The Reflexive Pronoun

Book Nav

main

253. The Pronoun ἕο (i.e. the personal pronoun declined from the stems ἑε- or ἑ- and σφε-) is sometimes reflexive (i. e. denotes the subject of the sentence or clause), sometimes a simple anaphoric pronoun. In the latter use it is always unemphatic.

  1. The reflexive sense is chiefly found either

    a. after a preposition

    ἀμφὶ ἒ παπτήνας
    looking round him

    and so ἀπὸ ἕο, ἐπὶ οἷ, προτὶ οἷ, μετὰ σφίσι, κατὰ σφέας, etc., or

    b. when it is reinforced by αὐτός.

    Il. 20.171 ἑὲ δʼ αὐτὸν ἐποτρύνει μαχέσασθαι
    stirs himself up tο fight

    Other examples are few in number.

    Il. 2.239 ὃς καὶ νῦν Ἀχιλῆα, ἕο μέγʼ ἀμείνονα φῶτα κτλ.

    Il. 5.800 ἦ ὀλίγον οἷ παῖδα ἐοικότα γείνατο Τυδεύς

    So ll. 4.400, 5.56, 24.134; Od. 11.433, 19.446, 481. We should add however such infinitival clauses as

    Il. 9.305 ἐπεὶ οὔ τινά φησιν ὁμοῖον οἷ ἔμεναι κτλ.

    where the reference is to the subject of the governing verb. So Il. 17.407, Od. 7. 217, etc. Compare also the similar use in subordinate clauses.

    Il. 11.439 γνῶ δʼ Ὀδυσεὺς ὅ οἱ οὔ τι τέλος κατακαίριον ἦλθεν

    The strictly reflexive use is commoner in the Iliad than in the Odyssey. Excluding infinitival and subordinate clauses, there are 43 examples in the Iliad, against 18 in the Odyssey. Note that the use is mainly preserved in fixed combinations (ἀπὸ ἕο, προτὶ οἷ, etc.).

  2. The anaphoric (non-reflexive) use is very much commoner. In this use—which is doubtless derived from the other by loss of the original emphasis—the pronoun is enclitic, whereas in the reflexive use it is orthotone.

    Accentuation. According to the ancient grammarians this pronoun is orthotone

    1. when used in a reflexive sense
    2. when preceded by a preposition, and
    3. when followed by a case form of αὐτός in agreement with it.

    The first and second rules, as we have seen, practically coincide and the third is not borne out by the usage of Homer. In such places as

    Od. 2.33 εἴθε οἱ αὐτῷ Ζεὺς ἀγαθὸν τελέσειε

    Il. 6.91 καί οἱ πολὺ φίλτατος αὐτῇ

    Od. 8.396 Εὐρύαλος δέ ἑ αὐτὸν (Ὀδυσσέα) ἀρεσσάσθω

    —add Il. 24.292, Od. 4. 66.667, 6.277—the pronoun is evidently unemphatic, and is accordingly allowed to be enclitic by good ancient authorities. This is amply confirmed by the instances of μιν αὐτόν (Il. 21.245, 318, Od. 3.19, 237, etc.), and the parallel use of αὐτός with the enclitic μοι, τοι, etc.

    In one instance

    Od. 4.244 αὐτόν μιν πληγῇσιν ἀεικελίῃσι δαμάσσας

    it would seem that μιν has a reflexive sense. The reading, however is not certain, some ancient authorities giving αὐτὸν μέν or αὑτὸν μέν.

254. The possessive ἑός, ὅς is nearly always reflexive. Occasionally it refers to a prominent word in the same sentence which is not grammatically the subject.

Il. 6.500 αἱ μὲν ἔτι ζωὸν γόον Ἕκτορα ᾧ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ.

Od. 9.369 Οὖτιν ἐγὼ πύματον ἔδομαι μετὰ οἷς ἑτάροισι

Cp. Il. 16.800, 22.404; Od. 4.643, 11.282, 23.153. And it is occasionally used in a subordinate clause to refer to the subject, or a prominent word, of the principal clause.

Od. 4.618    πόρεν δέ ἑ Φαίδιμος ἥρως
Σιδονίων βασιλεύς, ὅθʼ ἑὸς δόμος ἀμφεκάλυψε
κεῖσέ με νοστήσαντα (cp. 4.741).

Il. 10.256 Τυδεΐδῃ μὲν δῶκε μενεπτόλεμος Θρασυμήδης
φάσγανον ἄμφηκες, τὸ δʼ ἑὸν παρὰ νηῒ λέλειπτο

Il. 16.753 ἔβλητο πρὸς στῆθος, ἑή τέ μιν ὤλεσεν ἀλκή

It will be seen that where ἑός does not refer to the grammatical subject it is generally emphatic, e.g. in the line last quoted, ἑὴ ἀλκή his own prowess not that of an enemy. This indicates the original force of the pronoun, which was to confine the reference emphatically to a person or thing just mentioned.

