I just made use for the first time of an excellent modern lexicon that is coming out of Spain. The Diccionario Griego-Español, according to those wiser than me, is one of the best lexical tools available for ancient Greek. It’s incomplete (and thus still in progress: A-ἔξαυος are online), but from the bit of time I’ve spent with it, it does look to be an excellent tool. The lexicon is Greek to Spanish, which does decrease its usefulness somewhat for native English speakers like myself. However, many Greek students have had Latin at some point, and Spanish is probably the closest of the romance languages to Latin. Or, you may have had both Latin and Spanish like me. Even though my Spanish is rusty, I’ve still been able to make use of it!
Today I was curious about the adjective βελτίων. It’s a comparative of ἀγαθός, and means “better.” However, Greek seems to use comparative adjectives more freely than English, and in a wider sense. In this passage from Gregory on which I’ve been working for quite some time, it seems to mean “the good,” in an almost Platonic sense. So I wanted to see if we had any record for βελτίων being used as a noun in a generic sense like that. The LSJ was not of much help, but the DGE was.
The entry is divided into three parts, de pers. (for people), de cosas y abstr. (for things and abstractions), and adverbs. Under the second heading, we have (inter alia) “subst. lo que es mejor” (used substantivally, that which is better) followed by citation of Plato’s Alcibiades: τί καλεῖς τὸ ἐν τῷ κιθαρίζειν βέλτιον; Pl.Alc.1.108b.
Thus, while not ensuring my interpretation of Gregory is the only right one, with the help of the DGE I have confirmed that βέτιον can be used as an abstract noun. Hearing Plato in the background was not off-base either: the example comes the great Philosopher himself!
My thanks to the team at the DGE, not only for creating such a useful tool, but also for placing it online, freely available to all!