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# CHAT Achilles & the tortoise (was: Two questions about Esperanto)

From: Ray Brown Tuesday, July 13, 2004, 5:19
```On Monday, July 12, 2004, at 02:10 , John Cowan wrote:

> Ray Brown scripsit:
>
>> I agree on both accounts. But, Andreas, never fear! Hell will have frozen
>> over, the Greeks will have found their Calends and Achilles will have
>> caught up with that pesky tortoise before these things come to pass   ;)
>
> As Lewis Carroll himself tortoise, Achilles in fact catches the beast
> in 11 1/9 meters (or whatever ancient Greek measure of length you prefer)
> .
They used 'feet' (podes); 6 feet = 1 fathom (orgyia).
100 ft = 1 plethron;

I have no doubt that the length of feet varied in different cities  :)

Do I assume 11 1/9 metres is correct if the tortoise had a 10 metre
headstart? The usual distance given here is 100 yards, but as the ancient
Greeks didn't measure in yards (or metres), neither can be correct.

I suspect Zeno put the tortoise one stade ahead (more like 200 yards); the
running tracks at Delphi, Olympia etc were one stade long (hence our

But, whatever the distance, Lewis Carroll cheated - he used common sense.
My Achilles is bound by Zeno's paradox and is busily dividing up the
distance (11 1/9 metres or whatever) indefinitely.

But even if Achilles realizes this is stupid & decides to chuck it all in
and overtake the darned tortoise, there are two other conditions given
above. The three conditions are ANDed together and, as we all know, all
three need to be true. Hell still has to freeze over & the Greeks still
have to find their Calends  ;)

Ray
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```