Book Nav

252. The pronoun αὐτός is purely anaphoric, its proper use seems to be to emphasize an object as the one that has been mentioned or implied—the very one, that and no other. It conveys no local sense, and is used of the speaker, or the person addressed, as well as of a third person. Specific uses are

  1. To distinguish a person from his surroundings, adjuncts, company, etc.

    Il. 3.195 τεύχεα μέν οἱ κεῖται ἐπὶ χθονὶ πουλυβοτείρῃ,
                  αὐτὸς δὲ κτλ.

    Il. 9.301 αὐτὸς καὶ τοῦ δῶρα
                  he and his gifts

    Il. 14.47 πρὶν πυρὶ νῆας ἐνιπρῆσαι, κτεῖναι δὲ καὶ αὐτούς

    Il. 17.152 ὅς τοι πόλλʼ ὄφελος γένετο πτόλεΐ τε καὶ αὐτῷ
                    to your city and yourself

    So of the body, as the actual person, in contradistinction to the soul or life (ψυχή), Il. 1.4, Od. 11.602, etc.

    Hence, too, αὐτός = by himself (without the usual adjuncts).

    Il. 8.99 Tυδεΐδης δʼ αὐτός περ ἐὼν προμάχοισιν ἐμίχθη

    So Achilles in his complaint of Agamemnon

    Il. 1.356 ἑλὼν γὰρ ἔχει γέρας αὐτὸς ἀπούρας

    i.e. at his own will without the usual sanction; cp. 17. 254, 23.591.

    This meaning appears also in αὔτως = merely.

    Od. 14.151 ἀλλʼ ἐγὼ οὐκ αὔτως μυθήσομαι ἀλλὰ σὺν ὅρκῳ

    Cp. Il. 1.520.

    ἡ δὲ καὶ αὔτως . . . νεικεῖ
    as it is (without such provocation) she reproaches me.

    The genitive αὐτοῦ, etc., is used to strengthen the possessives.

    Od. 2.45 ἐμὸν αὐτοῦ χρεῖος

    Il. 6.490 τὰ σʼ αὐτῆς ἔργα

    Il. 10.204 ᾧ αὐτοῦ θυμῷ
                    (suo ipsius animo)

    Od. 16.197 ᾧ αὐτοῦ γε νόῳ

    Hence in ll. 9.342 τὴν αὐτοῦ φιλέει—where the use of the article is not Homeric—we should probably read ἥν αὐτοῦ.

  2. To express without change the same as before.

    Il. 12.225 οὐ κόσμῳ παρὰ ναῦφιν ἐλευσόμεθ᾽ αὐτὰ κέλευθα

    Od. 8.107 ἦρχε δὲ τῷ αὐτὴν ὁδὸν ἥν περ οἱ ἄλλοι κτλ.

    Hence the use with a dative, noticed in § 144.

    Od. 8.186 αὐτῷ φάρεϊ
                     with his cloak as it was (without putting it off)

    and so αὐτόθι, αὐτοῦ in the place, without moving; and αὔτως without doing more hence without effect, idly.

    Il. 2.342 αὔτως γάρ ῥʼ ἐπέεσσʼ ἐριδαίνομεν

  3. The unemphatic use, as it may be called, in which it is an ordinary anaphoric pronoun of the 3rd person (English he, she, it). In this use the pronoun cannot stand at the beginning of a clause (the emphatic position), or in the nominative—an unemphasized subject being sufficiently expressed by the personal ending of the verb. The use is derived from that of the emphatic αὐτός in the same way that in old-fashioned English the same often denotes merely the person or thing just mentioned, and as in German derselbe and der nämliche are used without any emphasis on the idea of sameness.
  4. The reflexive use of αὐτός is very rare

    Od. 4.247 ἄλλῳ δʼ αὐτὸν φωτὶ κατακρύπτων ἤïσκε

    and perhaps

    Il. 20.55 ἐν δʼ αὐτοῖς ἔριδα ῥήγνυντο βαρεῖαν
                  (among them there, in heaven itself)

    On Il. 9.342 τὴν αὐτοῦ φιλέει see above (1). In Il. 12.204 κύψε γὰρ αὐτὸν ἔχοντα it is best to take αὐτόν in agreement with ἔχοντα (of the eagle). In ll. 19.255 read αὐτόθι (§ 157).

Suggested Citation

D.B. Monro, A Grammar of the Homeric Dialect. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7.