Pointing at the Past: From Formula to Performance in Homeric Poetics

  Bakker, Egbert J. 2005. Pointing at the Past: From Formula to Performance in Homeric Poetics. Hellenic Studies Series 12. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_BakkerE_Pointing_at_the_Past.2005.

Chapter 7. Similes, Augment, and the Language of Immediacy

Revisiting the Augment

The basic distinction envisaged by Basset, as well as Platt and Drewitt, can be illustrated with the following contrastive pair: [21]

τῆλε δ᾿ ἀπεπλάγχθη σάκεος δόρυ· χώσατο δ᾿ Ἕκτωρ

Iliad XXII 291

and the spear was driven far back from the shield, and Hektor was angered

ὅς κ᾿ εἴποι ὅ τι τόσσον ἐχώσατο Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων

Iliad I 64

who can tell why Phoibos Apollo is so angry

In the first extract the speaker is Homer, the narrator, and Hektor’s emotion is, as narrative, an event that took place in another time and place. The verb χώσατο, which does not carry the augment, is an act of narration that reports, reduplicates, the original event. In the second example the speaker is Achilles. His speech act pertains to the present situation; it does not refer to any previous anger of Apollo, but to the one that afflicts the army in the present, even though it may have been caused by something in the past. Apollo’s apparent anger is the source and motivation for Achilles’ present speech act. We note that the verb ἐχώσατο carries the augment. Consider also the following extract repeated from the previous Chapter, in which Diomedes addresses Hektor:

ἐξ αὖ νῦν ἔφυγες θάνατον κύον· ἦ τέ τοι ἄγχι
ἦλθε κακόν· νῦν αὖτέ σ᾿ ἐρύσατο Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων

Iliad XI 362–363

Once again now you have escaped death, dog. And yet the evil came near you, but now once more Phoibos Apollo has saved you.

The three aorists ἔφυγες, ἦλθε, and ἐρύσατο, all augmented, do not refer to past events. The escape of Diomedes’ intended victim is a matter of the present. Notice that the temporal adverb nūn, the temporal adverb of the present, is used twice. [

The present chapter does not allow me to present the data with the detail that it requires; I intend to publish this elsewhere. In order to save space, I have also excluded the material from the Odyssey altogether (but see note 39 below), and left out the imperfect, since this tense poses additional problems.

Charting Homeric Augment

Earlier research on Homeric augment has yielded three main observations, two of which have already been mentioned above:

(i) augment (on aorists) is relatively less common in narrative, and more common in characters’ speech, and

(ii) augment (on aorists) is obligatory in similes.

In addition to these two it has been observed that

(iii) augment does not occur on verbs with the suffix -κ-.

Not surprisingly, my own statistics confirm these findings; see Tables 1–3:

Table 1: Augment on the aorist in Narrative and Characters’ speech in the Iliad

Total number of verbs 5795
Augment required by meter 1476 25.47%
Augment ruled out by meter 2600 44.86%
Narrative 4541
Augment required by meter 1045 23.01%
Augment ruled out by meter 2168 47.74%
Characters’ speech 1253
Augment required by meter 431 34.39%
Augment ruled out by meter 432 34.47%

Table 2: Augment on the aorist in similes [

Similes 104
Augment required by meter 63 60.57%
Augment ruled out by meter 6 5.94%

Table 3: Augment on aorists with the –σκ-suffix [

Aorist with –sk- 37
Augment required by meter 0 0%
Augment ruled out by meter 27 72.79%

Tables 2 and 3 reveal strong, diametrically opposed preferences. Yet all aorists in similes and all but four aorists with -σκ- occur in narrative. This raises the question whether “narrative” is not too broad and heterogeneous as a category, and we may ask the same question of characters’ speech. Are there other types of context or kinds of verbs where augment is either as strongly preferred or avoided? It will appear that such categories do indeed exist. Together, these categories will enable us to piece together a picture of the function of augment in Homeric narrative that is more precise and verifiable than the simple contrast between histoire and discours, narrative and character speech.

