Greek and English participles

Greek uses a lot of participles, many more than English. When I translate Greek, if I’m making an effort to fashion the Greek into limpid English prose (and as this blog attests, this is a rare impulse ;), I’ll often translate Greek participles into indicative English verbs. I have, however, noticed something a little interesting. I will occasionally come upon a phrase in which not only do I want to translate the Greek participles into English indicatives, but conversely, I want to translate the Greek indicatives into English participles. I think this is because Greek has a tendency to indicate action preceding the present action as participles and the present action as an indicative, whereas English tends to do the opposite; preceding action is rendered as indicative and the present action as participle. Take for example this Greek passage:

καὶ τέλος παρελθών τις τῶν Ἀθηναίων καὶ παρακαλέσας τὸν Νικίαν ἔφη

Translated fairly literally,

And at the end, having come forward, one of the Athenians, and having called upon Nikias, said that…

But might be more gracefully rendered as

And at the end, one of the Athenians came forward and called upon Nicias, saying that…

See?

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