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It may be said, without fear of giving offense, that a new Grammar of the Homeric dialect is sorely wanted. The admirable Griechische Fοrmenlehτe of the late H. L. Ahrens is now just thirty years old, and is confined, as its title indicates, to the inflections. bἱot only has the course of discovery been going on since Ahrens wrote (and with hardly less rapidity than in the first years of the new science), but the historical method has been carried into the field of syntax. And apart from "comparative philology," the researches of Bekker, Cοbet, LaRoche, and many other students have brought together a wealth of material that only needs careful analysis and arrangement to make it accessible to the general body of learners.

The plan of this book has sufficient novelty to call for some explanation. I have not attempted to write a comparative grammar, or even a grammar that would deserve the epithet historical: but I have kept in view two principles of arrangement, which belong to the historical or genetic method. These are, that grammar should proceed from the simple to the complex types of the sentence, and that the form and the meaning should as far as possible be treated together. Now the simplest possible sentence-apart from mere exclamations-consists of a verb, or word containing in itself the two elements of all rational utterance, a subject and a predicate. We begin, therefore, by analyzing the verb, and classifying (1) the endings, which express the person and number of the subject (§§ 1-7), and serve also to distinguish the "Middle" or reflexive use (§ 8), and (2) the modifications of the stem which yield the several tenses and moods. These modifications, we at once perceive, are more numerous than the meanings which they serve to express, and we have therefore to choose between classifying according to fοrmation-i.e. according to the process by which each tense stem and mοοd stem is derived from the simple verb stem or root, and the ordinary classification according to meaning (Present, Future, Perfect, Aοrist, etc.). The former course seemed preferable because it answers to the historical order. The problem is to find how preexisting forms-common to Greek and Sanskrit, and therefore part of an original Indo-European grammar-were adapted to the specifically Greek system of tense meanings. I have therefore taken the different formations in turn, beginning with the simplest (§§ 9-20, 22-27, 29-69, 79-83), and introducing an account of the meaning of each as soon as possible (§§ 21, 28, 70-78). This part of the subject naturally includes the accentuation of the different forms of the Verb (§§ 87-89).

The next great division of the subject is concerned with the first enlargement of the sentence. Α word may be added which taken by itself says nothing-contains no subject and predicate-but which combines with and qualifies the primitive one-word sentence. The elements which may gather in this way round the basis or nucleus formed by the verb are ultimately of two kinds, nouns and pronouns; and the relations in which they may stand to the verb are also two-fold. A noun or pronoun may stand as a subject limiting or explaining the subject already contained in the personal ending-or may qualify the predicate given by the stem of the verb. These relations are shown by the ending, which again may be either a case ending or an adverbial ending. We begin accordingly by an account of the declensions, supplemented by a list of the chief groups of adνerbs (Chapter V).

When we pass from the endings to the stems of nouns and pronouns, we find that they are essentially different. Α nominal stem consists in general of two parts, (1) a predicative part, usually identical with a verb stem, and (2) a suffix. Each of these two elements, again, may be complex. The addition of a further suffix yields a fresh stem, with a corresponding derivative meaning; and thus we have the distinction between primitive or verbal and secοndary or denominative nouns. The suffixes employed in these classes are generally distinct, and deserve a more careful enumeration than is usually given in elementary grammars. The predicative part, again, may be enlarged by a second nominal stem, prefixed to the other, and qualifying it nearly as a case form or adverb qualifies the verb. The compounds thus formed are of especial interest for the poetical dialect of Homer. The analysis which I have given of the chief forms which they present must be taken to be provisional only, as the subject is stil1 full of doubt. With respect to the meaning I have attempted no complete classification. It is always unsafe to insist on distinctions which may be clear to us, but only because we mark them by distinct forms of expression.

The chapter on the formation of Nouns should perhaps have been followed by one on the formation of Pronouns. The material for such a chapter, however, is for the most part beyond the scope of a grammar. It is represented in this book by a section on Heteroclite Pronouns (§ 108),which notices some traces of composite pronominal stems, and in some degree by another on the Numerals (§ 130).

When we come to examine the syntactical use of the cases, we find ourselves sometimes dealing with sentences which contain at least two members besides the Verb. Along with the constructions which may be called "adverbial" (using the term adverb in a wide sense,to include all words directly construed with the verb), we have the constructions in which the governing word is a noun or preposition. And in these again we must distinguish between the government of a case apparently by a noun or preposition, really by the combined result of the noun or preposition and the Verb, and the true government by a noun alone, of which the dependent genitive and the adjective are the main types. These distinctions, however, though of great importance in reference to the development of the use of Cases, cannot well be followed exclusively in the order of treatment. I have therefore taken the cases in succession, and along with them the chief points which have to be noticed regarding the "concords" of gender (§§ 166-168) and nuαmber (§§ 159-173).

