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181. The preposition ἀμφί means on both sides, or (if the notion of twο sides is not prominent) all around. It is doubtless connected with ἄμφω both.

The adverbial use is common; e. g. with a verb understood.

Od. 6. 292 ἐν δὲ κρήνη νάει, ἀμφὶ δὲ λειμών
                     and around is a meadow

It is especially used in reference to the two sides of the body.

Il. 5.310 ἀμφὶ δὲ ὄσσε κελαινὴ νὺξ ἐκάλυψε
                black night covered his eyes on both sides
                (i.e. both eyes)

Il. 10.535 ἀμφὶ κτύπος οὔατα βάλλει

Il. 18.414 σπόγγῳ δʼ ἀμφὶ πρόσωπα καὶ ἄμφω χεῖρʼ ἀπομόργνυ

Od. 2.153 παρειὰς ἀμφί τε δειράς

Od. 9.359 πάντα δέ οἱ βλέφαρʼ ἀμφὶ καὶ ὀφρύας κτλ.

So Il. 6.117 ἀμφὶ δέ μιν σφυρὰ τύπτε καὶ αὐχένα δέρμα κελαινόν the shield smote him on the ankles on both sides and on the neck. Here ἀμφί is generally taken to mean abονe and beneath; wrongly, as the passages quoted above shοw.

This use of ἀμφί is extended to the internal organs, especially the midriff (φρένες) regarded as the seat of feeling.

Il. 3. 442 οὐ γάρ πώ ποτέ μʼ ὧδε ἔρως φρένας ἀμφεκάλυψε

Il. 6.355 ἐπεὶ σὲ μάλιστα πόνος φρένας ἀμφιβέβηκε

Il. 16.481 ἔνθʼ ἄρα τε φρένες ἔρχαται ἀμφʼ ἀδινὸν κῆρ

Od. 8.541 μάλα πού μιν ἄχος φρένας ἀμφιβέβηκεν

So Hesiοd, Theοg. 534 χώσατο δὲ φρένας ἀμφί; Hοm. H. Apοll. 273, H. Ven. 243; Mimnerm. 1.7 φρένας ἀμφὶ κακαὶ τείρουσι μέριμναι.

Il. 1.103 μένεος δὲ μέγα φρένες ἀμφὶ μέλαιναι πίμπλαντʼ, and similarly in Il. 17.83, 499, 573.

182. The dative with ἀμφί is a natural extension of the ordinary locatival dative—the preposition being adverbial, and not always needed to govern the case.

Il. 1.45 τόξʼ ὤμοισιν ἔχων (locatival dative, § 145.3)

Il. 20.150 ἀμφὶ δʼ ἄρʼ ἄρρηκτον νεφέλην ὤμοισιν ἕσαντο

Il 11.527 ἀμφʼ ὤμοισιν ἔχει σάκος
                 has a shield on both sides on his shoulders
                 (i.e. across his shoulders)

In a metaphorical sense ἀμφί is applied to the object about which two parties contend.

Il. 3.70 ἀμφʼ Ἑλένῃ καὶ κτήμασι πᾶσι μάχεσθαι

So of a negotiation

Il. 13.382 συνώμεθα ἀμφὶ γάμῳ
                  we shall agree about the marriage

Il. 7. 408 ἀμφὶ δὲ νεκροῖσιν
                  as to the question of the dead

Il. 16. 647 ἀμφὶ φόνῳ Πατρόκλου μερμηρίζων

Cp. the use with περί (§ 186). So too in Sanskrit the locative is used with verbs of fighting to express the object over which the fighting is.

It is a further extension of this use when ἀμφί with the dative is construed with verbs meaning to speak, think, etc.

Od. 4. 151 ἀμφʼ Ὀδυσῆϊ μυθεόμην

This last variety (in which the notion of two sides disappears) is confined to the Odyssey. Cp. 5.287, 14.338, 354.

A true dative may follow ἀμφί, but cannot be said to be governed by it; e.g. in Il. 14.420 ἀμφὶ δέ οἱ βράχε τεύχεα his arms rattled about him the dative is "ethical," as in Il. 13.439 ῥῆξεν δέ οἱ ἀμφὶ χιτῶνα. So in Il. 4. 431 ἀμφὶ δὲ πᾶσι τεύχεα ποικίλʼ ἔλαμπε, the dative is not locatival, but the true dative. The two kinds of dative may be combined.

Il. 18.205 ἀμφὶ δέ οἱ κεφαλῇ νέφος ἔστεφε.

The construction of ἀμφί with the dative is not found in Attic prose. It survives in the poetical style, and in Herodotus.

183. The accusative with ἀμφί is used when the verb expresses motion.

Il. 5.314 ἀμφὶ δʼ ἑὸν φίλον υἱὸν ἐχεύατο πήχεε λευκώ

Also to express extent, diffusion over a space, etc., (ideas naturally conveyed by terms denoting motion).

Od. 11. 4 19 ὡς ἀμφὶ κρητῆρα τραπέζας τε πληθούσας κείμεθα
                       as we lay (scattered) about, etc.

Accordingly it is especially used in Homer

  1. Of dwellers about a place, as Il. 2.499, 751, etc.
  2. Of attendants or followers.

    Il. 2.445 οἱ δʼ ἀμφʼ Ἀτρεΐωνα . . . θῦνον
                     they bustled about Agamemnon

The description about (a person) does not exclude the person who is the center of the group; e. g. in Il. 4. 294 (Agamemnon found Nestor) οὓς ἑτάρους στέλλοντα . . . ἀμφὶ μέγαν Πελάγοντα Ἀλάστορά τε Χρομίον τε, where Pelagon, etc., are included under the word ἕταροι. This is an approach to the later idiom, οἱ ἀμφὶ Πλάτωναππ = Platο and his school.

It should be observed that the motion expressed by the verb when ἀμφί takes an accusative is not motion to a point, but motion over a space. Hence this accusative is not to be classed with accusatives of the terminus ad quem, but with the Accusatives of Space (§ 138). This remark will be confirmed by similar uses of other prepositions.

184. The genitive with ἀμφί is found in two instances.

Il. 16.825 μάχεσθον πίδακος ἀμφʼ ὀλίγης
                   fight οver a small spring of water

Od. 8. 267 ἀείδειν ἀμφʼ Ἄρεος φιλότητος, κτλ.

Another example may perhaps lurk in

Il. 2.384 εὖ δέ τις ἅρματος ἀμφὶς ἰδὼν, κτλ.

if we read ἀμφὶ ϝιδὼν (having looked over, seen to his chariot). With this meaning compare Il. 18.254 ἀμφὶ μάλα φράζεσθε, and for the construction the Attic use of περιορῶμαι with a genitive = tο lοοk round after, take thought about (Thuc. 4.124). Also the genitive with ἀμφιμάχεσθαι Il. 16.496, 18.20, 15.391.

Suggested Citation

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