Words with Initial ϝ-

Book Nav


390. The former existence of the ϝ in a given Homeric word may be inferred either from its appear- ance in some other dialect of Greek, or (where this kind of evidence fails) from the corresponding forms in the cognate languages. Thus an original ξείκοσι is supported by the forms βίκατι and εἰκότι on Doric and Boeotian inscriptions, by the Laconian βείκατι (given by Hesychius), and again by Latin νgiπnti, Sanscrit νiὰηati, etc.: an original fέσπερος by the form εσπαρίων on a Locrian inscription, as wet as by Latin νesρeτ2 original Γιῥεῖν, οῖδα, 8xc. by ίστορες on inscriptions, γοῖδα and γοίδημι in Hesychius (erroneously so ςwritten, as Ahrens shoςwed, for βοῖδα and οίδημι), and also by Latin νideο, Sanscrit νedwi, νeada, Engl. wit, etc. We do not, however, propose to discuss the external evidence, as it may be called, by which the loss of an initial ϝ is proved, but only to consider the degree and manner in vwhich the former existence of such a letter can be shown to have affected the versification of Homer. For this purpose it will be enough to give a list of the chief words in question, and in a few cases a statement, by way of specimen, of some of the attempts made to restore the f to the text.1


The initial ϝ is to be traced by the hiatus in

Il. 5. 161 ἐξ αὐχένα ἄξῃ

Il. 8. 403 κατά θʼ ἄρματα ἄξω
(similar phrases in 8. 417, 23. 341, 467)

less decisively by the lengthening of the final -ιν of the preceding word in Il. 4.214 πάλιν ἄγεν ὀξέες ὄγκοι. The evidence against an initial consonant is very slight. In Od. 19. 539 πᾶσι κατʼ αὐχένας ἠξε we should read αὐχένʼ ἔαξε (Bekk.), understanding the Singular distributively (ἢ 170). In Il. 23. 392 for ἵππειον δέ οἱ ἢξε may be read ἵππειόν οἱ ἔαξε.

ἄναξ (ἄνασσα, ἀνάσσειν)

The words of this group occur in Homer about 300 times, and in about B0 instances they are preceded by a final short vowel which would ordinarily be elided. This calculation does not include the phrase ἰφι ἀνάσσειν, or the numerous examples of hiatus after the dative singular in -ι and the genitives in -ροιο, -πιο,-iοa.2

The cases in which a slight correction of the text is needed to make room for the ϝ are as follows.

I1, 1, 288 πάντεσσι δʼ ἀνάσσειν (read ςπἅσις δέ)

9. 73 πολέεσσι δʼ ἀνάσσεις (read πολέσις δέ, § 389).

2. 672 Χαρόποιό τʼ ἄνακτος (read Καοδπουυ τε).

7. 162 (πω 23. 288) πρῶτος μὲν ἄναξ (read perhaps πράτιστα).

15- 453 ροτέοντες· ἄναξ (read κpοτέοvτε, the Dual).

16. 371 (as507) λίπον ἅρματʼ ἀνάκταων (readd ἅρῳμρω, 3 170).

523 σύ πέρ μοι, ἄναξ, τόδε καρτερὸν ἕλκος ἄκεσσαι (read 20).

23. 49 ὅτρννον, ἄναξ (read ὅτρυvε, the Pres. μmper).

517 ὅς βά τʼ ἄνακτα (readd ὅ2 τε or ὅς 5α).

Od. 9. 452 ἦ σύ γʼ ἄνακτος (omit ηʼ).

17. 189 χαλεπαὶ δέ τʼ ἀνάκταων (omit τ).

21. 56 (πο 83) τόξον ἄνακτος (read τόξα).

The imperfect ἠνασσε, which occurs five times, can always be changed into ἑάνασσε. The remaining passages are:

Il. 19. 124 σὸν γένος· οὔ οἱ ἀεικὲς ἀνασσέμεν ἀἀργείοισιν
(a verse which is possibly interpolated).

20. 67 ἔναντα Ποσειδάαωνος ἄνακτος (in the probably spurious θεομαχία).

24. 440. 452 ποίησαν ἄνακτι.

