ἄρα, γάρ

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347. The adverb ἄρα properly means fittingly, accordingly (root ἄρ- to fit), The forms ἄρ and ῥα seem to be varieties produced by difference of stress, answering to the different values which the particle may have in the sentence. Of these ἄρ retains its accent, but ῥα, the shortest form, is enclitic.

The ordinary place of ἄρα is at the beginning of a clause which expresses what is consequent upon something already said. But occasionally it follows a participle in the same clause, as in the formαla ἦ τοι ὅ γʼ ὣς εἰπὼν κατʼ ἄρʼ ἕζετο (cp. Il. 2.310, 5.748).

It is to be observed, however, that ἄρα may indicate a reason (as well as a consequence); that is to say, we may go back from a fact to the antecedent which falls in with and so explains it.

Il. 1.429 χωόμενον κατὰ θυμὸν ἐϋζώνοιο γυναικός,
              τήν ῾πα . . . ἀπηύρων
              whom (and this was the reason of his anger)
              they had taken away

So in the combinations ὅς ῥα, ἐπεί ῥα, ὅτι ῥα, οὕνεκ’ ἄρα = because (and this is the explanation); also in γάρ ῥα.

Il. 1.113 καὶ γάρ ῥα Κλυταιμνήστρης προβέβουλα

ἄρα is also found in the first of two correlative clauses.

εἴ τʼ ἄρʼ ὅ γʼ εὐχωλῆς ἐπιμέμφεται εἴ θʼ ἑκατόμβης

ὣς ἄγαγʼ ὡς μήτʼ ἄρ τις ἴδῃ μήτʼ ἄρ τε νοήσῃ

The parallel form of the sentence enables us to regard the first clause, by anticipation, as falling in with and completing the second.

The Attic ἆρα is unknown to Homer. Whether it is identical with ἄρα seems doubtful. It is worth while noticing that ἄρα answers in usage to the Homeric combination ἦ ῥα (is it then . . ?).

348. The causal particle γάρ is originally a compound of γε and ἄρα, but the two elements have so completely united into a new whole that the fresh combination γάρ ῥα is found in Homer.

γάρ serves to indicate that the clause in which it is used is a reason or explanation, usually of something just mentioned or suggested.

τῷ γὰρ ἐπὶ φρεσὶ θῆκε θεὰ λευκώλενος Ἥρη· κήδετο γὰρ Δαναῶν, κτλ.

Thus it follows the sequence of thought—by which we go back from a consequent to an antecedent—whereas ἄρα more commonly (though not always) indicates the sequence of the facts themselves.

Compare the double use of ὅ, ὅτι, ὅ τε

  1. To express a cause.
  2. To express a consequent used as an argument (cp. τοίου γὰρ καὶ πατρός, ὃ καὶ πεπνυμένα βάζεις, and other examples in § 269).

To understand the ordinary use of γάρ we have only to suppose that when a speaker was going back upon an antecedent fact, he generally used the combination γε ἄρα (γʼ ἄρ, γάρ), rather than the simple ἄρα. The principle of this usage is that a causal relation may be indicated by a distinction of emphasis, such as γε would express (as indeed γε alone sometimes has a distinctly causal force).

As subordinate or exceptional uses, we have to note the following

  1. The use of γάρ to introduce a mere explanation, which became very common in Attic (e.g. Thuc. 1.8 μαρτύριον δέ· Δήλου γὰρ κτλ.) and may be traced back to Homer.

    Il. 8.147 ἀλλὰ τόδʼ αἰνὸν ἄχος κραδίην καὶ θυμὸν ἱκάνει·
                  Ἕκτωρ γάρ ποτε φήσει κτλ.

    This idiοm—by which the clause with γάρ becomes a kind of object clause, in apposition to a pronoun—may be compared with the use of ὅτι and οὕνεκα with the meaning that, instead of because: see §§ 268, 269. In both cases the language does not clearly distinguish between the ground of a fact (which is properly a separate and prior fact), and a mere analysis, or statement of circumstances in vwhich a fact consists.

  2. The inversion (as it may be regarded) by which the clause with γάρ precedes the fact explained.

    Il. 2.802 Ἕκτορ, σοὶ δὲ μάλιστʼ ἐπιτέλλομαι ὧδέ γε ῥέξαι·
                   πολλοὶ γὰρ κατὰ ἄστυ μέγα Πριάμου ἐπίκουροι,
                   ἄλλη δʼ ἄλλων γλῶσσα πολυσπερέων ἀνθρώπων·
                   τοῖσιν ἕκαστος ἀνὴρ σημαινέτω

    Also, Il. 13.736, 23.890; Od. 1.337, 9.319, 10.174, 190, 226 & 338, 11.69. 12.154, 208 & 320, etc.).