A further type of context that favors augment and where the figures are different from narrative in general is speech introduction. The occurrence of augment here is less automatic than in similes but still almost three times more frequent than the absence of augment. See Table 4:

Table 4: Augment in speech introduction

Speech introduction 371
Augment required by meter 167 45.01%
Augment ruled out by meter 62 16.71%

Before attempting to provide an explanation for the use of augment in introductions of direct speech, or to determine what this type of context has in common with similes, I offer another segment of Homeric narrative whose figures are less equivocal than narrative as a whole. Quite often, verbs in Homeric narrative denote events that are off the narrative time-line, having occurred before the time of the action of the Iliad. Such events are recounted by the narrator as part of additional information about persons (e.g. in the Catalogue of Ships or in battle narrative) or objects. The following extract, the history of the scepter of Agamemnon, may serve as an example of this phenomenon:

ἔστη σκῆπτρον ἔχων τὸ μὲν ῞Ηφαιστος κάμε τεύχων.
Ἥφαιστος μὲν δῶκε Διὶ Κρονίωνι ἄνακτι,
αὐτὰρ ἄρα Ζεὺς δῶκε διακτόρῳ ἀργεϊφόντῃ·
Ἑρμείας δὲ ἄναξ δῶκεν Πέλοπι πληξίππῳ,
αὐτὰρ ὁ αὖτε Πέλοψ δῶκ᾿ Ἀτρέϊ ποιμένι λαῶν,
Ἀτρεὺς δὲ θνῄσκων ἔλιπεν πολύαρνι Θυέστῃ,
αὐτὰρ ὁ αὖτε Θυέστ᾿Ἀγαμέμνονι λεῖπε φορῆναι

Iliad II 101–107)

He stood up holding the scepter Hephaistos had wrought him carefully.
Hephaistos gave it to Zeus the king, the son of Kronos,
and Zeus in turn gave it to the courier Argeïphontes,
and lord Hermes gave it to Pelops, driver of horses,
and Pelops again gave it to Atreus, the shepherd of the people,
and Atreus dying left it to Thyestes of the rich flocks,
but in his turn Thyestes left it to be carried by Agamemnon.

Table 5: Augment on backgrounded verbs in the Iliad:

Event out of sequence 203
Augment required by meter 33 16.25%
Augment ruled out by meter 132 65.02%

When we now turn to characters’ discourse, the most obvious distinction to be made is once more between narrative and speech. For besides speaking in a situation, replying to interlocutors, and reacting to a concrete context, epic characters also tell stories. The following table presents all the verbs used by characters when they refer to the past or tell a story:

Table 6: Augment in narrative told by characters

Narrative in char. speech 360
Augment required by meter 77 21.38%
Augment ruled out by meter 195 54.16%

A quick comparison with the data of Table 1 reveals that a distinction between characters’ narrative and characters’ speech is meaningful; as far as augment is concerned, characters as storytellers are not very different from the narrator, at least in the Iliad. Predictably, when the narrative verbs are subtracted from the totals for character speech, the percentages become more pronounced than the total in the third batch of Table 1:

Table 7: Augment in character speech proper (nonnarrative)

Character speech proper 889
Augment required by meter 351 39.48%
Augment ruled out by meter 236 26.54%

Yet Tables 6 and 7 merely confirm the general trend that the frequency of augment goes up outside narrative contexts. In the case of character speech, too, we need, and can, be more specific. Subclauses introduced with ἐπεί occur in character speech as well, and their figures differ from the general trend: 55 instances; 19 augment required = 34.54%; 27 augment ruled out = 49.09%. In the case of character discourse, however, ἐπεί is not exclusively temporal, as it is in narrative: most often, the ἐπεί-clause is causal, specifying the grounds for a speaker’s action, and is thus a matter of the present, e.g:

Ἕκτορ ἐπεί με κατ᾿ αἶσαν ἐνείκεσας οὐδ᾿ ὑπὲρ αἶσαν,
τοὔνεκά τοι ἐρέω· σὺ δὲ σύνθεο καί μευ ἄκουσον·

Iliad VI 333–334

Hektor, seeing you have scolded me rightly, not beyond measure,
therefore I will tell, and you in turn understand and listen.

Taken by themselves, these causal ἐπεί-clauses yield figures that are different from those for ἐπεί-clauses as a whole, and closer to the figures for character speech in Table 7: 39 instances; 17 augment required = 43.58%; 15 augment ruled out = 38.46%. More significantly, in the remaining clauses, augment is even more strongly avoided than in the ἐπεί-clauses of the narrator: 16 instances; 2 augment required = 12.5%; 12 augment ruled out = 75%. These clauses are temporal, rather than causal, and refer to a time other than the speaker’s present situation. They naturally occur in characters’ narratives, but not necessarily so: they may also occur outside narrative contexts, e.g:

νῦν δ᾿ ἔτι καὶ μᾶλλον νοέω φρεσὶ τιμήσασθαι,
ὃς ἔτλης ἐμεῦ εἵνεκ᾿, ἐπεὶ ἴδες ὀφθαλμοῖσι,
τείχεος ἐξελθεῖν, ἄλλοι δ᾿ ἔντοσθε μένουσι.

