Greek: An Updating of a Survey of Recent Work

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Part II: Specifics


II§1. Despite the attestation of Greek as far back in time as the second millennium BCE, a chronological chasm remains between this language and the proto-language reconstructed as Indo-European. What I just said is most apparent on the phonological level. The necessity for positing a multitude of phases and patterns of phonology which must have been operative at some early point in prehistoric Greek but which reveal only residual traces in extant Greek is well illustrated by such Indo-European studies as those of Kuryłowicz (1956) and Szemerényi (1964).

II§2. Granted, the discovery that Linear В was a writing system for an early form of Greek that was spoken in the second millennium BCE brings us closer to Common Greek. And in some respects, the Greek of the Linear B texts, known to us as Mycenaean Greek, resembles the Common Greek reconstructed by linguists more than it resembles the attested forms of Greek in the first millennium BCE. For example, Mycenaean Greek still preserves such Common Greek phonological features as labiovelars and intervocalic –-. [1] In other respects, however, the phonology of Mycenaean Greek makes us appreciate even more keenly than before the remoteness of Common Greek from all attested stages of Greek, including Mycenaean.

II§3. In some ways, Mycenaean Greek complicates our reconstruction of unattested phases of Greek, in that it presents idiosyncrasies that could only be suspected at best from the evidence of extant post-Mycenaean Greek. On the phonological level, for instance, the multiple and varied Mycenaean reflexes of the Common Greek syllabic sonorants *ṛ *ḷ *ṃ *ṇ point to more complications than we could ever have imagined from the reflexes attested in the first millennium BCE. The evidence of Mycenaean Greek now forces us to reckon with the conditioning of these sonorants on the following levels: (1) purely phonological, (2) morphological, (3) dialectal, or (4) any combination of the preceding three.

II§4. Nor is the linguistic evidence from the second millennium BCE appreciably more helpful than the corresponding evidence from the first millennium when it comes to elucidating the numerous problems involved in the Greek transmission of the Indo-European consonantal series known as the laryngeals. {33|34} {Such difficulties on the phonological level are only to be expected, since the primary evidence for reconstructing laryngeals is not phonological but morphological.}

II§6. The basic formulation of Dehnungsgesetz goes back to Wackernagel (1889/1953), who used the comparative linguistic evidence of Greek and Indo-Iranian combined. Basically, Dehnungsgesetz can be defined this way: when two vowels come together as the final and initial elements of two compound-formants, the resulting contraction will entail the elision of the first vowel (V1) and the lengthening of the second vowel (V2):

-V1 + V2– = -V̄2

II§7. A case in point is *στρατο + αγός, which becomes *στρατᾱγός > στρατηγός. A reflex like στρατηγός illustrates the anteriority of such a contraction to the type of contraction resulting from the Greek innovation whereby intervocalic σ is lost: here *οα becomes ω rather than η, as in θάττ-ω (< *…-οσα).

II§8. But the Dehnungsgesetz becomes extended, in that an initial vowel of the second compound-formant becomes lengthened no matter what the final element in the first formant may be. A case in point is *κυν + άγος, which becomes *κυνᾱγός > κυνηγός. Here we see the removal of one constraint in the natural language. But in the artificial language of the epic, there are further extensions of Dehnungsgesetz, as lengthening of initial vowel spreads from the second compound-formant to simplex nominals as well, and ultimately to any word. [3] One locus of diffusion is probably from compounds where the first constituent was an adverb: after the adverb evolves into a preposition (as well as a preverb) there is an opportunity for transition of artificial Dehnungsgesetz from (a) compound consisting of adverb + noun to (b) preposition + object of preposition. [4] Finally, even the constraint of word-initial vowel is removed. That is, not only does -VC+ ‖ V- become -VC ‖ V̄- but also, by extension, -V+ ‖ СV- becomes -V ‖ CV-. (In this formulation, the sign “‖” stands for word-boundary.) To put it another way, any word-initial syllable becomes subject to lengthening in the epic language. What results is a set of artificial vs. non-artificial pairs such as ἀ̄νήρ (II 553 / II 701, etc., with / without elision) vs. ἀνήρ (II 673, etc.), Οὔλυμπον (I 221 / I 497, etc., with / without elision) vs. Ὄλυμπον (I 402, etc.); also μείλανι (XXIV 79) vs. μέλανα (VII 265, etc.), Πουλυ-δάμας {34|35} (ΧΙΙ 60, etc.) vs. Πολύ-φημος (ix 407, etc.).

II§10. So much for instances where the obsolescence of a phonological rule in the natural language permits the ultimate extension of the same rule beyond its etymological confines, in the retentive poetic language of the epic. Retention can also be static, however, and subject to ultimate attrition. For example, let us consider the early loss of ϝ (= * or “digamma”) in a prehistoric phase of Ionic, the last major dialectal phase of Homeric diction. As Milman Parry points out, ϝ was lost in epic diction “neither sooner nor later than it was lost in the daily speech, but the singers who had to compose in a rigorous and therefore highly conservative verse-form, still used the old phrases and verses because that was their way of making poetry, because to have given up the traditional phrase wherever the loss of the digamma now caused hiatus or failure to make position, would have been to destroy the diction almost entirely.” [6] Thus in contrast to roughly 300 Homeric cases of elision despite digamma, there are still roughly 2,000 cases of non-elision because of digamma. [7] As Parry said, directly challenging Richard Bentley, “Homer’s language has traces of the digamma, but not the digamma itself.” [8] But although the formulaic language of the epic is an admirable preservative of traditional patterns dating back to a time when digamma was still extant, new patterns ignoring the etymological digamma eventually emerge—sometimes even in the most overtly formulaic expressions. To quote Parry again: “Just as we can show the metrical usefulness of the older phrase, and the fixed place which it holds in the diction, so can we do for phraseology with newer forms.” [9] For instance, before loss of ϝ, the following verse-type could refer only to a masculine speaker:

καί μιν φωνήσας (ϝ)έπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα
‘and addressing him he spoke winged words’.

II§11. In the Iliad and Odyssey, there are 30 occurrences of this verse; but there are also 9 others where the speaker is feminine, and the necessitated elision is possible only without ϝ:

καί μιν φωνήσασ’ (ϝ)έπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα. {35|36}

II§12. At times the same formulaic verse will entail both the presence and the absence of the digamma-factor in the metrical pattern, as in the following type of Homeric verse (IV 403, XVII 90, XVIII 5, etc.):

ὀχθήσας δ’ἄρα (ϝ)εἶπε προς (-)ὃν μεγαλήτορα θυμόν
‘angered, he said tο his great-hearted thumos’.


II§14. There have been thorough synoptic treatments of Greek phonology from both the diachronic and synchronic points of view. Especially useful are the books of Lejeune (1955) and Allen (1968a) respectively.

II§15. In the case of vowels, there has been a noteworthy contribution to our understanding of their system by Ruipérez (1956), who has applied the approaches of Martinet (1964) in interpreting the consecutive stages of the Attic-Ionic vowel-system with reference to the dynamics of pressure and counterpressure in that system. Bartoněk (1966) has provided further details, and Szemerényi (1968a), further refinements. In particular, Szemerényi has revised the relative scheme for the fronting of ū to ǖ and for an Attic Rückverwandlung of ǟ to ā.

II§16. As for consonants, efforts to establish their prehistory are adequately represented by the works of Allen (1958) on palatalization and of Stang (1957) as well as Diver (1958) on the prehistoric phenomenon of gemination before *--. Bartoněk (1961) has attempted reconstructions of the consonantal systems of several well-known dialects at several (including late) developmental stages.

II§18. In any case, we may posit as a general principle that the constraints and licenses of the various Greek orthographic systems are the primary key to evaluating the nuances of the underlying phonological systems.

II§19. Conversely, the evolution of Greek writing-systems is inextricably linked with the {36|37} evolution of the Greek phonological system itself. Here I highlight the important contemporary trend of recognizing the extent to which linguistic conditions affect graphic conventions. We can illustrate this relationship by observing the representation of

ę̄ (resulting from a collapsed opposition of ǟ vs. ę̄)

by way of


in the post-Euclidian Attic alphabet, as opposed to the cumbersome representation of all three by <ε> in the pre-Euclidian Attic alphabet. The basic motivation for this eventual orthographic reform was not the genius of some εὑρετής, but rather, the accidental convergence of (1) the studious but mechanical application of the acrophonic principle of the alphabet and (2) phonological shifts in the Attic-Ionic vowel-system. Of the two Semitic aspirate-signs ḥēth and the former was apparently the closer approximation to the single Greek spiritus asper, whence the original generalization of Semitic ḥēth = <η> as representing Greek h– (or -, on the acrophonic principle). Consequently, there was no need for another aspirate-sign, and the initial element of is viewed simply as ē from a Hellenic standpoint: hence the original generalization of Semitic = <ε> as representing both short-e and long-e in Greek. With the onset of psilosis (loss of spiritus asper) in East Ionic dialects, however, the initial element of ḥeth / <η> becomes viewed as ǟ (which later loses its distinction from ę̄), whence now the restriction of <ε> to representation of e and ę̄ only, vs. the generalization of <η> for ę̄ (< ǟ).

