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Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

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Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby huilen » Fri Mar 28, 2014 2:59 pm

I have some recurrent doubts that I would try to illustrate with the last that I read from Odyssey 6. 223-237.

Many times I see the imperfect when I would use the aorist. Here is an example:

αὐτὰρ ὁ ἐκ ποταμοῦ χρόα νίζετο δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς
ἅλμην, ἥ οἱ νῶτα καὶ εὐρέας ἄμπεχεν ὤμους·
ἐκκεφαλῆς δ´ ἔσμηχεν ἁλὸς χνόον ἀτρυγέτοιο.


Then he changes to the aorist again. I should understand it as a vivid description of what he was doing at certain moments?

Here is another example of this:

ἔζετ´ ἔπειτ´ ἀπάνευθε κιὼν ἐπὶ θίνα θαλάσσης,
κάλλει καὶ χάρισι στίλβων· θηείτο δὲ κούρη.


--


Another thing that always have confused me from the beginning is why the perfect and the pluperfect are so rarely (in opossition to the imperfect and the aorist). Many times when I would use in English "have" or "had", I see that Homer uses the imperfect or the aorist. Here is an example:

ἄμφι δὲ εἵματα ἕσσαθ´ ἅ οἱ πόρε παρθένος ἀδμής,


In english I would say: he put on the clothes that the unwedded maiden had given to him.

--

Here is another doubt about voice:
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ πάντα λοέσσατο καὶ λίπ´ ἄλειψεν,


Why is not ἄλειψεν in the middle too? Is it because is understood that it is his own body?

--

And the last doubt, if there is one:

I understand the conjuntion αὐτὰρ as a contrastive one, but I don't see which is the contrast that the conjuntion is introducing here. I have already had this doubt many times too, and I am always inclined to translate it as "then". It would be right?

αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ πάντα λοέσσατο καὶ λίπ´ ἄλειψεν,


αὐτὰρ ὁ ἐκ ποταμοῦ χρόα νίζετο δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby Qimmik » Fri Mar 28, 2014 8:32 pm

To answer one of your questions, here is what Smyth has to say about the pluperfect:

PLUPERFECT
[*] 1952. The pluperfect is the past of the perfect, hence it denotes a past fixed state resulting from a completed action: ἐβεβουλεύμην I had (was) resolved.

* * *

[*] 1954. In subordinate clauses the pluperfect is rarely used to mark an action as anterior to an action already past: ““ἦλθον οἱ Ἰνδοὶ ἐκ τῶν πολεμίων οὓς ἐπεπόμφει Κῦρος ἐπὶ κατασκοπήν” the Indians returned whom Cyrus had sent to get news of the enemy” X. C. 6.2.9. The aorist is usually employed (1943, 1944 b).
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:34 pm

huilen wrote:Many times I see the imperfect when I would use the aorist.

That's a difficult question, and we had a very long discussion on a related question on this subject on another thread ("Odyssey - Book II - Use of imperfect")

αὐτὰρ ὁ ἐκ ποταμοῦ χρόα νίζετο δῖος Ὀδυσσεὺς
ἅλμην, ἥ οἱ νῶτα καὶ εὐρέας ἄμπεχεν ὤμους,
ἐκ κεφαλῆς δ᾽ ἔσμηχεν ἁλὸς χνόον ἀτρυγέτοιο.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ πάντα λοέσσατο καὶ λίπ᾽ ἄλειψεν,
ἀμφὶ δὲ εἵματα ἕσσαθ᾽ ἅ οἱ πόρε παρθένος ἀδμής.

Basically, I think imperfects are used here because they describe a process (or perhaps the beginning of a process), while the aorists are punctual, simple events, which the narrator visualises as single wholes. So if I had to hazard an English translation, for the imperfects it would be νίζετο "started washing", ἔσμηχεν "started wiping" (note that ἄμπεχεν is different), while the aorists would be λοέσσατο "washed", ἄλειψεν "anointed" and ἕσσαθ᾽ "put on". Something like that. I don't know if the others here agree (like I said, we had a very long debate in the other thread), but like you say I think some sort of contrast between the imperfects and the more vivid aorists is intended.
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:41 pm

huilen wrote:I understand the conjuntion αὐτὰρ as a contrastive one, but I don't see which is the contrast that the conjuntion is introducing here.

