Contraction in Homer

Book Nav


378.* Contraction. The question of the use of contracted forms has been already touched upon in connexion ςwith the dif- ferent grammatical categories which it afβfects : see ξξ 56, 81, 105. br wit be useful here to recapitulate the results, and to notice one or tςwo attempts which have been made to recover the original usage of Homer in this respect.1

  1. Contraction is most readily admittedἄ betςween similar sounds, or when the second is of higher vowel pitch, i.e. higher in the scale ο, , a, η, ε. Thus vwe have many instances ςwith the combiunations εε, οο, σε, σε; feςw vwith εα, αω, αο, stil feςwer vwith εω, εο.
  2. In most cases in which contraction is freely admitted we find that the sound vwhich originally separated the vovwels was the semi-vοwel 5 or γ. In case of the loss of σ it is compara- tively rare ; with it is probably not Homeric at all ( 396). Hence (e. g.) although it is common vwith the combinations σε, ἕει in most Verbs in 2ω (ἢ 55), it is not found in χέω (χέ2-ω) and is extremely rare in τρέω (τρέσ-ω, see ἡ 29, 6). But it is admitted with loss of σ, as in the Gen. ending -οu from -οσ0 (-ο5ο, -οο), and the Verbs in -εω from stems in -εσ, as νεικέω (νεικεσ-5αω).

    a. On these principles we should expect the 2 Sing. endings -εαι,-εο, -η6, -αο (for -ἕσαι, 1c.) to remain uncontracted ; and this vievw is borne out on the whole by the very careful investigation made by d. van L0euwen. Omitting the Verbs in -αω and -eω vwe find that there are about 522 occurrences of these ending9, and that of these 434 present uncontracteddd forms: vwhile in 66 instances the contracted sylable comes before a vowel, so that it can be vwritten vwith elision of -αἱ or -0 (eg. ll. 3. 138 κεκλήσεʼ ἄκοιτις, for κεκλήσ: ll. 9. 54 ἕπλεʼ ἄριστος, for ἔπλεν). n the case of -εο this mode of vwriting finds some support in the MSS.: σg. φεύδεʼ (l. 4- 454), παύεʼ (LlL 9: 260, Od. Il. 340), εὔχεʼ (l. 3- 430, Od. 4. 752), also ἕπε, read by λAristarchus in Il. 10. 146 (ἕπεν MSS.). ἡAgainst these 500 instances there are only 22 exceptions, 7 in the Lied and 15 in the Odyssey, some of vwhich can be readily corrected. Thus ll. 4. 264 (es 19. 139) ὅρσεν πόλεμονδε should be ὄρσο πτόλεμόνδε (Νauck) : in Il. 2. 367 γνάσεαι δʼ εἷ omit δὲ (Barnes) : in Π. 24- 434 for ὅς με κέλῃ readd ὅς κέλεαι, and so in Od. 4. 812., 5. 174. La Od. 18. 107 for ἐπαύρῃ read the Act. ἑπαύρῃς (Van L..): as in ll. Il. 209 vwe may retain ἴδης (so the MSS.; At. ἴδ,-but the corruption ies deeper). The greater frequency of instances in the Odyssey (and in book xxiς of the Iliad) is hardly enough to indicate a diference of usage vwithin the omeric age.

    b. In the corresponding forms of Verbs in -αωω and -εω there is a concurrence of three vowels, which in our text are always reduced to two syllables, either by contraction, as in αἰδεῖο, μυθεῖαι, νεῖαι, μνά2, or by hyphaeresis (j 105), as μυθέαι, αἴρεο, ἔκλεο, πάλεαι (Od. 4. 811). ἡA single vowel appears in πειρῇ for πειρά-εαι, ἡρῷ for ἡρά-εο. The metre requires αἰδεῖο, αἴρεο, ἔκλεο, πάάλεαι; for πειρ it allows πειράαι (becoming πειράʼ in Il. 24. 39b, 433, Od. 4. 545). The isolated form ὅρηαι (Od. 14. 343) for ὁρά-εαι should perhaps be ὁράοι or ὁράᾳ. Lf the ending is in its original form it belongs to the Nοn- Thematic conjugation (5 19) : another example may be found in ὁρῆτο (or ὅρητο), readd by enοdotus in Il. 1. 56.

