Book Nav

354. γε is used, like περ, to emphasize a particular word or phrase. It does not however intensify the meaning, or insist on the fact as true, but only calls attention to the word or fact, distinguishing it from others.

Il. 1.81 εἴ περ γάρ τε χόλον γε καὶ αὐτῆμαρ καταπέψῃ,
            ἀλλά τε καὶ μετόπισθεν ἔχει κότον

Here γε shows that the wοrd χόλος is chosen in order to be contrasted with κότος. So too

Il. 2.379 εἰ δέ ποτʼ ἔς γε μίαν βουλεύσομεν, οὐκέτʼ ἔπειτα

if we could ever agree, instead of contending. Again, where an idea is repeated

Il. 5.350 εἰ δὲ σύ γʼ ἐς πόλεμον πωλήσεαι, ἦ τέ σʼ ὀΐω
              ῥιγήσειν πόλεμόν γε

cp. also

Il. 1.299 ἐπεί μʼ ἀφέλεσθέ γε δόντες
              since you have but taken away what you gave
              (where we should rather emphasize δόντες)

Od. 4.193           οὔ τοι ἔγωγε
                 τέρπομʼ ὀδυρόμενος . . .
                 νεμεσσῶμαί γε μὲν οὐδὲν
                 κλαίειν κτλ.
                 I do not take pleasure in lamenting, but yet
                 do not say that I complain of a man weeping
, etc.

Od. 9.393 τὸ γὰρ αὖτε σιδήρου γε κράτος ἐστί
                 that is the strength of iron (in particular)

Od. 10.93 οὐ μὲν γάρ ποτʼ ἀέξετο κῦμά γʼ ἐν αὐτῷ,
                 οὔτε μέγʼ οὔτʼ ὀλίγον, λευκὴ δʼ ἦν ἀμφὶ γαλήνη
                 no wave at all (nothing that could be called
                  a wave) rose in it, etc.

So too γε emphasizes a word as a strong or appropriate one, or as chosen under the influence of feeling (anger, contempt, etc.)

Od. 9.458 τῷ κέ οἱ ἐγκέφαλός γε . . .
                 ῥαίοιτο κτλ.

Od. 17.244 τῷ κέ τοι ἀγλαΐας γε διασκεδάσειεν ἁπάσας

Il. 7.198 ἐπεὶ οὐδʼ ἐμὲ νήϊδά γʼ οὕτως
              ἔλπομαι κτλ.

So in the phrase εἴ ποτʼ ἔην γε, which means if he lived at all, and thus is a form of asseveration

Il. 3.180 δαὴρ αὖτʼ ἐμὸς ἔσκε κυνώπιδος εἴ ποτʼ ἔην γε
              he was my brother-in-law if he was anything

i. e. that he was so is as sure as that there was such a person.

γε is common with the article (§ 257.2) and the personal pronouns (so that it is usual to write ὅγε, ἔγωγε as one word), also with ὅδε, οὗτος, κεῖνος, and the corresponding adverbs ὧδε, τότε, etc. It serves chiefly to bring out the contrast which these pronouns more or less distinctly imply. Similarly with words implying comparison, as ἄλλος and ἕτερος, πρίν, πάρος, etc. When a special emphasis is intended, Homer usually employs περ.

Od. 1.59           οὐδέ νυ σοί περ
               ἐντρέπεται φίλον ἦτορ
               not even are you moved
               (who are especially bound to care for Odysseus)

So too, as Nauck has pointed out (Mél. gr.-rom. iv. 501), πάρος γε means before (not now), while πάρος περ means even before (not merely now). Hence in

Il. 13.465           ὅς σε πάρος γε
                γαμβρὸς ἐὼν ἔθρεψε

the γε of the MSS. is right; and so we should read (with A. against other MSS.)

Il. 17.587           ὃς τὸ πάρος γε
                μαλθακὸς αἰχμητής

but (again with A) in

Il. 15.256           ὅς σε πάρος περ

In a conditional protasis (with ὅς, ὅτε, εἰ, etc.), γε emphasizes the condition as such; hence εἴ γε if only, always supposing that. Cp.

Od. 2.31 ἥν χʼ ὑμῖν σάφα εἴποι, ὅτε πρότερός γε πύθοιτο
               which he would tell you, if and when he had been first to hear it

On the other hand, εἴ περ means supposing ever so much, hence if really (Latin si quidem). So when πρίν expresses a condition (§ 297) it takes γε.

Il. 5.288 πρίν γʼ ἢ ἕτερόν γε πεσόντα κτλ.


Suggested Citation

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