In the infinitive and participle (Chapter X) we have the first step from the simple to the complex sentence. The predicative element in the verbal noun is treated syntactically like the same element in a true or "finite" verb; that is to say, it takes "adverbial" constructions. Thus while retaining the character of a noun it becomes the nucleus of a new imperfect sentence, without a grammatical subject properly so called (though the infinitive in Greek acquired a quasi-subject in the use of the accusative before it), and standing to the main sentence as an adverb or adjective.

While the infinitival and participial clauses may thus be described as nouns which have expanded into dependent sentences, the true subordinate clause shows the opposite process. In many instances, especially in Homeric syntax, we can trace the steps by which originally independent sentences have come to stand in an adverbial or adjectival relation. The change is generally brought about, as we shall see, by means of pronouns, or adverbs formed from Pronominal stems. Hence it is convenient that the account of the uses of the pronouns (Chapter XI) shοuld hold the place of an introduction to the part in which we have to do with the relations of clauses to each other.

The next chapter, however, does not treat directly of subordinate clauses, but of the uses of the moods in them. It seemed best to bring these uses into immediate connection with the uses which are found in simple sentences. In this way the original character of subordinate clauses comes in to a clearer light. If anything remains to be said of them, it finds its place in the account of the particles (Chapter XIII); in which also we examine the relations of independent sentences, so far at least as these are expressed by grammatical forms.

The last chapter contains a discussion of the Meter of Homer (Chapter XIV), and of some points of "phonology" which (for us at least) are ultimately metrical questions. Chief among these is the famous question of the digamma. I have endeavored to state the main issues which have been raised on this subject as fully as possible: but without much hope of bringing them to a satisfactory decision. A book of this kind is necessarily to a great extent a compilation, and from sources so numerous that it is scarcely possible to make a sufficient acknowledgment of indebtedness. The earlier chapters are mainly founded on the great wοrk of G. Curtius on the Greek verb. More recent writers have cleared up some difficulties, especially in the phonο1ogy. I have learned very much from Saussureʼs Mémoire sur le système primitif des voyelles, and from several articles by Κ. Brugmann and Jοh. Schmidt, especially the last. I wοuuld mention also, as valuable on single points, the papers of J. Paech (Vratisl. 1861) and H. Stier (Curt. Stud. II) on the subjunctive, B. Mangοld on the "diectasis" of Verbs in -άω (Curt. Stud. VI), F. D. Allen on the same subject (Trans. of the American Phiἰ. Assoc. 1873), Leskien on -σσ- in the Fut. and Aor. (Curt. Stud. II), and Κ. Κoch on the augment(Brunsvici 1868). On the subject of nominal composition I may name a paper by W. Clemm in Curt. Stud. VII, which gives references to the earlier literature of the subject, and one by F. Stolz (Κlagenfurt 1874). On the forms of the personal pronouns there is a valuable dissertation by P. Caner (Curt. Stud. VII): on the Numerals by Jοh. Baunack (K.Z. XXV): on the comparative and superlative by Fr. Weihrich (De Gradibus, &c. Gissae 1869). Going on to the syntax of the cases, I wοuld place first the dissertation of B. Delbrück, Ablative Localis Instrumentalis, &c. (Berlin 1867), and next the excellent work of Hübschmann, Zur Casuslehre (München 1875). On the accusative I have obtained the greatest help from La Roche, Der Accusativ im Homer (Wien 1861): on the Dual from Bieber, De Duali Numero (Jena 1864). On the prepositions I have used the papers of C. A. J. Hoffmann (Lüneburg 1857- 60, Clausthal 1858-59), T. Mommsen (see § 221), Giseke, Die allmäliche Entstehung der Gesänge der Ilias (Göttingen 1853). La Roche, especially on ὑπό (Wien 1861) and ἐπί (in the Z.f. öst. Gyπmn.), Rau on παρά (Curt. Stud. III), and the articles in Ebeling's Lexicon. On this part of syntax the fourth volume of Delbrück's Forschngen is especially instructive. Of the literature on the infinitive I wοuld mention J. Jollyʼs Geschichte des Infinitivs im Indogermanischen (München 1873), also a paper by Albrecht (Curt. Stud. IV), and a note in Max Müller's Chips from a German Workshop (IV. p. 49 ff). The use of the participle has been admirably treated by Classen, in his Beobachtungen über den homerischen Sprachgebrauch (Frankfurt 1867). Α paper by Jolly in the collection of Sprachwissenschaftliche Abhandlungen (Leipzig 1874) is also suggestive. On the subject of the pronouns the chief source is a dissertation by E. Windisch in Curt. Stud. II. On the article almost everything will be found in H. Foerstemannʼs Bemerkungen über den Gebrauch des Artikels bei Homer (Magdeburg 1861). The controversy on the reflexive pronoun is referred to in § 255. On the Homeric uses of the Moods, besides Delbrückʼs great work, I would mention Jolly's mοnograph entitled Ein Kapitel vergleichender Syntax (München 1872), and L. Langeʼs elaborate papers on εἰ (Leipzig 1872-73). It is to be regretted that they have not yet been carried to the point of forming a complete book on the Homeric use of εἰ. For the general theory of the subject Prof. Gοοdwinnʼs Greek Moods and Tenses is of the very highest value. Regarding the cognate question of the uses of ἄν and κεν the main principles have been laid down by Delbrück. It is worth while to mention that they were clearly stated as long ago as 1832, in a paper in the Philological Museuαm (Vol.I. p. 96), written in opposition to the then reigning method of Hermann. For the other particles little has been done by Homeric students since Nägelsbach and Hartung. I have cited three valuable papers; on τε by Wentzel, on ἦ (ἢε) by Praetorius, and on, μή by A.R. Vierke. I would add here a paper on the syntax of causal sentences in Homer, by E. Pfudel (Liegnitz 1871). On all syntactical matters use has been made of the abundant stores of Κühnerʼs Ausführliche Grammatik. And it is impossible to say too much of the guidance and inspiration (as I may almost call it) which I have derived from the Dίgest of Platonic Idioms left behind by the lamented friend to whose memory I have ventured to dedicate this book.