    c. In the Future in -sω (for -ἐσάω) contraction is less frequent than in the Present of Verbs in -εω (-εἰάω or -ἕσα). Forms such as ὀλεῖται, καμεῖται, μαχεῖται, ὀμεῖται, κομιῶ, κτεριῶ, κτεριοῦσι, evidently could not otherςwise come into the verse. In Il. 17. 451 σφῶῖν δʼ ὲν γούνεσσι βαλῶ vwe may readd βάλαω (Fick). Il. 4. 161 ἔκ τέκοι ὁφὲ τελεῖ we should take τελεῖ as a Present. The remaining exceptions are, κτενεῖ in ll. 15. 65, 68 (probably an interpolation), κατακτενεῖ in Il. 23- 412, and ἐκφανεῖ in 7. 19. 104.

    d. Similarly in the declension of stems in -εσ the ending -2ss is rarely contracted. n the phrase φαίνονται (or φαίνεσθαι) ἐναργεῖς (l. 20. 131, Od. 7. 201., 16, 161) Fick happily reads ἐναργές, to be taken as an adverb. The same remedy is applicable in ll. 9. 225 δαιτὸς μὲν ἐσῆς οὐκ ἑπιδενεῖς, and ll. 13. 622 ἄλλης μὲν λάβης τε καὶ αἴσχεος οὐκ ἐπιδευεῖς, vwhere the ἕomm, Plur. is unex- plained : readd οὐκ ἐπιδευές there is no lack.

    e. The contraction of εο to εu is rare in the Gen. of stems in -εσ (§ 105, 3), but frequent in the Pronominal Genitives ἐμεῦ (μευ), σεῦ, εὗ, τεῦ. Here again, hovwever, vwe are struck by the number of cases in vwhich vwe can substitute the forms in -ειο or -20, vwith eision of -ο. n our MSS. the elisiαn actually occurs in ἐμεῖʼ (l. 23.789, Od. 8. 462) and σεʼ (l. 6. 454,also Hon. H.xxxiτ. 19). μn Il. 17. 173 νῦν δέ κεν ἄνοσάμην enodotus is said to have read νῦν δέ σε, i.e. probably νῦν δέ σε, The full forms in -ειο or -εο occur 121 times, and may be restored vwithout elision 9 times, vwith elision 56 times. Γo these vwe should add the instances in vwhich we may put the form bμεο (6 times) or μεʼ (19 times). There remain altogether about fifty-five exceptions, vwhich are discussed by d. van Leeuvwen (3fnemοs. xiii. 215). n the phrase κέκλντέ μὲν, vwhich occurs 19 times, he vwould read pE0ι, according to the Homeric construction (ἢ 143, 3). So in the formula κέκλυτε δὴ νῦν μευ, θακήσιοι (5 times in the Odyssey), vwhere hovwever vwe are tempted to restore ἐμεῖ’ (cp. Γl. 3. 97 κέκλυτε νῦν καὶ ἐμεῖο). He suggests putting the Dat. for the Gen. also in Od. 10. 485 οἴ μὲν φθινύθουσι φίλον κῆρ, Od. 15. 467 οἴ μὲν πατέρʼ ἀμφεπένοντο, Od. 16. 2 ἦ μάλα μευ καταδάπτετʼ ἀκούοντος φίλον τορ. In the last passage it is needless to alter the Gen. ἀκούοντος ( 243, 3, d), and vwe may even read in ll. Il. 453 ἔμνοὶ πάρος ἕκλυες εὐξαμένοιο (cp. Ll. 16. 531 ὅττι οἱ ὦκ’ κουσε μέγας θεὸς εὐξα- μένοιο), The substitution of the Dat. seems the most probable correction in various places vwhere Leeuvwen proposes other changes : Od. 4. 746 ἐμεῦ δʼ ἕλετο μέγαν ὅρκον (cp. ll. 22. 119 Γρωσὶν δʼ αὗ Il. Il. ὅρκον ἕλωμαι1, ll. 2. 388 ἱδρώσει μέν τευ τελαμὼν ἀμφὶ στήθεσφι, ll. 22. 454 αἱ γὰρ ἀπʼ οὔατος εἴη ἐμεῦ ἔπος (cp. 18. 272) ; also ll. Il. 273, 9- 377., 16. 497., 19. 185., 20. 4θ4. 24- 293 311. 750, 754- Od. 5. 311., 9. 20., 13- 231., 19. 108., 24- 257 : and perhaps ll. 19. 137 καί μευ φρένας ἐξέλετο lεύς (unless the με of some MSS. is right), so ll. 9. 377 and Il. 9. 335- In Od. 19. 215 νῦν μὲν δὴ σεῦ, ξεῖνε, ὁίαω πειρήσεσθαι εἰ κτλ. Leeuvwen restores the Ace. σὲ (as in Ii. 18. 600). In Od. 17. 421 ( νε 19. 77) vwe may perhaps read καὶ ὅτι κεχρημένος ἔλθοι (ὅτ as in Ii.20. 434 οἴδα δʼ ὅτι σὺ μὲν κτλ.), The remaining exceptions are Π. 5. 8η6 ἐκ γὰρ ἐμεῦ γένος ἐσσί, Π. 23. 70 οὐ μέν μὲν ζάνοντος ἀκήδεις, ll. 24. 429 δέξαι ἐμεῦ πόρα, and U. Il. 88 οὅ τις ἐμεῦ ζὥντος κτλ., vwhere the contraction ζὥντος and the Dat. Plur. κοίλης before a consonant are ale0 suspicious (Fick, lαs, p. xvii).