II§21. Finally, the Attic-Ionic monophthongization of *ei to ē in around the fifth century BCE leads to the opportunity of representing all instances of ē, whether etymologically diphthongal or not, with <ει>.




II§26. Next I turn to morphophonemic rules, which I define as those phonological rules that apply only within a restricted morphological framework. In terms of this definition, I find that there are markedly few instances {38|39} of morphophonemic rules in Greek (or even in Indo-European), and this dearth is especially striking when we compare other languages of the world.

II§29. Much research remains to be done on such phenomena, especially from the diachronic standpoint, but I make room here for some preliminary observations. In the case of the rule concerning -ό-τερος vs. -ώ-τερος after long vs. short syllables, I suggest that it can be connected with the avoidance of a sequence of three short syllables in various archaic Greek meters. Such a metrical pattern of avoidance may be a reflex of a purely phonemic rule that was once operative in the Greek language—a rule that later becomes specialized as a morphophonemic rule. Such a posited specialization from a phonemic to a morphophonemic rule may be described as an alternative to other types of specialization that are purely morphemic.


II§33. {Deserving of special mention are the general works about Greek morphology by Chantraine (1961) and Risch (1937). In some specific works, the chosen basis of inquiry is a given suffix, the attested distribution of which is then thoroughly investigated, leading to diachronic conclusions often extending in relevance even to Indo-European. Distinguished examples of this genre are Lejeune (1939) on -θεν, Holt (1940) on -σις, Redard (1949) on -της / -τις, Prévot (1935) on -θη-. Where the suffix in question is specifically derivational and not inflectional, many aspects of such studies may overlap with the factors of vocabulary (I will return to this point under the heading etymology / vocabulary). For a comprehensive treatise where this overlapping is continually illustrated, I cite Chantraine 1933 on the taxingly broad subject of Greek nominal derivation.}

II§34. {Specially to be noted for its cohesiveness in the simultaneous treatment of morphology, vocabulary, and syntax is Benveniste’s (1948) examination of nomina agentis / actionis and ordinals in Indo-European languages, with pivotal evidence adduced from Greek.}

II§36. {Implications of a dichotomy between inflectional and derivational categories, as well as several other morphological typologies viewed principally from the standpoint of Indo-European linguistics, have been outlined by Kuryłowicz (1964), often with instructive references to Greek examples.}

II§37. For originality in conception and format, a book that stands out is Kastner’s investigation (1967) of simplex adjectives in -ος / -ον (instead of -oς / -η / -ον). In the compound adjectives of a dialect like Attic, the prevalent split from an originally unitary animate -ος into a binary masculine / feminine opposition -ος / -η has been repressed by an obligatory rule, which thereby preserves the archaism of an old animate / inanimate opposition -ος / -η inherited from Indo-European. In the simplex adjectives as distinct from the compound, by contrast, the new tripartite rearrangement into masculine / feminine / neuter = -oς / -η / -ον has prevailed; but the older arrangement -ος / -ον has been sporadically preserved for simplex adjectives as well, because of the archaism of certain inherited combinations of o-stem adjective + feminine substantive. It is these sporadic reflexes that Kastner {40|41} undertakes to examine in their attested collocations. His discovery procedure requires an intensive survey οf archaic expressions within archaic contexts, and this survey gives us a veritable panorama of archaisms in the social and cultural heritage of the Greek-speaking world. At the same time, this panorama is neatly delimited in scope by a single morphological factor.

II§39. The novelty of Kastner’s approach, then, is that besides morphological archaisms themselves, the combinatory features of these archaisms are also taken into consideration; and this amounts to a survey of old contexts as well as old forms.


II§40. {A notable example of a straightforward study on evanescent vs. incipient morphological mechanisms is the treatment of the Greek comparatives by Seiler (1950). Schwyzer’s critical comparison of Greek -άζω with Gothic –atja (1937), on the other hand, is an ideal illustration of the procedural need to examine both the derivational distribution and the functional exponents of a Greek suffix in terms of Greek itself before any attempt is made to compare it with an apparent formal cognate from the Indo-European standpoint. A similar lesson may be derived from the detailed analysis by Cowgill (1964) of two difficult forms attested in the Cypriote Edalion Bronze.}

II§42. Homeric diction, in fact, is replete with morphological phenomena long since replaced by new counterparts in alphabetic Greek. For example, let us consider the phenomenon, well-attested in alphabetic Greek, of n-infix present-tense formations generated from the old thematic (“2nd”) aorist: examples include

II§43. In many instances, the new n-infix present has ousted the older variant altogether: hence μα-ν-θ-άνω from ἔ-μαθ-ον (zero-grade root *mn̥ th-), with only a trace of the older present (full-grade root *menth-) in the nominal derivative μενθήρη· φροντίς (Hesychius). Elsewhere, the old present survives, because it was appropriated by the formulaic system of Homeric diction: hence Homeric present πεύθομαι, aorist ἐ-πυθ-όμην -> “classical” present πυ-ν-θ-άνομαι. Significantly, forms of “classical” πυνθάνομαι occur only twice in the Homeric corpus, vs. 16 instances of “pre-classical” πεύθομαι.


II§46. As for the gnomic aorist in Greek (expressing a general truth without implication of tense), it is an old remnant from a prehistoric phase when the primary function of the aorist was not yet temporal but still aspectual (specifically, zero-aspect vs. marked imperfective aspect). By the time we reach the period of alphabetic Greek, however, a primary opposition in tense had developed, namely, present vs. past, and the basic aspectual dichotomy had become a subdivision within the temporal framework: imperfective present vs. imperfect / aorist past; or, in traditional terms: present vs. past, with past subdivided into imperfect (marked) vs. aorist (unmarked).

II§47. {Alternatively, it can be argued that the aorist indicative is marked for aspect, while the imperfect is unmarked; both are marked for tense.}

  singular plural
1st jestem jesteśmy
2nd jesteś jesteście
3rd jest

II§53. Aside from such synoptic works as Wackernagel’s, it is important to note that there are numerous trend-setting observations on syntax in such compendia as the Griechische Grammatik vol. 2 of Schwyzer and Debrunner (1950). What now follows is an illustrative selection of such observations, with commentary, from the first 150 pages of this volume.

II§61. Likewise with τοῖο τά̄ων τοῖσι(ν): none of these has been retained in classical Ionic, and each is attested exclusively with the old demonstrative function in epic; by contrast, the corresponding forms of classical Ionic, τοῦ τῶν τοῖς, are attested in epic both as demonstrative and as definite article.

II§63. It is such collocational evidence, by virtue of its cumulative impact, which has led to the following operational principle in formulaic analysis (as practiced e.g. by Ruijgh 1957 and Hoekstra 1965): the narrower the range of positional variation for any given word or phrase in the dactylic hexameter of epic, the greater the archaism involved.

II§64. The poetry of epic, of course, is not the sole repository for such archaisms; an equally potent preservative, mutatis mutandis, is the poetry of {45|46} “lyric.” Thus for example the poetry of Archilochos reveals a restriction of ὁ ἡ τό etc. to the pronominal usage. [52] Or again, in Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazousai 100 ff, the absence of articles in Agathon’s lyrical outpourings is noticeable in contrast to their presence in the adjacent dialogue. [53] Legal formulae too provide an ideal context for petrified demonstrative usage of ὁ ἡ τό etc., as in the expression τῇ καὶ τῇ δὲ ἀτιμία (Plato Laws 4.721b). [54] Even ordinary Attic prose has sporadically preserved the demonstrative function, embedded in such phrases as ὁ μὲν … ὁ δὲ, τὸν καὶ τὸν, καὶ τὸν εἰπεῖν, etc.; a typological parallel is German dér Art, French de lá sorte. [55] In certain archaic expressions, precedent for the insertion of the functionally recent definite article has been consistently wanting: hence such inherited collocations as πόλιν καὶ οἰκίαν, παῖδες καὶ γυναῖκες, δεξιὰν διδόναι, etc.; [56] in some cases the collocation can be more precisely defined in terms of syntactical components: e.g. prepositional phrases like ἐπὶ θήραν, εἰς χεῖρας ἰέναι, etc. and possessive constructions like τέρμα τοῦ βίου (instead of τὸ τοῦ βίου τέρμα), περὶ φυλακῆς τῆς χώρας, etc. [57]

Etymology and Vocabulary

II§77. But the “sens” of a linguistic form must be viewed in the entire ensemble of its distribution. One of Benveniste’s most striking illustrations involves the Greek word πόντος ‘sea’ and its formal cognates in other Indo-European languages: Latin pōns ‘bridge’, Armenian hun ‘ford’, Old Church Slavonic рǫtǐ and Old Prussian pintis ‘path’, Sanskrit pánthāḥ, and Avestan pantå ‘path’. The problem is to bridge the semantic gulf between e.g. Greek πόντος and Latin pōns. Benveniste maintains that the key to the solution is to discover which, if any, of the cognates preserves the primary meaning, the least common denominator. [76] The secondary meanings of the other cognates could then be motivated as divergences from (or modifications of) the primary meaning. After arguing that the semantic spheres of e.g. hun ‘ford’, πόντος ‘sea’, and pōns ‘bridge’ must be secondary because they are mutually irreconcilable, Benveniste shows that the semantic common denominator survives in Indo-Iranian, most clearly seen in the Vedic usages of pánthāḥ, commonly glossed as ‘path’, ‘chemin’:

II§79. The notion of ‘une étendue périlleuse ou accidentée’ is still latent in Homeric collocations of πόντος with the harmless-looking epithet ἰχθυόεις ‘swarming with fish’:

πόντον ἐπ’ ἰχθυόεντα φέρεν βαρέα στενάχοντα
‘[The squall] carried him, heavily groaning, over the ikhthuoeis pontos.’

