]. PECULIARITIES IN THE USE OF NUMBER
Collective Singular.—A noun in the singular may denote a number of persons or things:
T. 1.69, τὸ Ἑλληνικόν the Greeks 1. 1, τὸ βαρβαρικόν the barbarians 7. 29, ἡ πλίνθος the bricks 3. 20,
ὁ Μῆδος the Medes
X. C. 4.6.2,
ἵππον ἔχω εἰς χι_λία_ν I have about a thousand horse
X. A. 1.7.10. On the plural verb with collectives, see cross950. Cp. cross1024, cross1044.
μυ_ρία_ ἀσπίς ten thousand heavy armed
a. So with the neuter participle: τὸ μαχόμενον almost =
οἱ μαχόμενοι the combatants
b. The name of a nation with the article may denote one person as the representative (King, etc.) of a class: ὁ Μακεδών the Macedonian (Philip) D. 7.6.
The inhabitants of a place may be implied in the name of the place:
Λέσβος ἀπέστη βουληθέντες καὶ πρὸ τοῦ πολέμου Lesbos revolted, having wished to do so even before the war
Distributive Singular.—The singular of abstract nouns may be used distributively (rarely with concrete substantives):
P. A. 41a,
ὅσοι δίκαιοι ἐγένοντο ἐν τῷ ἑαυτῶν βίῳ all who proved themselves just in their lives
T. 8.96. The distributive plural ( cross1004) is more common than the distributive singular: cp.
διάφοροι τὸν τρόοπον different in character
L. 10.29 with
νεα_νίαι τὰ_ς ὄψεις youths in appearance
P. R. 452b.
ἡδεῖς τὴν ὄψιν pleasing in appearance
Dual.—The dual is chiefly employed of two persons or things which, by nature or association, form a pair: ὀφθαλμώ the eyes (both eyes), χεῖρε the hands, ἵππω a span of horses. The addition of ἄμφω both indicates that the two things belong together: δύο emphasizes the number. Both ἄμφω and δύο were early used with the plural. The dual died out in the living speech of Attica by 300 B.C. Aeolic has no dual, and Ionic lost it very early. In Hom. the dual is used freely, and often in conjunction with the plural.
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Plural.—The plural of proper names, of materials, and of abstracts is used to denote a class. (1) of proper names:
P. Th. 169b. (2) of materials: here the plural denotes the parts, the different kinds of a thing, a mass, etc.:
Θησέες men like Theseus
Hdt. 3.78, πυ_ροί, κρι_θαί wheat, barley X. A. 4.5.26, οἶνοι wines 4. 4. 9,
Ar. Ran. 553 (κρέας piece of meat),
ἥλιοι hot days
T. 7.25. (3) of abstracts: here the plural refers to the single kinds, cases, occasions, manifestations of the idea expressed by the abstract substantive; or is referred to several persons:
X. A. 2.5.6,
X. M. 1.4.13. Used in the plural, abstract nouns may become concrete, as
θάλπη degrees of heat
T. 2.34 (ταφή sepulture),
X. C. 7.2.28 (εὐφροσύνη mirth),
εὐφροσύναι good cheer
χάριτες proofs of good will, presents
εὔνοιαι cases of benevolence, presents
a. Many concrete substantives are commonly used only in the plural: πύλαι gate, θύραι door, τὰ Ὀλύμπια the Olympic festival; and in poetry δώματα house, κλί_μακες ladder, λέκτρα bed; cp. cross1006.
b. The plural, especially in poetry, may correspond to the English indefinite singular: ἐπὶ ναυσί by ship.
In Homer the plural denotes the various forms in which a quality is manifested:
ε 250. In poetry, often of feelings, emotions, etc.: μανίαι (attacks of) madness A. Pr. 879.
τεκτοσύναι the arts of the carpenter
οὐδένες (μηδένες) denotes classes of men, states, nations (D. 5.15).