    Here the speaker begins by stating something that leads up to his main point. Sometimes, especially when the reason is stated at some length, the main point is marked as an inference by τῷ sο, therefore

    Il. 7.328 πολλοὶ γὰρ τεθνᾶσι κάρη κομόωντες Ἀχαιοί,
                  τῶν νῦν αἷμα κελαινὸν . . .
           331 τῷ σε χρὴ πόλεμον μὲν ἅμʼ ἠοῖ παῦσαι Ἀχαιῶν

    So Il. 13.228, 15.739, 17.221 & 338, 23.607; there is no instance in the Odyssey.

    When the clause with γάρ precedes, it may be opposed to the preceding context; hence the γάρ may be combined with adversative conjunctions

    Il. 12.326 νῦν δʼ ἔμπης γὰρ κῆρες ἐφεστᾶσιν θανάτοιο . . .
             328 ἴομεν κτλ.

    Cp. Il. 7.73, 17.338, 24.223.

    Od. 14.355 ἀλλʼ οὐ γάρ σφιν ἐφαίνετο κέρδιον εἶναι
                       μαίεσθαι προτέρω· τοὶ μὲν πάλιν αὗτις ἔβαινον
                       νηὸς ἐπὶ γλαφυρῆς

    Cp. Od. 19.591. ἀλλὰ . . . γάρ also occurs without a subsequent clause.

    Od. 10.201 κλαῖον δὲ λιγέως, θαλερὸν κατὰ δάκρυ χέοντες·
                       ἀλλʼ οὐ γάρ τις πρῆξις ἐγίγνετο μυρομένοισι

    Here it has the force of "but be that as it may," "but the truth is" (Riddell, Dig. § 147). That is, ἀλλὰ . . . γάρ meets what has preceded not by a simple opposition, but by one which consists in going back to a reason for the opposite, which may be enough to convey the speakers meaning.

    In these uses of γάρ the peculiarity is more logical than grammatical. The γάρ (or rather the ἄρα contained in it) indicates that the clause gives a reason or explanation, which the speaker chooses to mention before the consequent or thing to be explained. The use only strikes us because the English for is restricted to causal clauses placed in the more natural order.

    With δὲ . . . γάρ and ἀλλὰ . . . γάρ it is incorrect (as Riddell shows, l. c.) to treat the clause with γάρ as a parenthesis (writing e.g. νῦν δʼ . . . ἔμπης γὰρ κτλ.). The clause so introduced is always in opposition to the preceding context, so that the δέ or ἀλλά has its full force.

  3. After the relative ὅς, ἢ, ὅ.

    Il. 12.344 ἀμφοτέρω μὲν μᾶλλον· ὃ γάρ κʼ ὄχʼ ἄριστον ἀπάντων

    So Il. 23. 9, Od. 24. 190.

    Od. 1.286 (Μενέλαος) ὃς γὰρ δεύτατος ἦλθεν

    Cp. Od. 17.172.

    So with ὡς γάρ = fοr thus, and ἵνα γάρ (Il. 10.127).

    These are generally regarded as instances of the original use of ὅς as a demonstrative (§ 265). But it is only the use of γάρ that is peculiar; or rather, this is only another case in which γάρ is not translated by for. It will be seen that ὅς γάρ may always be replaced by ὅς ἄρα without changing the sense.

  4. In abrupt questions, and expressions of surprise.

    Il. 1.123 πῶς γάρ τοι δώσουσι γέρας μεγάθυμοι Ἀχαιοί
                   why, how are the Greeks to give you a prize?

    Il. 18.182 Ἶρι θεά, τίς γάρ σε θεῶν ἐμοὶ ἄγγελον ἦκε;[fn]In Il. 18.182 one of the editions of Aristarchus had τίς τάρ σε (for τίς γάρ σε). Cobet adopts this, and would read τάρ for γάρ in the similar places in Il. 10.61 & 424; Od. 10.501, 14.115, 15.509, 16.222 (Misc. Crit. p. 321). In the two last passages Bekker had already introduced τʼ ἄρ into his text.[/fn]

    Il. 1.293 ἦ γάρ κεν δειλός τε καὶ οὐτιδανὸς καλεοίμην κτλ.
                  why, I should be a cοward, etc.

    So in the formulae of wish, εἰ γάρ, αἲ γάρ, etc. In all such cases the γάρ seems to be mainly interjectional. Properly it implies that the speaker is taking up the thread of a previous speech, and as it were continuing the construction, the new clause being one that gives a reason, or affects to do so ironically. Particles so used easily acquire an irrational character. We may compare the use of δέ and τʼ ἄρα in questions, ὥς in expressions of wish, ἀλλά before an imperative (§ 336); also the English use of why, well, and similar pleonasms.

Suggested Citation

D.B. Monro, A Grammar of the Homeric Dialect. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7. https://dcc.dickinson.edu/grammar/monro/%E1%BC%84%CF%81%CE%B1-%CE%B3%CE%AC%CF%81