Uses of the Vocative

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164. Regarding the use of the vocative in Homer the chief point to be noticed is the curious one (common to Greek and Sanskrit) that when two persons are addressed, connected by τε, the second name is put in the nominative.1

Il. 3. 277 Ζεῦ πάτερ δηθεν μεδέων κύδιστε μέγιστε,
Ἡέλιος θʼ ὸς κτλ.

Similarly, the vocative is not followed by δέ or any similar conjunction, but the pronoun σύ is interposed.

Il. 1.282 Ἀτρεΐδη σὺ δὲ παῦε κτλ.
               but, son of Atreus, cease etc.

The nominative is often used for the vocative, especially, it would seem, in order to avoid the repetition of the vocative; eg. Il. 4.189 φίλος ὦ Μενέλαε. On this point however it is not always possible to trust to the accuracy of the text. Cobet (Misc. Crit. p. 333) has good grounds in the meter for proposing to change a great many vocatives into nominatives.

Il. 23.493 Αἶαν Ἰδομενεῦ τε
(read Αἴας Ἰδομενεύς τε)

Il. 2.8 οὖλε ὄνειρε
(read οὖλος)

Od. 8.408 χαῖρε πάτερ ὦ ξεῖνε
(read πατὴρ)

Il. 18.385 τίπτε Θέτι τανύπεπλε ἱκάνεις
(Θέτις Zenod.)

  • 1. Delbrück, Synt. Forsch. iv. p. 28.