Od. 14. 40 ἀντιθέου γὰρ ἄνακτος κτλ.

395 εἷ μέν κεν νοστήσῃ ἄναξ.

438 κύδαινε δὲ θυμὸν ἄνακτος.

24. 30 ς περ ἄνασσες.

ἄρνα (ἄρνες, etc.)

The ϝ is supported by three instances of hiatus, vi2. ll. 4. 158 οἶμά τε ἀρνῶν, 4- 435 ὅπα ἀρνῶν, 8. 131 ἡθτε ἄρνες: and by the metrical length given to the preceding syllable in ll. 3. 103 ἐς δίφρον ἄρνας, 15. 352 λύκοι ἄρνεσσι.

The passages which need correction are-

ll. 3. 103 οἴσετε δʼ ἄρνʼ (the δὲ is better omittedd).

119 ἡδʼ ἄρνʼ ἑκέλενεν (read ἰδὲ ἄἄρVʼ).

22. 263 οὐδὲ λύκοι τε καὶ ἄρνες (omit τε).

Od. 4. B6 νᾷ τ ἄρνες ἄφαρ κεραοὶ τελέθουσι (omit τ).

9. 226 ἐρίφους τε καὶ ἄρνας.

Note, however, that the evidence for ϝ is confined to the Iliad, and that the derivative ἀρvειόs shows no trace of it.


The presence of an initial consonant is shown by hiatus in nearly 80 places. In two places the text is uncertain.

Il. 24. 320 ὑπὲρ ἄστεος (but διὰ ἄστεος<
(in the Bankes papyrus, and several MSS.)

Od. 3.260 ἑκὰς ἄστεος( ἑκὰς ἀργεος
(in most MSS.)

Two passages admit of the easiest correction:-

Il. 3. 140 ἀνδρός τε προτέροιο καὶ ἄστεος (read πpοτέ0ου)

15. 455 τοὺς μὲν ὅ γʼ Bστυνόμῳ (omit γε or μέν)

Two remain, viz.-

Il. 11. 733 ἀμφίσταντο δὴ ἄστυ (ἀμuμφέσταν Bekk).

18. 274 νύκτα μὲν εἰν ἀγορῇ σθένος ἕξομεν ἄσιν δὲ πύργοι (ἕξετε Bekk.)

The changes made by Bekker in these places are not improbable, but are hardly so obvious as to exclude other hypotheses.

ἔαρ, εἰαρινός

Hiatus is found in Il. 8. 307 νοτίῃσί τε εἰαρινῇσι, and a short final syllable is lengthened in Od. 19. 519 ἀείδῃσιν ἔαρος. In the phrase ὥρῃ ἐν εἰαρινῇ we should doubtless omit the ἐν, as in Od. 5. 455 ὥρῃ χεμερίῃ (Bentl.).


The ϝ appears in ἀνὰ εἴκοσι (Od. 9. 209), and the combination καὶ εἴκοσι (which occurs 9 times, including the compounds with δυαωκκαιεικοσι-).

In Il. 11. 25 χρυσοῖο καὶ εἴκοσι read χρυσοῦ : and in the combination τε καὶ εἴκοσι (in three places) omit τε. In the recurring ἥλυθον εἰκοστῷ ἔτει κτλ. Bekker reads ἄλθος ἐεικοστῷ (Cοbet vwelll compares Od. 23. 102 ἔλθοι ἐεικοστῷ κτλ.), On Od. 5. 34 ἥματί κʼ εἰκοστῷ κτλ. see 5 389.


Twο instances of hiatus indicate ϝ, in Il. 24. 100, 718, besides many places in which the word is preceded by a dative singular, as οὐδένι εἴκων, κάρτει εἴκων.

Twο places may be easily corrected:

Il. 4. 529 μηδʼ εἴκετε (read μὴ εἴκετε

(read with asyndeton as Od. 24. 54 ἴσχεσθʼ Ἀργεῖοι, μὴ ηφεύγετε)

12. 4S τῇ τʼ εἴκουσι
(omit τε).