On the collateral subjects of meter I have profited most by Hartel's Homerische Studien, La Roche, Hοmerische Untersuchungen (Leipzig 1869), Κnös, De digammo Homerico (Upsaliae 1872-79), and Tudeer, De dialectorum Graecarum digammo (Helsingforsiae 1879).

Oxford, July 18,1882.


The rapid progress of linguistic science during the nine years that have passed since this Grammar was first published has necessitated considerable alteration and enlargement in a new edition. Much has been discovered in the interval; much that was then new and speculative has been accepted on all sides; and much has been done in sifting and combining the results attained. The Morphologischen Untersuchungen of Osthoff and Brugmann have been followed by Brugmannʼs admirable summary of Greek grammar (in Iwan Müllerʼs Handbuch), and his comprehensive Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indοgermanischen Sprachen. Of three portions of this work that have already appeared (Strassburg 1886-90-91), the last (treating chiefly of the declensions) came too late to be of service to the present book. The part which deals with the verb has not yet been published: and the volume on comparative syntax, promised by Delbrück-the first complete work on this part of the subject-is also stil1 to come. It will doubtless be a wοrtby sequel to the Altindische Syntax, which now forms the fifth volume of his Syntaktische Forschungen. Among other books which have appeared since the publication of this grammar, or which were not sufficiently made use of for the first edition,I would mention Joh. Schmidt's Pluralbildungen der indogermanischen Neutra (Weimar 1889), G.Meyer's Griechische Grammatik (second edition, Leipzig 1886), the new edition of Mr. Gοοdwin's Moods and Tenses (London 18S9),the treatises in Schanz's series of Beiträge zur historischen Syntax der griechischen Sprache, Aug. Fickʼs two books (see Appendix F), articles by Wackernagel, Fröhde and others in Kuhn's Zeitschrίft and Bezzenberger's Beiträge, the long series of papers by Aug. Nauck collected in the Mélanges gréco-romains (St. Petersburg 1855-88)-a book not often seen in this country- and the dissertations of J. van Leuwen in the Mnemosyne. The twο writers last mentioned are chiefly concerned with the restoration of the Homeric text to its original or prehistoric form. Their method, which is philological rather than linguistic, may lead to some further results when the numerous MSS. of the Iliad have been examined and have furnished us with an adequate apparatus criticus.

Although very much has been rewritten, the numbering of the sections has been retained, with a few exceptions; so that the references made to the first edition will generally stil1 hold good. The new sections are distinguished by an asterisk. 1 will not attempt to enumerate the points on which new matter has been added, or former views recalled or modified. The increase in the size of the book is largely due to the fuller treatment of the morphology. Additions bearing on questions of syntax will be found in §§ 238, 248, 257, 270b, 362, 355. On the whole I have become more skeptical about the theories which seek to explain the forms of the subordinate clause from parataxis, or the mere juxtaposition of independent clauses. In general it may be admitted that the complex arose in the first instance by the amalgamation of simpler elements: but we must beware of leaving out of sight the effect of "contamination" in extending syntactical types once created. The neglect of this consideration is in reality another and more insidious form of the error from which recent writers on morphology have delivered us, viz. that of explaining grammatical forms as the result of direct amalgamation of a stem with a suffix or ending, without duly allowing for the working o fanalοgγ.

Oxford, March 21,1891.

Suggested Citation

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