Odyssey iv 516, xxiii 317; cf. also v 430

ἠμὲν ὅσ’ ἐν πόντφ πάθετ᾽ ἄλγεα ἰχουόεντι
‘and how much suffering you underwent in the ikhthuoeis pοntos.’

Odyssey x 458

II§80. (There are other collocations of πόντος with πάσχειν, perhaps likewise relevant to pánthāḥ from the comparative point of view: Odyssey i 4, ii 370, v 377.) The original selection of ἰχθυόεις was probably motivated not by a striving for fanciful descriptions of the sea, but rather, by the implication of dangers lurking underneath the ship:

ἢ τόν γ’ ἐν πόντῳ φάγον ἰχθύες …
‘or the fish devoured him in the pοntos

Odyssey xiv 135

ἠέ που ἐν πόντῳ φάγον ἰχθύες …
‘or perhaps the fish devoured him in the pontos’.

Odyssey xxiv 291

II§81. Of course it can happen that in a given set of cognates, the least common denominator of the semantic sphere is no longer extant in any of the Indo-European languages with relevant lexical evidence. For example, despite the formal correspondence between Greek δίκη and Sanskrit diśā, there is a functional anomaly between the two, in that neither can be motivated semantically in terms of the other: the Sanskrit word means ‘direction, celestial district’ vs. the basic notion ‘rule, ruling’ inherent in the Greek word. The ā-stem in both is irrelevant to this anomaly: it is just a formal renovation of the root-stem *dik-, and the latter is actually attested in Sanskrit diś-, with the same meaning as that of diśā; so also in Latin dic-is (causa) ‘(for the sake of) judicial form’, which has basically the same meaning as that of δίκη. But we may seek a more general functional relevance in the morphology—specifically, in the expansion of the root-stem by ā-stem here. It is significant that the ā-stem is an inherited formant of deverbative nomina actionis. Thus the nominal root-stem *dik– was also a nomen actionis until its replacement by *dik-ā-. And the founding verb is still reflected in Greek: it is δείκνυμι ‘designate’. Then, from the original root-stem nomen actionis *dik– ‘designation’, the specific notions ‘direction, celestial district’ (diś- / diśā-) and ‘rule, ruling’ (δίκη) can evolve. [80] And since there is no indication that a nomen actionis with the configuration *dik– was not already inherited from Indo-European, we may by extension call diśā and δίκη cognates. {49|50}

II§83. The formulaic system of Homeric poetry has insured the preservation of grammatical patterns stemming from such varied diachronic phases as to span about a millennium. In Homeric poetry, the following phrases are relevant to the etymology of θέλγω:

          ‖ ὄμματα θέλγει #

Iliad XXIV 343; Odyssey v 47, xxiv 3

# θέλξας ὄσσε φαεινά ‖

Iliad XIII 435

II§84. I have indicated here the metrical positions of the relevant phrases (‖ = ‘caesura’, # = ‘absolute verse-initial / final position’). In terms of their placement within the verse, both phrases belong to the formulaic system of Homeric diction. The phrase ὄμματα θέλγει occurs exclusively in the metrical space – ⏑  – situated between the bucolic diaeresis (‖) and absolute verse-final position (#). This space accommodates the so-called Adonic sequence, featuring a metrical pattern – ⏑  – that matches the pattern we find in the celebrated phrase of Sappho, ὦ τὸν Ἄδωνιν. As for the phrase ὄσσε φαεινά, it occurs in the metrical space – ⏑  – situated between the end of the first foot and the trochaic caesura (‖). As a rule, this space – ⏑  – allows interchange of its phraseology with phraseology in the space – ⏑  – situated between the bucolic diaeresis (‖) and absolute verse-final position (#). In fact, just such an interchange is attested for the phrase # (θέλξας) ὄσσε φαεινά ‖. A case in point is ‖ ὄσσε φαεινώ # in XIII 3, etc. (For the variation of innovative φαεινά vs. archaizing φαεινώ, I compare the use of ἧμιν before the trochaic caesura vs. ἡμῖν in absolute verse-final position, as discussed below under dialectology.) Given these formulaic connections between the word θέλγω and words for ‘eye(s)’, I argue that the system of traditional epic diction preserved the idea of ‘look’ originally inherent in the meaning of θέλγω.

II§85. At times the collocational patterns of a given word in epic may suggest an etymological connection with another Greek word, even without the additional aid of any comparative Indo-European evidence as in the case of θέλγω. An example is ἥρως. From the internal evidence of Greek, it is possible to compare the feminine proper names Πατρώ Μητρώ ‘Ηρώ with the masculine substantives πάτρως μήτρως ἥρως. [83] But beyond this point it is difficult to make further morphological {50|51} generalizations. In epic meter, the archaism of ἥρως is apparent from the highly restricted positional range of e.g. its nominative. Although the dactylic hexameter could have theoretically allowed eleven positions for this form, ἥρως is actually found in only three positions: (1) absolute verse-initial, (2) absolute verse-final, (3) paired with the preceding word γέρων, after the trochaic caesura. In one of these positions (2), there is an interesting precedent for substitution: whereas the formula αὐτὰρ ὅ γ᾽ ἥρως occurs after the bucolic diaeresis 7 times in the Homeric corpus, there is also one instance of αὐτὰρ ὄ γ᾽ Ἥρην (XXI 367) attested in the same metrical position. [84] According to one explanation, this formulaic interchange between Ἥρην and ἥρως was motivated by “l’association des sons.” [85] I argue that there is more to it. We may consider another instance of such substitution in absolute verse-final position: ἤγαγεν Ἥρη in V 731 vs. ἄγεν ἥρως in X 179; here too the explanation of “l’association des sons” could be invoked, but now we will see other instances of this association of ἥρως and ῞Ηρη that must have resulted from a deeper motivation. For example, the absolute verse-final ἤλυθεν ἥρως of iii 415 is matched by the common formula ἤλυθεν Ἠώς ‘dawn came’ of x 541, etc. To explain this match as a mere “sound-association” is an oversimplification, since there are attested further matchings that have nothing to do with sound-association, such as ἤλυθε μήτηρ ‘the mother came’ (VI 251) and ἤλυθεν ὄρνις ‘the bird came’ (VIII 251, xx 242) in the same metrical position. It is essential to note that there is a latent contextual link connecting these words Ἥρη, Ἠώς, μήτηρ, and ὄρνις:

II§86. In the passage from the Odyssey, the attributes of a hero are being conferred on Telemakhos by the goddess appearing as a bird. So also in the Iliad, Hera and Athena appear in a joint epiphany as birds for the sake of helping the Achaeans:

αἱ δὲ βάτην τρήρωσι πελειάσιν ἴθμαθ᾽ ὁμοῖαι,
ἀνδράσιν Ἀργείοισιν ἀλεξέμεναι μεμαυῖαι.

‘the two of them went, like fluttering doves,
eager to protect the Argive men.’

Iliad V 778–779

II§87. Thus even contextually as well as formulaically, the ἥρως is correlated with goddesses. And the fact that ῞Ηρη as the mother-goddess par excellence (even Athena is her surrogate: e.g. I 194–195), is included in these correlations with ἥρως now takes on a {51|52} formal significance, which is this: the language of epic betrays traces of an early period when the masculine configuration *hērōs was still synchronically motivated by a feminine *hērā. There may even be traces of stylistic juxtaposition, we see in these verses:

ἡρώων οἶσίν τε κοτέσσεται ὀβριμοπάτρη
Ἥρη δὲ μάστιγι θοῶς ἐπεμαίετ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἴππους.

