Elision, Crasis, Synizesis

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376. Α final vowel cut off before a wοrd beginning with a vowel is said to suffer elision (ἔκθλιψις).

μυρίʼ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγεʼ ἔθηκε

Whether an elided vowel was entirely silent, or merely slurred over in such a way that it did not form a distinct syllable, is a question which can hardy be determined.

The vowels that are generally liable to elision are α, ε, ο, ι. But

  1. The ο of ὁ, τό, πρό is not elided.

    Final -ο is not elided in the genitive endings -οιο, -ᾱο, and very rarely in the pronouns ἐμεῖο, etc. This however may be merely because the later forms of these endings, viz. -ου, -εω, -ευ, took the place of -οιʼ(ο), -ᾱʼ(ο), -ειʼ(ο) when a vοwel fοllοwed. In the case of ᾱο this supposition is borne out by the fact that -εω is often found before a vowel, as Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος (read Πηληϊάδαʼ), and by the rarity of the contraction of εο to ευ (§ 378*), There is less to be said for elision of -ο in the ending -οιο. That ending in Homer is archaic (§ 149), therefore the presumption is against emendations which increase the frequency of its occurrence. And the cases of -ου remaining long before hiatus are not exceptionally common (Hartel, H. S. ii. 6).

  2. The ῐ of τί, περί is not elided in Homer; regarding ὅτι see § 269. But περί is elided in Hesiod, as περοίχεται, περίαχε.
  3. The -ι of the dative singular is rarely elided; but see § 105.1. Exceptions are to be seen in

    ll. 4.259 ἡδʼ ἐν δαίθʼ ὅτε κτλ.

    Il. 5.5 ἀστέρʼ ὀπωρινῷ κτλ.

    Il. 3.349, 10.277, 12.88, 16.385, 17.45 & 324, 23.693, 24.26; Od. 5.62 & 398, 10.106, 13.35, 15.364, 19.480. The ῐ of the dative plural is often elided in the 1st and 2nd declensions, and in the forms in -σσι of the 3rd declension. On the other hand, elision is very rare in the forms in -εσι, -ᾰσι, -ῠσι, etc.

The diphthong -αι of the person endings -μαι, -σαι, -ται, -νται, -σθαι is frequently elided.

βούλομʼ ἐγώ

κείσοντʼ ἐν προθύροισι

πρὶν λύσασθʼ ἑτάρους

But not the -αἱ of the 1st aorist active infinitive or of the infinitive in -ναι: hence in Il. 21.323 read τυμβοχόης, not the infinitive τυμβοχοῆσʼ.

The diphthong -οἱ of the enclitic pronouns μοι and σοι (τοι) is elided in a few places.

Il. 6.165 ὅς μʼ ἔθελεν φιλότητι μιγήμεναι οὐκ ἐθελούσῃ

Il. 13.481 καί μʼ οἴῳ ἀμύνετε
               (so Od. 4.367)

Il. 17.100 τῷ μʼ οὔ τις νεμεσήσεται

also Il. 1.170, 9.673, 13.544, 23.310 & 579; Od. 1.60 & 347, 23.21 (Cοbet, Misc. Crit. p. 345). Other instances may be recovered by conjecture: thus in

Il. 3.173 ὡς ὄφελεν θάνατός μοι ἁδεῖν

should probably be ὥς μʼ ὄφελεν θάνατος ἀδέειν (§ 365) and in

Il. 24.757 νῦν δέ μοι ἑρσήεις

Van Leeuwen reads νῦν δέ μʼ ἐερσήεις.

In the case of the enclitic οἱ (῾ϝοἱ) elision involved the disappearance of the pronoun from the later text. In

ll. 6.289 (= Od. 15.105) ἔνθʼ ἔσαν οἱ πέπλοι

the original was probably ἔνθα ῾ϝʼ(οι) ἔσαν (cp. Od. 15.556 ἔνθα οἱ ἦσαν ὕες). In

Il. 5.310 (= 11.356) ἀμφὶ δὲ ὄσσε κελαινὴ νυξ ἐκάλυψε

read ἀμφὶ δέ ῾ϝʼ. In

Od. 9.360 ὣς φάτʼ, ἀτάρ οἱ αὖτις

where some MSS. have ὣς ἔφατ, αὐτάρ οἱ αὖτις, read αὐτάρ ῾ϝʼ.1

377. Crasis. When a final vowel, instead of being elided, coalesces with the initial vowel of the next word, the process is termed crasis.

