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NH Greek Composition - difference between Aor & Impf

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NH Greek Composition - difference between Aor & Impf

Postby rummy51 » Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:40 am

Hello,

I've started North and Hillard's Greek composition book to get a better understanding of syntax (hopefully) as well as improve my vocabulary, but after the third lesson, I find myself confused about the imperfect and the aorist - something which I thought I has already mastered. There are some exercises that have an English simple past yet the key translates it as an imperfect. I must be missing something. Can anyone help explain where I might be mistaken?
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Re: NH Greek Composition - difference between Aor & Impf

Postby rummy51 » Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:51 pm

Bump
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Re: NH Greek Composition - difference between Aor & Impf

Postby C. S. Bartholomew » Sat Jun 28, 2014 9:44 pm

rummy51 wrote:Hello,

I've started North and Hillard's Greek composition book to get a better understanding of syntax (hopefully) as well as improve my vocabulary, but after the third lesson, I find myself confused about the imperfect and the aorist - something which I thought I has already mastered. There are some exercises that have an English simple past yet the key translates it as an imperfect. I must be missing something. Can anyone help explain where I might be mistaken?



This is not a simple matter. The distinction between the Aorist and Imperfect aspect is often transparent in English translation. So if you are attempting to produce a retro-version from a translation to the vorlage you would need to make the decision based on contextual clues. If you post the example in both English and Greek perhaps someone will explain.
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Re: NH Greek Composition - difference between Aor & Impf

Postby daivid » Sun Jun 29, 2014 9:38 pm

rummy51 wrote:Hello,

I've started North and Hillard's Greek composition book to get a better understanding of syntax (hopefully) as well as improve my vocabulary, but after the third lesson, I find myself confused about the imperfect and the aorist - something which I thought I has already mastered. There are some exercises that have an English simple past yet the key translates it as an imperfect. I must be missing something. Can anyone help explain where I might be mistaken?


Aspect can be thought divided into three. There is incomplete action such as "I was running". Then there is habitual "Every day I ran to the harbor." Finaly there is completed action "Two days ago I ran to the habor."
Both Ancient Greek and Modern English split aspect in two. Greek combines habitual and incomplete action into the imperfect leaving completed action to be covered by the aorist alone. English by contrast combines completed and habiutal and uses the past simple for that. Incomplete action is covered by the past continuous alone.

Hence expecting an Ancient Greek aspect (ie aorist or imperfect) always to have the same English form is bound to lead you astray.
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Re: NH Greek Composition - difference between Aor & Impf

Postby rummy51 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:36 am

Thank you both for your answers. I'll provide an example to show where I may have been confused.

Exercise 3 (A) number 7:
the English is "The herald had a loud voice."
the Greek is "οἱ κῆρυξ μεγάλην εἶχε τὴν φωνήν"

In English, I understand the statement to be completed. I must admit that my first language is French, but I did learn Ancient Greek translation in English.

I have another example too:

Exercice 5 (A) number 4:
the English is "The wives of the citizens did not honour those who fled from battle"
the Greek is "αἱ τῶν πολιτῶν γυναῖκες οὐκ ἐτίμων τοὺς ἐκ τῆς μάχης φυγόντας"

In this example, I can see how it can be habitual, but my first instinct was completed. The English sentence certainly does not make this clear.
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Re: NH Greek Composition - difference between Aor & Impf

Postby mwh » Wed Jul 02, 2014 3:03 am

εἶχε (impf) means he had a loud voice in the sense that his voice was loud—not just at that moment but habitually. He had a loud voice before and he went on having a loud voice. That's what we mean when we say someone had a loud voice (or a gift for languages, or a big car, or ...). "I once had a pet snake"—imperfect, Fr. "j'avais".
ἔσχε (aor.) would mean he “got” or “took hold of” a loud voice, on some particular occasion, and would be quite wrong here. You’ll find the imperfect of this verb used much more often than the aorist.

ἐτίμων means they didn’t honour them and went on not honouring them, they were not inclined to honour them. It wasn’t an instantaneous act of not-honouring, but something on-going. Or on any occasion that soldiers fled, the citizens didn’t/wouldn’t honour them; the non-honouring was habitual. "I fed my pet snake every day," or "when(ever) he was hungry I fed him", or "I didn't feed my pet snake (so he died)"—all imperfect.
You’re right that the English here is ambiguous. The aorist (ἐτίμησαν) would be possible, but would something more like “they didn’t confer an honour on them,” as a one-time act on a particular occasion. Cf. "I didn't feed my pet snake": "I didn't feed him this morning" would be aorist, "I didn't feed him for a week" or "I didn't feed him on Sundays" would be imperfect.
Last edited by mwh on Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NH Greek Composition - difference between Aor & Impf

Postby rummy51 » Wed Jul 02, 2014 1:42 pm

That does explain it much better. Thank you! Now to get back into my Greek composition!
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