Iliad V 747–748 = VIII 391–392

II§89. In view of these examples of establishing etymologies with the help of collocational evidence from archaic Greek poetry, it is important to add that collocational evidence from the archaic poetry of other Indo-European languages also occasionally helps settle the etymology of a Greek word. For instance, the derivation of νέκταρ ‘nectar’, a most ancient word owing its preservation in alphabetic Greek perhaps solely to its transmission in the language of epic, can be resolved only with reference to Vedic poetry. The central etymological problem in the word νέκταρ is the semantic connection between its components. There is little difficulty with the initial νεκ-: it is what Benveniste used to call “theme II” of the root, *h2nek– ‘death’, also seen in e.g. νεκ-ρός, νέκ-υς, νέκ-ες (·νεκροί: Hesychius), Latin nex, ē-nec-tus, nοxa, noceō, etc.; Hittite ḫenk-an ‘pestilence, death’ is an example of radical “theme I” *h2enk-. [88] As for the final segment -ταρ, however, Benveniste’s explanation in terms of a suffixal formation leads to semantic problems, since the Homeric contexts of νέκταρ / ἀμβροσία are associated not with death but with the negation of death. [89] Thieme proposed a solution to the problem: that -ταρ is not a suffix but rather the second constituent of a compound, from the root *tr̥h2– as seen in the Sanskrit verb tárati ‘overcome’: in terms of this proposal, the two components of this word would be reconstructed as *h2nek– and *trh2-, with prevocalic external sandhi-generalization of the zero-grade *trh2– into -ταρ. [90] The ideal corroboration of this proposed etymology would be the Indic attestation of a syntagma involving ‘death’ + *trh2– corresponding to νέκταρ, that is, corresponding to the Greek attestation of a compound originally motivated by this syntagma. Thieme could find no such combination in the Rig-Veda. [91] But his efforts were not in vain. Schmitt succeeded {52|53} in finding the combination in the Atharva-Veda. [92] In the refrain of a song of praise to the odaná-, the ‘rice-mess’ of the Brahmans, we read:

ténaudanénā́ti tarāṇi mṛtyúm
‘by that rice-mess let me overcome death’

Atharva-Veda 4.35.1d-6d

Likewise elsewhere in the same hymn:

yénā́taran bhūtakṛ́tó ‘ti mṛtyúm
‘by which [rice-mess] the being-makers overcame death’

Atharva-Veda 4.35.2a

Likewise in another source:

The Homeric word νέκταρ, then, is a faint vestige of a whole nexus of related ritualistic terminology stemming from the indogermanische Dichtersprache.

II§93. As a conclusion to the discussion of trends in Greek etymology, it seems appropriate to cite some perceptive comments from the preface to Chantraine’s dictionary (1968).


II§99. In the study of vocabulary, there has been some movement in the direction of internal investigation of word-formations and away from an earlier emphasis on Indo-European origins. {Representative of works about vocabulary which rely mainly on internal analysis are those of Fournier (1946), Laroche (1949), Trümpy (1950), Redard (1953), Chantraine (1956), van Brock (1959), Bader (1965), Corlu (1966), Casabona (1967), {54|55} Latacz (1967).}

II§105. Most relevant is the fact that the θεράπων par excellence in the Iliad is the hero Patroklos, who is killed wearing the armor of Achilles himself.

ὄφρ᾽ ἠὺς θεράπων Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
‘until the good therapōn of Achilles, son of Peleus’
(context: Zeus ponders the death of Patroklos = the therapōn)

Iliad XVI 653

τοίου γὰρ θεράπων πέφατ᾽ ἀνέρος, ὃς μέγ᾽ ἄριστος
‘killed was the therapōn of such a man who is by far the best’
(context: the Trojans ponder what to do with the corpse of Patroklos)

Iliad XVII 164

οὐδέ κε Πάτροκλόν περ ἐϋκνήμιδες Ἀχαιοὶ
ἐκ βελέων ἐρύσαντο νέκυν, θεράποντ᾽ Ἀχιλῆος

‘nor could they, well-greaved Achaeans though they were,
save from the missiles the corpse, the therapōn of Achilles’

Iliad XVIII 151–152

II§106. From the internal evidence of the Iliad itself and with an approach completely different from that of van Brock, Whitman (1958) has also noticed the same sort of surrogate-motif in the rôle of Patroklos, “who represents the human side of Achilles”; [111] “Achilles is indispensable, but Patroclus is dead.” [112] At the climactic moments of the onslaught of Patroklos who is taking the place of Achilles, even the epithet of Patroklos is switched from just the patronymic (Μενοιτιάδης) or qualifier (ἱππεύς ‘charioteer’) to the title δαίμονι ἶσος ‘equal to a god’ (XVI 705), even at the moment when Patroklos confronts Apollo himself (XVI 786), just before the god destroys him. Significantly, the epithet δαίμονι ἶσος is later applied to Achilles too (XX 447), whose onslaught is mirrored by the earlier onslaught of Patroklos. We can see in this mirroring a reference to an identity in rôles. [113] Whitman explains: [114]

There can be little doubt that the change in Patroclus’ character and characteristic epithets is not due simply to his presence in a battle scene. A kind of double image, as in surrealistic painting, is involved. Patroclus is playing the role of Achilles. For the moment, he has become Achilles, and acts much more like the great hero than like himself. When Achilles prays to Zeus for Patroclus’ safety, he seems to ask, indirectly, whether his friend can play his role adequately or not:

… Give him glory, far-sighted Zeus,
Strengthen the heart in his breast, even that Hector
May learn whether this companion of ours
Knows how to wage the war, or if only his hands
Rage resistless, when I myself go to the moil of Ares.

Iliad XVI 241–245

The actual Greek word for ‘companion’ in Whitman’s translation of XVI 243 is θεράπων.


II§109. There are also traces of actual Greek-Anatolian contacts to be found in Homeric poetry. A case in point is the following passage from the Odyssey:

τοῖος ἐὼν οἷός ποτ᾽ ἐϋκτιμένῃ, ἐνὶ Λέσβῳ
ἐξ ἔριδος Φιλομηλεΐδῃ ἐπάλαισεν ἀναστάς,
κὰδ᾽ δ᾽ ἔβαλε κρατερῶς, κεχάροντο δὲ πάντες Ἀχαιοί.

‘being such a man as the one who [i.e. Odysseus], in well-founded Lesbos,
in rivalry stood up and wrestled Philomeleides
and threw him down mightily, and all the Achaeans were glad.᾽

Odyssey iv 342–344 = xvii 133–135



II§113. {Here I mentioned the supplement to the ninth edition of the Greek-English Lexicon of Liddell and Scott (Barber et al. 1968); also the supplements of Renehan (1968); also the Lexilogus zu Homer by Bechtel (1914). As for the onomastic aspect of Greek, I mentioned the work of Bechtel on historical personal names (1917), of Strömberg on plant-names (1940), and of Risch on ethnika (1957).}

II§114. Under the rubric of lexicography we must also include the valuable research surviving from the ancient world; foremost is the Alexandrian lexicographical tradition, the prime exponent of which is a cumulative dictionary attributed to Hesychius.


II§117. ⊛Viewing the dialectal situation by starting from the earliest attested times and proceeding to later times, we can see three kinds of evidence:

  1. the attested texts of the Linear В tablets in the second half of the second millennium BCE. As we have seen, the Greek language as written in the Linear B script is conventionally called Mycenaean. {58|59}
  2. the attested texts of the first millennium BCE, written in distinct dialects. These dialects show distinctions that can be reconstructed as far back as the second millennium BCE. In terms of these distinctions, the prototypical dialects of the second millennium BCE are Arcado-Cypriote, Aeolic, Ionic (or, more broadly, Attic-Ionic), and Doric or West Greek. The term West Greek will be explained at a later point.
  3. archaic poetry, especially epic, as it evolved in the first millennium BCE.⊛

II§120. ⊛Of the three dialects that shape the diction of epic, which I have listed as Arcado-Cypriote, Aeolic, and Ionic, the Arcado-Cypriote component must have extended all the way back to the Mycenaean period in the second millennium BCE. Implicit in the term Arcado-Cypriote is a reconstruction of Arcadian and Cypriote, as they existed in the first millennium BCE, back to a common dialect that existed in the second millennium BCE. The term Arcado-Cypriote, as a unified heading, is apt. The Arcadian and the Cypriote dialects, as Chadwick points out, “display an astonishing similarity, for at the time they are recorded (fifth to fourth centuries [BCE]) they had certainly been out of touch for at least five centuries.” [127] And what would be the most apt term for the prototypcial Arcado-Cypriote that existed five or more centuries earlier? Arguably, that term would be Achaean (Ruijgh 1957; see also Janko 1992:11n10). Such a term evokes the idea of a prototypical cultural unity in the second millennium, when speakers of “Mycenaean” were most likely to have called themselves “Achaeans.” Unity was followed by fragmentation in the first millennium. By that time, Arcadian was an enclave-dialect, the only significant non-Doric dialect in the Peloponnesus, while Cypriote was a frontier-dialect, studiously archaizing and ostentatiously self-conscious of its Achaean legacy (the elites of this insular culture still retained the custom of chariot-fighting and the practice of syllabic writing, using a scribal system that is evidently cognate with the Linear A and Linear B systems).⊛

II§122. ◊I need to point out that the term West Greek, as Chadwick uses it here, corresponds to what I have been describing as Doric. I also need to point out that Chadwick, in studying the “mutual similarities” of Arcado-Cypriote, does not separate cases of shared innovation from cases of shared retention. I made this point only indirectly in the original 1972 version of my text. Now in 2008 I say it directly. As we will see later on, cases of shared innovation are more significant than cases of shared retention.◊

II§123. ◊Viewing Mycenaean Greek as a dialect, we encounter an important complication. As Risch (1968) has shown, the Greek of the Linear В script was written by scribes who spoke two different dialects. One of these dialects was the standard language—standard, that is, for the scribes—while the other was substandard. Making use of studies identifying individual scribes by way of their handwriting, Risch demonstrated that scribes who spoke the substandard dialect were inconsistent in the spelling of words that they pronounced differently from the scribes who spoke the standard dialect and who spelled such words consistently. In another work, I produced a detailed study of standard and substandard Mycenaean as reflected in the scribal hands at Pylos (Nagy 1968). More recently, the study of standard and substandard Mycenaean has been extended from the scribal hands at Pylos to the scribal hands at Knossos (Woodard 1986).◊

