Book Nav

338. The particle ἦ at the beginning of a sentence gives it the character of a strong affirmation.

Il. 1.240 ἦ ποτʼ Ἀχιλλῆος ποθὴ ἵξεται
              be sure that one dαy, etc.

So, with an ironical tone

Il. 1.229 ἦ πολὺ λώϊόν ἐστι κατὰ στρατὸν εὐρὺν Ἀχαιῶν
              δῶρʼ ἀποαιρεῖσθαι κτλ.

It is often used interrogatively, especially in questions of surprise indignation, irony, etc.

Il. 2.229 ἦ ἔτι καὶ χρυσοῦ ἐπιδεύεαι κτλ.

Il. 15.504 ἦ ἔλπεσθʼ ἢν νῆας ἕλῃ κορυθαίολος Ἕκτωρ
                ἐμβαδὸν ἵξεσθαι κτλ.
                (do yοu really hope, etc.).

Od. 2.312 ἦ οὐχ λίς ὡς κτλ.
                 (is it not . . ? = surely it is)

cp. § 358.c

Occasionally, in short parenthetical sentences, ἦ has a concessive force, it is true that, hence and γet, although.

Il. 3.214 παῦρα μέν, ἀλλὰ μάλα λιγέως, ἐπεὶ οὐ
               πολύμυθος, οὐδʼ ἀφαμαρτοεπής· ἦ καὶ γένει
               ὕστερος ᾖεν.[fn]In Il. 3.215 most MSS. have εἰ καὶ γένει ὕστερος ἦεν, but ἢ καί is found in the two Venetian (AB) and the Townley and Eton MSS. The scholia show that the ancients knew nothing of εἰ, and only doubted between ἤ (in the sense of if) and ἦ.[/fn]

Il. 7.393 οὔ φησιν δώσειν· ἦ μὴν Τρῶές γε κέλονται (§ 344)

Il. 11.362 ἐξ αὖ νῦν ἔφυγες θάνατον, κύον· ἦ τέ τοι ἄγχι
                ἦλθε κακόν (so 18.13).

Il.16.61 ἦ τοι ἔφην γε
             (= though I did think; so 22.280)

The question whether ἦ (or ἤ) can be used to introduce a dependent interrogative depends upon a few passages. Bekker favors ἤ in this use, and reads accordingly, e. g. Il. 1.83 σὺ δὲ φράσαι ἤ με σαώσεις. The majority of the editors recognize it in three or four places.

Il. 8.111 εἴσεται ἢ καὶ ἐμὸν δόρυ μαίνεται κτλ.

Od. 13.415 ᾤχετο πευσόμενος μετὰ σὸν κλέος, ἤ που ἔτʼ εἴης

Od. 16.137 ἀλλʼ ἄγε μοι τόδε εἰπὲ καὶ ἀτρεκέως κατάλεξον,
                   ἢ καὶ Λαέρτῃ αὐτὴν ὁδὸν ἄγγελος ἔλθω

Od. 19.325 πῶς γὰρ ἐμεῦ σύ, ξεῖνε, δαήσεαι, ἤ τι γυναικῶν
                    ἀλλάων περίειμι;

In all these places, however, there is manuscript support for εἰ, and so La Rοche reads in the two last. For the use of εἰ with the subjunctive see § 294, with the optative § 314. It is difficult to derive the use of ἤ which Bekker supposes either from the emphatic ἦ, or from the disjunctive ἠέ or ἤ (Hom. Bl. p. 59) In any case there is no sufficient ground for deserting the MSS.

ἦ is often combined more or less closely with other πarticles: as ἦ τε (§ 333.2), ἦ μάν, etc. (§§ 343-5), ἦ τοι (οr ἤτοι), ἤδη (for ἦ δή), and the correlative ἠμέν . . . ἠδέ. In these combinations ἦ strengthens the other πarticle.

Note that ἠμέν . . . ἠδέ are used of slightly opposed things, especially when alternation is implied.

Od. 2.68 λίσσομαι ἠμὲν Ζηνὸς Ὀλυμπίου ἠδὲ Θέμιστος,
ἥ τʼ ἀνδρῶν ἀγορὰς ἠμὲν λύει ἠδὲ καθίζει·

i. e. "assembles and dissolves again in turn" (Latin tum . . . tum). Cp.

Il. 8.395 ἠμὲν ἀνακλίναι . . . ἡδʼ ἐπιθεῖναι

and so Il. 7.301, Od. 1.97, 8.383, and probably ll. 6.149 ἠμὲν φύει ἡδʼ ἀπολήγει. The original emphasis may sometimes be traced, as in the formula

ll. 14.234 ἠμὲν δή ποτʼ ἐμὸν ἔπος ἔκλυες ἠδʼ ἔτι καὶ νῦν
                surely you have heard me before, and even so
                listen now

ἠδέ is also used (= and) without a preceding ἐν, but not to begin a fresh sentence. Cp. § 331 fin. for the similar use of τε.

339. ἦ after τί, ἐπεί. In most editions of Homer we find the forms τίη (or τιή) and ἐπειή, which are evidently τί, ἐπεί with a suffix -η of an affirmative or emphasizing kind.

The ancient grammarians seem generally to have considered this η as a distinct word. They lay down the rule that after ἐπεί it is circumflexed, after τί oxytone. The form ἐπεὶ ἦ is supported by the fact that it is chiefly found in the combination ἐπεὶ ἦ πολὸ κτλ. (Il. 1.169, 4.56 & 307, etc.); also with μάλα (Il. 1.156 ἐπεὶ ἦ μάλα πολλὰ μεταξὺ κτλ.; Od. 10.465 ἐπεὶ ἦ μάλα πολλὰ πέπασθε, cp. ἦ μάλα, Il. 17.34, and καὶ (Il. 20.437; Od. 16.442).

The case of τί is different. There is no ground for writing τί ἦ (like ἐπεὶ ἦ). The form τί ἤ, which is adopted by the most recent editors on the authority of the ancients, is not satisfactory. If this ἤ was originally the affirmative ἦ, the change of accent would indicate that it had lost its character as a separate word. And this is confirmed by the combination τί ἢ δὲ σὺ κτλ. (l. 6.55, etc.), which as now written is contrary to the general rule for the place of δέ. Moreover the ancients were not unanimous on the point, since Trypho wrote τίη in one word (Apollonius, de Cοnj. p. 523).

It may be observed that the opinion of the grammarians as to τίη has more weight than in the case of ἐπεὶ ἦ since τίη and ὁτιή were Attic. We may accept therefore that the accentuation ἐπεὶ ἦ rests on mere inference.

With τίη is to be placed the emphatic nominative τόν . . . τη you, a form which occurs in the Iliad only (cp. the Doric ἐγών-η).

Suggested Citation

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