The use of crasis in Homer is limited. It is seen in οὕνεκα and τοὔνεκα, also in τἆλλα for τὰ ἄλλα (Il. 1.465, etc.), καὐτός for καὶ αὐτός (in Il. 6.260, 13.734; Od. 3.255, 6.282—the three last being passages where κʼ αὐτός for κε αὐτός is inadmissible), and χἠμεῖς for καὶ ἡμεῖς (Il. 2.238). In these cases either crasis or elision is required by the meter. Most texts also have ὥριστος, οὑμός (Il. 8.360), ωὐτός for ὁ αὐτός (Il. 5.396), κἀγώ, τὠμῷ, τἠμῇ; also προὐ- for προ-ε- (in προὔφαινε, προὐχούσας, etc.). But since the full forms ὁ ἄριστος, etc., are equally allowed by the meter we cannot but suspect that the spelling with crasis may be due to later usage. The forms κἀκεῖνος, κἀκεῖσε, etc., (for καὶ κεῖνος, etc.) are certainly wrong, as ἐκεῖνος is not the Homeric form.

378. Synizesis is the term used when the twο coalescing vowels are written in full, but "sink together" (συνιζάνω) into one syllable in pronunciation.

The particle δή unites with the initial vowel of a following vowel, especially with αὖ, αὐτός and οὕτως (§ 350); also with Ἀντιμάχοιο (Il. 11.138), ἀφνειότατος (Il. 20.220), ἄγρην (Od. 12.330).

Synizesis is also found with ἦ, in the combination ἦ οὐχ (Il. 5.439, etc.), ἦ εἰς ὅ κεν (Il. 5.466), ἦ εἰπέμεναι (Od. 4.682); with ἐπεὶ οὐ (Od. 4.352, etc.); with μὴ ἄλλοι (Od. 4.165); and in

Il. 17.89 ἀσβέστῳ· οὐδʼ υἱὸν λάθεν Ἀτρέος

where we may perhaps read ἀσβέστῳ· οὐδʼ υἷα λάθʼ Ἀτρεος

Il. 18.458 υἱεῖ ἐμῷ ὠκυμόρῳ
                (one or two MSS. give υἷ’ ἐμῷ)

Od. 1.226 εἰλαπίνη ἠὲ γάμος κτλ.

In Il. 1.277 Πηλείδη ἔθελ’, and Od. 17.375 ὦ ἀρίγνωτε the case is different: a short vowel absorbed into a preceding long one.

Other examples of synizesis are to be found in the monosyllabic pronunciation of εα, εο, εω, both in verbs (§ 57) and nouns (§ 105.3. It will be seen that in the cases now in question (apart from some doubtful forms) an E-sound (η, ει, ε) merges into a following α or ο.

The term synizesis may also be applied to the monosyllabic pronunciation of the vowels in Αἰγυπτίη (Od. 4.229), etc., σχετλίη (Il. 3.414), Ἱστίαια (Il. 2.537). It has been thought that in these cases the ι was pronounced like our y, but this is not a necessary inference from the scansion. In Italian verse, for instance, such words as mio, mia count as monosyllables, but are not pronounced myο, myα. For πόλιος (˘ ˉ in Il. 2.811, 21.567) it is better to read πόλεος (§ 107), and for πόλιας (Od. 8.560, 574) πόλῑς. The corresponding synizesis of is generally recognized in the word Ἐνυαλίῳ (commonly scanned υ͜α in the phrase Ἐνυαλίῳ ἀνδρεϊφόντῃ); but see § 370 ad fin.

  • 1 J. van Leeuwen, Mnemos. xiii. 188 ff. Of the numerous other emendations of this kind which he proposes few are positively required. The style of Homer constantly allows an unemphatic pronoun to be supplied from the context. Moreover, he frequently proposes to insert enclitics in a part of the sentence in which they seldom occur (§ 365). It would be difficult (e. g.) to find a parallel for ἐπεί μʼ ἀφέλεσθέ ῾ϝε δόντες or χειρὶ δὲ νεκταρέου ϝεανοῦ ῾ϝʼ ἐτίναξε λαβοῦσα.

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/elision-crasis-synizesis