ἠέ, ἤ

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340. ἠέ and ἤ are used in Homer as equivalent forms of the same particle: which is (1) disjunctive (or) and (2) used after comparatives (than).

The use of the Correlative ἠέ (ἤ) . . . ἠέ (ἤ) = either . . . or is also common in Homer.

Il. 1.504 ἢ ἔπει ἢ ἔργῳ

Il. 3.239 ἢ οὐχ ἑσπέσθην . . .
              ἢ δεύρω μὲν ἕποντο κτλ.

When a question is asked in a disjunctive form, the accent of the particle ἠέ, ἤ is thrown back, i. e. it is written ἦε or ἦ.

Il. 13.251 ἠέ τι βέβληαι, βέλεος δέ σε τείρει ἀκωκή,
                ἦέ τευ ἀγγελίης μετʼ ἔμʼ ἤλυθες

Od. 4.362 Ἀντίνοʼ, ἤ ῥά τι ἴδμεν ἐνὶ φρεσίν, ἦε καὶ οὐκί

So when the first part of the question is not introduced by a particle

Il. 10.534 ψεύσομαι ἦ ἔτυμον ἐρέω;
                shall I speak falsehood or the truth

Od. 1.226 εἰλαπίνη ἦε γάμος

Cp. 4.314 & 372.

Indeed the first half of the sentence need not be interrogative.

Od. 21.193 ἔπος τί κε μυθησαίμην, ἦ αὐτὸς κεύθω;
                   I would say a wοrd; or shall I keep it to myself?

So perhaps Il. 14.190. One of the members of a disjunctive question may be itself disjunctive.

Il. 6.377 πῇ ἔβη Ἀνδρομάχη λευκώλενος ἐκ μεγάροιο;
              ἠέ πῃ ἐς γαλόων ἢ εἰνατέρων ἐϋπέπλων,
              ἦ ἐς Ἀθηναίης ἐξοίχεται κτλ.

Here ἢ εἰνατέρων offers an alternative for γαλόων, but the main question is between these two alternatives on one side and ἐς Ἀθηναίης κτλ. on the other.

Most editors of Homer recognize an interrogative use of the form ἦε, but erroneously.[fn]This has been well shown by Dr. Praetorius, in a dissertation to which I am largely indebted (Der homerische Gebrauch von ἠ (ἠε) in Fragesätzen, Cassel, 1873). The rule as to the accentuation in a disjunctive question rests upon the unanimous testimony of the ancient grammarians, and is now generally adopted. The MSS. and the older editors give ἠέ or ἤ only.[/fn] The questions in which ἠε is found are all disjunctive, so that we must write ἠέ . . . ἦε (Il. 6.378, 13.251, 15.735, 16.12, 13.17; Od. 1.408, 2.30, 11.399). In

Od. 13.233 τίς γῆ; τίς δῆμος; τίνες ἀνέρες ἐγγεγάασιν;
                   ἦ πού τις νήσων εὐδείελος, ἠέ τις ἀκτὴ
                   κεῖθʼ κτλ.

ἦ που means surely, I think: the sense being, "what land is this? It must be some island or else promontory." Hence we should read ἠέ in the last clause, not ἦε (as Ameis, etc.).

ἠέ or ἤ = than is found after comparatives; also after verbs implying comparison, as βούλομαι I prefer, φθάνω I come sooner.

The correlative ἤ τε . . . ἤ τε appears in three places.

Il. 9.276 ἤ τʼ ἀνδρῶν ἤ τε γυναικῶν
              (where it seems to be ἠμέν . . . ἠδέ.)

Il. 11.410 ἤ τʼ ἔβλητʼ ἤ τʼ ἔβαλʼ ἄλλον

Il. 17.42 ᾖ τ ἀλκῆς ἦ τε φόβοιο
              (where however Aristarchus read ἠδʼ . . . ἠδέ.)

The single ἤ τε occurs with the meaning or in Il. 19.148 ἤ τʼ ἐχέμεν παρὰ σοί; and with the meaning than in Od. 16.216 (§ 332). Considering the general difficulty of deciding between εἰ and ἤ in the text of Homer, we cannot regard the form ἤ τε as resting on good evidence; see the next section.

341. Dependent Interrogative Clause. Α disjunctive question after a verb of asking, saying, knowing, etc. is generally expressed by the Correlatives ἠέ (ἤ) . . . ἦε (ἦ).

Od. 1.174 καί μοι τοῦτʼ ἀγόρευσον ἐτήτυμον, ὄφρʼ ἐῢ εἰδῶ,
                 ἠὲ νέον μεθέπεις, ἦ καὶ πατρώϊός ἐσσι κτλ.

Il. 2.299 τλῆτε φίλοι καὶ μείνατʼ ἐπὶ χρόνον, ὄφρα δαῶμεν,
              ἢ ἐτεὸν Κάλχας μαντεύεται, ἦε καὶ οὐκί

Other examples have been given in the account of the subjunctive (§ 280) and the Optative (§ 302). In general it will be seen that these dependent clauses are the same in form as the corresponding direct questions.

In a very few instances the first member of a sentence of this kind is without ἠέ (ἤ).

Od. 4.109           οὐδέ τι ἴδμεν
                 ζώει ὅ γʼ ἦ τέθνηκε
                 (4.837, 11.464).

Il. 10.544 εἴπʼ ἄγε . . .
                ὅππως τούσδʼ ἵππους λάβετον, καταδύντες ὅμιλον
                Τρώων, ἦ τίς σφωε πόρεν κτλ.

Also, Od. 4.643.

The combination εἰ . . . ἦε (ἦ) is often found in the MSS. of Homer; see Il. 2.367, 8.532; Od. 4.28, 712 & 789, 16.238 & 260, 17.308, 18.265, 24.217. La Roche (following Bekker) reads ἤ . . . ἦε (ἦ) in all these places.

The common texts have in one place εἴ τε . . . ἦε.

Il. 2.349 γνώμεναι εἴ τε ψεῦδος ὑπόσχεσις ἦε καὶ οὐκί

In this instance, if the reading is right, there is a sight irregularity; the speaker beginning as if he meant to use εἴ τε . . . εἴ τε, and changing to the familiar ἦε καὶ οὐκί. But the best MSS. have εἴ τε . . . εἴ τε.

A change of construction may also be seen in Od. 24.235-8

μερμήριξε . . . κύσσαι καὶ περιφῦναι . . . ἦ πρῶτʼ ἐξερέοιτο
he debated about embracing, etc., . . . οr should he first ask, etc.

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%A0%CE%AD-%E1%BC%A4