I think quite often αὐτὰρ just introduces what happens next without much of a contrast; it's not always contrastive.

http://www.tlg.uci.edu/cunliffe/#eid=15 ... rom-search

(For Homer, Cunliffe's Homer Lexicon is much better and easier to use than LSJ, I strongly recommend to switch to using it)
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby Qimmik » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:18 pm

This is a link to the earlier thread on impf. vs. aor.

http://www.textkit.com/greek-latin-forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=42676

The comments by mwh towards the end are particularly insightful.

I think there are similar questions as to the choice of active vs. middle vs. passive. Metrical convenience sometimes must play a role in these choices. Also, I suspect certain verbs have a preference for one voice or another, regardless of semantics.
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby huilen » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:29 pm

[*] 1954. In subordinate clauses the pluperfect is rarely used to mark an action as anterior to an action already past:

I think this answers my question, because now I see that it was always in subordinate clauses where I have doubted.

(For Homer, Cunliffe's Homer Lexicon is much better and easier to use than LSJ, I strongly recommend to switch to using it)

Thanks Paul, for the tip. I'll start to use it, I see is much more concisse for what I need it.

That's a difficult question, and we had a very long discussion on a related question on this subject on another thread ("Odyssey - Book II - Use of imperfect")

Oh, that's great, I will check it out.
viewtopic.php?t=42676
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:36 pm

huilen, is Spanish your native language? Is Greek aorist vs. imperfect comparable to Spanish preterit vs. imperfect? I don't know Spanish, but I'm asking because there is some similarity in my opinion between the corresponding tenses in French.
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby huilen » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:23 am

Sí señor :), that's right. I have not read the other thread yet, but I want just to say that it is good your observation, all the time I was indeed implicitly comparing the Greek aorist-imperfect with the Spanish preterit-imperfect. In Spanish, there is an aspectual distinction (perfective/imperfective) between the preterit and the imperfect.
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby huilen » Sat Mar 29, 2014 6:15 pm

I have been reading that remarkable thread, I liked it very much, you should put threads like that one in some special section in the web site. I will need more time to read it again carefully and go through all the passages that you cited with ὄρνυμι, and to check out also the book of Aspect and Actionality of Maria Napoli.
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:21 am

Maria Napoli's book is pretty hard-core linguistic stuff. If you just want learn to read Homer, I think there are much more effective ways to spend time than reading that. I can't really recommend the book unless you have a general interest in linguistics and some understanding of the subject already.
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby Markos » Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:11 pm

huilen wrote:
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ πάντα λοέσσατο καὶ λίπ´ ἄλειψεν,

Why is not ἄλειψεν in the middle too?

That's a good question as far as it goes. LSJ says about the verb what one would expect: "Act. referring to another, Med. to oneself." We know that Homer quite often uses a verb in the middle where we would expect the active, with no apparent change in meaning, presumably for metrics/euphony. Here we may have an example of the inverse.
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby Paul Derouda » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:03 pm

I agree, I think this case is somewhat abnormal. Probably it's there just because ἀλείψατο doesn't fit the meter. I checked Cunliffe, this is the only instance of this verb in Homer where it's not in the active when referring to another and in the medium when referring to oneself.

http://www.tlg.uci.edu/cunliffe/#eid=42 ... rom-search
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby huilen » Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:01 pm

αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ πάντα λοέσσατο καὶ λίπ´ ἄλειψεν,

I suppose there is not such thing like "transfering" the voice of one verb to another very close?

Maria Napoli's book is pretty hard-core linguistic stuff. If you just want learn to read Homer, I think there are much more effective ways to spend time than reading that. I can't really recommend the book unless you have a general interest in linguistics and some understanding of the subject already.

Yes, thanks god I have reconsidered it :) I will just move on, and may be it could be a good exercise, when I finish Book 6, to read it again looking for imperfects/aorists.
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Re: Some doubts with Odyssey 6. 223-237

Postby Paul Derouda » Tue Apr 01, 2014 9:29 pm

huilen wrote:
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ πάντα λοέσσατο καὶ λίπ´ ἄλειψεν,

I suppose there is not such thing like "transfering" the voice of one verb to another very close?

I don't think that's really possible... Anyway, the active means "I anointed with oil" and the medium would mean "I anointed myself with oil". Perhaps it is a bit too bold to say what Homer should have said, but I think the middle would have been better style, but Homer didn't think the active was bad enough to prevent him from using it when the metre calls for it. If Spanish speakers are at all like the French, they too probably speak "bad Spanish" from time to time in casual conversation and don't use reflexive verbs always when they should.
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