The neuter plural is often used even in reference to a single idea or thought in order to represent it in its entirety or in its details, as τὰ ἀληθῆ the truth. This is very common with neuter pronouns: ἐχειρονόμουν δέ· ταῦτα γὰρ ἠπιστάμην but I waved my arms, for I knew how to do this X. S. 2. 19,
P. A. 32d.
διὰ ταχέων quickly
a. Thucydides is fond of the neuter plural of verbal adjectives used impersonally:
T. 1.88, ἀδύνατα ἦν it was impossible 4. 1. Cp. cross1052.
ἐψηφίσαντο πολεμητέα εἶναι they voted that it was necessary to make war
Distributive Plural.—Abstract substantives are often used distributively in the plural:
P. R. 425a.
σι_γαὶ τῶν νεωτέρων παρὰ πρεσβυτέροις the silence of the younger men in the presence of their elders
Names of towns and parts of the body are sometimes plural: Ἀθῆναι Athens, Θῆβαι Thebes, στήθη and στέρνα breast (chiefly poetic). The name of the inhabitants is often used for the name of a city: Δελφοί D. 5.25.
Plural of Majesty (poetic).—The plural may be used to lend dignity:
S. Ant. 1041,
A. Ag. 1265,
ε 6; παιδικά favourite in prose (only in the plural form).
Here belongs the allusive plural by which one person is alluded to in the plural number: δεσποτῶν θανάτοισι by the death of
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our lord A. Ch. 52, παθοῦσα πρὸς τῶν φιλτάτων I (Clytaemnestra) having suffered at the hands of my dearest ones (Orestes) A. Eum. 100.
Plural of Modesty.—A speaker in referring to himself may use the first person plural as a modest form of statement. In prose, of an author:
X. C. 1.1.1. In tragedy, often with interchange of plural and singular: εἰ κωλυ_όμεσθα μὴ μαθεῖν ἃ βούλομαι if I (Creusa) am prevented from learning what I wish E. Ion 391,
ἔννοιά ποθ' ἡμῖν ἐγένετο the reflection once occurred to me
E. H. F. 1206. See cross1009.
ἱκετεύομεν ἀμφὶ σὰ_ν γενειάδα . . . προσπίτνων I entreat thee, as I grasp thy beard
In tragedy, if a woman, speaking of herself, uses the plural verb ( cross1008), an adjective or participle, in agreement with the subject, is feminine singular or masculine plural:
E. H. F. 858, ἀρκοῦμεν ἡμεῖς οἱ προθνῄσκοντες σέθεν it is enough that I (Alcestis) die in thy stead E. Alc. 383.
ἥλιον μαρτυ_ρόμεσθα, δρῶσ' ἃ δρᾶν οὐ βούλομαι I call the sun to witness, that I am acting against my will
εἰπέ, φέρε, ἄγε may be used as stereotyped formulas, without regard to the number of persons addressed: εἰπέ μοι, ὦ Σώκρατές τε καὶ ὑ_μεῖς οἱ ἄλλοι tell me, Socrates and the rest of you P. Eu. 283b.
One person may be addressed as the representative of two or more who are present, or of his family: Ἀντίνο', οὔ πως ἔστιν . . . μεθ' ὑ_μῖν δαίνυσθαι Antinous, it is in no wise possible to feast with you β 310,
ὦ τέκνον, ἦ πάρεστον; μψ ξηιλδρεν, αρε ψε ηερε S. O. C. 1102. So in dramatic poetry, the coryphaeus may be regarded as the representative of the whole chorus, as
ὦ ξένοι, μή μ' ἀνέρῃ τίς εἰμι στρανγερς  δο νοτ ασκ  με ωηο ι αμ S. O. C. 207.
Greek writers often shift from a particular to a general statement and vice versa, thus permitting a free transition from singular to plural, and from plural to singular:
X. Hi. 5.4.
οὐδὲ τότε συγχαίρει ὁ τύραννος· ἐνδεεστέροις γὰρ οὖσι ταπεινοτέροις αὐτοῖς οἴονται χρῆσθαι not even then does the despot rejoice with the rest; for the more they are in want, the more submissive he thinks to find them