War - Trench's New Testament Synonyms


polemos (G4171) War
mache (G3163) Battle
Polemos and mache often are used together, as are polemein (G4170) and machesthai (G3164). The difference between polemos and mache is the same as that between the English words warand battle:ho polemos Peloponnesiakos is "the Peloponnesian War"; he en Marathoni mache is "the battle of Marathon." In dissuading the Athenians from yielding to the demands of the Spartans, Pericles admitted that with their allies, the Spartans were a match for all the other Greeks together in a single battle. But Pericles denied that the Spartans and their allies would retain the same superiority in a war against those who had made different preparations:
For in one battle [mache] the Peloponnesians and their allies were able to withstand all the Greeks, but they were unable to wage a war [polemein] against a similar hostile preparation.

Although polemos and polemein remain true to their primary meanings and do not acquire secondary ones, this is not the case with mache and machesthai.Mache and machesthai often designate contentions that fall far short of armed conflict. There are machai of every kind: erotikai (of love), nomikai, logomachiai, and skiamachiai (shadow-boxing). Eustathius expressed these differences well:
The terms wars [polemoi] and battles [machai] either refer to the same action in a parallel way, or there is a difference in the termsif, for example, one is disputing with words, as logomachia [a battle about words] indicates. The poet himself later speaks of battling [machessameno] over words (1.304). At all events, mache is a clash between men; polemos involves pitched battles and opportune times for fighting.
Tittmann stated:
They agree in that they denote an encounter, a strife, a fight; but polemos and polemein properly refer to a fight that takes place with the hands, while mache and machesthai refer to any strifealso of minds even if it does not result in beatings and killings. In the former the fight is thought of; in the latter it is sufficient to think of a strife which usually is not followed by a fight.
Plato distinguished stasis (insurrection or sedition) from polemos. According to Plato, the former refers to civil strife, the latter to foreign strife. "For in the case of enmity at home it is called stasis, but in a case involving foreigners it is called polemos."

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