II§124. ◊I offer here a test case, with reference to this phonological rule: in standard Mycenaean, vocalic * becomes o next to a bilabial, while in substandard Mycenaean it becomes a. Here is an example: the common Greek word for ‘seed’, reconstructed as *spermṇ, becomes spermo in standard Mycenaean, spelled pe-mo in Linear B, while it becomes sperma in substandard Mycenaean, which can be spelled pe-ma in Linear B. I say “can be spelled” not “is spelled” because scribes who spoke the substandard dialect could be inconsistent in their spelling, writing either pe-mo or pe-ma in free variation, while only the scribes who spoke the standard dialect would consistently write pe-mo. I offer further analysis in my article on standard and substandard Mycenaean (Nagy 1968).◊

II§126. ◊I start with the second word, the verb ἁρμόττω (secondarily ἁρμόζω), which means ‘fit, join’ with reference to the work of a joiner, that is, of a master carpenter. We see here a parallel to a form we have already seen, which is standard Mycenaean spermo as opposed to the substandard Mycenaean sperma. The verb ἁρμόττω is derived from the standard Mycenaean form harmo ‘chariot-wheel’, spelled a-mo in the Linear B tablets. Just as the meaning of spermo / σπέρμα as ‘seed’ derives from its etymology as an action-noun *spermṇ, which refers to a ‘sowing’ and which in turn derives from the root of the verb attested as σπείρω ‘sow’ in alphabetic Greek, so also the meaning of harmo / ἅρμα as ‘chariot-wheel’ derives from its etymology as an action-noun *arsmṇ, which refers to a ‘fitting’ and which in turn derives from the root of the verb attested as ἀραρίσκω ‘fit, join’ in alphabetic Greek. Just as the meaning of spermo / σπέρμα shifts from the abstract sense of ‘sowing’ to the concrete sense of ‘seed’, so also the meaning of harmo shifts from the abstract sense of ‘fitting’ to the concrete sense of a ‘fitting’ for a chariot-frame: such a ‘fitting’ for a chariot-frame is the chariot-wheel itself (in Linear B tablets, the perfect participle ararmotmeno– of what becomes the verb ἁρμόττω ‘fit’ in alphabetic Greek refers to the fitting of wheels to a chariot-frame). Whereas the standard Mycenaean form harmo means ‘chariot-wheel’ in the Linear B tablets, the substandard form *harma survives in alphabetic Greek as ἅρμα, meaning ‘chariot’ (just as German Rad, which means ‘wheel’ etymologically, becomes the word for ‘bicycle’). A point of special interest here is the fact that even the Linear B scribes who are speakers of substandard Mycenaean consistently write a-mo and not *a-ma with reference to chariot-wheels. It appears that the speakers of the substandard dialect pay relatively closer attention to the standard spelling of words that have to do with social prestige.◊

II§128. ◊In my study of standard and substandard Mycenaean (Nagy 1968), I have analyzed examples of standard Mycenaean forms that follow this rule, which says that e is raised to i next to a bilabial. And I have also analyzed corresponding examples of substandard Mycenaean forms written by scribes who are inconsistent in spelling standard forms. In the case of the word hikkṷos ‘horse’, however, the Linear B scribes who are speakers of substandard Mycenaean consistently write i-qo and not *e-qo with reference to horses. As in the case of the word for ‘chariot-wheel’, it appears that the speakers of the substandard dialect pay relatively closer attention to the standard spelling of words that have to do with social prestige.◊

II§129. ◊Risch (1966) noted a surprising fact about the substandard dialectal forms stemming from the substandard dialect spoken by some of the scribes writing the Linear B script. The characteristics of this substandard dialect as it existed in the era of Linear B writing in the second millennium BCE are normally matched by the same characteristics in all the surviving dialects of the first millennium BCE. For example, all the attested dialects in the first millennium show the form σπέρμα, which as we have seen corresponds to the substandard Mycenaean form sperma, and none of them shows the form *σπέρμο, which would correspond to the standard Mycenaean form. It can be inferred, then, that the standard dialect of Mycenaean Greek become extinct with the collapse of Mycenaean civilization toward the end of the second millennium BCE.◊

II§131. ◊An analogous point can be made about the elite activity of scribal writing. It has to do with the noun διφθέρα / diptherā, meaning ‘leather, parchment’, which is derived from the verb δέψω / depsō in the sense of ‘tan’—as in the tanning of leather or parchment (cf. δέψα in the Suda, s.v.). The noun διφθέρα passes the phonological test of the standard Mycenaean dialect, showing the linguistic innovation of raising e to i next to a bilabial, whereas the corresponding verb δέψω fails the same test, with its original e left unraised.◊

II§133. ◊I argue, then, that the noun διφθέρα is a reflex of standard Mycenaean, referring to the elite activity of scribes writing on parchment, while the corresponding verb δέψω is a reflex of substandard Mycenaean, referring to the non-elite activity of tanners tanning hides—whether or not these hides ever become the parchment of scribes. The use of διφθέρα with reference to the parchment of elite scribes survives in the Cypriote word διφθεραλοιφός, which means literally ‘parchment-painter’. This word is preserved in the ancient dictionary attributed to Hesychius, where it is glossed as γραμματοδιδάσκαλος παρὰ Κυπρίοις ‘teacher of literacy, in Cypriote usage’ [literally, ‘teacher of letters, among Cypriotes’]. This word is relevant to my earlier statement about the studiously archaizing culture of the Cypriotes in the first millennium BCE: “the elites of this insular culture still retained the custom of chariot-fighting and the practice of syllabic writing, using a scribal system that is evidently cognate with the Linear A and Linear B systems.”◊

II§139. A good case can be made, on the other hand, for innovations shared by Mycenaean and Arcado-Cypriote to the exclusion of both Aeolic and Ionic. I offer two examples:

II§140. Although I am not certain about the validity of the first example, I am absolutely certain about the second. So I am ready to argue that Arcado-Cypriote is the only dialectal prototype, established by way of criteria stemming from the evidence of the alphabetic period, that shares exclusively its dialectal innovations with Mycenaean. In terms of this argument, Arcado-Cypriote is the dialectal prototype that comes closest to being identical with Mycenaean (for a similar view, see Lejeune 1968).

II§141. The one major dialectal innovation that Mycenaean shares with Attic-Ionic, that is, the assibilation of –ti to –si, is not decisive, since this innovation is not exclusively shared. The patterns of assibilation that we see being shared by Mycenaean and Attic-Ionic are shared also by Arcado-Cypriote (on the phonological and morphological conditioning of this assibilation, I have much more to say in Nagy 1968).

II§142. ⊛Still, at least in this respect, prototypical Attic-Ionic may be considered closer to Mycenaean than prototypical Aeolic, if the non-assibilation that we find in the dialect of Thessalian Pelasgiotis in the first millennium is really an archaism inherited from the prototypical Aeolic of the second millennium.⊛

II§143. ⊛Even if there was no assibilation in prototypical Aeolic, however, it would be going too far to infer that we can separate Aeolic from Mycenaean altogether—as if the distinction between Aeolic and Mycenaean could be situated at the same remote level of genealogy {60|61} as the distinction between Doric and Mycenaean. The distinction between Doric and Mycenaean is more basic, and the same can be said for the distinction between Doric and all the other dialects as attested in the first millennium BCE. The most basic distinction can be formulated in terms of West Greek and East Greek—if we define West Greek as Doric and East Greek as the common ancestor of Arcado-Cypriote, Attic-Ionic, and Mycenaean.⊛

II§147. For traces of non-assibilated -τι in Mycenaean and for possible dialectal implications, I refer to the detailed analysis in two works of my own (Nagy 1968, 1970).

II§149. In the end, I remain unpersuaded by the argument of Risch (1955) that the prototypical dialect of Attic-Ionic as it existed in the second millennium BCE had really been as close to Mycenaean as was the prototypical dialect of Arcado-Cypriote—or that Attic-Ionic had been even closer to Mycenaean than was Arcado-Cypriote. I invoke here a decisive formulation by Benveniste (1956b):

The most plausible conclusion, then, is that the prehistoric phases of Arcado-Cypriote, Aeolic, and Attic-Ionic were already differentiated in the late second millennium BCE, and that the dialect that comes closest to being identical with Mycenaean is the ancestral Arcado-Cypriote. {61|62} Still, it is unnecessary to posit complete identity, as Palmer points out:


II§151. I return to the question, posed earlier, concerning different dialectal phases of epic. From what we have seen so far, it is reasonable to infer that the earliest dialectal phase of epic is for all practical purposes the prototypical phase of Arcado-Cypriote in the second millennium BCE—as we reconstruct this phase on the basis of the attested phases of Arcadian and Cypriote in the first millennium BCE. But here we encounter once again the same difficulties we already encountered in looking for a direct affinity between the attested Mycenaean Greek of the Linear В texts and the prototypical counterpart that we reconstruct as Arcado-Cypriote: shared retention is of no probative value. Even if we succeed in detecting archaisms exclusively shared by the attested Greek of the Homeric corpus and by Arcado-Cypriote, which point to the Mycenaean origins of a given epic configuration, the question remains: what kind of Mycenaean Greek are we talking about? In confronting this question, we have to reckon with the possibility that whatever archaisms we detect might have been still extant in the prototypical Aeolic or Ionic coeval with the prototypical Arcado-Cypriote of the Mycenaean era. This possibility is most relevant because Aeolic and Ionic, in that chronological order, are the next two dialectal phases of epic after Arcado-Cypriote.

