Catherine P. Roth: “Mixed Aorists” in Homeric Greek: Preface

Author’s Preface

In the past seventeen years the so-called “mixed aorists” have not exactly mounted the chariot of controversy. There are, however, a few articles which should be mentioned now that this thesis is being published, without change except for the addition of this preface. [1] In 1971, M. I. Slavyatinskaya published a short article in Russian on “The Meaning and Usage of the Aorists βήσετο and δύσετο in Homer.” [2] After examining the usage of these forms in the Iliad and Odyssey, she concluded that these “epic aorists” retain some evidence of a desiderative sense. [3] Thus her results are in agreement with mine. She mentions the variant δείλετο”was afternooning” at η 189. [4] This rare verb was the reading of Aristarchus, who evidently did not understand δύσετο”was about to set.” At this point in the story the sun has to be up for a while longer, as Odysseus still has to meet Nausicaa and go to the city. As evidence that η135 is an adaptation of the basic formula, [5] it may be mentioned that εἴσω with the genitive is a late construction in Homer. [6] To the derived formulae cited on page 48 below, one may add Mimnermus 10.11.

J. T. Hooker’s 1971 essay “Future Imperatives in Homer” [7] follows Leumann [8] in supposing that ἄξετε, οἴσετε, ὄψεσθε etc. originated as jussive futures. I was dissatisfied with this explanation because the jussive future is so poorly attested in Homer (Smyth says “post-Homeric” [9] ) that it seemed an unlikely basis for further analogical development. I agree with Hooker that οἷσε in Aristophanes does not differ semantically from φέρε. It is stylistically marked as characteristic of epic poetical language. [1] 0 Hooker agrees that forms like ἐβήσετο and ὄρσεο have different origins from these future imperatives. [1] 1

Henry Hollifield refers to the “mixed aorists” in his 1981 article “Homeric κείω and the Greek Desideratives of the Type δρασείει.” [1] 2 He accepts my theory of how “future imperatives” were created, and extends it to explain (κατα)κείετε as well. While he considers κείω a desiderative formation, he believes that the participial uses (indicating purpose) and the purpose clause with κατακείομεν (σ 419) are grammatically future rather than desiderative. Hence he finds it necessary to account for κείετε as a future imperative. This is probably the right as an explanation of the imperative (after all, nobody is being ordered to desire to lie down), although I am not convinced that one need distinguish so precisely between future and desiderative. The use of the future participle for purpose is itself a relic of the desiderative origin of the future tense. As Hollifield himself says, desire and purpose really differ only in the special case where the main verb expresses a wish, injunction, or command, [1] 3

In a footnote, Hollifield proposes an etymology for ἶξεν. [1] 4He considers it originally the imperfect of an old Indo-European future-desiderative of the form *si-sik-se/o , He compares νίσσομαι, explaining this as from *ni-ns-se/o- (root *nes as in νέομαι). These verbs, like βήσετο and δύσετο, would formerly have had the sense “was about to enter,” then later simply “entered.” This might be attractive, as the formulaic use of and ἶξεν, and ἶξον, as well as the dissimilarity between the uses of ἶξε and ἶκε would support the idea that the stem is inherited rather than innovative. [1] 5 However, it is not clear why ἶξεν alone of these formations would take the active voice.

I wish to thank Professors Calvert Watkins and Gregory Nagy for their comments, encouragement, and support in this project.

Catharine P. Roth

Oakwood, Ohio

August 1989

Footnotes to Preface

[ back ] 1. Parts of this thesis have previously been published as follows:

[ back ] Catharine L. Prince, “Some ‘Mixed Aorists’ in Homer,” 48 (1970) 155-163

[ back ] Catharine Prince Roth, “Thematic S-Aorists in Homer,” HSCP 77 (1973) 181-186

[ back ] Catharine Prince Roth, “‘Mixed Aorists’ in Homeric Greek” (thesis summary), HSCP 77 (1973) 254-255

[ back ] Catharine Prince Roth, “More Homeric ‘Mixed Aorists, ‘” 52 (1974) 1-10.

[ back ] 2. 3-4 (1971) 389-390.

[ back ] 3. Slavyatinskaya 390.

[ back ] 4. Slavyatinskaya 389.

[ back ] 5. See below p. 45

[ back ] 6. K. Witte, Zur homerischen sprache 30

[ back ] 7. Munchener Studien zur Sprachwissenschaft 38 (1979) 87-92.

[ back ] 8. Kleine Schriften 234ff, see below p. 16.

[ back ] 9. H. W. Smyth, Greek Grammar, revised by G. M. Messing (Cambridge MA 1956) p. 429.

[ back ] 1. 0 See below p. 40.

[ back ] 1. 1 Hooker 88. As additional evidence for the etymology of ὄρομαι (p. 64 below), one may cite the contraction in θυρωρωι in Sappho, which implies that it was s, not w, that fell out (Lobel Σαπφους μελη xxxiv).

[ back ] 1. 2 IF 86 (1981) 161-189.

[ back ] 1. 3 Hollifield 177.

[ back ] 1. 4 Hollifield 172-173 n. 18.

[ back ] 1. 5 See below p. 79.