὐτῶν μὴ συνήθη τοῖς πολλοῖς, ὡς μὴ ταράττοιμεν τὰς ἀκοὰς καὶ τιτρώσκοιμεν τῶν συνόντων τὰ ὦτα. ἐγὼ δέ, ὦ βέλτιστε, πρὸς μὲν σὲ ἴσως ταῦτα περὶ σοῦ εἰπὼν ἥμαρτον· ἐχρῆν γὰρ ἐχρῆν ἢ κατὰ Παφλαγόνων ἢ Καππαδοκῶν ἢ Βακτρίων πάτρια διαλέγεσθαί σοι, ὡς ἐκμάθῃς τὰ λεγόμενα καὶ σοὶ ἀκούειν ᾖ ἡδέα. τοῖς δ’ ἄλλοις Ἕλλησιν οἶμαι καθ Ἑλλάδα γλῶτταν συνεῖναι χρή. εἶτα καὶ τῶν Ἀττικῶν κατὰ χρόνους τινὰς πολλὰ ἐντρεψάντων τῆς αὑτῶν φωνῆς, τοῦτο ἐν τοῖς μάλιστα τὸ ὄνομα διετέλεσεν οὕτως ἀεὶ καὶ πρὸς ἁπάντων αὐτῶν λεγόμενον.

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