255. Use of ἑός, ὅς as a General Reflexive Pronoun. It has been a matter of dispute with Homeric scholars, both ancient and modern, whether ἑός (ὅς) was confined to the 3rd person singular (his/her own) or could be used as a reflexive of any number and person (own in general—my own, thy own, their own, etc.).1 The question is principally one of textual criticism, and depends in the last resort on the comparative weight to be assigned to the authority of the two great Alexandrian grammarians, Zenodotus and Aristarchus. It is connected with another question, of less importance for Homer, viz. whether the forms ἕο, οἷ, ἕ are confined to the singular, and those beginning with σφ- to the plural.

  1. In regard to the latter of these questions there is no room for doubt. The only instance in dispute is Il. 2.197-198, where Zenodotus read

    θυμὸς δὲ μέγας ἐστὶ διοτρεφέων
    βασιλήων τιμὴ δʼ ἐκ Διός ἐστι, φιλεῖ δέ ἑ μητίετα Ζεύς

    and so the first line is quoted by Aristotle (Rhet. 2.2). Aristarchus read διοτρεφέος βασιλῆος. However, admitting Zenodotus to be right, ἕ need not be a plural. The change from plural to singular is not unusual in passages of a gnomic character.

    Od. 4.691      ἥ τʼ ἐστὶ δίκη θείων βασιλήων·
    ἄλλον κʼ ἐχθαίρῃσι βροτῶν, ἄλλον κε φιλοίη.

  2. Again, the "general" reflexive use, if it exists in Homer, is confined to the adjective ἑός, ὅς. The only contrary instance is Il. 10.398 (Dolon tells Ulysses that he has been sent by Hector to find out)—

    ἠὲ φυλάσσονται νῆες θοαὶ ὡς τὸ πάρος περ,
    ἦ ἤδη χείρεσσιν ὑφʼ ἡμετέρῃσι δαμέντες
    φύξιν βουλεύοιτε μετὰ σφίσιν, οὐδʼ ἐθέλοιτε κτλ.

    So the MSS., but Ar. read βουλεύουσι, ἐθέλουσι, making Dolon repeat the exact words of Hector (11.309-311); and this reading, which gives σφίσι its usual sense, is clearly right. The optative is not defensible (especially after the indicative φυλάσσονται), and was probably introduced by someone who thought that Dolon, speaking of the Greeks to Ulysses, must use the 2nd person plural. But the 3rd person is more correct; for Ulysses is not one of the Greeks who can be supposed to be "consulting among themselves."

    The form ἕ is found as a plural in Hom. H. Ven. 267. In later epic poets the substantival εἷο, etc., are used as reflexives of any person or number. See Theocritus 27.44, Apollonius Rhodius 1.893, 2.635, 1278, 3.99 (Brugmann, Probl. p. 80). But the use is exclusively post-Homeric.

  3. The case is different with the adjective. We find forms of ἑός (ὅς) read by Zenodotus in a number of places in which our MSS. and editions—following the authority of Aristarchus—have substituted other words. Thus in

    Il. 3.244 ὥς φάτο, τοὺς δʼ ἤδη κάτεχεν φυσίζοος αἶα,
    ἐν Λακεδαίμονι αὖθι, φίλῃ ἐν πατρίδι γαίῃ·

    for φίλῃ Ζenodotus read ἑῇ (their own). So, again, in—

    Il. 11.393 ἀλλὰ σύ, εἰ δύνασαί γε, περίσχεο παιδὸς ἑῆος,

    and in similar passages (Il. 15.138, 19.342, 24.550), it is known from the scholia that Aristarchus read ἑῆος, Zenodotus ἑοῖο (= thine own). Again, in—

    Il. 11.142 νῦν μὲν δὴ τοῦ πατρὸς ἀεικέα τίσετε λώβην

    Zenodotus read οὗ πατρὸς (your own father). It is probable that he read οὗ in the similar places Il. 19.322, Od. 16.149, etc. Besides the instances of undoubtedly ancient difference of reading, there are several places where one or more MSS. offer forms of ἑός in place of ἐμός and σός. Thus—

    Il. 14.221 ὅ τι φρεσὶ σῇσι μενοινᾷς (ᾗσι D)

    Il. 19.174 σὺ δὲ φρεσὶ σῇσιν ἰανθῇς (ᾗσιν in several MSS.)

    Similar variations (with φρεσί) are found in Od. 5.206, 6.180, 13.362, 15.111, 24.357. Again—

    Od. 1.402 δώμασι σοῖσιν ἀνάσσοις (οἷσιν ten MSS.)