In Od. 12. 117 for θεοῖσιν ὑπείξεαι read θεοῖς ὑποείξεαι (Bekk.) There remains Π. Il. 294 εἰ δὴ σοὶ πᾶν ἔργον ὑπείξομαι.

ἕοικα, ἐίσκω, εἶκελος

The ϝ of ἔοικα appears from hiatus in 46 instances( not counting the numerous places in which it folloςws a Dative in -ι). Thα adverse instances are 1 1 in number, besides the form ἐπ-έοικε (ςwhich occurs 11 times). The corresponding Present εἴκω is generally recognised in Il. 18. 520

ὅθι σφίσιν εἶκε λοχῆσαι
where it suited them to be in ambush.

The form ἐίσκω has hiatus before it in 3 places, but twice rejects ϝ (Od. 9. 321, 11. 353). The adjective εἴκελος or ἴκελος usually needs an initial consonant (except ll. 19. 282, Od. 11. 207)

It seems probable that this is the same word as εἶκω to yield. The notion of giving way easily passes into that of suiting or fitting, hence conforming to, resembling.

ἑκών, ἕκητι, ἕκηλος

Hiatus indicating ϝ is found in 22 places (not reckoning οὔ τι ἑκών Il. 8. 81, etc.).

In Od. 4. 649 for αὐτὸς ἑκάσ we may read αὐτὸς ἐγόων (cp. Od. 2. 133, where both these forms are found in good MSS). In Od. 17. 477S ἔσθι ἕκηλος two MSS. have ἔσθʼ (i.e. ἔσθε), The remaining exceptions are

with ἑκάὼv, Il. 23. 434, 585; Od. 5. 100 (where we may read τίς κε, or perhaps τίς δὲ ἑκὼν . . . διαδράμοι the Opt. without ἄν being used as in negative Clauses, 299f)

with ἕκηλος, Il. 8. 512, Od. 2. 311 (εὐφραίνεσθ’ ἐθκηλον Bekk.).

2κἀς, ἕκατος, etc.

Traces of ϝ are to be seen in the hiatus

νῦν δὲ ἑκάς (l. 5. 791., 13. 107)
ἀλλὰ ἑκάς (Od. 15- 33)
οὐδὲ ἑκηβολίαι (Ii. 5. 54)

and in the lengthening in Ἀπόλλωνος ἑκάτοιο (l. 7. 83., 20. 295), ἐὕπλόκαμος Ἑκαμήδη, etc.

The exceptions are Il. 1. 21, 438., 17. 333, 20. 422., 22. 15, 302; Od. 7. 321—mostly admitting of easy correction.


The original of this word (recently found on a Locrian inscription, see Cμurt. tνd. ii. 441 lf.) is traced by means of hiatus in 1 1 5 places. The adverse instances, however, are about 50 in number, and the proportion that can be removed by emendation is not so urge as in most cases (see L. Meyer, K. 2. viii. 166. About a fourth of the exceptions appear in the re- curring phrase μένος καὶ θυμὸν ἑκάστου.

The form ἕκάτερθε shows slight traces of initial ϝ in

Od. 6. 19 σταθμοῖιν ἑκάτερθε

11. 57S γῦπε δέ μιν ἑκάτερθε

22. 181 τὼ δʼ ἔσταν ἑκάτερθε

It is preceded by ellsiοn in ll. 20. 153 (omit bʼ), and in ll. 24. 273, Od. 7. 91 (omit δʼ).

εἴλω (ἔλσαι, ἐάλην), ἁλῶναι, ἅλις.

The ϝ is shown by hiatus in

Il. 1. 409 ἀμφʼ ἄλα ἔλσαι

16. 403 στο ἀλείς

and five other examples of this tense, viz. Il. 5. 823, 21. 571, 607, 22. 308; Od. 24. 538).

Il. 18. 287 κεκόρησθε ἐελμένοι

Il. 12. 172 ἠὲ ἁλῶναι (so 14. 81)

Il. 21.281 εἵμαρτο ἁλῶναι (so Od. 5.312, 24.34)

Il. 81. 495 τῇ γε ἁλώμεναι.

Before ἄλις hiatus occurs in about 12 places : cp. also Il. 23 420 εἰνά- τερες ἄλις σαν.

