The Article as a Relative

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262. The article at the beginning οf a clause may often be translated either as a demonstrative or as a relative. It has the character of a relative when the clause which it introduces is distinctly subordinate or parenthetical.

Il. 1.36 Ἀπόλλωνι ἄνακτι, τὸν ἠΰκομος τέκε Λητώ
           Apollo-sοn of the fair-haired Leto

The use of ὁ, ἡ, τό as a relative is less common in Homer than that of ὅς, ἥ, ὅ, and is restricted in general to clauses which refer to a definite antecedent. Thus in the line just quoted the clause τὸν ἠΰκομος τέκε Λητώ does not  define Apollo, i. e. does not show who is meant by the name; it assumes that a definite person is meant, and adds something further about him.

From this principle it evidently follows that

  1. The article when used as a relative must fοllοw the noun or pronoun to which it refers; whereas a relative clause often precedes. The only exceptions are

    Il. 1.125 ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν πολίων ἐξεπράθομεν, τὰ δέδασται

    Od. 4.349 (= 17.140) ἀλλὰ τὰ μέν μοι ἔειπε . . . τῶν κτλ.

    We may perhaps read ἀλλά θʼ ἃ μὲν (§ 332).

  2. The article cannot stand as correlative to a demonstrative (i.e. we must have τό . . . ὅ that which, not τό . . . τό). Hence in Il. 7.452

    τοῦ δʼ ἐπιλήσονται, τὸ ἐγὼ καὶ Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων κτλ.

    τοῦ . . . τό are not meant as correlatives: the sense is and will forget the οther . . . (a wall) which, etc. But some MSS. have ὅ τ ἐγώ.

    Od. 13.263 (τῆς ληΐδος) τῆς εἵνεκ’ ἐγὼ πάθον ἄλγεα θυμῷ
                       my share of the spoil . . .(spoil) for which I had suffered, etc.

    Exceptions are

    Od. 14.227 αὐτὰρ ἐμοὶ τὰ φίλʼ ἔσκε τά που θεὸς ἐν φρεσὶ θῆκεν

    Il. 19.573 τοὺς πελέκεας τοὺς κτλ.

    Perhaps also Od. 9.334.

  3. The article is not used in epexegetic clauses.

    Il. 2.338 νηπιάχοις, οἷς οὔ τι μέλει κτλ.

    Il. 5.63 ἀρχεκάκους, αἳ πᾶσι κακὸν κτλ.

    Il. 15.526 Λαμπετίδης, ὃν Λάμπος ἐγείνατο

    Instances at variance with the general principle are to be found in

    Il. 5.747 ἡρώων τοῖσίν τε κοτέσσεται

    οἷσίν τε in some MSS.

    Il. 9.592 κῆδε ὅσ’ ἀνθρώποισι πέλει τῶν ἄστυ ἁλώῃ

    also Il. 17.145, 18.208; Od. 1.17, 6.153, 11.545, 16.257, 23.355, etc. It is probable however that the text is sometimes at fault, the article having been substituted for ὅς, especially in order to avoid hiatus.

    Il. 17.145 οἶος σὺν λαοῖσι τοὶ Ἰλίῳ (λαοῖς οἱ Ϝιλίῳ)

    Od. 16.263 ἐσθλώ τοι τούτω γʼ ἐπαμύντορε τοὺς ἀγορεύεις
                       (where οὕς is not excluded by the hiatus, § 382.)

    As the article usually adds some new circumstance about a known antecedent, it sometimes has the effect of representing a fact as unexpected.

    Il. 1.392 τήν μοι δόσαν υἷες Ἀχαιῶν
                  (Briseis)-whom the Greeks gave me
                  (= although the Greeks had given her to me)

    Od. 16.19 μοῦνον τηλύγετον, τῷ ἐπʼ ἄλγεα πολλὰ μογήσῃ
                     his οnly sοn, after he has endured many sorrows about him
                     (cp. 19.266, 23.6)

    Il. 1.160 πρὸς Τρώων, τῶν οὔ τι μετατρέπει
                  the Trojans—while you pay no heed to them

    So in

    Il. 1.319 λῆγʼ ἔριδος τὴν πρῶτον ἐπηπείλησʼ Ἀχιλῆϊ

    the meaning is not the same quarrel which he had declared, but his quarrel—nοw that he had declared it. And so Od. 19.393.

    οὐλήν, τήν ποτέ μιν σῦς ἤλασε
    a wound—one that once a boar gave him

    Similarly τῇ = at a place where (Il. 14.404, 21.554, 23.775).

    The accusative neuter τό used adverbially means wherefore133).

    Il. 3.176 ἀλλὰ τά γʼ οὐκ ἐγένοντο· τὸ καὶ κλαίουσα τέτηκα

    So Il. 7.239, 12.9, 17.404, 19.213, 23.547. There is one instance in the Odyssey, in the song of Demodocus (8.332).

    The relatival use does not extend to the adverbs τώς, τότε, τέως (τῆος), or to the derivative adjectives τοῖος, τόσος, etc.

Suggested Citation

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