Verb Agreement and Voice

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495. A finite verb agrees with its subject in number and person, as in English and Latin.

496. But a neuter plural subject commonly takes a singular verb.

Πολλὰ τῶν ὑποζυγίων ἀπώλετο.
Many of the baggage-animals died.
Xen. Anabasis 1.5.5

But also:

ἅπαντα ἦσαν εὐώδη.
All were sweet-smelling.
Xen. Anabasis 1.5.1

ἦσαν ταῦτα δύο τείχη.
These were two walls.
Xen. Anabasis 1.4.4

497. A dual subject may take a plural verb.

Ἀδελφὼ δύο μόρον κοινὸν κατειργάσαντο.
Our two brothers wrought their common death.
Soph. Antigone 55-57

498. The agreement often follows the sense instead of form; but sometimes it follows the form instead of sense.

a. Tὸ πλῆθος οἴονται
    the multitude suppose (Agreement with a collective subject)
    Thucydides 1.20

b. Bασιλεὺς καὶ οἱ σὺν αὐτῷ εἰσπῑ́πτει.
    The king with his followers breaks in.
    (The king is thought of as the central figure.)
    Xen. Anabasis 1.10.1

c. Ἔπεμψέ με Ἀριαῖος καὶ Ἀρτάοζος.
    Ariaios and Artaozos sent me. (Agreement with the nearer noun only)
    Xen. Anabasis 2.4.16

d. Tὸ μέσον τῶν τειχῶν ἦσαν στάδιοι τρεῖς.
    The space between the walls was three stades. (Agreement with a predicate noun)
    Xen. Anabasis 1.4.4

499. The Active and Passive voices have the same force as in English.

a. Some active verbs are used as passives of other verbs.

ἀποκτείνω
kill
ἀποθνῄσκω
(die) am killed
ἐκβάλλω
cast out, exile
ἐκπῑ́πτω (fall out), φεύγω (flee)
am exiled
εὖ or κακῶς ποιῶ
do good or ill to
εὖ or κακῶς πάσχω
am well or badly treated
διατίθημι
disροse
bring to a certain disposition
διάκειμαι
am disposed
am in (this or that) disposition

500. The Middle voice expresses an action of the subject.

a. On himself, as direct object (Direct Middle).

παύω
make stop
παύομαι
stop myself, cease
φαίνω
show
φαίνομαι
show myself, appear
ἵστημι
set up
(cp. 363)
ἵσταμαι
place myself
πείθω
persuade
πείθομαι
persuade myself, believe
διδάσκω
teach
διδάσκομαι
teach myself, learn
ἅπτω
fasten
ἅπτομαί τινος
fasten myself to something, touch
ἔχω
hοld
ἔχομαί τινος
hοld myself to, cling to, am next to

b. For, to, with reference to himself (Indirect Middle).

ἄρχω
am first
ἄρχομαι
begin for myself, begin my task
ποιῶ
make
ποιοῦμαί τινα φίλον
make one my friend
ἄγω
lead
ἄγομαι γυναῖκα
take to myself a wife, marry
βουλεύω
plan
βουλεύομαι
plan for myself, deliberate
συμβουλεύω
advise
συμβουλεύομαι
seek advice
αἱρέω
take, seize
αἱροῦμαι
take for myself, choose
φυλάττω
watch, guard
φυλάττομαι
am on my guard

c. From himself, from his own powers or means (Subjective Middle, sometimes very like the active).

ποιῶ πόλεμον
cause a war

ποιοῦμαι πόλεμον
carry on war

πολῑτεύομαι
act as a citizen, take part in government

ἀποφαίνομαι γνώμην
show forth my opinion

ἐπαγγέλλομαί τι
offer or promise something (announce from myself)

τοὺς ἀγράφους νόμους οὐχ οἱ ἄνθρωποι ἔθεντο ἀλλὰ θεοὶ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἔθεσαν.
the unwrttten laws not men established of themselves, but gods for men.
(see Xen. Memorabilia 4.4.19)

d. The indirect and the subjective middle can not always be distinguished; both are sometimes causative.

μεταπέμπομαί τινα
send for, have one sent to me

διδάσκομαι τὸν παῖδα
have the boy taught

δικάζομαι
get judgment rendered, bring suit

γράφομαί τινα
get an indictment (γραφή) written against one, indict

501. Deponent verbs are properly middle, in the indirect or subjective sense, and the active was not thought necessary. The aorist passive was originally not passive, but merely intransitive, and in some verbs this intransitive sense continued in common use.

ἐδόκει μοι ταύτῃ πειρᾶσθαι σωθῆναι.
It seemed to me best to try to attain safety in this way.
Lysias 12.15

So always ἐχάρην (rejoiced), from χαίρω.

Suggested Citation

Meagan Ayer, ed. Goodell’s School Grammar of Attic Greek. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2018. ISBN: 978-1-947822-10-8. http://dcc.dickinson.edu/grammar/goodell/verb-agreement-and-voice