In Il. 21. 236 κατʼ αὐτὸν ἄλις ἔσαν some MSS. read ἔσαν ἄλιs, and at ll. 344 the same transposition may be made. The only other instance against is L1. 17. 54 ὅθʼ ἄλις ἀναβέβρυχεν (ἀναβέβροχεν enod.), where Bentley read δ ἄλις ἀναβέβροχεν.

ἑλίσσω, εἶλύω

Before ἑλίσσω hiatus is found in four places, and the recurring phrases καὶ ἕλικας βοῦς and εἰλίποδας ἕλικας βοῦς point in the same direction. The only exceptions are Od. 12. 355 βοσκέ- σκονθʼ ἕλικες κτλ., and Il. 18. 401 γναμπτάς θʼ ἕλικας.

It is probable that in many places the forms ἐλέλικτο, ἐλελίχθη, 8dc. are old errors for ἑέλικτο, ἑFελίχθη, ἀc.: see Davwes, ἀfisc. Oil. 177 : also Heyne on Il. 1. 530

Traces of ϝ in ἐλύω should perhaps be recognized in Od. 5. 403 (ἑρενγόμενον, εἶλντο) and 15. 479 σάκεσιν εἰλυμένοι: cp. 3. 20. 492 φλόγwα εἰλνφάζει. In 7. 18. 522 ἵζοντ’ εἰλυμένοι it is easy to readd ζοv (as Bekker). The Aοr. Part. ἑλυσβεί2 has no F : but it may be from a different Verb-stem (see Buuttm. Le2ίl. s. v. εἶλύαό).

ἔλπω (ἔολπα)

The initial ϝ of this wοrd is proved by 10 instances of hiatus (including καὶ ἐλπίδος, Od. 16. 101, 19. 84). Γhα Perfect ἔολπα also shοςws traces of ϝ in the reduplicated syllabbe, vi2. in Od. 2. 225o 3. 375. 5. 379.

In Il. 8. 526 εὔχομαι ἐλπόμενος should be εὔχομ’ ἑελπόμενος (Hoffm.) or perhaps (as Zenodotus read) ἕλππομuμωααν εὐχόμuενοs. Ibm four places Fέλπω can be restored by very slight corrections.

Il. 15. 701 Γρωσὶν δʼ ἔλπετο
(bρωσὶ δέ Heyne).

18. 194 ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτὸς ὅδʼ, ἔλπομʼ
(αὐτὸς ἑέλπομʼ Heyne).

Od. 2. 91 (aη 13. 380) πάντας μέν θ’ ἔλπει (omit 5[).

Two others are less easy;

Il. 15- 539 πολέμιζε μέναων, ἔτι δʼ ἔλπετο
(μένον δʼ ἔτι ἔλπετο Bentl.)

Il. 24. 491 ἔπί τʼ ἔλπεται
(καὶ ἔλπεται Bentl.)

The passages which tell against ϝέϝολπα are

Il. 20. 186 χαλεπῶς δέ σʼ ἔολπα τὸ ἕξειν
(read σὲ ἔολπα)

21. 583 μάλʼ ἔολπας
(μάλα ἔλπεʼ Hοffm.)

22. 216 νῶί γʼ ἔολπα
(omit η)

Also, Od. 8. 315, 24. 313.

ἔπος, εἰπεῖν

The ϝ of ἔπος is supported by about 26 instances of hiatus, and a much larger number in which preceding syllables are lengthened (as in the common line καί μιν ἀμειβόμενος ἔπεα κτλ.).

Of the apparent exceptions, about 35 are removed by reading ἕπεσσι for ἐπέεσσι (as in Il. 5. 45 χειρὸς ἑλοῦσʼ ἐπέεσσι προσηύδα, read ἑλοῦσα ἕπεσσυ). This is justiβedd by the fact that in similar vwοrds (esp. βέλος) the form in -εεσσι is less frequent than that in -ἐσσι. A group of 11 may be corrected by scanning ἔπsα as a ddisyllable (- ) in the formula φασήσασα ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα. Another small group of exceptions is forτmed by phrases such as Od. 4. 706 ὁ ὲ δὲ δή μιν ἔπεσσιν κτλ., vwhere perhaps ἑ may be put for μιν. There remain tvwο instances in the liadd (5. 683, 7. 108), and seven in the Odyssey (11. 146, 561., 14- 509r, 15- 375., 16. 469., 17- 374., 24. 161).

