How does a scholar reading an ancient text know that a word is being used metaphorically? I don’t think that we have the intuitive luxury in reading an ancient text that we have with our native language. I don’t think we can accurately make intuitive determinations when studying word forms that come to us, so to speak, out of nowhere. Instead we must rely soley on a mechanical procedure which mimics intuition.
I find Stephan George’s 1914 poem entitled Das Wort (The Word) fascinating because it powerfully illustrates the untranslatable nature of metaphors from one language to another. It is about a traveler who was in the habit of bringing back to his country a wonder or a dream from the places he had been. Upon returning to his land, he would bring what he found to Fate (Norn) who would find a word for it in her fount. One time he returned and presented his discovery to Fate, but she could not find a word for it, and consequently, as George expresses it in German, “Worauf es meiner hand entrann / Und nie mein land den schatz gewann,” “Whereupon it escaped my hand / And my country never gained the treasure” (George 1968).
This is the situation with Aristotle’s metaphor of metaphorá.