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256. The article ὁ, ἡ, τό may be defined as a purely anaphoric pronoun, conveying some degree of emphasis. Ιt differs from ὅδε, οὗτος, and ἐκεῖνος in the absence of deictic meaning, for while it usually marks some contrast between objects it does not distinguish them as near or far, present or absent, etc. On the other hand it is distinguished from the non-reflexive use of αὐτός and ἕο by greater emphasis. Three chief uses of ὁ, ἡ, τό may be distinguished

  1. The use as an independent pronoun:  ὁ, ἡ, τό = he, she, it. This may be called the substantival use; it embraces the great majority of the instances in Homer.
  2. The use as an 'article' in the later sense of the term, i. e. with a noun following. This may be called the attributive use.
  3. The use as a relative.

257. The Substantival Article. This use of the article is very much the commonest in Homer, and it is also the use from which the others may be easily derived. The substantival article either

1) is simply resumptive recalling a person or thing already mentioned, as ὁ γάρ (for he), τόν ῥα (him say), αὐτὸς καὶ τοῦ δῶρα (the man and his gifts) or
2) marks a contrast, as ὁ δέ (but the other).

The following points of usage are to be noticed:

  1. The most frequent—we may almost say the regular—place of the article is at the beginning of a clause, followed by μέν, δέ, γάρ, ἄρα, or preceded by αὐτάρ, ἀλλά, ἦ τοι, or an equivalent particle. Hence the familiar combinations ὁ μέν, ὁ δέ, ὁ γάρ, καὶ γὰρ ὁ, αὐτὰρ ὁ, ἦ τοι ὁ, τόν ῥα, ἀλλὰ τόν, etc., of which it is needless to give instances.

    The later substantival use with μέν and δέ is a surviving fragment of this group of uses. Α few others are found in Attic poets, as ὁ γάρ (Aesch. Sept. 17, Soph. El. 45, O. T. 1082). The use to contrast indefinite persons or things (ὁ μὲν . . . ὁ δὲ = one . . . another, οἱ μὲν . . . οἱ δὲ = some . . . others) is not very common in Homer.

    The use of the Article with an adversative particle (δέ, αὐτάρ, ἀλλά) generally marks a change of subject.

    ὁ δέ
    but the other, etc.

    But this is not always the case.

    Il. 4.491 τοῦ μὲν ἅμαρθʼ, ὁ δὲ Λεῦκον . . .
                   him he missed, but smote Leucus
                   (So Il. 8.119, 126, 302, 11.80, etc.)

    Il. 1.495           Θέτις δʼ οὐ λήθετʼ ἐφετμέων
                  παιδὸς ἑοῦ, ἀλλʼ ἥ γʼ ἀνεδύσετο κτλ.

    Cp. Il. 5.321, 6.168, Od. 1.4, etc. The article in all such cases evidently expresses a contrast, not however between two persons, but between two characters in which the same person is thought of.

    This last use—in which the article is pleonastic, according to Attic notions—occurs in Herodotus, as 5.120.

    τὰ μὲν πρότερον οἱ Κᾶρες ἐβουλεύοντο μετῆκαν, οἱ δὲ αὖτις πολεμεῖν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἀρτέοντο

    We may compare it with the pleonastic use of the pronoun in Il. 11.131

    ζώγρει Ἀτρέος υἱέ, σὺ δʼ ἄξια δέξαι ἄποινα

    where the effect of inserting σύ is to oppose the two acts denoted by ζώγρει and δέξαι ἄποινα.

  2. The article is frequent in disjunctive sentences.

    Il. 12.239 εἴ τʼ ἐπὶ δεξίʼ ἴωσι πρὸς ἠῶ τ᾽ ἠέλιόν τε,
                    εἴ τ᾽ ἐπʼ ἀριστερὰ τοί γε, κτλ.
                    (or else to left)

    Od. 2.132 ζώει ὅ γʼ ἤ τέθνηκεν

    Here also it serves to contrast the alternative things said about the same subject.