In εἰπεῖν the f is proved by about 80 instances of hiatus, be- sides lengthening such as we have in the forms ὅδε δέ τις εἴπεσκε, ὡς ἄρα οἱ εἰπόντι, etc. The exceptions number about 35.

Of these exceptions 10 are found in the recurring line ὄφρ’ εἴπαν τά με θυμὸς ἑνὶ στήθεσσι κελεύει. It has been suggested as possible that εἴπω has here taken the place of an older ἕπω (βFέπω), or ἔσππω (cp. ἔσπετε), This suppositiοnn vwοuulddd of course explain other instances of neglected , as Il. Il. ὅ4., 1 Il. 791, Od. Il. 10, 37, etc.

ἔρδω, ἔργον, etc.

The Verb ἔρδω is preceded by hiatus in two clear instances, Il. 14. 261, Od. 15. 350. In Il.. 9. 540 πόλλʼ ἔρδεσκεν there is an ancient v. l. ἔρρεῦεν. In Il. 10. 503 ὅτι κύντατον ἔρδοι we may read κόντατα. But there are several instances on the other side in the Odyssey (viz. 1. 293, 5. 342, 350, 6. 258, 7.202, 8. 490, 11. 89).

The reduplicated form ἔοργα (for ξέξοργα) is preceded by hiatus in 7 places. Instances on the other side are

Il. 3. 351 ὅ με πρότερος κάκʼ ἔοργε
(where the Aοr. ἔρεξεν is more Homeric, cp. 28)

21. 399 ὅσσα μʼ ἔοργας
(ὅσσα ἔοργας Ambr.)

22. 347 οἷά μʼ ἔοργας
(here also με may be omitted)

Od. 22. 318 οὐδὲν ἐοργώς (read οὅ cp 356).

The Noun ἔργον, with its derivative ἐργάζομαι, occurs in Homer about 250 times, and the f is required to prevent hiatus in about 165 places. There are about 18 instances against ϝ.

eἶρω, ἐρέω.

The ϝ of εἴρω is required by hiatus in the three places where it occurs, vi2. Od. 2. 162, 11. 137, 13. 7 ; that of ἐρέω by about 50 instances of lengthening (such as ἀλλʼ ἔκ τοι ἐρέω, ὥς ποτέ τις ἐρέει, and the like), against which are to be set three instances of elision (l. 4. 1776, 23. 787, Od. 12. 155).

ἕννυμμι, εἷμα, ἐσθής

The ϝ is shown by hiatus in more than 80 places, including the instances of the Perfect Mid. (εἷμαι, ἕσσαι, etc., see 0 23, 5). The contrary instances are of no weight. The superfluous ῥʼ may be omitted in ἐπεί ῥʼ ἕσσαντο (three places), and τʼ similarly in Od. 14- 510, 24. 67. This leaves ll. 3. 57, Od. 6. 83. 7. 239.


The ϝ (which is inferred from Lat. vomo) may be restored by reading ἐέμεσσε for ἀπέμεσσε (Il. 14. 437) and αἷμα fεμέων, or possibly έμων (L. Meyer), for αἷμ’ ἐμέων (l. 15. 11).


Hiatus occurs in six places, after the Prepositions ποτί (Od. 17. 191) and ἐπί, There are no instances against ϝ.


The ϝ is supported by the lengthening of the preceding syllable in five places, such as Il. 24. 765 ἐεικοστὸν ἔτος ἐστί.

In the only adverse instance, Il. 2. 328 τοσσαῦτʼ ἔτεα, we may read and scan τοσαῦτα ἕτε2, as in the case of ἔπεα (sρτa).