Iliad XXII 235–237

I am minded even more within my heart to honour you,
you who dared for my sake, when your eyes saw me, to come forth
from the fortifications, when the others stand fast inside them.

The apparent avoidance of augment in temporal ἐπεί-clauses in characters’ speech is remarkable, since this type of context is discours by Benveniste’s principle, and should favor the augment according to Basset’s application of it. Nor is this the only subcategory of character discourse for which this is true. It appears that aorists in negative contexts tend to disfavor the augment, both in narrative (whether told by the narrator or by the characters) and in discourse. An example from the latter is:

ὦ γέρον οὔ πω τόν γε κύνες φάγον οὐδ᾿ οἰωνοί

Iliad XXIV 411

Aged sir, neither have any dogs eaten him, nor have the birds

In negated contexts the statistics for negated verbs in discourse are almost the reverse of those for discourse in general:

Table 8: Augment on negated verbs in character speech

Verb under negation 63
Augment required by meter 14 22.22%
Augment ruled out by meter 27 42.85%

In summary, then, the findings yielded by my Iliad-aorist database are as follows:

Augment is favored in:

By contrast, augment is disfavored, avoided, or prohibited in:

I will now attempt to formulate the common denominator of these two groups as a cue to the meaning of verbal augment in Homer and in early Greek.

The Near, the Actual, the Visualized

When Achilles mentions Apollo’s anger amidst the pestilence with which the Greek camp is struck, or when Diomedes exclaims about Hektor’s narrow escape (see the examples above), they are asserting events that make up their actual present. But this is no less true of the Homeric narrator himself when he introduces Achilles or Diomedes saying these things. Through their words, these heroes become just as present to the audience as are the plague and the fighting to themselves: their very words sound again, mimetically reproduced by the performer, to become a presence “here and now.” In fact, the “here” is no less important than the “now.” In what follows, I shall argue that this immediacy in time and space is the pertinent factor in the use of the augment in its original function.

The deictic nature of the augment in its original function also explains the preponderance of unaugmented verbs in contexts where negation obtains. The assertion that an event did not occur is of course not a context that is favorable to the speaker’s pointing to that event, nor to the morphology of deixis in general. However, negation is in and of itself not a factor precluding the use of the augment. There are verbs under negation whose augment (metrically guaranteed) seems to be used in accordance with the deictic nature that I just described. Consider the following pair. In both extracts the speaker is Pandaros referring in two different ways to his first attempt to kill Diomedes:

καί μιν ἔγωγ᾿ ἐφάμην ᾿Αϊδωνῆϊ προϊάψειν,
ἔμπης δ᾿ οὐκ ἐδάμασσα· θεός νύ τίς ἐστι κοτήεις

Iliad V 190–191

and I said to myself that I had hurled him down to meet Aidoneus,
yet still I have not beaten him; now this is some god who is angered.

ἦ μάλα σ᾿ οὐ βέλος ὠκὺ δαμάσσατο πικρὸς ὀϊστός·
νῦν αὖτ᾿ ἐγχείῃ πειρήσομαι αἴ κε τύχωμι.

Iliad V 278–279

you were not beaten then by the bitter arrow, my swift shot.
Now I will try with the throwing-spear to see if I can hit you.

In the first extract Pandaros tells about his experience of the moment: [38] he thought he had already killed Diomedes, but apparently a god was on the latter’s side. Pandaros’s οὐκ ἐδάμασσα ‘killing him I did not’ is as regards deixis equivalent to Diomedes’ own ἔφυγές με ‘you’ve escaped me’ in the example cited earlier: the non-occurrence of something strongly anticipated is as such an event that attracts attention. In other words, the situation in which Pandaros could have shouted ἐδάμασσα! ‘I’ve killed him!’ unexpectedly did not occur. In the second extract, on the other hand, Pandaros has taken some distance: the non-occurrence is now a (negative) fact from the past, contrasted with the new attempt in the present. Consider also the following pair:

οὐ γάρ πω τοίους ἴδον ἀνέρας οὐδὲ ἴδωμαι,
οἷον Πειρίθοόν τε Δρύαντά τε ποιμένα λαῶν

Iliad I 262–263

Never yet have I seen nor shall see again such men as these were,
men like Peirithoös, and Dryas, shepherd of the people.

