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211. The preposition κατά (by apocope κάδ, etc.) means down, and is parallel in most uses to ἀνά. It is never purely adverbial (κάτω being used instead, cp. ἄνω), but is common in tmesis, as

Il. 1.436 κατὰ δὲ πρυμνήσι ἔδησαν

Il. 19.334 κατὰ πάμπαν τεθνάμεν, etc.

and in composition. Besides the primary sense (seen in κατ-άγω I bring down, κατα-νεύω I nod downwards, i.e. in assent, etc.) it often has the meaning all over, as

I clothe

I pour over

hence completely, as

κατὰ πάντα φαγεῖν
tο eat all up

I kill outright

also in the place, as before, as

I leave where it was, etc.

κατά is not used with the dative. If such a use ever existed it was superseded by ὑπό (just as ἀνά with the dative gave way to ἐπί). The possibility of the combination may be seen from the phrases κατʼ αὐτόθι, κατʼ αὖθι.

212. With the accusative κατά means down along, down through, as κατὰ ῥόον down stream.

Il. 10.349 ἀνὰ στόμα καὶ κατὰ ῥῖνας (of blood)

But it is very often used (like ἀνά) of motion that is not upward or downward, except from some arbitrary point of view, as

καθʼ ὁδόν
along the way

κατὰ πτόλιν
through the city, etc.

again, κατὰ φρένα καὶ κατὰ θυμόν in mind and spirit.

Other varieties of use are

  1. With collective nouns (chiefly in the Iliad).

    κατὰ στρατόν
    through the camp

    πόλεμον κάτα

    κατὰ κλόνον, etc.

  2. With plurals (less common).

    κατʼ αὐτούς
    going among them

    κατʼ ἀνθρώπους ἀλάλησθαι

  3. Of the character or general description of an action

    κατὰ πρῆξιν (ἀλάλησθε)
    on a piece of business

    ἦλθον κατὰ χρέος

    πλαζόμενοι κατὰ ληΐδα

    all in the Odyssey.

  4. To express place; especially of wounds.

    κατʼ ὦμον
    about (somewhere on) the shoulder

    Il. 1.484 ἵκοντο κατὰ στρατόν
                     arrived opposite (within the space adjoining)
                     the camp

    Od. 5.441 ποταμοῖο κατὰ στόμα ἵξε νέων

  5. To express agreement (from the notion of falling in with) in the phrases

    κατὰ θυμόν
    κατὰ κόσμον
    κατὰ μοῖραν
    κατʼ αἶσαν

  6. Distributively, as

    Il. 2.99 ἐρήτυθεν δὲ καθʼ ἕδρας
                   in their several seats

    and so in 2.362 κρῖνʼ ἄνδρας κατὰ φῦλα κατὰ φρήτρας.

  7. κατὰ σφέας (μάχεσθαι) by themselves (to the extent constituted by themselves): so Il. 1.271 κατʼ ἔμʼ αὐτόν.

These uses may generally be identified in principle with some of the accusatives mentioned in §§ 136-138. Thus the accusative in ἦθον κατὰ χρέος is like ἀγγελίην ἐλθεῖν; in κατὰ κόσμον it is like the adverbial δέμας, ἄκην, etc. κρῖνε κατὰ φῦλα = μοίρας δάσασθαι and κατʼ ὦμον like the Accusative of the Part Affected.

213. With the genitive κατά has twο chief meanings

  1. Down from.

    κατʼ οὐρανοῦ
    down from heaνen

    καθʼ ἵππων ἄλτο
    leaped from the chariοt

    This genitive is clearly ablatival in origin.

  2. Down on (in, over, etc.).

    Il. 3.217 κατὰ χθονὸς ὄμματα πήξας
                     fixing his eyes on the ground

    κατὰ δʼ ὀφθαλμῶν κέχυτʼ ἀχλύς
    a mist was shed over his eyes

    κατὰ γαίης
    down in the earth

Comparing the similar uses of ἐπί (§ 200), ὑπό (§ 204.2), and προτί (§ 208), we can hardly doubt that the genitive in this latter group is originally akin to the Genitives of Place (§ 149).

Suggested Citation

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