  3. The principle of contrast often leads to the placing of two articles together.

    Il. 21.602 ἧος ὁ τὸν πεδίοιο διώκετο

    Il. 10.224 καί τε πρὸ ὁ τοῦ ἐνόησεν

    So an article and a personal pronoun, ἐν δὲ σὺ τοῖσι (Il. 13.829, etc.).

    Il. 8.532 εἴσομαι εἴ κέ μʼ ὁ Τυδείδης κρατερὸς Διομήδης
                 πὰρ νηῶν πρὸς τεῖχος ἀπώσεται, ἦ κεν ἐγὼ τόν

    Note: when the second of the two is in the nominative, it usually takes γε, hence τοῦ ὅ γε, τῇ ῥʼ οἵ γε, etc.

  4. The article often stands for the object to be defined by a following relative clause.

    Il. 9.615 καλόν τοι σὺν ἐμοὶ τὸν κήδειν ὅς κʼ ἐμὲ κήδῃ

    Il. 1.272 τῶν οἱ νῦν βροτοί εἰσι, etc.

    The use is to be classed as anaphoric; the intention of saying something about the object is equivalent to a previous mention. So in Latin the anaphoric is is used to introduce qui.

    The neuter article is similarly used to introduce clauses beginning with ὅτε, ὡς, and the like.

    Il. 15.207 ἐσθλὸν καὶ τὸ τέτυκται ὅτʼ ἄγγελος αἴσιμα εἰδῇ

    Od. 9.442 τὸ δὲ νήπιος οὐκ ἐνόησεν ὥς οἱ κτλ.

    Il. 3.308 Ζεὺς μέν που τό γε οἶδε . . .
                  ὁπποτέρῳ κτλ.

    So Il. 14.191, 20.466, 23.545. It may even introduce an independent sentence.

    Od. 4.655 ἀλλὰ τὸ θαυμάζω· ἴδον ἐνθάδε Μέντορα δῖον

  5. The uses in which the article is least emphatic (i.e. does not begin the clause, or express a contrast) appear to be

    a. after prepositions, especially in the dative plural after μετά, παρά, προτί, σύν, ἐν, ἅμα.

    Il. 1.348 ἡ δʼ ἀέκουσʼ ἅμα τοῖσι γυνὴ κίεν

    This is to be connected with the fact that the forms ἕο, οἷ, σφίσι etc. are not used with prepositions in the simple anaphoric sense (§ 253), and thus the article is used instead of them.

    b. when the neuter article is used for a fact or set of facts

    Il. 4.353 ὄψεαι ἢν ἐθέλῃσθα καὶ αἴ κέν τοι τὰ μεμήλῃ

    Here again the want of a corresponding form of ἕο makes itself felt. This use is chiefly found in the nominative and accusative; but also in τοὔνεκα therefore, ἐκ τοῖο from that time, etc.

258. The Attributive Article. The Attributive Article is found in Homer in a limited range of cases, and has evidently grown out of the use of the Substantival Article followed by a Noun in Apposition.

Il. 4.20 ὡς ἔφαθʼ, αἱ δʼ ἐπέμυξαν Ἀθηναίη τε καὶ Ἥρη
            thus he spoke, but they murmured, Athena and Hera

Il. 1.348 ἡ δʼ ἀέκουσʼ ἅμα τοῖσι γυνὴ κίεν

So with μιν,

Il. 21.249           ἵνα μιν παύσειε πόνοιο
                δῖον Ἀχιλλῆα

cp. Od. 11. 570. In such cases the pronoun is still substantival, the noun being added by way of afterthought. It is a step towards an attributive use when the article needs the addition of the noun to explain it.

