“The looser went out to loose.”
A Story to help internalize Greek verb forms
By Mark Lightman
Τὴν δ’ ἐγὼ οὐ λύσω
“I’m not gonna loose her.” Iliad 1:29
Cast of Characters:
ὁ λύων a warrior who sacked a city and took a woman prisoner.
ὁ λυόμενος the woman’s father, who went out to ransom his daughter back.
ἡ λυομένη the woman herself, who is getting set free.
ὁ λύων ἐξῆλθε λῦσαι γυναῖκα. ἐν τῷ λύειν ἀυτὸν εἶπε ἀυτῷ προφήτης τις «διὰ τί σὺ λύεις; μὴ λύε. πάλιν σοι λέγω μὴ λύσῃς. λυέτω αὐτὴν δὲ ὁ θεὸς.»
ὁ λυόμενος ἐξῆλθε λύσασθαι γυναῖκα. ἐν τῷ λύεσθαι ἀυτὸν εἶπε ἀυτῷ προφήτης τις «διὰ τί σὺ λύῃ; Μὴ λύου. πάλιν σοι λέγω μὴ λύσῃ. λυέσθω αὐτὴν δὲ ὁ θεὸς.»
ἠ λυομένη ἐξῆλθε λυθῆναι. ἐν τῷ λύεσθαι ἀυτὴν εἶπε αὐτῇ προφήτης τις «διὰ τί σὺ λύῃ; μὴ λύου. πάλιν σοι λέγω μη λυθῇς. λύθητι δὲ ὑπὸ θεοῦ.»
ἀναβλέπουσιν μέν ἐις τὸν ὀυρανὸν ὁ λυων και ὁ λυόμενος και ἡ λυομένη. εἶπε δέ ὁ θεὸς « ὦ ἄνθρωπε λέλυκας. ὦ πάτηρ λέλυσαι. ὦ γύναι λέλυσαι. πάντες νῦν ὐμεῖς λἐλυσθε.»
Please point out any mistakes you find so I can correct the story.
A looser went out to loose a woman. While he was loosing, a certain prophet said to him, “Why are you loosing? Stop loosing. Again I say to you, do not loose. Rather, let God loose her.”
A ransomer went out to ransom back a woman. While he was ransoming, a certain prophet said to him “Why are you ransoming? Stop ransoming. Again, I say to you, do not ransom. Rather, let God ransom her.”
A woman who was getting set free went out to get set free. While she was being set free, a certain prophet said to her “Why are being freed? Stop getting freed. Again, I say to you, don’t be freed. Rather, be freed by God.”
They looked up to Heaven, the looser and the ransomer and the woman who was getting set free. God said “Buddy, you have received the ransom price and you have set her free. Father, you have paid the ransom price to redeem her. Lady, thou art loosed. All you guys, you are set free. The price has been paid. You are free and clear.”
There are three things you can do with this story to help you remember the various forms of the infinitive and the imperatives.
1. You can read the story. You can read the story several times. But no matter how many times you read something, the forms fail to get burned into your brain.
2. You can memorize the story and recite it from memory a bunch of times. You don’t have to, and it would probably be better if you did not, memorize it word for word. Rather, go over it until you can recite the jist of story. Feel free to change the word order or whatever, just as long as you can recite fairly quickly the story so you can produce all the forms. As part of the memorization process, record yourself reciting the story.
3. Best of all, you can use this story as a model to create your own story which will help you internalize the forms you need work on. I got this idea from Christophe Rico’s Polis. In chapter 11 of his book he gives a simplified version of Mark 4, ὁ σπείρων ἐξέρχεται σπεῖραι. I listened to Rico’s audio over and over again and I memorized the story. This really helped me internalize the simple difference between the aorist and the progressive infinitive σπεῖραι σπείρειν. I had of course read these millions of times, in text books and in reading passages, but it’s all about ACTIVE USE and REPETITION. But then I had to take it one step further. I had to write my own story. This forces you to look up the forms and gives you a more concrete sense of the whole Greek grammar.
This is what you have to do. Produce your own Greek to help you internalize. Whether you make it public or not is beside the point. Δος τινι ιχθυν και εσθιει μιαν ημεραν. Διδασκε τινα λαμβανειν ιχθυας και εσθιει πασαν ημεραν. Give a man a story about a fish and he sort of learns a little Greek for one day. Make a man tell his own Greek stories about a fish and he is set to learn the language for life.