Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Understanding the Christian Use of Poneros as Naturally Contrasting with Chrestos

The etymology of poneros is "full of ponos" (toil). Hence it comes to mean "working class," "unpleasant," and ultimately "bad." O. Reverdin, Museum Heheticum i (1945) 210 notes the parallel to the French vilain. See also the useful comments of L. Whibley, Political Parties in Athens . . . (Cambridge 1889) 48 n. 2.  The word comes to be used as an antonym of chrestos, in its moral sense (hence "evil"), in its social sense sense (hence "low class," "poor or ill-born"), and in its civic usage ("unable to perform civic functions," cf. Adkins, Merit and Responsibility, 214). Note the contrast with chrestos in pseudo-Xenophon's Constitution of Athens 1.1 et alibi, and Thucydides 6.53.2. Mochtheros is a similar, though less frequently used, word. [W. Robert Connor, The New Politicians Of Fifth-Century Athens p. 89]

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