Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 48 (2011) 141-148
Departure without Saying Goodbye:
A Lexicographical Study
Willy Clarysse Leuven University
Lexicographical study of an exceptional use of the adverb aX6yw
in some papyrus letters of the Roman period. When a person has
left without saying goodbye to his correspondent this is regularly re gretted by the writer. There are many possible expressions for this
situation, including "NN went away a-X6yw" i.e. "without saying
anything." This meaning has been misunderstood by editors, who
following the dictionaries translate "without reason, unreasonably."
In our dictionaries the adjective nXoyog and its adverb aX6yw are translated as "unreasoning, irrational, contrary to reason, without reason, absurd."'
From an etymological point of view kX6yw can of course also mean "without words;" and in expressions like nXoya (ctaa "animals," i.e. living creatures
without reason but also without speech, the two ideas are intertwined. Clear
instances of the latter meaning are, however, exceptional. The lexica quote
word plays in Plato's Laws 696e (o X6you alXXa Ttvog d XXov aX6you otyflg
n~tov av cin) and in Sophocles, OC 131 (ospKtw, pcvwX, a6yw 1T6 tds
eben iov oT6 ac ppovt[Sog isvTeg), and a translation from Latin dies nefastus
in Lucian, Lex. 9. In Isocrates, Nicocles 9, of5&v Tcv ppov[ wog npaTTo svwv
cupioo v aX6yw ytyv6 evov is part of an encomium on the human logos,
the art of rhetoric.2 The usual meaning "without reason, unreasonably" is of
course also well-attested in the papyri in all periods, e.g. in REnt. 79 (&opat
[1 Trpu&eiv Fu oitog aXbywg Irb AiyoTtictag pt vov "EXXqva Ovta "being insulted without any reason"), BGU 2.467.8-10 ('6byog icf iXO p[ot Ka]t
P tacog aTntacv [T]og [xa11][Xo]vg "he attacked me without any reason") or
'E.g. LSJ9, p. 72; G.W.H. Lampe, A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford 1961) 78 (here
a typical Christian meaning "without the Logos" is added); F.R. Adrados, Diccionario
griego-espanol 2 (Madrid 1980) 168.
2 G. Mathieu in the Bude edition of 1967 translates "nous verrons que rien de ce qui
se fait avec intelligence, n'existe sans le concours de la parole"