The True Dative and Genitive

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158. There is only one example of the true dative, viz. Il. 2.363

ὡς φρήτρη φρήτρηφιν ἀρήγῃ, φῦλα δὲ φύλοις
that phratria may bear aid to phratria, and tribe to tribe

The instances of the true genitive are

  1. Il. 21.295 κατὰ Ἰλιόφι κλυτὰ τείχεα λαὸν ἐέλσαι
                       to coop up the army within the famous walls of Ilios
     
  2. Il. 21.367 τεῖρε δʼ ἀϋτμὴ Ἡφαίστοιο βίηφι πολύφρονος
                       the breath of Hephaestus ('Hφαίστοιο βίη) wore him out
     
  3. Od. 12.45 πολὺς δʼ ἀμφʼ ὀστεόφιν θὶς ἀνδρῶν πυθομένων
                       there is around a great heap of bones, of men rotting

    But this may be an instrumental of material equal to "a heap (is made) of bones."

  4. Il. 16.762 κεφαλῆφιν ἐπεὶ λάβεν οὐχὶ μεθίει (genitive, § 151.a) and

    Il. 11.350 οὐδʼ ἀφάμαρτε τιτυσκόμενος κεφαλῆφιν (but the genitive might be construed with ἀφάμαρτε, as an ablative).

  5. Certain uses with prepositions

    ἐπί: Il. 13.308 ἢ ἐπὶ δεξιόφιν . . . ἢ ἐπʼ ἀριστερόφιν
                             towards right or left

    πρόσθε: Il. 5.107 πρόσθʼ ἵπποιϊν καὶ ὄχεσφιν

    διά through: διὰ δὲ στήθεσφιν ἔλασσεν (Il. 5.41, etc.), also 10.185 ἔρχηται διʼ ὄρεσφι

The first four of these references evidently do not prove much. The first would be a clear instance of the true genitive if we could be sure of the text; but there is some probability in favour of Ἰλίοο (§ 98), proposed by Leo Meyer (Decl. p. 35). In Il. 21.367 we may perhaps take βίηφι as an instrumental—hot breath vexed him through (by reason of) the might of Heρhaestus.

Again, the use with ἐπί may be locatival with πρόσθε ablatival (as with πpό). The uses with διὰ are more important, because they are not isolated, but form a distinct group. It is improbable that διά through should take an ablatival genitive or a locative. The Sanskrit instrumental is used of the space or time οver which an action extends (Delbrück, A. S. § 88) : and so the ablative in Latin (Rοby, §§  1176, 1189). This use appears in Greek as the dative of the way by which, and perhaps in the phrases περιϊόντι τῷ θέρει, etc. It may be thought possible that διʼ ὄρεσφι and διὰ στήθεσφι are fragments of this use. If so, one or two other uses assigned above to the locative may be really instrumental; especially ὄρεσφι, Il. 11.474, 22.139, 189.

On the other hand, if the forms in -φι(v) constitute a mixed case (locative, instrumental, and ablative), there must have been a tendency to extend its sphere from the locative and instrumental to the dative, and from the ablative to the genitive. Thus the few instances of forms in -φι(v) standing for the true dative and genitive may be first steps towards an amalgamation of five cases (such as we have in the Greek dual). One or two are probably among the "false archaisms" which doubtless exist in Homer, though not to the extent supposed by some commentators: see § 216.

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/true-dative-and-genitive