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132. Internal and External Object. The uses of the accusative have been divided into those in which the accusative repeats, with more or less modification, the meaning given by the verb, and those in which the action of the verb is limited or directed by an "object" wholly distinct from it. E.g. in the sentence

ἕλκος ὅ με οὔτασε

literally the wound which he wounded me, ὅ (ἕλκος) qualifies οὔτασε by a word which expresses to some extent the same thing as the verb οὔτασε, whereas με qualifies it in a different way. As the latter kind of accusative had been known as the Accustative of the External Object, so the former has more recently been termed the Accusative of the Internal Object. We shall take first the different uses which fall under the description of the accusative of the internal object.

The foundation of this division (as Delbrück observes, Synt. Forsch. iv. p. 29) is the circumstance that all accusatives which do not express the external object of an action may be explained in nearly the same way. The real difficulty arises when we try to find a principle which will explain these different accusatives and at the same time exclude the relations expressed by other cases or adverbial forms. No such principle can be laid down. The fact seems to be that the accusative originally had a very wide adverbial use, which was encroached upon by the more specific uses of other cases. The different constructions incuded under the internal object have all the appearance of fragments of an earlier more elastic usage.

133. Neuter pronouns may be used in the accusative adverbially, i.e. to define the action of the verb.

Il. 1.289 ἅ τινʼ οὐ πείσεσθαι ὀΐω
in which l think that someone will not obey

Il. 14.249 ἄλλο ἐπίνυσσεν
gave another lesson

Od. 23.24 τοῦτο ὀνήσει
will do this benefit

Od. 10.75 τόδʼ ἱκάνεις
come as you do

Il. 5.827 μήτε σύ γʼ Ἄρηα τό γε δείδιθι
fear not Ares as to this

τόδε χώεο
be angry at this

τάδε μαίνεται
does these mad things (= is mad with these acts).

This use includes the adverbial τί why? (e.g. τί ἦλθες in regard to what haνe you come? = what means your coming?); τό therefοre262.3), ὅ, ὅτι because, thαt (§ 269); τὶ in any way, οὐδέν not at all, ἀμφότερον for both reasons (Il. 7.418), δοιά in two ways (Od. 2.46), πάντα altogeter, etc.; also the cοmbinatiοn of pronoun and adverb in τὸ πρίν, τὸ πάρος, etc. the time before (see § 260.b).

134. Neuter adjectives are often used in this way, as

  • εὐρὺ ῥέει
    flows in a broad stream
  • ὀξέα κεκληγώς
    uttering shrill cries
  • πρῶτον, πρῶτα
    in the first place
  • πολύ, πολλόν, πολλά
  • μέγα
  • ὀλίγον, τυτθόν
  • ἶσον, ἶσα
  • ὅσον, τόσον
  • τοῖον
  • ἀντίον, ἐναντίον
  • ὕστερον, ὕστατα
  • μᾶλλον, μάλιστα
  • ἆσσον, ἄγχιστα
  • εὖ[fn]Neuter of ἠΰς or ἐΰς.[/fn], ἡδύ
  • δεινόν, δεινά, αἰνά
  • καλόν, καλά
  • πυκνά
  • μακρά
  • ἀδινά
  • βαρύ, βαρέα
  • ὀξύ
  • ταρφέα
  • ὑπέρμορα
  • ἐνδέξια
  • ὄχα
  • ἔξοχα

and many more.

In general there is no difference perceptible between the neuter singular and neuter plural. But compare τυτθόν for a little space and τυτθὰ κεάσαι split into little pieces (Od. 12.388).

Note the combination of pronoun and adjective in τὸ πρῶτον, τὰ πρῶτα, τὸ τρίτον, τὸ τέταρτον; also in τὰ ἄλλα in οther respects.

This construction is very common in Homer, and may almost be said to be the usual Homeric mode of forming an adverb. It has been already observed that adverbs in -ως are comparatively rare in Homer (§ 110).

135. Cognate Accusative. This term denotes that the verb is construed with a substantive in the accusative of "cognate" form, or at least of equivalent meaning.

A cognate accusative is generally used to introduce the adjective or pronoun which really qualifies or defines the predication contained in the verb.

ἄπρηκτον πόλεμον πολεμίζειν
to wage a war without result

(Cp. the adverbial use of a neuter adjective in ἄλληκτον πολεμίζειν to war without ceasing.)

