Short Syllables Ending in a Consonant

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375. Short syllables ending in a consonant are also occasionally lengthened in arsis, although the next word begins with a vowel.

οὔτε ποτʼ ἐς πόλεμον ἅμα λαῷ θορηχθῆναι

αἴθʼ ὄφελες ἄγονός τʼ ἔμεναι κτλ.

χερσὶν ὑπʼ Ἀργείων φθίμενος ἐν πατρίδι γαίῃ

The circumstances under which this metrical lengthening is generally found differ remarkably, as has been recently shown1
from those which prevail where short final vowels are lengthened before an initial consonant. In those cases, as we saw (§ 371), the rule is that the two words are closely connected, usually in a set phrase or piece of epic commonplace. In the examples now in question the words are often separated by the punctuation, and where this is not the case it will usually be found that there is a slight pause. In half of the instances the words are separated by the penthemimeral caesura, which always marks a pause in the rhythm. Further, this lengthening is only found in the syllable with the ictus. The explanation, therefore, must be sought either in the force of the ictus, or in the pause (which necessarily adds something to the time of a preceding syllable), or in the combination of these two causes. In some instances, however, a different account of the matter has to be given: in particular

  1. With ὥς following the wοrd to which it refers: as ll. 2.190 κακὸν ὥς (˘ ˉ ˉ), and so θεὸς ὥς, κύνες ὥς, ὄρνιθες ὥς, ἀθάνατος ὥς,etc. In these instances the lengthening may be referred to the original palatal ι̯ or y of the pronoun (Sanskrit yas, , yad = ὅς, ἥ, ὅ). It is not to be supposed that the actual form ι̯ώς existed in Homeric times, but the habit of treating a preceding syllable as long by position survived in the group of phrases. Others explain this ὥς as ῾ϝώς (Sanskrit sνa-), comparing Gothic sνê "as" (Brugmann, Gr. Gr. § 98); or σώς (§ 108.3).
  2. In the case of some words ending with -ις, -ιν, -υς, -υν, where the vowel was long, or at least "doubtful," in Homer.

    In βλοσυρῶπις and ἦνις the final syllable is long before a vowel even in thesis. So the ι may have been long in θοῦρις (cp. the phrase θοῦριν ἐπιειμένος ἀλκήν), and traces of the same scansion may be seen in the phrases ἔρις ἄμοτον μεμαυῖα, Διΐ μῆτιν ἀτάλαντος, although ἔρῐς, μῆτῐς are more common.

    Final -υς (genitive -υος) is long in feminine substantives (§ 116.4), as ἰθύς aim (ῡ in thesis, Il. 6.79, 21.303), πληθύς (Il. 11.305), ἀχλός (Il. 20.421), ἰλύς (genitive -ῡος), βρωτύς (Od. 18.407) and other nouns in -τύς; also in the masculine ἰχθύς, νέκυς, βότρυς (βοτρῡδόν), and perhaps πέλεκυς (Il. 17.520).

  3. Where the vowel of the final syllable is preceded by another, especially by a long vowel.

    οἰκῆας ἄλοχόν τε
    (Il. 6.366)

    Ἀχιλλῆος ὀλοὸν κῆρ
    (Il. 14.139)

    ὃς λαὸν ἤγειρα
    (Od. 2.41)

    δμῶες ἐνὶ οἴκῳ
    (Od. 11.190)

    πλεῖον ἐλέλειπτο
    (Od. 8.475)

    χρεῖος ὑπαλύξαι
    (with v. l., χρείως, Od. 8.355)

    and so in νῆας (ᾱ, Il. 2.165, 18.250), νηός (Od. 12.329), Τρῶες (Il. 17.730), βοός (Il. 11.776), also Ἄρηα, Περσῆα, and the other examples given in § 374. In such cases there is a tendency to lengthen the second vowel, as in the Attic forms βασιλέᾱ, Ἀχιλλέως, etc. In Homer we may suppose that the second of the two vowels borrows some of the quantity of the other, so that with the help of the ictus it can form the arsis of a foot. Actual lengthening of the second vowel may be seen in Homer in the form ἀπ-ήωρος hanging lοοse (cp. μετ-ήορος and the later μετ-έωρος) also in δυσαήων (genitive plural of δυσαής).

  4. In the ending -οιϊν of the dual, as ὤμοιϊν (Il. 13.511, 16.560; Od. 6.219), ἵπποιϊν, σταθμοῖϊν; also in νῶϊν, σφῶϊν. We may compare the doubtful ι of ἡμῖν, ὑμῖν, and the two forms of the dative plural in Latin (-bŭs, -bīs). Similarly there are traces of ῑ in μίν (Il. 5.385, 6.501, 10.347, 11.376, etc.). In the case of -οιϊν and -ωϊν the account given under the last head would apply.

    In a few places it appears as though the 3rd plural of secondary tenses in -ν (for -vτ) were allowed to be long.

    ἔφαν ἀπιόντες
    (Od. 9.413)

    καὶ κύνεον ἀγαπαζόμενοι
    (Od. 17.35, etc.)

    Etc. This is confined (curiously enough) to the Odyssey and the Catalogue of the Ships. In the latter it occurs seven times, in the Odyssey eleven times, in the rest of the Iliad once (7.206).

  • 1 By Hartel, in the Hοmerιc Studies already quoted, i. p. 10.

Suggested Citation

D.B. Monro, A Grammar of the Homeric Dialect. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7. https://dcc.dickinson.edu/index.php/grammar/monro/short-syllables-ending-consonant