Il. 4.501 τόν ῥ᾽ Ὀδυσεὺς ἑτάροιο χολωσάμενος βάλε δουρὶ
             κόρσην· ἡ δʼ ἑτέροιο διὰ κροτάφοιο πέρησεν
             αἰχμὴ χαλκείη

Here ἡ δέ would not be clear without αἰχμή. So in

Il. 1.408 αἴ κέν πως ἐθέλῃσιν ἐπὶ Τρώεσσιν ἀρῆξαι,
             τοὺς δὲ κατὰ πρύμνας τε καὶ ἀμφʼ ἅλα ἔλσαι Ἀχαιούς

Od. 15.54 τοῦ γάρ τε ξεῖνος μιμνήσκεται ἤματα πάντα
                 ἀνδρὸς ξεινοδόκου.

So too with proper names, when a new person is about to be mentioned the article anticipates the noun.

Il. 2.402 αὐτὰρ ὁ βοῦν ἱέρευσεν ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν Ἀγαμέμνων

And where the neuter τὸ is followed by an epexegetic infinitive.

Od. 1.370 ἐπεὶ τό γε καλὸν ἀκουέμεν ἐστὶν ἀοιδοῦ

Il. 17. 406               ἐπεὶ οὐδὲ τὸ ἔλπετο πάμπαν,
                ἐκπέρσειν πτολίεθρον ἄνευ ἕθεν

In all these cases the combination of article and noun is not sufficiently close to constitute an attributive use; but they serve to show how such a use is developed. The attributive uses in Homer may be classified as follows

  1. Uses with connecting particles, where some contrast is made in passing to the new sentence or clause.
  2. Uses with certain adjectives that imply contrast.
  3. Uses to mark a person or thing as definitie.

259. Article of Contrast—with connecting Particles. The uses that fall under this head, though not very numerous, are characteristic of Homer. The following are the chief:

a. The article with an adversative δέ, αὐτάρ etc. is not infrequently used to bring out the contrast in which the noun stands to something already mentioned.

Il. 2.217 φολκὸς ἔην, χωλὸς δʼ ἕτερον πόδα, τὼ δέ οἱ ὤμω κτλ.
              but then his shoulders, etc.

so τὼ δέ οἱ ὄσσε (Il. 13.616), etc.

Il. 22.405 ὡς τοῦ μὲν κεκόνιτο κάρη ἅπαν, ἡ δέ νυ μήτηρ κτλ.
                but on the other hand his mother, etc.

Il. 1.382 ἧκε δʼ ἐπʼ Ἀργείοισι κακὸν βέλος, οἱ δέ νυ λαοὶ
              θνῆσκον ἐπασσύτεροι, τὰ δʼ ἐπῴχετο κῆλα θεοῖο

Il. 4.399 τοῖος ἔην Τυδεὺς Αἰτώλιος· ἀλλὰ τὸν υἱὸν κτλ.

So we should explain the article in Il. 1.20.

παῖδα δέ μοι λύσαιτε φίλην, τὰ δʼ ἄποινα δέχεσθαι
release my daughter and on the other side accept ransom

The usage is common in the Iliad, but perceptibly rarer in the Odyssey.

b. The use of the article with μέν—in contrast with something that follows—is rare.

Il. 11.267 αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ τὸ μὲν ἕλκος ἐτέρσετο

Cp. 8.73, 9.1, 13.640, 19.21, 20.75; Od. 3.270 (seeming the only instance in the Odyssey). There is a similar use with the article following the noun in Od. 1.116

μνηστήρων τῶν μὲν σκέδασιν κατὰ δώματα θείη, κτλ.

c. The corresponding use with copulative and illative particles, καί, τε, ἠδέ, καὶ γάρ, is much less common.