ὅς κεν ἀρίστην βουλὴν βουλεύσῃ
who shall give the best counsel (= ἄριστα βουλεύσῃ)

ἐφίλει παντοίην φιλότητα
treated with all manner of love

ἰέναι τὴν αὐτὴν ὁδόν
to go the same way

So ἐπί-κλησιν καλέουσι call by way of surname; and with a noun in the plural, βουλὰς βουλεύειν to give counsel (from time to time); δάσσαντο μοίρας divided into the several shares; αἰχμὰς αἰχμάσσουσι νεώτεροι (with repetition for the sake of emphasis), etc.

With a pronoun referring to a cognate noun; λώβης . . . ἣν ἐμὲ λωβήσασθε, ἕλκος ὅ με βροτὸς οὔτασεν, ὑπόσχεσις ἥν περ ὑπέστην, etc.

136. Other Adverbial Accusatives. The following uses may be placed here as more or less analogous to the cognate accusative.

  1. Substantives expressing a particular sphere or kind of the action denoted by the verb.

    Il. 6.292 ἥγαγε Σιδονίηθεν . . . τὴν ὁδὸν ἣν Ἑλένην περ ἀνήγαγε
    the voyage on which he brought back Helen

    (Cp. Od. 6.164 ἦλθον γὰρ καὶ κεῖσε . . . τὴν ὁδὸν ᾗ δὴ κτλ.)

    ὁδὸν οἴχεσθαι, ὁδὸν ἡγήσασθαι
    to lead on the way

    and again

    ἐξεσίην ἐλθεῖν
    to go on an expedition

    and in Od. 21.20 ἐξεσίην πολλὴν ὁδὸν ἦλθεν went a long way on an expedition.

    ἀγγελίην ἐλθόντα
    going on a message

    βουλὰς ἐξάρχων ἀγαθάς
    taking the lead in good counsels

    Od. 8. 23 ἀέθλους . . . τοὺς . . . ἐπειρήσαντʼ Oδυσῆος

    Od. 19.393 οὐλὴν τήν ποτέ μιν σῦς ἤλασε

    So δαινύντα γάμον holding a wedding feast, δαίνυ τάφον gave funeral feast (whereas the cognate δαίτην δαινυμένους means holding an ordinary feast).

    ξυνάγωμεν Ἄρηα
    let us join in battle

    ἔριδα ῥήγνυντο βαρεῖαν
    broke in grievous strife

    So probably we should explain Il. 1.31 ἐμὸν λέχος ἀντιόωσαν, like Il. 15.33 φιλότης τε καὶ εὐνὴ ἣν ἐμίγης (cp. Pind. N. 1.67 ὅταν θεοὶ . . . γιγάντεσσιν μάχαν ἀντιάζωσι). Also Od. 6.259 ὄφρʼ ἂν μέν κʼ ἀγροὺς ἴομεν καὶ ἔργʼ ἀνθρώπων so long as our way is through fields and tillage of men—ἀγρούς = ὁδὸν ἐν ἀγροῖς.

    Note that this construction is chiefly applied to the familiar spheres of action—battle, council, feasting, etc.

  2. Abstract nouns expressing an attribute of the action.

    Il. 9.115 οὔ τι ψεῦδος ἐμὰς ἄτας κατέλεξας
    with nο falsehood have you recounted my folly

    Od. 7.297 ταῦτά τοι . . . ἀληθείην κατέλεξα

    So δέμας (in phrases like δέμας πυρός like fire), and the adverbs ἄκην, ἄδην, λίην, with many others (see § 110), are originally the accusatives of abstract nouns.

    Add the poetical expressions such as πῦρ ὀφθαλμοῖσι δεδορκώς with look of fire, μένεα πνείοντες breathing martial fury.

    The phrase πῦρ δεδορκώς is a boldness of language (compared e.g. with δεινὸν δερκόμενοι) analogous to that which we observed in compounds such as ἀελλό-πος with storm-(like) feet, as compared with ὠκύ-ποδες, etc.; see § 126.

  3. The words ἔργον, ἔπος, μῦθος, with pronouns, are used nearly as the neuter of the same pronouns.

    Il. 1.294 πᾶν ἔργον ὑπείξομαι
    I shall yield in every matter (πᾶν ἔργον = πάντα)

    Il. 5.757 οὐ νεμεσίζῃ Ἄρει τάδε καρτερὰ ἔργα (constr. like τόδε χώεο); cp. 9.374.

