Words with Initial σϝ-

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391. Since the change of initial σ into the rough breathing must have been much earlier than the loss of , it may be presumed that words which originally began with σf were pronounced at one time with the sound ϝ (= our wh). The following are the chief examples in Homer.

ἕο, οἱ, 2, ὅς, etc

The ϝ is proved by hiatus in upwards of 600 instances, by lengthening of a preceding short syllable in 136 instances. There are also about 27 places in vwhich a short vowel in arsis is lengthened before it: as ἀπὸ ἕο, προτὶ οἴ (- - -), θυγατέρα ᾖν, πατέρι d, etc. About 43 places do not admit F vwithout some change ; of these 30 are instances of the Possessive ὅς.

This Pronoun is noticeable as the only word in which the original a is recognised in the spelling of oar texts. The moveable -ν is not used before the forms οἶ ἔ: thus we have δαῖέ οἱ, ὥς κέ οἱ, etc.; and, similarly, οὔ οἱ, οὐ ἔθεν (not οὔχ οἱ. οὐχ ἔθεν). Γhis rule is observed not only in Homer but also in the later Elegiac and Lyric poets, and even the lyrical parts of tragedy (Soph. El. 195, Trach. 550). It does not apply, however, to the forms of the Possessive ὅς.

When the forms 'ϝe, 'ϝοἱ suffer elision (ὃ 376), the word is reduced to 'ϝ ' and consequently disappears from our texts.

Thus in Il. 24. 154 ὃς ἄξει κτλ. it is plain from the parallel ll. 183 ὅς σʼ ἄξει that the original was ὅς'fb ἄξει (Bekker, Ποw. β. i. 318). Other corrections of the kind are:-

Il. 1. 195 πρὸ γὰρ ἢκε, readd πρὸ δέ'ϝ,' as in l.208 πρὸ δέ μʼ ἠκε.

4. 315 ὡς ὄφελέν τις ἀνδρῶν ἄλλος ἔχειν, read ὥς 'ϝ.'

1θ. 545 μὴ ἀπὸ τεύχε ἕλωνται, read μή 'ϝ' (Cοbet, Misc. Crit. 265).

Od. 5. 135 ἠδὲ ἔφασκον θήσειν ἀθάνατον, read ἠδέ 'ϝ.'

Examples of the restoration of ϝ(οι) will be found in ἦ 376.1

ἁνδάνω, ηδός, ἢος

The ϝ appears in 12 or 15 instances of hiatus, and in the 2nd Aοr. form εὔαδε (for ἕαδε). The exceptions are, ll. 3. 173 ὡς ὄφελεν θάνατός μοι ἁδεῖν (read ὥς μʼ ὄφελεν θάνατος ἀδέειν, see ἦ 355) and 6 places with ἡδύς, tςwο of which (l. 4. 131, Od. 19 510) may be easily emended. The Substantive ἢδος occurs chiefly in the phrase ἔσσεται ἠόος, where ἔσται may perhaps be read.

ἔθος, ἢθος

The ϝ is indicated by the hiatus κατὰ ἤθεα (Od. 14. 411). In μετά τʼ ἤθεα καὶ νομὸν ἵππων (Π. 6. 51 1., 15. 268) the τε is better omitted. Thα Pf. εἴωθα or ἔωθα probably had no initial Γ, since σa- ςwould give in reduplication σεσϝ- or ἐσϝ- (not σϝεσϝ-).


The only place bearing on the question before us is ll. 3. 172 φίλε ἑκυρέ, vwhere the metre points to an initial consonant. Γhe ξ may be traced by hiatus in ll. 5. 270 τῶν οἱ ἐξ κτλ, by lengthening in Il. 24. ὅ04, Od. 10. 6. Adverse instances are 7. 23. 741, Od. 3. 115. 415, 14- 20.

The ϝ appears from hiatus in seven places, and can alςways be restored. The word is probably formed from the pronomiὰnal stem σξε- (so that it is = unus e suis).

  • 1. The whole subject is fully treated by J. van Leeuwen, Mnemos. xiii, 188 ff. from whom these emendations are taken.