Greek - Why no article?

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Hello,

In homework I had to translate this sentence:

Βεβαιον οὐδεν έστιν έν θνητῳ βιῳ͘͘ βεβαια δ' έστιν ἀρετη μονη.

I felt it would make more immediate sense with "virtue" translated as definite, but as there is no article I got confused, hesitated and finally translated it "There is nothing steady in a mortal life; but only one virtue is steady".

I got the correction and the right answer is "only virtue is steady".

So why is the definite article not there? ἀρετη seems to be subject and not predicate. Is it that the subject would actually be βεβαια, (hence a more literal translation would be like "the only steady thing is virtue"), which would be in the feminine and not the neuter because attracted into the gender of the predicate?
 

Aurifex

Aedilis
Staff member
Have a look at Smyth's grammar, esp. section 1126:
Fluctuation in the use of the article: omission of the article
"The generic article is frequently omitted, especially with abstracts (1132), without appreciable difference in meaning."
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Like in English then!
 
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