οὐ γάρ πώ ποτέ μ᾿ ὧδε θεᾶς ἔρος οὐδὲ γυναικὸς
θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι περιπροχυθεὶς ἐδάμασσεν

Iliad XIV 315–316

For never before has love for any goddess or woman
so melted about the heart inside me, broken it to submission as now.

In the first extract Nestor is saying that he has never seen the likes of Peirithoos or Druas then, legendary heroes from the past, and the negated verb denotes the non-event for which the augmentless verb seems to be the appropriate expression. In the second extract, Zeus is saying that he has never been so much stricken with desire as he is now: the non-event has occurred in the past and is contrasted with the very positive and concrete occurrence of eros in the present. The occurrence of augment in negated contexts, where augment is generally disfavored, then, is equally revealing as the scarcity of augment in negated contexts in general as opposed to character speech as a whole. In other words, what seem to be mere exceptions may in fact be a confirmation of the rule.

meter cannot be ruled out as a factor: the metrical form of words often enforces or prohibits the use of the augment, irrespectively of any semantic or narrative function (see note 23 above); furthermore, the contextual conditions under which deixis is required or meaningful are sufficiently vague and subjective—one can always imagine that deixis is required—for augmented forms to be used at times as metrical doublets of unaugmented forms, for the purpose of versification;

The historical development of augment in the language from deictic marker on the aorist to its generalized use as marker of pastness on any secondary tense is a complicating, and complicated, factor; we have to allow for interference between the inherited, archaic idiom described here and the contemporary developments in the ordinary language.

Similes, Proverbs, and the Language of Immediacy

Let us first observe that the same obligatorily augmented “gnomic” aorists occur in general statements and aphorisms. [46] In contradistinction to similes, such statements are not confined to the discourse of the narrator. In the Iliad, for example, Menelaus closes his menacing speech to Euphorbos (“Back off before any harm is done to you!”) with the aphorism ῥεχθὲν δέ τε νήπιος ἔγνω ‘once a thing is done the fool has understood it’, which features an augmented aorist. [47] An example of a longer “gnome” is Polydamas’s priamel:

ἄλλῳ μὲν γὰρ ἔδωκε θεὸς πολεμήϊα ἔργα,
ἄλλῳ δ᾿ ὀρχηστύν, ἑτέρῳ κίθαριν καὶ ἀοιδήν,
ἄλλῳ δ᾿ ἐν στήθεσσι τιθεῖ νόον εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
ἐσθλόν, τοῦ δέ τε πολλοὶ ἐπαυρίσκοντ᾿ ἄνθρωποι,
καί τε πολέας ἐσάωσε, μάλιστα δὲ καὐτὸς ἀνέγνω.

Iliad XIII 730–734

To one man the god has granted the actions of warfare,
to one to be a dancer, to another the lyre and the singing,
and in the breast of another Zeus of the wide brows establishes
wisdom, a lordly thing, and many take profit beside him
and he saves many, and in particular he has recognized this himself.

We see here augmented aorists (ἔδωκε, ἐσαώσε, ἀνέγνω) alongside the present (τιθεῖ), for which sometimes the characterization “generic” is used, in line with the gnomic nature of the aorist. It is true, of course, that these sayings are not first time observations: prior experience and general knowledge of the world is involved. Yet it remains to be seen whether this general knowledge is as such the crucial element in the meaning of the verbs or even of the proverb as a whole. I believe that our preoccupation with the generic, “gnomic,” or timeless nature of aphorisms as they are used in oral traditions derives from our own literate conception of language: we tend to view the proverb as a proposition, in terms of its semantic content. In this way, we see the fool in Menelaos’s aphorism or the persons mentioned in Polydamas’s priamel as generic types, in accordance with the “gnomic” reading of the aorists.

Yet aphorisms are no mere containers of wisdom or common knowledge. Their being uttered, performed, in a concrete situation is no less important than their propositional content, and it is performance and situatedness, I believe, that constitutes the crucial factor in the use of the augmented aorist in aphorisms and similes. [48] The common experience underlying the proverb, once it is verbalized, performed in a concrete situation, becomes highly specific, just as the performance context itself. In this way, the proverb is no different from language in general and formulaic language in particular: a word or phrase that has been used countless times brings the accumulated mass of its previous occurrences to bear on the speaker’s present. The nēpios in Menelaos’s aphorism is not just the generic fool, but Euphorbos himself if he does not heed the speaker’s words. Similarly, the various types of human excellence in Polydamas’s priamel may be generic as general knowledge, but in the actual context of utterance they become instantiated in Hektor’s prowess in battle and Polydamas’s excellence in counsel, the latter being enacted by the speaker’s very words. The pertinence of either “gnome” is that of a concrete observation which is warranted by previous experience. These are facts with diachronic, experiential depth, but as facts pertinent to a speaker’s situation they are no different from Diomedes’ “You’ve escaped me!” in the example cited earlier. Against the conception of the “gnomic aorist,” then, I submit that someone uttering a proverb is not so much saying “This is how it always goes” as “This is how it goes now, and my proverb has proved to be the best way to describe the present situation.”

