396. The metrical tests by which initial ϝ is discovered generally fail us when the sound occurs in the middle of a word. Loss of ϝ may be shown either
- By the contraction or synizesis of two vowels originally separated by it, or
- By the shortening of the first of two such vowels.
We have seen that the instances of contraction and synizesis are tοο rare or doubtful to prove much (§ 378*). The cases in which hiatus is indicated by the shortening of a vowel are somewhat more important. In the declension of νηῦς the forms νεός, νέες, νεῶν, νέεσσι, νέας (§ 94.1) cannot be derived phonetically from νηϝός, etc., unless we suppose loss of ϝ to have taken place. The same applies to the double forms of nouns in -ευς, as Πηλῆος and Πηλέος, etc. Unless the short vowel is explained on some other hypothesis (e. g. by variation in the stem, as in Ζεύς and βοῦς, § 106.2), we must suppose that ϝ had ceased to be sounded in the middle of a word. The loss of ϝ would also explain the metathesis of quantty in ἕως for ἧος in Od. 2.79 (see § 171.1), τέως for τῆος in Il. 19.189 αὔθι τέως ἐπειγόμενος (where G. Herman read αὐτοῦ τῆος), ll. 24.658, Od. 18.190; but this, as these instances show, is even rarer than synizesis in these words, and is almost certainly post-Homeric.
Compound verbs usually recognize ϝ, as ἀπο-ειπών, δια-ειπέμεν, also with apocope παρ-ειπών (ᾱ), etc. Exceptions are
(Od. 1.91 )
(Od. 8. 151, 14.332, 19.289)
ἑπ-έοικε (11 places) and ὑπείξομαι (Il. 1.294, Od. 12.117). In some of these forms metrical necessity may be pleaded; thus ἑπι-ϝέϝοικε and ἐπ-ϝέϝοικε, κατα-ϝιδών and κατ-ϝιδών (ˉ ˘ ˉ) are alike impossible in the hexameter. Hence we may suppose a license by which (as in the case of φp, βρ, etc., § 370) the combinations v, τϝ, πϝ, did not "make position." The instances to which this excuse does not apply are very few.
On the other hand there are several examples of words in which ϝ between two vowels, or between a vowel and a liquid (ρ or λ), is νοcalized as υ
- ἀπούρας (§ 13)
It is very possible that many more such forms were to be found in the original text: cp. § 384.1.