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ἀγών

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ἀγών

Postby pster » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:58 am

ἀγών

1) Is the alpha long or short? (I assume short but don't know why.)

2) How do we (ie the community of classicists) know whether it is long or short? Via poetry? Or some rule of which I am unaware?

3) How do I know whether it is long or short, since LSJ don't seem to say? (Maybe answered by 2, maybe not.)

Thanks in advance.
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Re: ἀγών

Postby Scribo » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:26 pm

pster wrote:ἀγών

1) Is the alpha long or short? (I assume short but don't know why.)


It is indeed short, yes.

pster wrote:2) How do we (ie the community of classicists) know whether it is long or short? Via poetry? Or some rule of which I am unaware?


Several ways of knowing, of which poetry is just one. First off, comparative data e.g Sanskrit /ajati/ (actually there is a whole boring debate about derivation from PIE * *h₂eǵ) where it is short. More importantly is the fact that despite being an inherited lexeme and existing in Mycenaean too it hasn't gone into any of the sound changes it might have, had it been long.

In the real meat and bones of the matter, is the fact that it's derived from the verb άγω, so look how that is augmented and reduplicated. Likewise examine how the word acts with prepositions and other derivatives, how it's effected by crasis etc.

So, I think that answers 3 as well. I hope that's not too poorly written.

3) How do I know whether it is long or short, since LSJ don't seem to say? (Maybe answered by 2, maybe not.)

Thanks in advance.[/quote]
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Re: ἀγών

Postby cb » Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:24 pm

hi, the most concrete way to determine this is to do a search for the word in the iambic sections of aeschylus, sophocles or euripides and see if the syllable sits in (out of the 12 positions) positions 3, 7 or 11 (which only accept light syllables) in which case the vowel is short, or in any of the even positions (2, 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12) which only accept heavy syllables, provided that it's in a single unresolved syllable (i.e. there aren't 2 short syllables in that position) and is in an open syllable (i.e. the syllable isn't made heavy by having a short vowel but closed by consonants), in which case the vowel is long (that's a bit complicated i realise).

so in your case, see aeschylus persians 405: θήκας τε προγόνων: νῦν ὑπὲρ πάντων γών.

ἀ is in position 11, and so it's short.

you can't trust any of the vowels in positions 1, 5 or 9 because these are ancipites which accept light or heavy syllables.

for more background see pgs 3-4 of my article here on writing iambics:
http://www.aoidoi.org/articles/meter/WritingIambics.pdf

and then see how i have determined the vowel length in aeschylus' agamemnon in the red lines on the left on pgs 58 to 69 of this iambic document here:
http://mhninaeide.webs.com/GrkIambicComp-23-Apr-06.pdf

in that doc i followed the procedure i mentioned at the beginning - to determine the vowel length in the ancipites, i found the vowel in another line in a non-anceps position.

cheers, chad
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Re: ἀγών

Postby pster » Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:36 pm

Thanks to both of you.

But I chose it rather randomly. There are I presume zillions of examples in Greek. And plenty even in Mastronarde. He frequently tells the reader vowel lengths. But I noticed today that many still fall through the cracks. Shouldn't LSJ be telling me?!?! How is the simple student of Greek supposed to read it aloud when these things aren't specified. So many damned do-dads on the letters and still questions remain!
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Re: ἀγών

Postby cb » Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:43 pm

hi, you often need to look it up in the iambics, scansion of a text can take a bit. with poetry like homer it's easy because you don't need to look it up, with iambics it requires looking up any dubious ancipites, with prose you need to look up a fair bit, less though the more verse comp you do. also i forgot to say that position 12 can't be trusted either, a light or heavy syllable can go there. cheers, chad
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Re: ἀγών

Postby Qimmik » Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:15 pm

The on-line edition of LSJ and the Intermediate L&S generally indicate the quantity of alpha, iota and u psilon with the letter in brackets right next to the first entry, followed by either a superscript caret (for a short vowel) or a line (for a long vowel). (In the print edition, the bracketed letter in question is marked with a breve or a macron.)

From the on-line LSJ entry:

ἀγών [α^], ῶνος, ὁ,


Here's how the on-line LSJ indicates a long u psilon:

ὕλη [υ_], ἡ,


In the case of a compound or derived word, you may have to look for the base word. And, of course, there may be words for which the quantity of an iota or u psilon can't be determined -- where the letter in question is followed by two vowels and etymology is obscure. Usually long alpha will have changed to eta in Attic.
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Re: ἀγών

Postby pster » Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:14 pm

Qimmik wrote:
From the on-line LSJ entry:

ἀγών [α^], ῶνος, ὁ,


Here's how the on-line LSJ indicates a long u psilon:

ὕλη [υ_], ἡ,


Thanks. That's what I was looking for.
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