Turning now to the simile, we note the same configuration of tenses (augmented aorist with the present), e.g:

ὡς δ᾿ ὅτ᾿ ὄνος παρ᾿ ἄρουραν ἰὼν ἐβιήσατο παῖδας
νωθής, ᾧ δὴ πολλὰ περὶ ῥόπαλ᾿ ἀμφὶς ἐάγῃ,
κείρει τ᾿ εἰσελθὼν βαθὺ λήϊον· οἱ δέ τε παῖδες
τύπτουσιν ῥοπάλοισι· βίη δέ τε νηπίη αὐτῶν·
σπουδῇ τ᾿ ἐξήλασσαν, ἐπεί τ᾿ ἐκορέσσατο φορβῆς

Iliad XI 558–562

As when a donkey, stubborn and hard to move, going in a cornfield has forced his will upon some boys,
and many sticks have been broken upon him,
but he get in and goes on eating the deep grain; and the children
beat him with sticks, but their strength is infantile, yet at last
by hard work they drive him out when he is glutted with eating.

Here, too, the present and the aorist have been associated with the timeless and generic. Yet at the same time scholars, today as well as in Antiquity, have used such epithets as “concrete” and “vivid” to characterize the effect of similes, and stressed their intensely visual nature. Just as in the case of the aphorisms, I argue that timelessness and previous experience enhances the impact of the simile in the present. The effect of the simile quoted above depends, of course, on common, generic knowledge of donkeys and their behavior. It is true also that there is a strong, experiential association between the various details (the grazing donkey, the useless force of the childen, etc). [
49] Yet as an image visualized, created in the epic performance and jointly watched by the poet and the audience, the donkey and its behavior cannot but become highly specific. The sharpness of the image derives from common knowledge, but should not be confused with it. The present tense and the augmented aorist do not express, as “gnomic” tenses, the common knowledge; they pertain to the image and its presence in the performance, as it is visualized and perceived by the poet and his audience.

Conveying propositional information of the type “This is how donkeys always behave,” then, is not at all the poet’s point in performing the simile cited above. Nor is Aias actually compared to a donkey, or the Trojans to boys. Rather, the simile is a verbalized image that as an integrated whole serves to illustrate a salient scene from the Iliadic battle. Often the simile goes beyond mere illustration. The art of the Homeric simile lies in the tendency to strain the similarity by looking for unexpected connections between the two scenes, the epic and the domestic one. The grazing donkey in the simile cited above, or the mother cow standing over her first-born calf (Il. XVII 3–6), force the audience to realize the essence of Aias’s retreat and of Menelaos defending Patroklos’s body: the epic world comes alive in a surprising and revealing light.

Returning to the common view of the “lateness” of the Homeric simile, the preceding examination of augment suggests, quite to the contrary, that similes contain an “archaic” feature for the expression of the immediacy of events. Rather than pointing ahead to the stage of the language in which augment has become the obligatory marker of past tense, the similes contain a tangible trace of a system of verbal semantics in which time and tense (past vs. present) are not so much important as space (far and near). Yet apart from this reversal, and moving beyond questions of “young” and “old,” my account of tense and verbal augment might suggest a liberating and more promising approach to the Homeric simile or to Homeric discourse in general. Similes are set apart from narrative as a different register, as a way of speaking in which the performer adopts a different tone and stance and communicates more directly with the audience. [51] Such an approach would concur with a recent proposal which argues that the simile represents a different performance register effecting shifts in the narrative. [52] Yet however that may be, and whatever the actual “provenance” of similes, the different experiential load of similes has semantic and communicative consequences whose study should take priority over the usual and unreflectively applied conception of diachronic “layering.” The poet may stand apart from his audience in receiving the vision of the Muse; but he is one of them in sharing a world that is indispensable as a stepping-stone to the past.


[ back ] 1. E.g. Coffey 1957:116, Shipp 1972:212, Edwards 1991:35–36.