    f. The contraction of οα, σε (from οσ-α, οσ-ε) is doubtful in the Nοuns in -οω and -ως (5 105, 6), but appears in the forms of the Comparative, vi2. ἀμείνα, ἀρεία, ἀρείονς, κακίους, πλείους, and μείζαr (Hesiοdd), The uncontractedd forms in -0α, -0ss do not occur, since the metre slows either -οωω, -0υs or else the later -0va, -0vεs. But in such a phrase as ἀμμείνα δʼ αἴσιμα πάντα (where Hauck reads ἀμείνονα) vwe may suspect that ἀμείνοα vwas the original form.

    g. Vowels originally separated by F are so rarely contracted that instances in our text must be regarded vwith suspicion. Thus ἄκκωv (ἀ-ἑκαων) should always be ἀέκαων: ἄτη (ἀάτη) may be vwritten ἀάτη except in ll. 19. 83 φρεσὶν ἔμβαλον ἄγριον ἄτην (vwhere the use of ἄγριον as a Fem. is also anomalous, § 119). In ll. 3. 100., 6. 356., 24. 28 (where ἄτης comes at the end of the line) the better reading is ἀρχῆς. κοῖλος may be κόλος (cp. Lsat. cανs), except in Od. 22. 385. εἶβος (ἔ-ιδον) may be ἔιδον, except in four places (l. 11. 112., 19. 292, Od. 10. 194., 11. 162). ππολas (Ace. Plur. of πολύς) is not uncommon, but should probably be πολὺς (ἢ 100) : πολέaῳν occurs once (B. 16. 655). Other instances vwith Nouns in -υus and -ευs are rare (ἕauck, ἄSὶ. gττοm. iii. 219 ; Menrad, p. 60), The Fem. in -εῖα is not contracted from -εFἴα, -εῖα but comes directly from -εχα. So οἱδς, οἱὼv for ὁFχ-ός, ὁF1-ῶν (cp. ὄεσσι for ὁ-εσσι), and δἴο2 for δί-ος. ἴῳs and τἔωs, vwhich occur several times in our text, are nearly aleways foloςwedἄ by a Particle (μέν, περ, 1c.), vwhhich has evidently been inserted for the sake of the metre (ἔῳς μέν for ἢος, ἂc.). For ἀλληχιδέa in Od. 13. 194 vwe should doubtless read ἀλλο-δέρ (5 125, 2).

    sἴpυσα may be from ἕ-2ρυσα (but see Schule in Il. S. xix. 64) : as to ἴαχοτ, vwhich has been supposed to stand for εἴαχον, from ἑ-SίFαχον, see 31. 1.

