Iliad 6.127: δυστήνων δέ τε παῖδες ἐμῷ μένει ἀντιόωσιν.

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bcrowell
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Iliad 6.127: δυστήνων δέ τε παῖδες ἐμῷ μένει ἀντιόωσιν.

Post by bcrowell »

Iliad 6.127 is this one-line sentence:

δυστήνων δέ τε παῖδες ἐμῷ μένει ἀντιόωσιν.

I had δύστηνος figured as an adjective meaning something like "unhappy." But when I looked around for what noun it could be referring to, I didn't see anything that was plural genitive, which left me stumped. Resorting to a translation, I saw that δύστηνος was here being used as a noun, and δυστήνων παῖδες meant the sons of the unhappy. Then I checked the complete entry in Cunliffe:

Code: Select all

δύστηνος, ον [δυσ-. Second element obscure]. Wretched,
   unhappy, miserable, unfortunate Π445, Χ477: α55,
   δ182, ε436, λ76, ν331, ρ10, 483, 501, τ354, ω289.--
   Absol.: δυστήνων παῖδες Ζ127 = Φ151. Cf. Χ59: ζ206,
   η223, 248, κ281, λ80, 93, υ224.
So with hindsight it makes sense, but I'm not really understanding the general grammatical thing that's going on here. Looking in the index of Smyth under "absolute," I find a bunch of material that seems to be mainly about comparatives, participles, and something called a genitive absolute. Looking at the examples, none of these seem to be what I'm seeing here, which seems to be an adjective X used to mean something like "that which is X," "the X," or "he who is X." There is a lot of material scattered around in different places, so maybe I'm just missing what's applicable, or maybe what Cunliffe calls "absol." isn't what Smyth calls "absolute."

Is this something that (a) can be done with any adjective at all, or (b) can be done only with certain special words?

In case a, Cunliffe's note would just be him doing what he does with his concordance, breaking usages down into tiny chunks. Would the way to tell it's happening be that the adjective doesn't seem to have any noun that it agrees with?

In case b, would the idea just be that this happens to be a word that is both an adjective and a noun? In this case, I would just have to learn that fact when I learn a piece of vocabulary such as δύστηνος.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can clarify.
Ben Crowell, Fullerton, California
an innovative, free, and open-source presentation of Homer: https://bcrowell.github.io/ransom/

mwh
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Re: Iliad 6.127: δυστήνων δέ τε παῖδες ἐμῷ μένει ἀντιόωσιν.

Post by mwh »

Any adjective can be used like this. It’s very common. Cf. e.g. the isles of the blest, or The poor you always have with you.

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Re: Iliad 6.127: δυστήνων δέ τε παῖδες ἐμῷ μένει ἀντιόωσιν.

Post by bcrowell »

mwh wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 6:49 pm Any adjective can be used like this. It’s very common. Cf. e.g. the isles of the blest, or The poor you always have with you.
Thanks, mwh, that's very helpful. Your second example also clarifies that it doesn't have to be genitive.

Is it always plural?

Is there a name for this particular piece of grammar?
Ben Crowell, Fullerton, California
an innovative, free, and open-source presentation of Homer: https://bcrowell.github.io/ransom/

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Re: Iliad 6.127: δυστήνων δέ τε παῖδες ἐμῷ μένει ἀντιόωσιν.

Post by jeidsath »

I seem to recall that Smyth has a section on "adjectives used substantively".
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Re: Iliad 6.127: δυστήνων δέ τε παῖδες ἐμῷ μένει ἀντιόωσιν.

Post by bcrowell »

jeidsath wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 9:10 pm I seem to recall that Smyth has a section on "adjectives used substantively".
Aha, thanks! Here we go: https://archive.org/details/agreekgramm ... 2/mode/2up

An example Smyth gives that's familiar is οἱ πολλοί.

He shows examples of what it means to include or omit the article in 1022 and 1130.
Ben Crowell, Fullerton, California
an innovative, free, and open-source presentation of Homer: https://bcrowell.github.io/ransom/

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