[ back ] 2. Shipp 1972:212.

[ back ] 3. See now also Hackstein 2002, who argues that younger forms are characteristic of Homeric epic in general.

[ back ] 4. Shipp 1972:120, following Chantraine 1958–1963:1: 479–484.

[ back ] 5. See also the parallel argument in Bakker 1999d.

[ back ] 6. The most representative proposals per category: meter: van Leeuwen 1918:257–260; language change: Lehmann 1993:165, 244; morphology: Blumenthal 1974; syntax: Kiparsky 1968, Bottin 1969, Rosén 1973; semantics: Platt 1891, Drewitt 1912, Basset 1989 (see below); sociolinguistics: Duhoux 1987 (arguing that augment goes back to Mycenaean lower class speech). The best overview of the history of scholarship on the subject is Bottin 1969:69–80 (see also Brugmann-Thumb 1913:306 for a list of 19th-century literature on the subject). I have not been able to consult Mumm 2004.

[ back ] 7. Bottin 1969:137.

[ back ] 8. E.g. Monro 1891:62; Van Leeuwen 1918:257.

[ back ] 9. See Basset 1989:11; Lehmann 1993:244; Bakker 1999d.

[ back ] 10. Chantraine 1958–1963:1: 479.

[ back ] 11. Going back at least as far as Koch 1868; see also Platt 1891; Monro 1891:62.

[ back ] 12. The idea of augment as something superfluous has been reformulated as a syntactic mechanism by Kiparsky 1968 in terms of “conjunction reduction.” On the assumption that augment represents the feature “past,” any sequence of an augmented verb followed by an unaugmented verb can be analyzed as two conjoined parallel structures that factor out a shared element: VERB+past AND VERB [+past], as in “John went into the bar and [John] ordered a beer.” The problem is, however, that this syntactic mechanism depends on a semantic assumption, the idea of augment as “past.” For more discussion, see Bakker 1999d.

[ back ] 13. Chantraine 1958–1963:1: 484, apparently following Monro 1891:62; but note that in an appendix containing “notes and corrections” to the first edition of his Homeric Grammar, Monro (1891:402) endorses the findings of Platt 1891 which run counter to Chantraine’s position (see below).

[ back ] 14. Note that some reduplications (e.g. ἔγνωκα) are indistinguishable from the augment.

[ back ] 15. Drewitt 1912:44; see also Drewitt 1913:352.

[ back ] 16. See also Basset 1989:13.

[ back ] 17. Cf. Shewan 1912, 1914, Drewitt 1913. Unitarians like Shewan took issue with any differentiations that could be reduced to statistics.

[ back ] 18. Benveniste 1966:238–245. See also Chapter Five above, p. #.

[ back ] 19. Basset 1989:10, following Le Guern 1986. The notion of a vantage point in the past for historical narrative will be developed further in Chapter Nine below.

[ back ] 20. Compare the case of the demonstrative οὗτος, which is significantly more common in speeches than in narrative—see Chapter Five.

[ back ] 21. The translations of the extracts in this Chapter are all from Lattimore 1951, with occasional modifications in the highlighted words and phrases.

[ back ] 22. The co-occurrence of νῦν with the augmented aorist is one of Drewitt’s (1912:44; 1913:351) main arguments for a “present-reference aorist”; cf. Monro 1891:66. See further Chapter Nine below.

[ back ] 23. Augmentation may result in various metrically impossible forms, e.g. single short sequence (ἀγορήσατο, ἐνάριξε, ἐλέησε, ἐλελίχθη, ἐξαλάπαξεν, ἀπάτησε, etc.); triple short sequence (περονήσατο, τολύπευσε); antispast (metrical sequence  — — : βουλεύσατο, II 114). In all these cases augment is precluded for reasons of metrical word shape. Sometimes augment is distributed unevenly across a flexional paradigm because of metrical form, e.g. γένετο, βάλετο, where augment is impossible, against (ἐ)γένοντο, (ἐ)βάλοντο, where augment has its customary optional status. In other forms, such as ἀνείλετο, ἀφίκετο, or ἀπώλεσε, quantitative augment is metrically necessary to obviate the impossible sequence of four short syllables.

[ back ] 24. http://www.library.northwestern.edu/homer/.

[ back ] 25. I wish to thank Martin Mueller (Northwestern University) for his generosity in helping me with the production and the transmission of the data, and Geneviève Normandeau (Université de Montréal) for her assistance in building the database.