ἰ4xω, αxὴ, ἡxὴ

The in ἰάχω and ἰαχή is chiefly indicated by 23 instances of a peculiar hiatus, viz. after a naturally short final vowel in arsis; as ἡ δὲ μέγα ἰάχουσα, ἡμεῖς δὲ ἰάχοντες, γένετο ἰαχή, and the like. There are 3 instances of lengthening by Position. The ϝ is also proved by αὐίαχος (ππ ἀ-ίαχος) withοut a cτγ. The excep- tions are confined to the Aοr. or hmpf. ἴαχον (), which never admits f in Homer: see ἦ 31, 1, πποe.

The derivative ἠχήεις follows hiatus in two places (Π. Il. 157, Od. 4.72) : elsewhere in Homer ἠχή only occurs at the beginning of the line. The compound δυσ-ηχής (πολέμοιο δυσηχέος, ll. 2. 886, etc.) is best derived from ἄχος (see Wackernagel, θeάπμuπρε- ρeτetz, p. 42.

ἰδεῖν, οἶδα, εἷος.

In the different forms of the 2nd Aοr. ἰSεῖν the ϝ is shown by upwards of 1B0 instances of hiatus, and about 12 instances of lengthening of a short syllable. The indicative (εἰδον in Attic) is nearly always a trisyllable (i. e. ἔfιδον) in Homer. On the other side we have to set nearly 50 instances of neglected ϝ, about half of which are susceptible of easy emendation (such as putting ἰδεῖν for ἰδέειν, omitting superfluous δὲ, and the like).

In the Perfect οἴbα there are about 125 instances of hiatus, against 24 which need emendation. Of these, however, only about seven or eight present any difficulty. The proportion is much the same with the other forms, as εἴδομαι, εἴσομαι, etc., and the Nouns εἶδος (11 instances of hiatus, two adverse), ἴστωρ, ἰδρείη, εἴδωλον, etc.

ἴον (ἰόεις, ἰοδνεφές)

The ϝ is supported by hiatus in Od. 4. 135, 9 426, and is novwhere inadmissible.

ἴς, ἰφι (φια),lνες.

These words, with the derived proper names φιάνασσα, φιτος, etc., show ϝ in about 27 places, while seven or eight places need slight emendation. ἴφθιμος, which shoςws no trace of b, is probably from a diferent root.

Γhe ϝ is traced in about 30 instances of hiatus; the adverse passages being 8 or 9 in number. In three of these, containing the phrase ἀτεμβόμενος κίοι σής (B. 11. 705, Od. 9. 42, 549) the form ἴσης should perhaps be changed to αἴσης π2are. Or ςwe may recognize the Aeolic form of the word, viz.ἴσσα (Fick, Odyssee, p. 20). The other places are easily corrected.

ἴτυς, τέῃ.

The ϝ is shown by hiatαs (Il. 4. 486, Od. 10. 510). The Particle τε may be left out before καὶ ἰτέαι in Il. 21. 350.


The ϝ is required in 105 places by hiatus, in 14 by the lengthening of a short syllable. About 25 places are adverse.


The ϝ is required by hiatus in nearly 100 places. The adverse places are about 20 (including the names Οἰνεύς and Οἰνόμαος).

  • 1. The first systematic attempt to restore the digamma was made by Heyne in his edition of the Iliad (1802). It was based upon Bentleyʼs manuscript annotations, of which Heyne had the use. The first text with restored ϝ was published by Payne Κnight (1820). Much was done by the thorough and methodical Quaestiones Homericae of C. A. J. Hoffmann (Clausthal, 1842-48). The ϝ was again printed in the text of Bekkerʼs second edition (Bonn, 1858). The light of the comparative method was brought to bear upon it by Leskien (Rationem quam I. Bekker in restituendo digammο secutus est examinavit Dr. A. Leskien, Lipsiae, 1866). The most complete treatise on the subject is that of Κxn6s (Upsaliae, 1872). The most important contributions, in addition to those mentioned, have been made by Lκoo Meyer (. δ. xviii. 49), and by W. Hartel (Hom. Stud. iii). Most of the cοnjectures given in this chapter come from one or other of these sources.
  • 2. For a complete analysis of the examples in the Iliad see Dawes, Miscellanea Critica, Sect. IV.