So it is quite likely he actually thought the seed died?
I actually have a hard time seeing how they possibly could have thought a non-living seed could have literally died, as the term is only meaningful when applied to living things. I'm not trying just to argue, or be polemical, but I think the Hebrews and Christians were only interested thinking in terms of seeds sprouting and blossoming to new growths once buried in the ground. I don't think they thought about whether seeds died or not, as it wasn't important for their analogy. I see no evidence from ancient apologists or theologians where they thought seeds died, do you?
No, I didn't say that at all, and have gone to great pains to explain it to you. Paul's analogy was strong, and implying he did not think the seed died would weaken the analogy. That is my point, and I think the analogy is stronger if the seed dies; because Jesus died and Christians die also.
Then I have misunderstood you. Still, I don't think an analogy to resurrection
is strengthened by claiming seeds literally died just like humans. At what point is a seed alive, and at what point is it dead? You might say at the point it is still connected to the plant it is alive, and at the point it is separated from the plant it dies, but then there is nothing remotely analogous to human life in this. So there really is no good analogy between the life and death of a seed and the life and death of a human. The only analogy then is to resurrection. A buried human body resurrects to a new life, just as a buried seed sprouts to a new growth.
For Paul, and likely the Corinthians, seeds die. Thayer's definiton is, I think, unique and you have selected it because of its ambiguity. Sure, the seed appeared to rot and die, but how does that help you in that Paul did not really believe the seed died?
I have not selected Thayer's definition. Thayer has selected it. Most words have different meanings in different contexts, and Thayer has specifically chosen this definition for the usages in 1 Cor 15, John 12:24 and Jude 12. See for yourself:
So I will trust the Greek lexicons, written by Greek scholars who compare a word's usage within the wider Hellenistic world, until and unless you give me a good reason to do otherwise. I can go check some additional sources like BDAG or TDNT and show you other Greek writers of that era using the term apothnesko to refer to germinating seeds in perfectly natural discussions with no theological analogies tomorrow when I get to the library.
The point is, one doesn't pick definitions to strengthen one's interpretation of the text; one picks definitions objectively and lets one's interpretation of the text be informed by that definition. It really doesn't matter if you think a seed literally dying strengthens Paul's analogy. If the lexicons all agree that Paul is not saying seeds literally die, then seeds don't really die and we are left with a less-than ideal analogy (in your view). I care about getting the right definition of the term, for its own sake. Even though in this case it doesn't make any difference to my interpretation of the text.