[ back ] 26. The case of ἦρχε is similar (only at III 447 do Monro and Allen 1920 print the augmentless form ἄρχε). In other cases, Monro and Allen consistently print the augmentless form (e.g. ὅρμησ᾿ VI 338; ὄπτησαν VII 318; ὁρμηθήτην XVII 530; ὅρμηνεν XXI 137, etc. ), presumably in keeping with Alexandrian scholarship that tended to remove augments where possible. Note that Mazon 1937, Van Thiel 1996, and West 1998–2000 print the augment in all these cases (ὥρμησ᾿, ὤπτησαν, etc.).

[ back ] 27. Again Monro and Allen 1920 tend to favor the augmentless variant, where other editions print the augment (e.g. XVI 294: Monro and Allen τοὶ δὲ φόβηθεν; Mazon 1937 τοὶ δ᾿ ἐφόβηθεν; XVI 693: Monro and Allen θάνατόνδε κάλεσσαν; Mazon: θάνατόνδ᾿ ἐκάλεσσαν). In other cases, the Monro-Allen and Mazon are in agreement where Van Thiel 1996 differs in printing the augment, e.g. XVI 250: Monro-Allen and Mazon τῷ δ᾿ ἕτερον μὲν δῶκε πατὴρ; Van Thiel τῷ δ᾿ ἕτερον μὲν ἔδωκε; West 1998–2000 prints the augment in all these cases (see 1998:xxvi–xxvii). Note that compound verbs almost all belong to the indeterminate class: even though all our texts consistently print ἀπ-έδωκε, etc., the augmentless form (ἀπό-δωκε, etc.) is equally possible (see also Bakker 1999d:61–62n37).

[ back ] 28. Drewitt (1912:44) notes that there are sixteen unaugmented aorists in similes (in the Iliad and Odyssey combined), three of which are “difficult” (III 4; IV 279; XV 682). Of these three I have classed the case of III 4 (αἵ τ᾿ ἐπεὶ οὖν χειμῶνα φύγον καὶ ἀθέσφατον ὄμβρον) as indeterminate (χειμῶν᾿ ἔφυγον) since elision in the caesura is not impossible (cf. XXII 298). Of the remaining four instances, three involve the form ἧκε and its compounds (IV 75; XXI 523, 524) which I have classed as augmentless in view of the occurrence of ἕηκεν(ν) (and compounds) in the epic. I am not sure, however, whether this form was felt as augmentless at all stages of the transmission of the Homeric poems.

[ back ] 29. The figures for -σκ- on the imperfect are equally strong; in addition to the only example of metrically required augment (xx 7), my database reveals xxii 427. Note that the ban on augment on verbs with -σκ- extends beyond Homer, particularly in Herodotus, where -σκ- is still used as a free suffix, and where we find such forms as ἄγεσκον (2.174.1), κλέπτεσκε (2.174.1), πωλέεσκε (1.196.1), etc.

[ back ] 30. On staging formulas, see Bakker 1997a:162–165; on the “perfectness” of formulas involving noun-epithet formulas, see Bakker 1997a:188. Some might object here that προσέειπε in the formula covers an older *προτί-ειπεν, so that the augment in the extant formula is an innovation. However, nothing prevents us from assuming augment in the older formula as well (προτ-έειπεν). In that case the augment would be indeterminate for the purpose of my statistics.

[ back ] 31. The sequence of the last two verbs (ἔλιπεν, λεῖπε, 106–107) is quoted by Kiparsky 1968:24 as a typical case of “conjunction reduction” (see note 12 above); to single out these two verbs, however, is to ignore the wider narrative context. See further Bakker 1999d:55–56.

[ back ] 32. Cf. also IV 219; V 735; VII 146, 220; VIII 195, 386; IX 667; XI 353; XV 441; XVI 143; XIX 368, 390; XXIII 92; XXIV 30; v 321, 372; vi 228; x 394; xii 302. None of the verbs in these cases carries the augment.

[ back ] 33. Note that of these nineteen cases five are strictly speaking indeterminate; I have counted them as augment nevertheless since lack of augment would result in a spondaic verse end, strongly avoided in Homer, e.g. αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ διά τε σκόλοπας καὶ τάφρον ἔβησαν (VIII 343), where τάφρον βῆσαν would strictly speaking have been possible.

[ back ] 34. On “backgrounding” and temporal subclauses in narrative, see Bakker 1991a, with references to the relevant literature in discourse analysis.

[ back ] 35. Apart from Chapters Five and Six above, see also Bakker 1993a:15–25; 1997a:74–80; 1997b:17–23; 1997d:16–20; 1999a; on augment, see also 1999d.