    Od. 3.243 ἔπος ἄλλο μεταλλῆσαι
    to ask anοther question

    Il. 5.715 ἦ ῥʼ ἅλιον τὸν μῦθον ὑπέστημεν
    οur promise was idle

  4. Words expressing the sum or result of an action are put in the accusative.

    Il. 4.207 ἔβαλεν . . . τῷ μὲν κλέος ἄμμι δὲ πένθος
    Il. 24.735 ῥίψει χειρὸς ἑλὼν ἀπὸ πύργου λυγρὸν ὄλεθρον

    Also Od. 6. 184. So ποινήν in compensation, πρόφασιν on the pretense, ἐπίκλησιν nominally, χάριν as a favοr (only in Il. 15.744)

    The use of substantives to qualify a verb evidently bears the same relation to the use of neuter adjectives as nouns in apposition bear to ordinary adjectives qualifying nouns.

    Note: Many of these constructions have been treated as varieties or extensions of the cognate accusative. E.g. from ὁδὸν ἐλθεῖν have been explained, on the one hand, ὁδὸν ἡγήσασθαι, ὁδὸν ἀνήγαγε, etc., on the other, ἀγγελίην ἐλθεῖν, etc.; so δαίνυντο γάμον, δαίνυ τάφον, have been regarded as modeled on δαίτην δαίνυσθαι; μῦθον ὑπέστημεν as justified because a promise is a μῦθος, ψεῦδος κατέλεξας because ψεῦδος = a false tale, and so on. It must not be supposed, however, that these analogies explain any of the uses in question, or that the cognate accusative is prior to the others, either in simplicity or in the order of development. If we compare the cognate accusative with the use of neuter adjectives and pronouns, we see that (e.g.) ἄριστα βουλεύειν is simpler, and doubtless earlier in type, than ἀρίστην βουλὴν βουλεύειν, ἅ περ ὑπέστην than ὑπόσχεσιν ἥν περ ὑπέστην, τὰ ὑπέστημεν than τὸν μῦθον ὑπέστημεν. Again, δαίνυσθαι γάμον is probably an earlier phrase than the tautologous δαίνυσθαι δαίτην, τὸν μῦθον ὑποστῆναι than ὑπόσχεσιν ὑποστῆναι, etc. The repetition in the noun of the stem already given in the verb is a feature of complexity which itself needs explaining. The cognate accusative, in short, is only a special form of the use of the accusative as a defining οr qualifying word. Grammarians have explained other constructions by its help because it is familiar; but in so doing they have fallen into the error of deriving the simple from the complex.

137. Accusatives of the "part affected". Many verbs that are intransitive or reflexive in sense take an accusative restricting the force of the verb to a part or attribute of the subject.

κάμνει χεῖρα
his hand is weary

πιυρὶ χεῖρας ἔοικε
his hands are as fire

βλῆτο κνήμην
was wounded in the shin

ἀλλάων περίειμι νόον
I am beyond others in understanding

φρένα τέρπετʼ ἀκούων
was pleased at heart listening

οὐ λῆγε μένος
ceased not in his fury

γένος δʼ ἦν ἐκ ποταμοῖο
in descent he was from the rίver

γενεὴν ἐῳκει (Il. 14.474)
was like in descent, i.e. bore "a family likeness"

ἀθανάτῃσι δέμας καὶ εἶδος ἐρίζειν
to rival the immortals in form and feature (see § 141).

These uses differ from other accusatives of the sphere of an action in the distinctly concrete nature of the words employed. The accusative does not express the notion of the verb, or an attribute of it, but merely denotes a thing by reference to which it is limited or characterized. Thus in κάμνει χεῖρα the accusative limits the action κάμνει—"feels hand-weariness". The relation is local or instrumental though not so expressed. The meaning "in or with the hand" is conveyed, because it is the only one possible—the only way in which the notion hand can qualify the notion weariness.

The "accusative of the part affected", or "accusative of reference" is characteristic of Greek: hence it is called accusativus graecus by the Latin grammarians. It is unknown, or nearly so, in Sanskrit. We cannot infer, however, that it originated with the Greeks, especially as it is found in Zend (Delbrück, Synt. Forsch. iv. 33): but it may have been extended in Greek. The alternative case is generally the instrumental.

Il. 3.194 εὐρύτερος ὥμοισιν ἰδὲ στέρνοισιν ἰδέσθαι


Il. 2.478 ὄμματα καὶ κεφαλὴν ἴκελος Διί.

Or the sense may be further defined by a preposition: πρὸς στῆθος, κατὰ φρένα, etc.

138. Accusative of Time and Space. The wοrd expressing duratiοn of time is put in the accusative.

ἕνα μῆνα μένων
waiting a month

χεῖμα εὕδει
sleeps through the winter

τρὶς ἀνάξασθαι γένεʼ ἀνδρῶν
to reign for three generations of men

The accusative of space expresses the extent of an action.

