Uses of Participles

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243. Following out the view of the participle as a verbal adjective, we may distinguish the following uses

  1. The participle is often used as an ordinary adjective qualifying a noun; as

    θεοὶ αἰὲν ἐόντες

    βροτοὶ σῖτον ἔδοντες

    πίθοι ποτὶ τοῖχον ἀρηρότες

    σάκος τετυγμένον

    and the like. In one or two cases it is substantival.

    τὸ γὰρ γέρας ἐστὶ θανόντων

    ψυχαὶ εἴδωλα καμόντων

    Ὀλύμπια δώματʼ ἔχοντες

    A few participles have lost their verbal character altogether.

    • οὐλόμενος
    • ὀνήμενος
    • ἴκμενος
    • ἄσμενος
    • ἑκών
    • ἔθων[fn]Better ἐθών, since it is an aorist in form, § 31.1[/fn]
      according to wont
    • περιπλόμενος[fn]In the phrase περιπλομένων ἐνιαυτῶν
      the revolving years[/fn]

    Also the substantival.

    • μέδοντες
    • τένοντες
    • ἀμείβοντες
    • αἴθουσα
      a portico
    • δράκων
      a serpent
    • γέρων
    • μοῦσα

    The wοrd κρείων ruler retains a trace of the verb in εὐρὺ κρείων widely ruling. Cp. also the compounds πολύ-τλας, ἀ-κάμας, ἀ-δάμας, λυκά-βας.

  2. Much more frequently, the participle qualifies or forms part of the predication (§ 162) as in such combinations as

    διαστήτην ἐρίσαντε
    parted having quarreled

    ἐϋφρονέων ἀγορήσατο
    spoke with good thought

    the participle has the same construction as the adjective in παλίνορσος ἀπέστη, or πρόφρων τέτληκας (§ 162.2). Thus it serves to express a predication which the speaker wishes to subordinate in some way to that of the governing verb. The participle may express different relations: attendant circumstance or manner (as in the examples quoted); cause, as Il.11.313

    τί παθόντε λελάσμεθα θούριδος ἀλκῆς

    or opposition, as often with καί and περ, etc., (Goodwin, §§ 832-846).

  3. Finally, a participle construed in apposition to a noun in an oblique case may imply a predication (§ 168) as

    καπνὸν ἀποθρῴσκοντα νοῆσαι
    to descry the smoke rising
    (i. e. when it rises, or that it rises, etc.).

    Note that

    a. Α participle of this kind often has the character of a distinct clause, coming at the end of a sentence, and after a metrical pause.

    Il. 4.420 δεινὸν δʼ ἔβραχε χαλκὸς ἐπὶ στήθεσσιν ἄνακτος
                  (as he roused himself)

    Od. 23.205 ὣς φάτο, τῆς δʼ αὐτοῦ λύτο γούνατα καὶ φίλον ἦτορ
                       σήματʼ ἀναγνούσης
                       (when she recognized the token)

    b. Not infrequently the word with which the participle shoαld be construed is understood, especially when it is a partitive or quasi-partitive genitive (§§ 147, 151).

    Il. 2.153            ἀϋτὴ δʼ οὐρανὸν ἷκεν
                  οἴκαδε ἱεμένων·
                  a cry rose to heaven (of men) eager to return home

    So Il. 12.339, 13.291, 498, 15.689.

    Il. 5.162 πόρτιος ἠὲ βοὸς ξύλοχον κάτα βοσκομενάων
                  a heifer or cοw (of those) that are feeding in a thicket

    Il. 5.665           τὸ μὲν οὔ τις ἐπεφράσατʼ οὐδʼ ἐνόησε
                  μηροῦ ἐξερύσαι δόρυ μείλινον, ὄφρ’ ἐπιβαίη,
                  no one . . . (of them) in their haste[fn]Cp. Il. 15. 450 τό οἱ οὗ τις ἐρύκακεν ἰεμέναων περ.[/fn]

    Il. 18.246 ὀρθῶν δʼ ἑσταότων ἀγορὴ γένετʼ
                    an assembly was held upstanding
                    (of them standing up)

    Od. 17.489 Τηλέμαχος δʼ ἐν μὲν κραδίῃ μέγα πένθος ἄεξε
                        (for his having been wounded)

    So with the dative

    Il. 12.374                ἐπειγομένοισι δʼ ἵκοντο
                    came as a relief (to them) when they were hard pressed

    Od. 5.152               κατείβετο δὲ γλυκὺς αἰὼν
                     νόστον ὀδυρομένῳ

    c. The subject thus understood may be indefinite.

    ll. 2.291 πόνος ἐστὶν ἀνιηθέντα νέεσθαι (see § 233)

    Il. 6.267         οὐδέ πῃ ἔστι κελαινεφέϊ Κρονίωνι
                  αἵματι καὶ λύθρῳ πεπαλαγμένον εὐχετάασθαι
                  for one who is bespattered . . . tο pray

    Il. 13.787 πὰρ δύναμιν δʼ οὐκ ἔστι καὶ ἐσσύμενον πολεμίζειν

    So Il. 2.234, 14.63, Od. 2.311; cp. the phrase ὅσον τε γέγωνε βοήσας as far as a man makes himself heard by shouting.

    d. The participle is sometimes found in a different case from a preceding pronoun with which it might have been construed. Thus we have

    Il. 14.25          λάκε δέ σφι περὶ χροῒ χαλκὸς ἀτείρης
                  (construed with χροΐ instead of σφι)

    Il. 16.531 ὅττι οἱ ὦκ’ ἤκουσε μέγας θεὸς εὐξαμένοιο
                    (with ἤκουσε instead of οἱ)

    Od. 9.256 ὣς ἔφαθʼ, ἡμῖν δʼ αὖτε κατεκλάσθη φίλον ἦτορ
                     (So Il. 3.301, Od. 6.157, 9.458)

    Il. 20.413 τὸν βάλε . . .
                    νῶτα παραΐσσοντος
                    wounded him . . . in the back as he darted past

    Od. 4.646 ἤ σε βίῃ ἀέκοντος ἀπηύρα

    Il. 10.187 ὣς τῶν νήδυμος ὕπνος ἀπὸ βλεφάροιϊν ὀλώλει
                    νύκτα φυλασσομένοισι κακήν
                    (So Il. 14.141–3.)

    Od. 17.555 μεταλλῆσαί τί ἑ θυμὸς
                       ἀμφὶ πόσει κέλεται καὶ κήδεά περ πεπαθυίῃ

We need not consider these as instances of anacoluthon or change of the construction. The participle, as we saw, does not need a preceding pronoun it may therefore have a construction independent of such a pronoun. And it is characteristic of Homer not to employ concord as a means of connecting distant words when other constructions are admissible.

Suggested Citation

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