[ back ] 36. See also the discussion of “transitivity” in Chapter Two.

[ back ] 37. It must be this use of the aorist, in later times just as augmented as any other past verb, that made Apollonius Dyscolus assign to the aorist the possible value of “pluperfect” (ὑπερσυντελικός) or “remote past” as opposed to the aorist’s equally perfective value (“recent past,” augmented in Homer), e.g. Apollonius Dyscolus. On Adverbs 124.21–25 Schneider: ὁ γοῦν καλούμενος ἀόριστος, προσλαβὼν τὸ πάλαι, ὑπερσυντελικὸς μᾶλλον ἀκούεται. ἐμπεριέχει γὰρ τὸ παρῳχημένον τοῦ παρακειμένου καὶ τοῦ ὑπερσυντελικοῦ, ὥς γε καὶ ἐπὶ ὀνόματος ἔστιν ἐπινοῆσαι κοινότητα ἀρσενικοῦ καὶ θηλυκοῦ. ἔνθεν καὶ τῆς ὀνομασίας ἔτυχε, κατὰ ἀπόφασιν εἰρημένος τοῦ μὴ ὁρίζειν τὸν παρῳχημένον. “The so-called ‘aorist’, in taking on a sense of remote past is rather understood as a pluperfect; for it encompasses the past sense of both the perfect and the pluperfect (just as it is possible to conceive of a noun that is undifferentiated for gender). Hence the name ‘a-orist’, which conveys through the negation that it does not limit itself to past tense.” In other words, if the semantics of the augment as I describe them here had remained productive, the name “aorist” would never have been used for this tense. On the name “aorist,” see also Chapter Nine, p. #.

[ back ] 38. The killing attempt is described by the narrator at V 95–106; note the τὸν δ᾿ οὐ βέλος ὠκὺ δάμασσεν at V 106.

[ back ] 39. See also Bakker 1997b:28–29 and Chapter Six, p. #, above.

[ back ] 40. Of the 793 aorists in Odysseus’s story, 284 verbs have an augment that is guaranteed by the meter (= 35.81%), whereas on 644 verbs augment is ruled out by meter (= 31.58%).

[ back ] 41. Drewitt 1913:352.

[ back ] 42. For a narratological discussion of the apologoi, see de Jong 2001:221–227.

[ back ] 43. This is true in spite of the fact that augment does not as such constitute discours: as we saw, augment can perfectly be absent, e.g. in negated contexts, in what is discours by any standard.

[ back ] 44. On the “gnomic” aorist, see Van Groningen 1948, Chantraine 1958–1963:2: 187, Péristérakis 1962, Ruijgh 1971:257–265; Pelliccia 1986, McKay 1986. For Ruijgh (1971:264) the obligatory augment on “gnomic” aorists is explained by the supposition that the gnomic aorist must have come into being at a moment at which augment had already become obligatory in the language.

[ back ] 45. E.g. Ruijgh 1971:257.

[ back ] 46. And not only in Homer: Pindaric epinician, another poetic genre with significant fluctuation in augmentation, has augmented aorists in general statements (e.g. Olympians 1.31; 2.34, 58; 10.22, 93; 12.10; Pythians 1.42.

[ back ] 47. XVII 32; cf. XX 198; Hesiod, Works and Days 218. See also Chapter Nine below, p. #.

[ back ] 48. For recent investigation of proverbs in terms of context and performance, see Lardinois 1997, 2001; Russo 1997a.

[ back ] 49. The expression of this strong bond between various ideas would seem to be the appropriate domain of the particle τε. See Ruijgh 1971:15–17 on the origin of epic τε as a connector . Ruijgh rightly proposes that the expression of a fait permanent is as such secondary with respect to the particle to express the automatic link between two given ideas. See also note 44 above. More on τε in Chapter Eight, p. #, below.

[ back ] 50. On the distinction between knowledge and perception as modalities underlying a discourse, see further Bakker 1997d:16–17.

[ back ] 51. In this connection it is interesting to note that the particle τε has been analyzed (Bloch 1955) as an archaic form of the personal pronoun of the second person (cf. τοι) with a modal adverbial force “as you know.”

[ back ] 52. Martin 1997. Martin notes that many of Shipp’s 1972 “late” features are actually parallels with other poetic traditions (Pindaric praise poetry; Theognidean elegy), and argues that similes derive from lyric poetic traditions that have been incorporated in Homeric epic.