    Similarly in Od. 8.242, 15.89 (ἑοῖσι for ἐμοῖσι): also—

    Od. 7.77 καὶ σὴν ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν (ἥν ἐς in one MS.)

    Od. 13.61 σὺ δὲ τέρπεο τῷδʼ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ (ᾧ ἐνὶ one MS.)

    Another instance of variation is detected by Brugmann in—

    Il. 9.414 εἰ δέ κεν οἴκαδʼ ἵκωμι φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν,

    where the MSS. (except A) have ἵκωμαι, pointing to ἑὴν (my own).2 The existing text of the Odyssey contains three passages which Brugmann claims as instances of a general reflexive sense, viz. Od. 4.192 (as to which see Merry and Riddell's note), Od. 13.320 (where there is some reason to suspect an interpolation), and—

    Od. 9.28                            οὔ τοι ἐγώ γε
    ἧς γαίης δύναμαι γλυκερώτερον ἄλλο ἰδέσθαι

    But there is no reason to take ἧς otherwise than in v. 34

    ὥς οὐδὲν γλύκιον ἧς πατρίδος οὐδὲ τοκήων γίγνεται
    nothing is sweeter than a man's own country, etc.

    The reference of the pronoun is to a typical or imaginary person, as in Od. 1.392.

    αἶψά τε οἱ δῶ ἀφνειὸν πέλεται
    a man's house (when he is a king) quickly grows rich

    We have seen that post-Homeric poets use the substantival ἕο, etc. in the sense in question. The corresponding use of the adjective ἑός, ὅς is still more common, as Brugmann shows. It is found in Hesiod for the 3rd person plural (Op. 58, Theog. 71), and in Callimachus, Apollonius Rhodius, and Quintus Smyrnaeus (Probl. pp. 28, 78-83).

  4. In attempting to arrive at a conclusion on this matter we must begin by understanding that the issue does not lie between supposing on the one hand that Aristarchus was entirely right, and on the other hand that he introduced a strange form like ἑῆος on his own authority, and merely to satisfy a theory. The latter is improbable, not only from the respect for manuscript authority which is expressly attributed to him, but also because the various readings are not all capable of being explained on this supposition. Thus

    1. the word ἑῆος is proved to exist by Od. 14.505, 15.450, and in the latter place ἑοῖο, though excluded by the sense, is found as a variant. Also,
    2. ἑῆος is found for ἑοῖο meaning his own in Il. 14.9, 18.71, 138. It cannot therefore be regarded as certain that ἑῆος was systematically introduced merely to get rid of ἑοῖο = my own, thy own. Again,
    3. the use of the article in τοῦ πατρός, τῆς μητρός, τοῦ παιδός, is not clearly un-Homeric (see § 258). And if in Il. 11.763 οἷος τῆς ἀρετῆς ἀπονήσεται Bentley was right in reading ἥς (cp. 17.25), it follows that the article might creep in for οὗ ἧς, etc., apart from the intention of carrying out a grammatical theory.

    On the other side it must be conceded that the generalized reflexive use of ἑός, ὅς—if not of the substantival ἕο, etc.—is of high antiquity, so that sporadic instances of it may have occurred in the genuine text of Homer. If so, the error of Aristarchus will consist in a somewhat undue purism.

    Brugmann holds that the general reflexive sense is the primary one, belonging to the stem sva in the original Indo-European language, and surviving in the Homeric use of ἑός, ὅς. But even if the readings of Zenodotus which give this sense are right, it does not follow that they represent the oldest use of the Pronoun. Brugmann has himself given excellent instances of the extension to the 1st and 2nd person of a reflexive pronoun originally confined to the 3rd (Probl. pp. 119 ff.). In the present case it is significant that the generalised use of the substantival forms ἕο, etc., is clearly post-Homeric. If ἑός (ὅς) is sometimes used in Homer, as well as afterwards of the 1st and 2nd persons, it is natural to see in this the result of an extension of usage. The case is different with the use of the stem sva for the plural. That use, as we see from the Latin se and suus was the original one. It is noteworthy that this undoubtedly primitive use is precisely the one of which there is least trace in Homer.

  • 1. The question was first scientifically discussed by Miklosich, in a paper read to the Vienna Academy (1, 1848, p. 119 ff). He was followed on the same side by Brugmann (Ein Problem der homerischen Textkritik und der vergleichenden Sprachwissenschaft, Leipzig 1876).
  • 2. Brugmann carries his theory into other passages where he supposes Aristarchus to have corrected the text in order to get rid of the use of ἑός for the 1st or 2nd person, but the examples quoted above will suffice to give an idea of the strength of his argument.