Il. 23.529 λείπετο δουρὸς ἐρωήν
was a spearʼs throw behind

These accusatives are to be compared with the neuter adjectives of quantity, as πολύ, ὀλίγον, τυτθόν, τόσον, etc.

139. Accusative with Nouns. The chief uses are

  1. Neuter adjectives.

    μέγʼ ἔξοχος
    greatly surpassing

  2. Cognate accusative.

    Il. 15.641 ἀμείνων παντοίας ἀρετάς
    better in eνeτγ kind of excellence

    This is rare in Homer.

  3. Accusative of the "part affected."

    ὄμματα καὶ κεφαλὴν ἴκελος
    like in eyes and head, (cp. χείρας ἔοικε)

    βοὴν ἀγαθός
    gοοd in shouting

    γένος κακὸς καὶ ἄναλκις
    a cοward by right of descent

    With a substantive.

    χεῖράς τʼ αἰχμητὴν ἔμεναι

140. Accusative of the External Object. Under this head it is unnecessary to do more than notice one or two points.

  1. The ceremonial words ἀπάρχω, κατάρχομαι, etc., are construed according to the acquired meaning.

    τρίχας ἀπάρχειν
    to cut off hair as a preliminary

    Cp. Od. 3.445 (with the note in Riddell and Merryʼs edition). So Il. 24.710 τὸν . . . τιλλέσθην mourned him by tearing their hair and ὅρκια τέμνειν tο make a treaty (by slaying a victim).

  2. The verbs εἰπὸν, αὐδάω, etc., may take an accusative of the person spoken to.

    Il. 5.170 ἔπος τέ μιν ἀντίον ηὔδα

    Il. 13.725 Πουλυδάμας θρασὺν Ἕκτορα εἶπε

    Cp. Il. 9.59, 17.651; Od. 4.155. But this construction is rare with the simple verbs: it is found passim with compounds (προσηύδα, προσέειπε, etc.).

  3. An accusative may be used of the person about whom something is told, known, thought, etc.

    a) If a person or a thing is treated as the thing said, known, etc. (not merely spoken or known about).

    Il. 1.90 οὐδʼ ἢν Ἀγαμέμνονα εἴπῃς
    not eνen if you say Agamemnon (cp. οὔνομα εἰπεῖν)

    Il. 3.192 εἴπʼ ἄγε μοι καὶ τόνδε
    tell me this man tοο

    So with οἶδα when it means only to know what a thing is

    Il. 6.150 ὄφρʼ ἐῢ εἴδῇς ἡμετέρην γενεήν, πολλοὶ δέ μιν ἄνδρες ἴσασιν

    and with μέμνημαι.

    Il. 9.527 μέμνημαι τόδε ἔργον

    Il. 23.361 ὡς μεμνέῳτο δρόμους
    that he might remember the courses (i.e. remember how many there were)

    Il. 6.222 Τυδέα δʼ οὐ μέμνημαι (of remembering his existence)

    The accusative implies that the person is the whole fact remembered. But with a genitive μέμνημαι means I remember something about, I bethink myself of 151.d).

    (b) If the real object of the verb is a fact expressed by a limiting word or clause.

    Il. 2.81 ψεῦδός κεν φαῖμεν
    we should call it false

    Il. 6.50 αἴ κεν ἐμὲ ζωὸν πεπύθοιτο
    if he heard of me alive (of my being alive)

    Il. 5.702 ἐπύθοντο μετὰ Τρώεσσιν Ἄρηα
    heard of Ares (as) among the Trojans

    Especially with a participle.

    Od. 17.549 εἴ κʼ αὐτὸν γνώω νημερτέα πάντʼ ἐνέποντα
    if I find him telling (that he is telling) nothing but truth245.2)

    And with a subordinate clause.

    Il. 2.409 ᾔδεε γὰρ κατὰ θυμὸν ἀδελφεὸν ὡς ἐπονεῖτο

    Il. 8.535 αὔριον ἥν ἀρετὴν διαείσεται εἴ κʼ ἐμὸν ἔγχος μείνῃ ἐπερχόμενον
    he will know about his νalοr, whether he will withstand my spear (i.e. whether his valor is such that etc.)

    Cp. 13.275, 18.601, 20.311.