    The most important example of contraction notwithstanding F is the word ςπάῖ2 (παῖς, παιδός, 1c). Other vwοrds vwhich present the same difficulty are : ἅσε (Od. 11. 61), ἄσατο (. 19. 95)-in both places Νauuck vwοulddd read ἄασε- ἀθλοφόρος (l. 9. 265, 11. 699), ἀθλεύαων (l. 24. 734), ἄθλον (Od. 8. 160), ἄσαμεν σε sept (Od. 16. 367), ἑἄ (L 5. 256) and other forms of ἐάω (l. 10. 344, 23- 77, Od. 21. 233), νέα (Od. 9. 283), ῥέα (1. 12. 381 , 17. 461, 20. 101, 263), κρέα (Od. 9. 347), χεῖσθαι (Od. 10. 518), τιμῆντα (l. 18. 425), τεχνῆσσαι (Od.7. 110), ᾖλιος (Od. 8. 271), ἑαωσφόρος (l. 23. 226), πλέαων (Od. Il. 184), τεθνεῶτι (Od. 19. 331), πεπτεῶτα, -τας (l. 21. 503, Od. 22. 384), βεβῶσα (Od. 20. 14),νόου (l. 24. 354), καιρουσσέαων (Od. 7. 107), the compounds of ἐννέα -ἐννῆμαρ, ἑννέaρος· ἑννεόργνιος-and the proper names Εὐρύκλεια Ἀντίκλεια (-κλέεια ἕauck). Some of these may be disposed of by more or less probable emendation : others occur in interpolated passages (e.g. ἤλος in the Song of Demodocus) : others (as πλέαων, τεθνεάα) may be explained by the loss of before ω, ο (ὁ 393O- n the vwhοle they are too fevw and isolated to be of weight against the general usage of Homer.

    The general result of the enquiry seems to be that the harsh- ness of a syni2esis or a contraction is a matter admitting of many degrees. With some combinations of voςwels contraction is hardly avoided, ςwith others it is only resorted to in case of necessity. VWα have already seen that the rules as to lengthening by Position (ἤη 370) are of the same elastic character. And as there is hardly any rule of Position that may not be overborne by the desire of bringing certain ςwοrds into the verse, so there is no contraction that may not be excused by a sufficiently cogent metrical necessity. Thus the synizesis ium such words as στίαια, Αἰγυπτίους, χρυσέοισι stands on the same footing as the neglect οἴ Position ςwith Σκάμανδρος or σκέπαρνον : and again the syni- 22esis in τεμένεα, ἀσινέας, or the contraction in πονεύμενος, ἀμφι- βαλεῦμαι is like the shortening of a vοςwel before προσηύδα, or the purely metrical lengthening of a short vowel ( 386).

    On the same principles harshness of meter may be tolerated for the sake of a familiar phrase: e.ῃ. the hiatus ἄφθιτα αἰεί in Il. 13. 22 (ἄφθιτον ἀεί in Ii. 2. 46, 186., 14. 238). So when the formula καί μιν φωνήσας ἔπεα κτλ. is used of a goddess (D. 15. 35, 89) it becomes καί μιν φωνήσασα ἔπέa. Again the harsh lengthening in μέροπες ἄνθρωποι (l. 18. 288, at the end of the line) is due to the familiar μερόπων ἀνθρώπων.

  • 1. See especially J. van Leeuwen, Mnemosyne, Nor. Scr. xiii. p. 215, xiv. p. 335: and Menrad, De contractionis et synizeseos usu Homerico (Monachii, 1886).