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Iliad 4, 158-159

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Iliad 4, 158-159

Postby Bart » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:47 pm

Agamemnon speaking right after his brother Menelaos is hit by a Trojan arrow, effectively ending the truce

οὐ μέν πως ἅλιον πέλει ὅρκιον αἷμά τε ἀρνῶν
σπονδαί τ᾽ ἄκρητοι καὶ δεξιαὶ ᾗς ἐπέπιθμεν.

ἐπέπιθμεν = pluperfect, agreed? To be sure I have this right: the pluperfect denotes a fixed state in the past. The fixed state here is the trust the Greeks put in (or the obedience to) the oaths and treaties, and it is in the past because of Pandorus trying to kill Menelaos.
I can more or less follow the reasoning here, but it still feels strange. I would expect the aorist here.

The entire preceding passage about Pandorus, his bow and the shot he aims at Menelaos was a good reminder of how I still have to improve dramatically on my vocabulary. All those pesky, little words about Pandorus' bow, its components, how it was obtained (by killing an ibex!), build, used, how the arrow is shot and how it pierces no less than four layers of clothing (all unknown to me) was gruelling. I was almost cheering when finally, at last, Menelaos was hit. Serves him right for wearing a curiously worked corselet and an apron!
Last edited by Bart on Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Iliad 4, 158-159

Postby Qimmik » Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:31 pm

ἐπέπιθμεν -- Could this actually be a reduplicated 2d aorist (although I'm at a loss to explain the absence of the thematic vowel -ο-)?

Smyth 549, 549D

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007%3Asmythp%3D549

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007%3Asmythp%3D549%20D

LSJ πείθω classifies ἐπέπιθμεν as a pluperfect, although πεπιθ- is a reduplicated second aorist stem, and there doesn't seem to be any parallel example where this is used as a perfect stem:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0057%3Aentry%3Dpei%2Fqw

Perhaps Smyth 681 is the answer:

681. A number of ω-verbs form their second aorists without a thematic vowel, herein agreeing with the second aorists of μι-verbs.
Last edited by Qimmik on Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Iliad 4, 158-159

Postby Qimmik » Thu Apr 17, 2014 8:10 pm

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Re: Iliad 4, 158-159

Postby Paul Derouda » Thu Apr 17, 2014 9:28 pm

It's annoying, but my Chantraine vol 1 (from 1942) doesn't have an index of cited passages. If I'm correct, this has been fixed in the recent new edition.

The Cambridge commentary doesn't treat the verb form (I have the impression that Kirk isn't generally very helpful on this sort of thing. But it's a long time since I've really used that commentary.).
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Re: Iliad 4, 158-159

Postby Qimmik » Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:04 am

I've convinced myself that this is a pluperfect (as all the authorities I've looked at seem to agree). ἐπέπιθμεν exhibits two very archaic features: (1) the addition of the personal ending -μεν directly to the stem (ἐ)πεπιθ- and (2) the singular/dual-plur. alternation οι/ι.

The normal perfect vowel-grade is -ο-, as seen in πείθω/πέποιθα, λείπω/λέλοιπα, etc. But in a few verbs there are traces of an alternation between singular with vowel-grade -ο- and dual/plural with vowel-grade zero, which has disappeared in most verbs due to analogical levelling. The most obvious is οἶδα/ἴδμεν (or Attic ἴσμεν). In ἐπέπιθμεν we can glimpse a trace of an alternation between perfect stems πεποιθ- and πεπιθ-. (It's confusing, because with the reduced vowel grade the perfect stem πεπιθ- looks exactly like the reduplicated aorist stem of such forms as πεπιθ-εῖν, Il. 9.184.)

σπονδαί τ᾽ ἄκρητοι καὶ δεξιαὶ ᾗς ἐπέπιθμεν -- This line occurs in two places: Il.2.341, 4.159. West brackets it at 4.159, writing "It makes the sentence into a specific reference to the truce between the Achaeans and the Trojans rather than a general statement about the efficacy of treaties confirmed by sacrifices. But 160-2 is a general statement about Zeus' punishment of treaty-breakers; the gnomic aorist in 161 cannot be replaced by or understood as equivalent to a future, as Zenodotus seemed to have wanted." (Studies in the Text and Transmission of the Iliad, p. 189.)

But I suspect the line is formulaic, preserving as it does the very archaic form ἐπέπιθμεν, which could not be modernized to ἐπεπίθεμεν (or ἐπεποίθεμεν) for metrical reasons.

And if West is right about 159, I don't see why you wouldn't also have to bracket 158, which West doesn't bracket. 159 doesn't seem to be weakly attested--West's apparatus doesn't mention that any of his mss. omit 159.
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Re: Iliad 4, 158-159

Postby Bart » Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:48 am

Excuse my ignorance, but does the augment not exclude that it is a reduplicated aorist?

