Qimmik wrote:Almost any verb in a narrative belongs to a series of actions except the last.
Yes, exactly. But according to my theory, that's exactly the situation where you'd expect
to find imperfects. If you could find an imperfect used of a punctual action that didn't belong to a series of actions/events, that would sort of disprove this theory...
And getting out of bed is almost always the beginning of a sequence leading to something else; yet we find the aorist in Od. 8.3.
Precisely: Alkinoos gets up at 8.2 with an imperfect, thus "setting the scene", and at 8.3 Odysseus "rounds off" the sequence with an aorist.
In Il. 23.131 ff. we find imperfects and aorists intermingled promiscuously.
This is a difficult one. εἵπετο and φέρον seem to be just "basic" durative imperfects "were following", "were bearing". It seems to me that ὄρνυντο and ἔδυνον both are punctual actions, and the imperfects anticipate aorist ἔβαν on the next line.
To reach a conclusion about this, wouldn't it be necessary to examine passages where characters get out of bed or get up in the aorist -- including verbs other than ὄρνυμι -- as well as other activities, too?
I said earlier that doing this properly would amount to the equivalent of a doctoral thesis... I've gone through the 15 first cases of ὦρτο in the Iliad myself, I'll post about these sometime...
For now, a couple of important parallels:
1) Speech introductions often take the imperfect. In Chantraine's words (GH II, p. 192) "la considération des paroles qui vont suivre entraine l'emploi d'un thême duratif" ("the consideration of the following words triggers the use of a durative theme"). E.g. Il 1.385 and a zillion others. Remark that the common imperfects at the ends of speeches, ὣς ἔφατ᾽ etc., are different, they are durative in the usual sense of the word and could be translated "that's what he was saying
" or the like.
2) "Verbs denoting the idea of an order, a mission, a message are used in the imperfect because they imply an effort and are the starting point of a development" (Chantraine). E.g. Il. 3.116 (ἔπεμπε), 5.199, 5.198, 7.427.
3) To me it seems typical that the casting of a missile or the shot of an arrow takes the imperfect, and when it hits, the aorist is used. E.g. Il 3.346 ff.:
πρόσθε δ᾽ Ἀλέξανδρος προΐει
Ἀτρεΐδαο κατ᾽ ἀσπίδα πάντοσε ἴσην,
οὐδ᾽ ἔρρηξεν χαλκός, ἀνεγνάμφθη δέ οἱ αἰχμὴ
ἀσπίδ᾽ ἐνὶ κρατερῇ: ὃ δὲ δεύτερον ὄρνυτο χαλκῷ...
Didn't find this in any grammar book and didn't go through all the instances myself, but this seems to be a pattern.
It seems to me that in all or most of these instances, the imperfect isn't compulsory and the aorist could be used as well. The point is that the imperfect situates the action in the context of the following actions. Sometimes the aorist is used in seemingly similar cases; only in those cases the poet has chooses to see the action as a more bounded whole (and perhaps also the aorist often situates the action as a response to/consequence of preceding
actions). So finding an aorist in a situation where these imperfects are used doesn't disproove this theory, since aorists are used of punctual actions more or less by default
. What would disproove this theory would be finding an imperfect used of a punctual action outside
of this kind of setting.