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6. In thematic stems it is plain that the ending influences only the final
ε(ο), leaving the rest of the stem unaffected. Athematic forms, on the other hand, are liable to variations in quantity which affect the main vowel of the stem. These variations are governed by the general rule that when there are two forms of a stem the longer is found with the endings of the singular indicative active, the shorter with all other endings, viz. those of the dual and plural, the imperative, and the middle.

  1. ᾰ, ε, ο interchange with the corresponding long vowels ᾱ (in Ionic η), η, ω.

    φη-μί, ἔ-φη-ν, 1st plural φᾰ-μέν
    imperative φᾰ-θί
    middle ἔ-φα-το

    middle τίθε-μαι

    middle δίδο-μαι

  2. ῐ with ει and οι.

    εἶ-μι, 1st plural ἴ-μεν
    imperative ἴ-θι

    οἶδα, 1st plural ἴδ-μεν

  3. ῠ with ευ and ῡ.

    middle χύ-το (§ 15)

    δείκνῡ-μι, 1st plural δείκνῠ-μεν.

    Sometimes with ου, as εἰλήλουθα, stem ἐλῠθ-.

    Note however that all vowels are liable to be shortened before the combination ντ, as in the 3rd plural ἔστᾰν (but ἔστη-μεν), etc., and the participle, στάντ-ος, γνόντ-ος. Also before ι of the optative, σταίην, γνοίην.

    The same law governs the interchange of

  4. ᾰ with εν and ον.

    γέγονα (γένος)
    1st plural γέγᾰ-μεν

    πέπονθα (πένθ-ος)
    feminine participle πεπᾰθ-υῖα.[fn]Similarly, ᾰλ(λᾰ) with ελ and ολ: but it is difficult to find examples in Greek. The form πί-πλᾰ-μεν perhaps answers to an original singular *πί-πελ-μι (cp. Sanskrit piparmi, plural pipṛ-mas, Brugmann, M. U, I. p.44), and the form τέ-τλᾰ-μεν to *τέ-τολ-α (Lat. tetuli).[/fn]

  5. ᾰρ with ερ and ορ.

    middle ἔφθαρ-ται (present φθείρω for φθερ-ι̯ω)

    and, with Metathesis (ρα for αρ, etc.)

    middle τέθραπ-ται (τρέφ-ω)

    The combinations ᾰρ(ρᾰ) and ᾰλ(λᾰ) represent the primitive "liquid vowels," and (They appear in place of the consonantal ρ and λ when these are phonetically impossible: e. g. ἔφθαρται is for ἐ-φθρ-ται—the ερ of the root φθερ- passing in to αρ where Sanskrit ar would pass into .

    Similarly, ᾰ represents the "nasal vowels" and n̥; thus πᾰθ- is for πνθ-. Before another vowel εμ, εν sometimes pass into ᾰμ, ᾰν, as in ἔκτανον for ἔ-κτν-ον (root κτεν-), in the same way that u and i before a vowel may appear as uv, iy.

    Sometimes the longer stem contains an additional consonant, viz. in the perfects and aorists in -κᾰ.

    ἕστηκα, 1st plural ἕστᾰ- μεν
    ἔθηκα, 1st plural ἔθε-μεν

    These are the principal variations which can be exemplified within the limits of a single tense. When we compare one tense with another, we observe further the interchange of

  6. Stems with the vowel ε or ο and stems in which the vοwel is lost.

    ἔχ-ω (for *σέχ-ω), ἔ-σχ-ον
    πέτ-εσθαι, aorist πτ-έσθαι (cp. ποτ-άομαι).

    This definition will cover the reduction of ερ, ελ, εμ, εν to
    ρ, λ, μ, ν (instead of ᾰρ, ᾰλ, ᾰ) as in

    ἔγρ-ετο (ἐγερ- in ἐγείρω)
    ἔ-πλ-ετο (πέλ-ω)
    ἔ-τε-τμ-ον (τέμ-νω)
    ἔ-πε-φν-ον (φεν-, cp. φόν-ος).

    Thus we have an apparent interchange of two short stems, as φν- in ἔπε-φν-ον with φᾰ- in πέ-φᾰ-ται, etc.

    When loss of ε would make the word unpronounceable, it is sometimes retained in the short form, as in ἔ-τεκ-ον, τεκ-εῖν (stems τεκ-, τοκ-).