Both Cunliff and Mehler say ἐπέπιθμεν is pluperfect. Actually, this time I wasn't wondering so much about the morphology of the verb, but the use of the pluperfect in this sentence instead of the aorist. I stopped being amazed over irregular verb forms quite some time ago. For instance, in the beginning of book 4 is the verb παρμέμβλωκε, of which my commentary informs me that it is the perfect of παρβλώσκω. Now, how you get from the one to the other is beyond me. Not more than a month ago it would have been impossible for me to go on reading before I knew how and why. Now I take a more Zen attitude, just accept it and move on. At least I try. However, I also ordered Duhoux' Le verb grec ancien for my less Zen-like moments.

The Greek verb system is fascinating. In Homeric Moments Eva Brann relates a nice anecdote about a Greek professor in an old style German gymnasium (we're talking beginning of the 20th century). When he is informed that one of his students is being withdrawn from his course to work in his father's business instead he utters sorowfully:'what a pity he couldn't stay for the irregular verbs! One more month and he'd have had something to sustain him in life!'
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Re: Iliad 4, 158-159

Postby Paul Derouda » Fri Apr 18, 2014 10:34 am

Qimmik wrote:And if West is right about 159, I don't see why you wouldn't also have to bracket 158, which West doesn't bracket. 159 doesn't seem to be weakly attested--West's apparatus doesn't mention that any of his mss. omit 159.

Without 159, or more specifically without the words ᾗς ἐπέπιθμεν, 158 can only be interpreted as a general statement "an oath and the blood of sheep are never ("by no means") vain". WIth ᾗς ἐπέπιθμεν, you can (but don't have necessarily have to) interpret 158 as referring to this one specific truce. (But σπονδαί τ᾽ ἄκρητοι καὶ δεξιαὶ in 159 will necessarily refer to one particular occasion).

Incidentally, I still have Ruijgh's 1100 page monograph "Autour du te épique" from the library. Despite its fearsome title, it's actually quite interesting when used in moderation. It's not actually just about one particle, it has insights more generally about specific vs. general statements, gnomes etc. -- exactly the sort of thing that is at issue here. Ruijgh treats this particular passage in a couple of places, but doesn't see anything wrong here. So here I think I'm siding with Qimmik, that West isn't being cautious enough here.

Bart wrote:Excuse my ignorance, but does the augment not exclude that it is a reduplicated aorist?

That's what I would think too, but you always have exceptions and exceptions to exceptions...
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Re: Iliad 4, 158-159

Postby Qimmik » Fri Apr 18, 2014 12:10 pm

does the augment not exclude that it is a reduplicated aorist?


I'm not sure why it would in the indicative. Aorists typically have augment (or sometimes not, in Homer). The reduplicated aorist infinitive πεπιθεῖν would not have augment, of course. But ἤγαγον, from ἄγω, has both reduplication and augment.

παρμέμβλωκε -- the root is μ-λ, as shown by the aorist ἔμολον, but in forms where there is no vowel between μ and λ , β develops "epenthetically", giving the reduplicated perfect form μέμβλωκε. In the present βλώσκω, the consonant cluster μβλ- is reduced to βλ- at the beginning of the word.

Another example of this process of epenthetic development of β between μ and a liquid is ἀμβροσία, the food of the gods, or immortality generally. This is from ἀ-μροσ-ία, where μροσ- (probably from μροτ-) is etymologically derived from the same source as Latin mors, morior, etc., Russian u-meret' ("die"), s-mert' ("death").

Also ἁμαρτάνω-ἤμβροτον. ἤμβροτον is the epic form; Attic would be ἥμαρτον. ρο (as well as the smooth breathing; Aeolic was psilotic) marks ἤμβροτον (and ἀμβροσία, too) as Aeolic. ρο is the Aeolic reflex of an earlier "syllabic" (vocalic) /r/ ("ἥμρτον"), which becomes -αρ- in Attic-Ionic. Aeolic forms are generally preserved in Homer in formulas where the Ionic equivalents had a different metrical shape and so could not replace the Aeolic forms.
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Re: Iliad 4, 158-159

Postby Bart » Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:55 pm

Qimmik wrote:
does the augment not exclude that it is a reduplicated aorist?


I'm not sure why it would in the indicative


I was under the false impression that reduplication somehow replaces the augment as a sign for the past, but it doesn't of course. I knew that already.

βλώσκω and its derivatives are clear now. Maybe I should cancel my copy of Duhoux and just ask you :)
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Re: Iliad 4, 158-159

Postby Markos » Mon Apr 21, 2014 12:27 pm

For what it is worth, Gaza renders ἐπέπιθμεν with a perfect
Gaza 1:159: καὶ αἰ δεξιώσεις αἷς τεθαρρήκαμεν.

and Psellos with a pluperfect
Psellos 1:159: καὶ αἰ δεξιώσεις αἷς ἐπεπιστεύκεμεν.

Bart wrote:Not more than a month ago it would have been impossible for me to go on reading before I knew how and why. Now I take a more Zen attitude, just accept it and move on.

This resonates with me.
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Re: Iliad 4, 158-159

Postby Qimmik » Mon Apr 21, 2014 1:44 pm

Not more than a month ago it would have been impossible for me to go on reading before I knew how and why. Now I take a more Zen attitude, just accept it and move on.


Yes, you have to do this from time to time if you want to get to the end in this lifetime.

And in many instances there is no answer, or prominent specialists don't agree with one another.
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