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246.* The Verbal Adjectives. The formations to which this term is applied resemble the participles in some of their characteristics.

Several groups of nouns are used as participles or "gerundives" in the cognate languages, such as the Latin forms in -tu-s, the Sanskrit in
-ta-s, -na-s, -ya-s, -tavya-s, etc. Of the corresponding Greek forms the verbal in -το-ς is the most important, and approaches most nearly to the character of a participle. It is used mainly in two senses.

  1. To express the state corresponding to or brought about by the action of a verb.

    • τυκ-τός
    • κρυπτός
    • κλυ-τός
      heard about, famed
    • στα-τός
      standing (in a stall)
    • τλη-τός (ll.24. 49)
    • ἀγαπη-τός
      object of love
    • ἑρπε-τόν
      creeping thing
    • φυ-τόν
      growth plant
    • πινυ-τός

    So with ἀ- priv., ἄ-κλαυτος unweeping, ἄ-παστος fasting, ἄ-πυστος not having news also of whom there is no news ἄ-πιστος faithless, etc. The force of the verb in these words is intransitive rather than passive, and they have no reference to time as past or present. Compare the Latin aptus, cautus, certus, catus, falsus, scitus, etc. We may note that there is a similar (but more complete) divergence of use between the Sanskrit participles in -na-s and the Greek adjectives in -νο-ς, as στυγ-νός.

  2. To express possibility.

    that can be acquired

    ληϊστός (Il. 9.406)
    that can be taken as plunder

    ῥηκτός (Il. 13.323)


    This meaning is chiefly found in compounds with ἀ- priv.

    • ἄ-λυ-τος
      that cannot be loosed
    • ἄρρηκτος
    • ἄ-φυκτος
    • ἄ-λαστος
    • ἀ-κίχητος
    • ἄ-σβεστος
    • ἄ-τλητος
    • ἄ-φθι-τος, etc.

    and in other negative expressions.

    οὐκ ὀνό-μαστος

    οὐκέτʼ ὀνοστά

    οὐκέτʼ ἀνεκτῶς

    οὔ τι νεμεσσητόν

    Hence, as Brugmann observes, it is probable that this use of the verbal in -τος began in the use with the negative.

    It is evident that in respect of meaning the verbals in -τος are closely akin to the perfect participle. Compare (e. g.) τυκτός and τετυγμένος, στατός and ἑστηώς, πινυτός and πεπνυμένος. Hence the readiness with which in Latin they have taken the place of the perfect passive participle. The extension by which they came to convey the notion of past time took place in the perfect tense itself, in Latin and Sanskrit.

    The verbals in -τέο-ς (for -τεϝ-ι̯ο-ς) are post-Homeric. The earliest instance seems to be φα-τειό-ς, in Hesiοd, Th. 310.

    δεύτερον αὖτις ἔτικτεν ἀμήχανον, οὔ τι φατειόν, Κέρβερον κτλ.[fn]See the fine observations of Brugmann, Grundr. ii. § 79, p. 207.[/fn]

Suggested Citation

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