    Again, there are in general two longer forms of each stem, one marked by the predominance of the sounds ε, η, the other by that of ο, ω. The chief interchanges which are due to this cause are

  7. ε and ο, including the combinations ει, ευ, ερ, ελ, εμ, εν and οι, ου, ορ, ολ, ομ, ον. It is needless to give further examples.
  8. ᾱ (Ionic η) and ω.




    Cp. φη-μί and φω-νή, ὁδ-ηγός and ἀγ-ωγή.

  9. η and ω.


    Cp. ἀρήγω and ἀρωγ-ός, ἦθος and εἴωθα.

  10. In a certain number of stems the only variation is between ω and ο.

    δί-δω-μι (δο-)

    The endings which are found with the long stem have been called the light, the others the heavy endings.

    The short form of the stem is usually called the weak stem. Of the longer forms that which contains the vowel ο (οι, ου, ον, ορ, ολ) may be distinguished as the ο-form: the other will be simply called the strong form.

    The different variations may be represented in a tabular form.

    Strong ᾱ (η) η ω ει ευ ερ(ρε) ελ εμ εν ε
    Ο-form ω ω ω οι ου ορ(ρο) ολ ομ ον ο
    Weak ε ο ρ









7. The 3rd plural offers some exceptions to the general rule.

  1. The ending -ᾰσι (for -ᾰτι, -NTI) is used with the long stem of the perfect, as λελόγχ-ᾰσι, πεφύκ-ᾰσι. Cp. middle τετεύχ-ᾰται, ἐ-τετεύχ-ᾰτο (§ 22.5).
  2. The long stem is also found in a few forms of the perfect with the ending -ᾱσι, as πεποίθᾱσι, ἑστήκᾱσι (§ 24), and of the aorist in -α, as ἔχευαν, ἔθηκαν, ἔδωκαν (§ 15).
  3. The endings -(σ)ᾱσι, -σαν (for -ΣΑΝΤΙ, -ΣΑΝΤ) are found with the weak stem. The leading examples are:

    With simple stems: ἴ-σαν, ἔ-φα-σαν, ἔ-θε-σαν, ἔ-δο-σαν, etc.

    Presents: τιθέ-ασι, διδό-ασι (Attic); ἐ-τίθε-σαν, ἐ-δίδο-σαν, etc.

    Perfects: ἴσασι (ἰδ-σασι), ἴσαν; εἴξασι (Attic 3rd plural of ἔοικα), βεβά-ασι, γεγά-ασι, μεμά-ασι

    Pluperfect: βέβα-σαν, μέμα-σαν; ἑστᾶσι (for ἑστά-ασι), τεθνᾶσι; ἕστα-σαν, τέθνα-σαν; πεφύ-ασι, δεδί-ασι; δείδι-σαν

    The hiatus shows that -ᾱσι is for -σᾱσι, the primary ending answering to -σᾰν. The corresponding middle -σᾰται is found in Doric (γεγράψαται, Tab. Heracl. i.121, in C. I. 5774).

    The contraction in ἑστᾶσι, τεθνᾶσι is evidently due to the impossibility of ἑστά-ασι, τεθνά-ασι in the hexameter. Brugmann regards them as wrongly accented, and would write ἕστασι, τέθνασι, i. e. ἕστα-ντι, τέθνα-ντι (Curt. Stud. ix.296). This is open to the objection (1) that it separates them from βεβά-ασι, γεγά-ασι, μεμά-ασι; and (2) that in all other stems which form a perfect or aorist in -κα the endings -ντι and -ν are confined in Homer to the forms with -κ.

    πεφύκ-ᾰσι and πεφύ-ᾱσι but not πέφυσι
    ἑστήχκᾱσι and βεβά-ασι but not βέβασι
    (οἴδασι Hdt.) and ἴσασι but not ἴδ-ασι
    ἕθηκα-ν and ἔθε-σαν but not ἔθε-ν
    ἔδωκα-ν and ἔδο-σαν but not ἔδο-ν (Hesiod)

    The weak form with -ντι, -ν is therefore confined to verb stems ending in a vowel, as in φασί, τιθεῖσι (for φαντί, τίθε-ντι). And in these the short vowel is due to the (original) following -ΝΤ, as in ἔ-σταν, ἤγερθεν, ἁλό-ντες, etc.

    For a plausible hypothesis as to the origin of the ending -σαν see § 40. Regarding -(σ)ᾱσι (i. e. the ending -ᾱσι preceded by hiatus) no satisfactory view has been put forward.

Suggested Citation

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