II§153. If it is true that Arcado-Cypriote represents the oldest dialectal phase of epic, it stands to reason that it will be difficult to find embedded in the formulaic system of Homeric diction any examples of innovations that are exclusive to Arcado-Cypriote. That is because Arcado-Cypriote represents not only the oldest dialectal phase of Homeric diction but also its oldest formulaic phase. And it is inherently difficult to glean new linguistic forms from old linguistic material embedded in old formulaic settings. Still, such gleaning is necessary because it is methodologically insufficient to identify a given epic form as Arcado-Cypriote simply because it is attested in Arcadian or Cypriote texts dating from the first millennium BCE.


II§154. Before we consider such embedded forms, I take this moment to note that I do not mean to underrate the importance of finding correspondences of attested Arcadian and Cypriote words with words attested in Homeric diction. Such correspondences are of interest because the very fact of attestation, either epigraphic or lexicographical, shows the archaism of both Arcadian and Cypriote. {62|63}

II§155. Especially important is the testimony of the Alexandrian lexicographical tradition as represented by a compendium known as the γλῶσσαι κατὰ πόλεις (on which see Latte 1924). As we see from this compendium, the aim of its compilers was to find residual epichoric attestations of poetic words long obsolescent in the general Greek-speaking world. For example, the Greeks of Clitor (Kleitorioi) in Arcadia are credited with the active usage of the following Homeric words that are no longer used in the living language of most other Greeks:

ἀῆται· ἄνεμοι (‘winds’)
αὐδή· φωνή (‘voice’)
δέδορκεν· ὁρᾷ (‘sees’)
ἔνεροι· vεκρoí (‘corpses’)
ἐσθλόν· ἀγαθόν (‘worthy’)
λεύσει· ὁρᾷ (‘sees’)
πάροιθεν· ἔμπροσθεν (‘in front’)
χηλός· κιβωτός (‘coffer’)
ὦκα· ταχέως (‘quickly’)
ὠλέναι· βραχίονες (‘arms’)

II§157. On linguistic grounds, yes, we may say that a Homeric form like αὐδή is traceable all the way back to the second millennium BCE. Evidently, it must be a very old form. Still, in terms of Homeric diction, it remains to be proved that Homeric αὐδή is a specifically Arcado-Cypriote form, to the exclusion of parallel forms that may have once existed in Aeolic or Ionic.


II§163. Here is an example. Besides the 50-odd Homeric cases of old athematic-stem ὦρτο (occurring for the most part immediately after the bucolic diaeresis), the three exceptional cases of innovative thematic-stem ὤρετο are all located immediately before the bucolic diaeresis (ΧΙΙ 279, XIV 397, XXII 102). In other words, the trochee-final archaism ὦρτο had undergone Verzerrung in the 4th foot, and this Verzerrung accommodates the innovation ὤρετο.

II§166. To sum up: the -ῆναι of the aorist passive seems formulaically older than -ήμεναι in both form and position. If therefore the pair-type φορήμεναι / φορήναι is modeled on the metrically-equivalent pair-type μιγήμεναι / μιγῆναι, we would expect the direction of motivation to be from φορῆναι to φορήμεναι, not the reverse. Furthermore, on the evidence of the metrically-equivalent aorist passive infinitives, the occurrence of all five forms καλήμεναι πενθήμεναι ποθήμεναι φιλήμεναι φορήμεναι exclusively before the bucolic diaeresis indicates that these forms are more innovative than the corresponding forms *καλῆναι *πενθῆναι *ποθῆναι *φιλῆναι φορῆναι; and the sole Homeric attestation of the fifth of these forms, φορῆναι, indicates that it is residual and old.

II§168. The third of these three collocations can best be understood by reading the relevant Homeric verses:

δῶκε δ᾽ ἄγειν ἑτάροισιν ὑπερθύμοισι γυναῖκα
καὶ τρίποδ᾽ ὠτώεντα φέρειν.

‘He gave to his very spirited comrades a woman to lead away
and a tripod (with handles) to carry.’

Iliad XXIII 512–513

II§169. ◊I offered further arguments in later work (Nagy 1994–1995) in support of my interpretation of Pylos tablet Tn 316.◊

II§172. I now turn to examples of pre-Aeolic morphology embedded in Homeric diction, which indicates an Arcado-Cypriote or Mycenaean phase in the evolution of this diction. Following Ruijgh (1957), we may prefer to call this pre-Aeolic phase simply the “Achaean” phase.

II§175. Let us now turn to the Ionic phase in the evolution of Homeric diction. In this phase, which is the setting for the consolidation of the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey as we know these epics, no form was available to level out either ἁ̄μός and ὑ̄μός or ἄμμες and ὔμμες.

II§176. This statement needs to be qualified: in preconsonantal position, ἄμμες and ὔμμες become metrically equivalent to ἡμεῖς and ὑ̄μεῖς, with the result that ἄμμες and ὔμμες are replaced by ἡμεῖς and ὑ̄μεῖς in these positions. So, ἄμμες and ὔμμες are found only in prevocalic position. Here is a further qualification: even where a current Ionic equivalent is available, a dialectal form may nonetheless elude leveling: a case in point is the survival of Aeolic absolute verse-final ἄμμι (e.g. ΧΙΙΙ 379), despite the fact that Ionic ἡμῖν (e.g. i 10) is a metrical equivalent.

II§177. What inhibits the leveling of ἄμμι by ἡμῖν in this case has to do with a common phraseological switch that we see operative in epic: the phraseology we find in the space – ⏑  – between the bucolic diaeresis and the end of the verse can switch into the space – ⏑  – immediately preceding the trochaic caesura, whenever the final syllable of – ⏑  – is short or can be shortened by hiatus. Now verse-final ἄμμι does not prevent this switch (hence ἄμμι before trochaic caesura in e.g. iii 140) whereas verse-final ἡμῖν does prevent it. To put it another way: the form ἡμῖν, when it comes at the end of an expression that fits into the space – ⏑  – between the bucolic diaeresis and the end of the verse, makes it impossible for that expression to shift into the space – ⏑  – before the trochaic caesura. There was a way out, however, if ἡμῖν is replaced by the artificial Ionic form ἦμιν, which we find only before the trochaic caesura (XVII 415, 417; viii 569 = xiii 177; x 563; xi 344; xvii 376; {66|67} xx 272). We may compare also the pair ὄσσε φαεινώ in verse-final position (as in XIII 3) vs. ὄσσε φαεινά before the trochaic caesura (as in XIII 435). In sum, dialectal leveling is sporadic and unpredictable where the grammatical or metrical conditioning is ambiguous.

II§178. Conversely, dialectal leveling is predictable where the grammatical and metrical conditions are themselves equally predictable. For example, let us consider the ᾱ of the frequent Homeric form θυρά̄ων vs. θύρῃσι and θύρηφι. Since inherited Ionic η pervades the paradigm, we begin by assuming that ᾱ survives in θυρά̄ων for the simple reason that Ionic had no corresponding *θυρήων to level it out. And yet, *θυρήων must have once existed in prehistoric Ionic as well, since it is the formal ancestor of native Ionic θυρέων, which is shaped ⏑  – at XXI 191 and which is ultimately contracted into θυρῶν, as we see from the scansion – of θυρέων at xxi 47. But there is still a question: in the metrical space ––, why is the corresponding form a non-Ionic θυρά̄ων and not Ionic *θυρήων? The answer must be this: so long as the phonological mechanism of quantitative / qualitative metathesis (-ηω- > -εω-) was operative in Ionic, the poetic tradition in its Ionic phase rejected the combination -ηω- because of the automatic phonological conversion of -ηω- into -εω- in the natural language. So the only way to fill the inherited position that could no longer be filled by -ηω- was to admit the non-Ionic and metrically equivalent –ᾱω-. This form was probably Aeolic: we may compare the paradigmatically-restored ᾱ of genitive plural –ᾱων, still attested in Thessalian. In general, we see in the Ionic phase of epic a failure to level out ᾱ with η in the genitive plural. To show the extent of the pre-Ionic underpinnings of epic, we note that the older non-Ionic form τά̄ων is more than twice as frequent as the Ionic τῶν. [176] As for the nominative / vocative θεά̄ (e.g. I 1), Ionic failed to level it out with θεή—partly because the Ionic word for ‘goddess’ was (ἡ) θεός.