Il. 1.339 πρός τε θεῶν μακάρων πρός τε θνητῶν ἀνθρώπων
              καὶ πρὸς τοῦ βασιλῆος ἀπηνέος

Il. 15.36 ἴστω νῦν τόδε γαῖα καὶ οὐρανὸς εὐρὺς ὕπερθεν,
             καὶ τὸ κατειβόμενον Στυγὸς ὕδωρ (cp. 18.486)

Od. 22.103 δώσω δὲ συβώτῃ | καὶ τῷ βουκόλῳ ἄλλα

Il. 14.503 οὐδὲ γὰρ ἡ Προμάχοιο δάμαρ κτλ.

The article singles out its noun as the special object intended, or turns to it with fresh emphasis. So with an infinitive,

Od. 20.52 ἀνίη καὶ τὸ φυλάσσειν

where we need not take τὸ φυλάσσειν closely together. So Hes. fr. 192 ἡδὺ δὲ καὶ τὸ πυθέσθαι κτλ. also Op. 314 τὸ ἐργάζεσθαι ἄμεινον.

These uses should be carefully distinguished from the later definite article. For instance, in Il. 1.20 τὰ ἄποινα does not mean this or the ransom in contradistinction to other ransoms. It means the other, the ransom in contrast to the person ransomed. Again, the 4th book of the Iliad begins οἱ δὲ θεοί, which we naturally take to mean simply but the gods. But, taking in the last line of the 3rd book, we have

Il 3.461-4.1 ὥς ἔφατʼ Ἀτρείδης, ἐπὶ δʼ ἤνεον ἄλλοι Ἀχαιοί·
                    οἱ δὲ θεοὶ πὰρ Ζηνὶ καθήμενοι ἡγορόωντο.

Clearly the article marks the turning from the one scene to the other, from the battlefield to Olympus. Thus the Attic οἱ (θεοί) distinguishes the gods from other beings. The Homeric οἱ (δὲ θεοί) marks, not this permanent distinction, but the contrast arising out of the particular context.

The difference appears also in the use with proper names. In Attic the article shows that a particular known person is spoken of; in Homer it marks the turning of attention to a person—ushers in the name, as it were. In short, the Homeric article contrasts the Attic article defines.

260. With Adjectives. The article is used before adjectival words that imply a contrast or distinction, especially between definite or well-known alternatives, in particular

a. ἄλλος and ἕτερος, passim also αὐτός = same.

b. comparatives and superlatives; οἱ πλέονες, οἱ ἄριστοι, etc.

So in the adverbial expressions τὸ πρίν, τὸ πάρος, τὰ πρῶτα, and the like, in which the neuter article is used adverbially (τὸ πάρος = then, formerly). It is quite different when a masculine or feminine article is used with an adverb, as

οἱ ἔνερθε θεοί (Il. 14.274)

ἀνδρῶν τῶν τότε (Il. 9.559)

τά τ᾽ ἐνδόθι καὶ τὰ θύρηφιν (Od. 22. 220)

a use which is extremely rare in Homer.

c. Ordinal numerals: as τῇ δεκάτῃ; so τὸ ἥμισυ. Also cardinal numerals, when a division is made.

Il. 5.271 τοὺς μὲν τέσσαρας αὐτὸς ἔχων ἀτίταλλʼ ἐπὶ φάτνῃ,
              τὼ δὲ δύʼ Αἰνείᾳ δῶκεν
              four he kept, and the (other) two he gave to Aeneas

Il. 11.174 πάσας· τῇ δέ τʼ ἰῇ κτλ.
               (the lion chases) all, but to one, etc.

d. Possessives; τὸν ἐμὸν χόλον, τὰ σὰ κῆλα, etc.

e. Α few words expressing the standing contrasts of great and small, many and few good and evil, etc., especially when the contrast is brought out by the context.

