Explanation from Fixed Phrases

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401. The traces of 5 may also be ascribed to the conventional phrases of the early epic style. The word ἄστ, for example, is found very frequently in the combinations προτὶ ἄστυ, ἀνὰ ἄστυ, κατὰ ἄστυ, etc. ; but these do not prove the pronunciation ἄστυ for Homeric tines any more than (e.ῃ.) ἐπιεικής proves an Attic ἐπιξεικής. Such phrases, it may be said, ςwere handed on ready-made, vwith a fixed metrical value, and served as models for fresh combinations, in vwhich the hiatus vwas retained as part oΓ the familiar rhythm.

This explanation is inadequate, for the following reasons.

  1. The instances of f are not confined to the commonest swords, or to frequently recurring phrases. Thus it is found in ἴον a νiοlet, ἴτως iRe 7ettοe ῃʼ a μwθeeί, tτέη a νwittοw, ἄρνες taριbs. And it is used (generally speaking) in all the ἀiferent forms of each Verb or Noun, vwhether of common occurrence or not (ἰδεῖν as wet as Sέειν, ἴνεσι as ςwel as ἴς and ἴ4φι, 8ʼc.).
  2. The other cases in which tradition can be shown to have had the effect of retaining older phrases and combinations are not really parallel. In the Homeric Hymns the ξ can be clearly traced : but the proportion of instances which do not admit f is markedly diβerent. Γaking the words already used as examples, viz. ἄνοαξ, ἄστυ, ἔργον, οἰκὸς, ἰδεῖν, we find them in the Hymns 152 times, while the is neglected in 36 places, or nearly one-fourth of the ςwhole. Again if we look at the swords which begin with ο, as ολαμός, ὅr, etc. (ἤη 393), we find similar conditions. Γhα traces of f are undoubted, but do not predominate as with ἄναξ or ἄστο. Other examples may be seen in the traces of the double consonants, σρ, σλ, σν, ρ discussed in ἡ 37 Il. Compare the free use of alternate forms, as ἔρεξα and ἔρρεtα, προ-ρέω and ἐπιρρέωω, ςwith the almost invariable recognition of δf in δέος, δείσας, 8SCc. We seem to be able to draw a broad distinction betςween the pτedορwminαtiπ9 influence of the f in Homer and the arbitrary or occasional influence ob the older forms in other cases. And these other cases, vwe may conclude, give us a measure of the force of tradition in such matters, while in the case ob the Homeric F the effect is due to its retention as a living sound.
  3. A further argument in favor ob f as a real sound in Homer has been derived from the places in vwhich ε, bοι suffer elision (ἢ 391) ; see Leafʼs note on Π. 24. 154. The argument has much force, and vwould be conclusive if vwe could assume that an elided vowel ςwas not sounded at all.