II§182. The artificial poetic mechanism of Dehnungsgesetz, discussed earlier under the subsection phonology, can serve as a valuable analytic tool in distinguishing Ionic from generally pre-Ionic dialectal phases of epic. One Attic-Ionic phonological process to be tested is the prehistoric split from one long-e and one long-o into two each, featuring a new opposition of open vs. closed, that is, ę̄ / ǭ vs. ẹ̄ / ọ̄, spelled η / ω vs. ει / ου in the standard post-Euclidian Attic alphabet. Configurations with ę̄ / ǭ correspond etymologically to the / inherited from Indo-European, while those with ẹ̄ / ọ̄ are new creations from a dialectal phase of Greek.

II§184. It is also to be expected that, after the period of split long-e and long-o in Attic-Ionic, the artificial Dehnungsgesetz of epic should produce ẹ̄ / ọ̄ from a spoken e / o in the initial syllable of a word. Here are examples: εἱᾰνός (XVI 9) vs. ἐᾰνός ‘fine robe’ (XXI 507, etc.), οὔνομα (vi 194, etc.) vs. ὄνομα ‘name’ (ix 16, etc.). Again we may apply this methodological principle: configurations with morphological mechanisms that had become extinct in Ionic may optionally be preserved by epic in their non-Ionic form, even when an Ionic metrical equivalent is available. For example, besides the common ου-Dehnung of the type οὐλόμενος ‘accursed’ in x 394, etc., we find such rare examples of ω-Dehnung as ὠλεσίκαρποι ‘losing their fruit’, epithet of ἰτέαι ‘willows’ in x 510. Since the compound-formant ὀλεσι- is actually attested in Ionic poetry (ὀλεσ-ήνορας ‘man-destroying’ in Theognis 399, ὀλεσί-θηρος ‘beast-slaying’ in Euripides Phoenician Women 664), we cannot assume that it was unfamiliar to the earlier Ionic tradition. One other possible reason, then, for a constraint against reshaping ὠλεσι- into οὐλεσι- remains: ὠλεσι- could have prevailed by virtue of its provenience from the prestigious tradition of another dialect where no split in long-e and long-o has occurred. Both Aeolic and (apparently) Arcado-Cypriote are such dialects. [183] As for βωτι-ανείρῃ ‘nurse of heroes, man-feeding’ (I 155; vs. βόσι-ν ‘feeding’ in XXI 268), its non-Ionic ω-Dehnung is also relevant from the standpoint of the region for which it serves as epithet. That region is Phthia, homeland of Achilles. The absence of assibilation in the -τι- of βωτι- is also dialectally significant. [184]

II§186. The traditional language of Aeolic poetry has extended the mechanism of Dehnungsgesetz even further by annexing another artificial mechanism of metrical lengthening: –CV ‖ + R– = -CVRR– (where R stands for sonorant, ‖ for word-break). The precedent for the metrical lengthening of spoken R into RR here was set by the etymologically valid making of position by prehistoric *sR, which became RR in Aeolic. [188] For example, the *sn– in the root *sneigwh– is reflected in ἀγά-ννιφος ‘snowy’ (I 420, etc.) and in the underlying νν- of ὄρεϊ νιφόεντι (⏑  – ⏑  – ) ‘on the snowy mountain’ (ΧΙΙΙ 754). We have already observed in the discussion of epic in Part I that the metrical precedent of word-initial RR– for spoken R– becomes extended beyond its etymological confines, as we see from the underlying νν- in ἅμά δὲ νέφος (⏑  – ⏑ ) ‘and at the same time, a cloud’ (IV 274), even though ν- here had never been *sn-. As for the adaptation of the poetic mechanism -CV ‖ + R– = –CVRR– to the poetic mechanism of Dehnungsgesetz, it involved simply the re-adjustment of word-boundary: –C ‖ + VR– = –CV ̄ RR-, equivalent to Ionic –C ‖ + VR– = –CV ̄ R-. As an example of the Aeolic extension of Dehnungsgesetz, I cite ἐννοσί-γαιος ‘earth-shaker’ (XIII 43, etc.) vs. ἐνοσί-χθων ‘earth-shaker’ (VII 445, etc.) and ἔνοσι-ς ‘shaking, quake’ (e.g. Hesiod Theogony 681, 849).

II§187. Meanwhile, the more simple Ionic mechanism of Dehnungsgesetz produces an εἰνοσι- corresponding to the Aeolic ἐννοσι-, and the former has actually ousted the latter in the epic epithet εἰνοσί-φυλλος ‘with quivering foliage’ (II 632, etc.), vs. the residual ἐννοσί-φυλλος in Simonides 595.1 (epithet for ἀήτα: cf. the Clitorian gloss ἀῆται· ἄνεμοι, as mentioned above). But as for ἐννεσίη ‘suggestion’, found only as dative plural ἐννεσίῃσι(ν) in epic (V 894, etc.), its synchronic morphological motivation (*ἐνεσίη from ἐν-ίημι as ἐξεσίη ‘embassy’ from ἐξ-ίημι) became defunct. [189] In fact, it became defunct so early that the Aeolic ἐνν- could resist displacement by an equivalent Ionic εἰν- (as in Hesychius: εἰνεσίαι· ἐπιστολαί ‘orders’), simply because *ἐνεσίη could not be intuited automatically on the basis of ἐννεσίη. Even beyond the mechanism of Dehnungsgesetz, the Ιonic / Aeolic contrast -εινV– / -εννV– in epic is also apparent on a lexical level, as in the adjectivization of es-stem nouns (type γέν-ος, φά-ος) into *-es-nos > Ionic -εινος (type φαεινός ‘bright’) vs. Aeolic -εννος (type φάεννος ‘bright’). Since the morphological motivation of -εινος / -εννος by -ος is synchronically moribund in the attested periods of both Ionic and Aeolic, the leveling-out of substratal Aeolic forms {69|70} with -εννος can occur only where a corresponding form with -εινος has still survived in Ionic. For example, we see the loss of *φαεννος and *ἀλγεννος to attested Homeric φαεινός and ἀλγεινός, vs. the retention of -εννος in the formula ἐρεβεννὴ νύξ ‘dark night’ (V 659, etc.): “c’est que l’adjectif dérivé de ἔρεβος n’existait pas en ionien.” [190]



[ back ] 1. In the case of intervocalic –-, the decipherment of Linear B forces a reassessment of what is said by Meillet 1935/1965:22–24.

[ back ] 2. See the remarks of Blanc 2008:79n98, who disagrees with the approach of Wyatt 1969.

[ back ] 3. Kuryłowicz 1956:264–272, 276–285.

[ back ] 4. For a possible parallel, see Meister 1921:14.

[ back ] 5. Kuryłowicz 1956:284.

[ back ] 6. Parry 1934:132.

[ back ] 7. Meillet 1935/1965:160.

[ back ] 8. Parry 1934:131.

[ back ] 9. Parry 1934:136–137.

[ back ] 10. Parry 1934:138. Relevant in Lejeune’s Traité (1955) is a valuable index analytique (345–362), with such important rubrics as chronologie absolue (350) and chronologie relative (350–351).

[ back ] 11. Lejeune 1955:59 and Dow 1967. Though I concede that an immediate succession of two aspirated stops is not typologically impossible (Allen 1968a:24–26), the κ in compromise-spellings like <δεδοκχθαι> suggests that aspiration is not the assimilating feature here (Dow 1967:220–221).

[ back ] 12. Buck 1955:190.

[ back ] 13. Buck 1955:28–30.

[ back ] 14. Gelb 1963:181–183; for a more specific study using similar methodological principles, see Einarson 1967.

[ back ] 15. For typological commentary on the limitations of a syllabary like Linear В in representing Greek, see Householder 1964 and Cowgill 1966:83–84n21. For an illuminating inquiry into the linguistic background of the Linear В script, see Lejeune 1966.

[ back ] 16. I have already discussed stress in Part I, with specific reference to Allen 1966.

[ back ] 17. See especially Kuryłowicz 1958:106–113.

[ back ] 18. See Allen 1967:46–47, raising the question of syntactic leveling.

[ back ] 19. Allen 1968b:306.

[ back ] 20. Lejeune 1955:79–81.

[ back ] 21. Lejeune 1955:81. The relevance of such morphological restructuring to the language of Linear Β is discussed by Lejeune in the sub-article “Restauration analogique de la sifflante intervocalique” in “Notes de morphologie mycénienne” (1965:1–7).

[ back ] 22. Schwyzer 1939:405–406.

[ back ] 23. Schwyzer 1939:534–535.

[ back ] 24. Kuryłowicz 1945/1949:169.

[ back ] 25. Watkins 1962c:16–17.

[ back ] 26. On this function see Watkins 1962a:113–15, 1962c:13–16; Kiparsky 1968:45.

[ back ] 27. On Greek heteroclitics specifically, see Egli 1954.

[ back ] 28. Kastner 1967:131–132.

[ back ] 29. Cf. Pagliaro 1961:114n16 and Schmitt 1967:111n678.

[ back ] 32. Kiparsky 1968:44.

[ back ] 33. For the concept of deep structure, see Chomsky 1965:16–18.

[ back ] 34. Kiparsky 1968:48.

[ back ] 35. Smyth 1963:429.

[ back ] 36. Smyth 1963:431.