Il. 1.106 μάντι κακῶν, οὔ πώ ποτέ μοι τὸ κρήγυον εἶπας·
             αἰεί τοι τὰ κάκʼ ἐστὶ φίλα φρεσὶ μαντεύεσθαι

Il. 3.138 τῷ δέ κε νικήσαντι φίλη κεκλήσῃ ἄκοιτις
              (the conqueror being one of two definite persons)

So ἡ πληθύς (Il. 2.278, 15.305) the many (in contrast to a single man, or to the few); τὸ χθιζόν (Il. 13.745); τὸν δεξιὸν ἵππον (Il. 23.336); Αἴας ὁ μέγας the greater Ajax, θεοὺς . . . τοὺς ὑποταρταρίους (Il. 14.279) the gods of the lower world; ἄνακτες οἱ νέοι (Od. 14.61) masters of the younger generation; ἰχθύσι τοῖς ὀλίγοισι (Od. 12.252) the smaller kinds of fish. Sο

Il. 1.70 ὃς ᾔδη τά τʼ ἐόντα τά τʼ ἐσσόμενα πρό τʼ ἐόντα.

The use to contrast indefinite individuals (one . . . another) is rare in Homer.

Il. 23.325 τὸν προὔχοντα δοκεύει
                waits on the one in advance

Il. 16.53 ὁππότε δὴ τὸν ὁμοῖον ἀνὴρ ἐθέλῃσιν ἀμέρσαι

Il. 9.320 κάτθανʼ ὁμῶς ὅ τʼ ἄεργος ἀνὴρ ὅ τε πολλὰ ἐοργώς

Od. 17.218 ὡς ἀεὶ τὸν ὁμοῖον ἄγει θεὸς ὡς τὸν ὁμοῖον

f. Patronymics and geographical epithets.

Il. 11.613           Μαχάονι πάντα ἔοικε
                τῷ Ἀσκληπιάδῃ
                (cp. 13.698, 14.460, 23.295, 303, 525)

Il. 2.595 Θάμυριν τὸν Θρήϊκα

II. 6.201 πεδίον τὸ Ἀλήϊον

Cp. 2.681, 10.11, and so perhaps Ιl. 21.252 αἰετοῦ . . . τοῦ θηρητῆρος an eagle the hunting kind. This use is rare.

g. In a very few places, a genitive.

Il. 20.181 τιμῆς τῆς Πριάμου

Od. 24.497 υἱεῖς οἱ Δολίοιο

Also, Il. 9.342, 10.408, 23.348, 376; Od. 3.145.

261. The Defining Article. The few and somewhat isolated uses which fall under this description may be grouped as follows.

  1. The use before a relative is combined with apposition to a preceding noun.

    Il. 5.319 οὐδʼ υἱὸς Καπανῆος ἐλήθετο συνθεσιάων
                  τάων ἅς ἐπέτελλε κτλ.

    Cp. 5.331 θεάων τάων αἵ—.

    This is the primitive order, the article being resumptive—the injunctions, those namely which, etc. So ἤματι τῷ ὅτε—, and commonly in the Iliad. The later order—that in which the noun follows the article—appears in a few places of the Iliad

    5.265 τῆς γάρ τοι γενεῆς ἧς Τρωΐ περ κτλ. (cp. v. 268)

    also 6.292, 8.186, 19.105. It is commoner in the Odyssey.

  2. Occasionally the article conveys a hostile or contemptuous tone.

    Il. 2.275 τὸν λωβητῆρα
        13.53 ὁ λυσσώδης
      21.421 ἡ κυνάμυια
        22.59 τὸν δύστηνον

    Od. 2.351 τὸν κάμμορον
        12.113 τὴν ὀλοήν
        14.235 τήν γε στυγερὴν ὁδόν
          18.26 ὁ μολοβρός
        18.333 τὸν ἀλήτην
        19.372 αἱ κύνες αἵδε

    So in Il. 3.55 ἥ τε κόμη τό τε εἶδος.

    In Od. 18.114 τοῦτον τὸν ἄναλτον does not mean (as it would in Attic) "this ἄναλτος" but "this man—ἄναλτος that he is." Cp. Il. 13.53 ᾗ ῥʼ ὅ γʼ ὁ λυσσώδης κτλ., where ὁ λυσσώδης—the mad-man—is used as a single term, in apposition to ὅ γε.

