Aorists in -ᾰ and -κᾰ

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15. These consist of (1) four aorists from stems ending in -υ, (2) three aorists in -κᾰ, and (3) the isolated forms ἤνεικα and εἶπα.

The four aorists ἔσσευ-α (weak stem σῠ-) I urged, ἔ-χευ-α or ἔ-χε-α I poured, ἔ-κη-α (weak stem κᾰυ-) I burned, ἠλεύ-ατο avoided (optative ἀλέ-αιτο, infinitive ἀλέ-ασθαι) form the 1st singular with -ᾰ instead of -ν. Thus ἔ-χευ-α is formed like ἔ-φη-ν, except that, after the diphthong ευ the final -m of the ending passed into -ᾰ, as in the imperfect ἦα (for ἦσ-α). So too in the accusative of nouns we have -ν after a single vowel (λόγο-ν, πόλι-ν, ἰχθύ-ν), but -ᾰ after ηυ, ευ or a consonant: νῆ-α (for νηῦ-α or νῆϝ-α), πόδ-α, as in Latin nāv-em, ped-em. The forms without υ, as ἔχεα, ἔκηα, are obtained by υ passing into the semi-vowel (ἔχε-α for ἔχεϝα).

The original inflection then was ἔ-χευ-α (ἔ-χεϝ-α), ἔ-χευ-ς, ἔ-χευ(-τ), plural ἔ-χῠ-μεν, ἔ-χυ-τε (cp. ἔ-κτᾰ-μεν, § 13), ἔ-χευ-αν, middle ἔ-χῠ-το (like ἔ-φᾰ-το, ἔ-κτᾰ-το), etc. Thus ἔχυτο and ἔσσυτο are primitive forms, standing to ἔχευα, ἔσσευα as ἔ-φᾰ-το to ἔ-φη-ν.

How then are we to account for such forms as ἐ-χεύα-μεν, ἐ-χεύα-το, σευά-μενος, ἠλεύα-το? They are obtained from the 1st singular and 3rd plural by treating the stem plus the -ᾰ as a new stem or base, to which the personal endings are then attached. Thus ἔ-χευα-ς, ἐ-χεύα-μεν, ἐ-χεύα-το are duplicate forms, related to ἔ-χευ-ς, ἔ-χῠ-μεν, ἔ-χυ-το as the later οἶδα-ς, οἴδᾰ-μεν to οἶσθα, ἴδ-μεν. The 3rd singular in -ε(ν), follows the analogy of the thematic conjugation (ἔχευε like ἔλεγε).

The three aorists in -κᾰ, ἔ-θηκα (I put), ἕ-ηκα (I sent forth), ἔ-δωκα (I gave), are inflected as follows:

  Sing. Dual Plur.
1. ἔ-θηκα ἔ-θε-μεν
2. ἔ-θηκα-ς ἔ-θε-τον ἔ-θε-τε
3. ἔ-θηκε(ν) ἐ-θέ-την



Imperative: θέ-ς, θέ-τω, plural θέ-τε, θέ-ντων.

Infinitive: θέ-μεναι, θέ-μεν, θεῖναι, participle θείς, θέ-ντος, etc.

Middle: ἐ-θέ-μην etc., with θε- as stem throughout.

Thus θηκα-, ἡκα-, δωκα- alternate with θε-, ἑ-, δο- as long and short stems respectively. The only forms in Homer which do not conform to this scheme are the 1st plural ἐν-ήκα-μεν (Od. 12.401), and the 3rd singular middle θήκα-το (Il. 10.31, 14.187, also Hes. Th. 175). The primitive 3rd plural ἔ-δο-ν occurs in Hes. Th. 30, and in Doric; ἔ-θε-ν only on inscriptions (C. I. 29).

The Homeric forms with the stem ἑ- do not take the augment: in Attic we have (e. g.) εἷ-μεν εἷ-τε (for ἐ-ἑ-μεν ἐ-ἑ-τε).

In respect of the -ᾰ of the stem the 2nd singular ἔ-θηκα-ς is formed like ἔ-χευα-ς, and the occasional examples of the type ἐ-θήκα-μεν, ἐ-θήκα-το are parallel to ἐ-χεύα-μεν, ἐ-χεύα-το. That is to say, the -ᾰ comes from ἔ-θηκα, ἔ-θηκα-ν. The relation of ἐ-θήκα-μεν, ἐ-θήκα-το to ἔ-θε-μεν, ἔ-θε-το, is complicated by the use of a new verb stem (θη-κ- instead of θη-). Thus it is the same as the relation of ἑστήκα-μεν to ἕστᾰ-μεν (§ 22).

The aorist ἤνεικα (without augment ἔνεικα) shows no variation of stem; 1st plural ἐνείκα-μεν, 3rd plural ἤνεικα-ν and ἔνεικα-ν, imperative ἐνείκα-τε, middle 3rd plural ἠνείκα-ντο.

On the aorist εἶπα see § 37.

Suggested Citation

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