[ back ] 37. Kiparsky 1968:54–55.

[ back ] 38. Wackernagel 1926:7.

[ back ] 39. Benveniste 1946/1966; cf. also 1956a/1966, 1958/1966.

[ back ] 40. Watkins 1962a:90–96.

[ back ] 41. Cf. Thumb 1910/1964:170–171.

[ back ] 42. Löfstedt 1956a and 1956b (especially 1956a:xiii-xxv).

[ back ] 43. Wackernagel 1926:113.

[ back ] 44. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:6n4.

[ back ] 45. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:9–10.

[ back ] 46. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:10.

[ back ] 47. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:12.

[ back ] 48. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:12.

[ back ] 49. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:17.

[ back ] 50. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:20–21.

[ back ] 51. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:21.

[ back ] 52. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:23.

[ back ] 53. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:23n1.

[ back ] 54. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:21n8.

[ back ] 55. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:21n11.

[ back ] 56. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:24.

[ back ] 57. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:24.

[ back ] 58. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:24.

[ back ] 59. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:56.

[ back ] 60. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:61.

[ back ] 61. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:61n2.

[ back ] 62. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:59.

[ back ] 63. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:67.

[ back ] 64. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:67.

[ back ] 65. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:70.

[ back ] 66. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:71.

[ back ] 67. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:81.

[ back ] 68. Chomsky 1965:136, 198–199.

[ back ] 69. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:90.

[ back ] 70. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:90.

[ back ] 71. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:100.

[ back ] 72. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:119.

[ back ] 73. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:138.

[ back ] 74. Schwyzer/Debrunner 1950:139.

[ back ] 75. Benveniste 1954/1966:289.

[ back ] 76. Benveniste 1954/1966:296.

[ back ] 77. Benveniste 1954/1966:297–298.

[ back ] 78. Frisk GEW II 579.

[ back ] 79. Benveniste 1954/1966:298.

[ back ] 80. Cf. Palmer 1950, 1956; also Chantraine 1968:284.

[ back ] 81. Cf. Frisk GEW I 659.

[ back ] 82. See the previous note.

[ back ] 83. Schulze 1966/1885:50.

[ back ] 84. Ruijgh 1957:37–38.

[ back ] 85. Ruijgh 1957:38.

[ back ] 86. Nilsson 1921:13–14.

[ back ] 87. Nilsson 1921:16.

[ back ] 88. The terms “theme I” and “theme II” stem from Benveniste 1935:155.

[ back ] 89. Benveniste 1935:18.

[ back ] 90. Thieme 1952a:5–6.

[ back ] 91. Thieme 1952a:15.

[ back ] 92. Schmitt 1961:88.

[ back ] 93. Schmitt 1967:190n1131.

[ back ] 94. Palmer 1963a:90–91.

[ back ] 95. Forbes 1958:180.

[ back ] 96. Forbes 1958:180.

[ back ] 97. Forbes 1958:182.

[ back ] 98. Forbes 1958:182.

[ back ] 99. Forbes 1958:180.

[ back ] 100. Chantraine 1968:vii.

[ back ] 101. Chantraine 1968:viii.

[ back ] 102. Chantraine 1968:ix.

[ back ] 103. Chantraine 1968:ix.

[ back ] 104. Chantraine 1968:vii-viii.

[ back ] 105. Benveniste 1951/1966:316–317.

[ back ] 106. Havers 1946:51 and Benveniste 1949/1966:311.

[ back ] 107. Benveniste 1962:126–131.

[ back ] 108. van Brock 1959:119.

[ back ] 109. van Brock 1959:125ff.

[ back ] 110. Janko 1992:339.

[ back ] 111. Whitman 1958:136.

[ back ] 112. Whitman 1958:137.

[ back ] 113. Whitman 1958:345n50.

[ back ] 114. Whitman 1958:200.

[ back ] 115. Cf. Frisk GEW I 124–5.

[ back ] 116. Whitman 1958:201–202.

[ back ] 117. Keilschrifturkunden aus Boghazköi XIX 5 Vs 8; brief discussion in Page 1959:24n4.

[ back ] 118. For a collection of arguments for the existence of Hittite/Greek contacts, supplemented with bibliography presenting the opposing arguments as well, see Harmatta 1968.

[ back ] 119. Benveniste 1964:34.

[ back ] 120. On the ordinals, see Benveniste 1948:114–168; for more on the syntax of the ordinal, with significant Greek examples included, see Watkins 1965:287–297.

[ back ] 121. See especially Latte 1924:143.

[ back ] 122. Cf. Hofmann 1950:86 and Risch 1954a:184.

[ back ] 123. On the probative value of shared innovation vs. shared retention, see especially Adrados 1952.

[ back ] 124. Meillet 1935/1965:183.

[ back ] 125. See especially Horrocks 1997:214.

[ back ] 126. See especially Wachter 2000:64n4.

[ back ] 127. Chadwick 1963:9.

[ back ] 128. Chadwick 1963:9. For a list of correspondences linking “Mycenaean” and Arcado-Cypriote, see Vilborg 1960:20–21. For a list of correspondences linking Arcadian and Cypriote, see Vilborg 1960:22–23.

[ back ] 129. Risch 1966:157.

[ back ] 130. Risch 1966:150.

[ back ] 131. Risch 1966:157.

[ back ] 132. Weingarten 1983.

[ back ] 133. Vilborg 1960:21.

[ back ] 134. Vilborg 1960:21–22.

[ back ] 135. Palmer 1963b:60–64.

[ back ] 136. Risch 1955:70–71.

[ back ] 137. Cf. Buck 1955:152; also Thumb and Scherer 1959:18.

[ back ] 138. For the list, see again Vilborg 1960:21–22.

[ back ] 144. Buck 1955:7.

[ back ] 145. Buck 1955:154.

[ back ] 146. Risch 1955:70–71.

[ back ] 147. Cowgill 1968:182.

[ back ] 148. Buck 1955:147.

[ back ] 149. Ruipérez 1955:166–167, in disagreement with Risch 1955:72.

[ back ] 150. Benveniste 1956b:263.

[ back ] 151. Palmer 1963b:61.

[ back ] 152. Kiechle 1960.

[ back ] 153. Kiechle 1962.

[ back ] 154. For references to such attempts, see Risch 1958:91n1; also Cowgill 1966:86.

[ back ] 155. As we see from the scholia for Apollonius of Rhodes 2.1005; cf. Latte 1924:151–152.

[ back ] 156. Cf. Ruijgh 1957:68.

[ back ] 157. Ruijgh 1957.

[ back ] 158. Risch 1958.

[ back ] 159. For the form, see Bechtel 1921:360.

[ back ] 160. For the form, see Masson 1961:284.

[ back ] 161. Risch 1958:92.

[ back ] 162. Chantraine 1958:306.

[ back ] 163. On this tendency, see Meister 1921:10–27.

[ back ] 164. For an analysis of this innovation, see Palmer 1963a:83–84.

[ back ] 165. Cf. Meister 1921:18.

[ back ] 166. Chantraine 1958:488.

[ back ] 167. For an analysis of the whole text, see Ventris and Chadwick 1956:285.

[ back ] 168. Risch 1966:157.

[ back ] 169. Cf. Frisk GEW II 509; also already Hamp 1960:200. See now Janko 1992:303.

[ back ] 170. For commentary on the morphological variants, see Szemerényi 1966:34.

[ back ] 171. Cf. Chantraine 1958:507–508.

[ back ] 172. Cf. Thumb and Scherer 1959:113, 126.

[ back ] 173. Ruijgh 1957:7.

[ back ] 174. Here I disagree with Meillet 1935/1965:173.

[ back ] 175. Further discussion in Nagy 1970:120–122.

[ back ] 176. Meillet 1935/1965:171.

[ back ] 177. Meister 1921:170.

[ back ] 178. Meister 1921:164.

[ back ] 179. Cf. Hoekstra 1957:202.

[ back ] 180. Cf. Meister 1921:168–169.

[ back ] 181. Cf. also Frisk GEW I 721–722.

[ back ] 182. Allen 1968a:84–85.

[ back ] 183. Cf. Buck 1955:28–29.

[ back ] 184. Further discussion in Nagy 1970:150–151.

[ back ] 185. This formulation is different from the one offered by Palmer 1963a:89.

[ back ] 186. Cf. Meister 1921:256.

[ back ] 187. Cf. Coleman 1963:89–90.

[ back ] 188. Cf. Chantraine 1958:173–178.

[ back ] 189. Risch 1937:115.

[ back ] 190. Meillet 1935/1965:172.

[ back ] 191. Cf. e.g. Palmer 1963a:105–106 and 175.

[ back ] 192. Morpurgo-Davies 1964:157n2.

[ back ] 193. For a particularly useful bibliographical summary of source-material, see Thumb and Kieckers 1932:13–47 (“Die Quellen der griechischen Dialekte. Literarische Hilfsmittel”).

[ back ] 194. Cowgill 1966:78. By “tribal” boundaries, Cowgill has in mind the boundaries that separate, say, Dorians from Aeolians from Ionians.

[ back ] 195. Convenient summary by Coleman 1968:169–170.