a hair-splitting question about deponents?

Here you can discuss all things Ancient Greek. Use this board to ask questions about grammar, discuss learning strategies, get help with a difficult passage of Greek, and more.
Post Reply
Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 5:19 pm

a hair-splitting question about deponents?

Post by Aletheia » Tue Apr 13, 2010 5:19 am

So I am making a sort of chart of all the possible variations in Greek verbs, and the question I have is two-fold:
a) can a given deponent verb properly be said to belong to thematic or athematic verbs?
b) does it matter? :)

I seem to learn things best when I first construct a sort of shelf or categorization system that is to hold all the particulars, or at least as many of them as possible. I am hoping that this little chart is all-inclusive.

First, it breaks verbs into two main categories: thematic and athematic. Those are the two columns.

Then I have several rows of possibilities that seem to exist in both thematic and athematic verbs... or not. So...

REGULAR (easy to find for thematic, but none right now for the mi verbs?)
2nd AORIST (again, easy to find for thematic, but none for the mi verbs)
ROOT AORIST found "istaymi" for the mi verbs
CONTRACTS (obviously none in the mi verbs)
IRREGULAR (easy to find in both)
DEPONENT... and I'm left scratching my head.

Also, what am I supposed to do with oida?

Sorry... I still haven't figured out the greek text thing.
Began half-heartedly learning Greek in 2001. Working diligently to take (for the third time) a translation exam of the Nicomachean Ethics as part of a PhD in ancient philosophy (May 2010). Mama to two little boys.

Textkit Enthusiast
Posts: 425
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2005 3:15 am
Location: Munich

Re: a hair-splitting question about deponents?

Post by spiphany » Fri Apr 16, 2010 9:59 am

Deponents function exactly the same way as non-deponent verbs; basically, they just use middle or passive forms instead of active forms.

This means that deponent verbs can also be divided into thematic (i.e, with the characteristic vowel variation o/e before the personal ending) and athematic (aka, mi verbs, where a single vowel proceeds all endings).

You can identify which type of conjugation a verb belongs to by looking at the ending of the frst person singular: thematic deponents will end in -ομαι. However, a verb such as ἑπίσταμαι ist athematic.

Regularity vs. irregularity has nothing to do with the type of conjugation, it's more of a historical accident. Rarely-used words tend to become more regular with time, while high-frequency words often retain irregularities.
IPHIGENIE: Kann uns zum Vaterland die Fremde werden?
ARKAS: Und dir ist fremd das Vaterland geworden.
IPHIGENIE: Das ist's, warum mein blutend Herz nicht heilt.
(Goethe, Iphigenie auf Tauris)

Textkit Neophyte
Posts: 95
Joined: Sat Jan 19, 2008 4:47 pm

Re: a hair-splitting question about deponents?

Post by LSorenson » Sat Apr 17, 2010 2:39 am

You can find a very good description of what deponents (bad bad bad bad term) are about.

Quoting from http://grklinguist.wordpress.com/2010/0 ... eek-voice/. There is a thread there about the articles below.

If you are interested in the topic of Voice and the problematic issue of deponency, you should read Carl Conrad’s “Active, Middle, and Passive: Understan ... ek Voice.” It’s available as a PDF download from http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad.

For further discussion of the same issues, see his “New Observations on Voice in the Ancient Greek Verb.” This 21 page discussion provides wonderful detail and clear reasoning. He raises compelling questions about the semantic import of the morphological distinction between what have traditionally been called the aorist middle and passive forms.

You can find the paper at http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad.

It’s wonderful to have both his and Pennington’s views on the topic available online for free!

Post Reply