  4. The accusative of the object to which motion is directed (terminus ad quem) is common with ἱκνέομαι, ἵκω, ἱκάνω (which always imply reaching a point), but is comparatively rare with other simple verbs, such as εἶμι, ἔρχομαι, νέομαι, ἄγω, ἡγέομαι. The words so used with these verbs are mostly nouns denoting hοuse (δῶ, Il. 7.363, etc.; δόμον, Od. 7.22, Il. 22.482; οἶκον, Od. 14.167), city (Od. 6.114, 15.82), natiνe land (Il. 7.335, 15.706).

    Cp. also

    Il. 1.322 ἔρχεσθον κλισίην

    Il. 6.37 ξυνάγουσα γεραιὰς νηόν

    Il. 21.40 λῆμνον ἐπέρασσεν

    Od. 44.478 Αἰγύπτοιο ὕδωρ ἔλθῃς

    Compound verbs—especially with the prepositions εἰς, ἐπί, πρός, ὑπό, παρά—usually take an accusative of this kind.

    There is no reason to infer from these and similar instances that the accusative is originally the case of the terminus ad quem. It is natural that a verb of motion should be defined or qualified by a noun expressing place, and that such a noun should generally denote the place to which the motion is directed. But this is not necessary. The accusative is used with verbs denoting mοtiοn frοm, as φεύγω, νοσφίζομαι, ὑποείκω (Il. 15.228); and even with other verbs of motion it may express the terminus a quο if the context suggests it.

    ἀνεδύσετο κῦμα
    rose from the wave

    ὑπερώϊα κατέβαινε
    came down from the upper chambers

    The uses with prepositions are treated of in the sections dealing with the several Prepositions (181-218).

141. Double Accusatives. It is needless to enumerate the different circumstances in which a verb may be construed with two accusatives. Many examples will be found among the passages already quoted; and it will be seen that the combination of an Accusative of the External Object with one of the various Accusatives of the Internal Object is especially frequent. Thus with verbs of saying the accusative of the thing said may be combined with an accusative of the persοn spoken to.

Il. 5.170 ἔπος τέ μιν ἀντίον ηὔδα (so 9.58, 16.207, Od. 23.91).

Again, with verbs of taking away there may be an accusative of the thing taken and the persοn from whom it is taken.

Il. 8.108 οὕς ποτʼ ἀπʼ Αἰνείαν ἑλόμην

Il. 6.70 ἔπειτα δὲ καὶ τὰ ἕκηλοι νεκροὺς ἂμ πεδίον συλήσετε

Cp. 16.58, 17.187

So with verbs of cleansing.

Il. 16.667 κελαινεφὲς αἷμα κάθηρον ἐλθὼν ἐκ βελέων Sαρπηδόνα (cp. 18.345)

Od. 6.224 χρόα νίζετο δῖος Ὀδυσσεὺς ἅλμην

Il. 21.122 οἵ σʼ ὠτειλὴν αἷμ’ ἀπολιχμήσονται (with three accusatives)

In such cases the verb almost seems to be used in different senses- cleanse Sarpedon, cleanse away the blood, etc.

in some cases the two accusatives are not to be explained independently, but one is construed with the phrase formed by the verb in combination with the other. Thus we cannot say ῥέζειν τινά to do to a persοn but we may have κακὸν ῥέζειν τινά to do eνil to a persοn or thing.

Il. 9.540 ὃς κακὰ πόλλʼ ἔρδεσκεν ἔθων Οἰνῆος ἀλωήν

Il. 9.647 ὥς μʼ ἀσύφηλον ἐν Ἀργείοισιν ἔρεξεν

The notion 'doing' given by ῥέζω is so vague that an accusative of the person would be ambiguous; but the more definite notions of doing evil, etc. become susceptible of the construction. So with εἰπεῖν.

Od. 1.302 ἵνα τίς σε ἐῢ εἴπῃ
may speak well of you

Cp. Il. 6.479.

A similar account is to be given of the Accusative of the Whοle and Part, which is very common in Homer.

τὸν βάλε κνήμην
him he struck on the shin

σὲ φύγεν ἕρκος ὀδόντων
has escaped you over the fence of teeth

The second accusative has been sometimes explained as parallel in construction to the first, the part being added epexegetically or in apposition to the whole. But it is impossible to separate τὸν βάλε κνήμην from βλῆτο κνήμην; in both the accusative of the part is a limiting accusative. The difference between this and a double accusative arising from apposition appears if we consider that

Τρῶας δὲ τρόμος αἰνὸς ὑπήλυθε γυῖα ἕκαστον

is equivalent to

Τρῶες ἔτρεμον τὰ γυῖα ἕκαστος

where ἕκαστος is (as before) epexegetic of Τρῶες, but γυῖα is an accusative qualifying the verb.

Suggested Citation

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