    This use—which is characteristic of Homer—may be regarded as a relic of the deictic force of ὁ, ἡ, τό. It answers to the later use of οὗτος, Latin iste.

  3. The use of the article to show that the noun denotes a known person or thing—the defining article of later Greek—is rare in Homer. It is found in the Iliad

    a. with γέρων, γεραιός, ἄναξ, ἥρως: where however the pronoun is the important word, the noun being subjoined as a kind of title.

    τοῖο ἄνακτος = οf his lordship
    (cp. the German allerhöchst derselbe)

    Accordingly, when the name is added the article is generally not used; as γέρων ἱππηλάτα Πηλεύς (not ὁ γέρων).

    b. with ἔπος and μῦθος, in certain phrases, as ποῖον τὸν μῦθον ἔειπες; in these cases the noun is of vague meaning, adding little to the article. Cp. ἐπεὶ τὸν μῦθον ἄκουσε with ἐπεὶ τό γʼ ἄκουσε. So in the formula ὄμοσέν τε τελεύτησέν τε τὸν ὅρκον, perhaps vwith a touch of ceremonial verbiage.

    In the Odyssey it occurs with several other nouns.

    ὁ ξεῖνος (passim)
    ἡ νῆσος Od. 5.55, 9.146, 12.201, 276, 403, etc.
    τὰ μῆλα Od. 9.464, 11.4, 20
    ὁ μόχλος Od. 9.375, 378
    τὸ τόξσν Od. 21.113, 325

    The other examples in the Iliad are chiefly found in books 10, 23, 24: see Il. 10.97, 277, 321, 322, 330, 408, 497; 23.75, 257, 465; 24.388, 801, also 2.80, 7.412, 20.147.

    We may perhaps add a few uses with words of relationship.

    Il. 11.142 νῦν μὲν δὴ τοῦ πατρὸς ἀεικέα τίσετε λώβην

    But here the article is resumptive with emphasis: (if you are sons of Antimachus) you shall now pay for his, your father's, outrage.

    Il. 19.322 οὐδʼ εἴ κεν τοῦ πατρὸς ἀποφθιμένοιο πυθοίμην
                    not even if I heard of such a one as my father being dead

    Od. 2.134 ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ πατρὸς κακὰ πείσομαι
                    for from my father (for οne) I shall suffer

    Cp. Il. 15.641 τοῦ γένετʼ ἐκ πατρὸς κτλ.

    Od. 16.149, Il. 21.412. See hοwever § 255.

It has been a question whether the article is ever equivalent to a possessive pronoun. If so it would be a kind of definiπg aticle—defining a thing as belonging to a known person. In most of the instances, however, the reference to a person is given by a distinct pronoun.

Il. 19.331 ὡς ἄν μοι τὸν παῖδα κτλ.

Od. 11.492 ἀλλʼ ἄγε μοι τοῦ παιδὸς κτλ.

Od. 8.195 καί κʼ ἀλαός τοι . . . τὸ σῆμα

Od. 18.380 οὐδʼ ἄν μοι τὴν γαστέρʼ κτλ.

Od. 19.535 ἀλλʼ ἄγε μοι τὸν ὄνειρον κτλ.

Il. 1.167 σοὶ τὸ γέρας πολὺ μεῖζον

Hence the article in these places has much the same function as with a possessive (μοι τὸν παῖδα = τὸν ἐμὸν παῖδα); it reinforces the pronoun which conveys the idea of possession.

This account does not apply to τῆς εὐνῆς (Il. 9.133, 275, 19.176), and τῆς ἀρετῆς (Od. 2.206). But here the article is probably substantival.

τῆς εὐνή
her couch

τῆς ἀρετή
her perfection

In 23.75 καί μοι δὸς τὴν χεῖρα the article is quite anomalous.

Suggested Citation

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