Function of the Case Endings

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131. The case endings and adverbial endings serve (as has been said in § 90) to show the relation in which the wοrds to which they are suffixed (nouns, pronouns, adverbs, etc.) stand to the verb of the sentence.

This relation may be of three kinds

  1. The noun or pronoun may express the subject of the verb, or rather (since a subject is already given by the person ending) it may qualify or define the subject so given, as in the sentence

    βασιλεὺς δίδω-σι
    the-king he-gives

    βασιλεύς explains the subject given by the ending -σι.

  2. The noun, etc., may qualify the predicate given by the stem of the verb. In

    ταῦτα δίδω-σι
    ἐμοὶ δίδω-σι
    καλῶς δίδω-σι
    ἀπο-δίδω-σι

    the noun (pronoun, adverb, preposition) qualifies the meaning expressed in the stem διδω-.

    Constructions of these two kinds are found in sentences which involve the addition of one wοrd only to the verb. Those of the second kind might be called adverbial—using the term in the widest sense, for a wοrd construed with a verb stem.

    Note that a nominative may be used adverbially, βασιλεύς ἐσ-τι may mean he-is king (as well as the king he-is). See § 162.

  3. The noun, etc., may be connected with, and serve to qualify, another noun or adverbial wοrd. For example, in the sentences

    βασι-λέως υἱὸς δίδωσι

    Κύρου βασιλέως περιγίγνεται

    the word βασιλέως is not connected with the verb, but with a noun.

    If the former constructions are adverbial, these might be called adnominal or adjectival. The sentences in which they are found must contain at least two words besides the verb; they are therefore of a higher order of structure than the two former kinds.

    From these relations, again, more complex forms of structure are derived in several ways, which it will be enough to indicate in the briefest manner.

    A verb compounded with a preposition becomes for the purposes of construction a new verb, with a syntax of its own.

    Similarly, the phrase formed by a verb and a noun (case form or adverb) may be equivalent in the construction to a single verb, and may take a further adverb, or govern cases of nouns accordingly. In

    κακὰ ῥέζει τινά
    he does eνil to someone

    the accusative τινά is governed by the phrase κακὰ ῥέζει; in

    τίεν ἶσα τέκεσσι
    honored like his children

    the dative τέκεσσι is governed by τίεν ἶσα.

    Again, the new case form or adverb so governed by a verb and noun may belong in sense to the noun. Thus in the sentence

    μέγʼ ἔξοχος ἔπλετο
    he is greatly eminent

    since ἔξοχος expresses the meaning which μέγα is intended to qualify, we may consider that practically μέγα is construed with ἔξοχος alone. Evidently a qualification of this kind will generally apply only to an adjective1, (just as the degrees of comparison are essentially adjectival). In this way it comes about that an adverb may in general be used to qualify an adjective; and that very many adjectives and adverbs govern the same cases as the verbs which correspond to them in meaning. In συῒ εἴκελος ἀλκήν the adjective εἴκελος takes the construction of a verb meaning to be like.

    In a strictly scientific treatment of the cases the various constructions with the verb should come before the constructions with nouns and prepositions. Such a treatment, however, would have the inconvenience of frequently separating uses of the same case which are intimately connected, e. g. the construction ἀλγεῖ τὴν κεφαλήν (2) cannot well be separated from the extension of the same construction in μέγας ἐστὶ τὸ σῶμα (3). The nominative, too, is used not only as the subject, but also as the predicate, or part of it. It will be best therefore to take the several cases in succession, and to begin with the "οblique" cases.

  • 1. In later Greek adverbs are constantly used to qualify substantives, as ὁ ἀεὶ βασιλεύς, ὁ πρὶν χρόνος, etc. But this use only becomes possible when we have the article to show how the adverb is to be understood.