H. W. Smyth

Greek Grammar (First Edition)

Part 2, 474-


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formation o f the tense-stems (Ω and ΜΙ-verbs


474. From the verb-stem (or theme) each tense-stem is formed by the addition of a tense-suffix (455) or of a prefix, or of both. In 475-495 certain modifications of the verb-stem are considered.

475. Variation in Quantity. Many verbs of the first class (498 ff.) show variation in the quantity of the vowel of the verb-stem, which is commonly long in the present but fluctuates in other tenses, as λύ̄-ω, λύ̄-σω, ἔλῡ-σα, but λέλῠ-κα, λέλῠ-μαι, ἐλῠ́-θην. (Other examples, 500.)

a. Some verbs of the Fourth Class (523 c) lengthen a short vowel of the present in some other tenses. Thus, λαμβάνω (λαβ-) take, λήψομαι, εἴληφα, εἴλημμαι, ἐλήφθην, but 2 aor. ἔλαβον.

476. Vowel Gradation (35, 36). Verbs of the first class show a variation between a strong grade (or two strong grades) and a weak grade.  The weak grades, ῐ, ῠ, ᾰ, appear especially in the second aorist and second passive systems; the corresponding strong grades, ει (οι), ευ (ου), η (ω), appear usually in the other systems (οι, ου, ω, in the second perfect).

a. Expulsion of a short vowel between consonants (so-called syncope 493) produces a weak form of the stem of the same grade as ι, υ, α (36). Cp. γί-γν-ομαι become (aor. ἐ-γεν-ό-μην), ἐ-πτ-ό-μην (pres. πέτ-ο-μαι fly) with ἔ-λιπ-ο-ν, ἔ-φυγ-ο-ν, ἐ-τάκ-η-ν (477 c). So ἔ-σχ-ο-ν got from ἔχ-ω have.

b. α is the weak form of η (ᾱ), as in τήκω ἐτάκην; and of ε, when ε has λ, μ, ν, ρ before or after it, as in τρέπω, ἐτράπην (479).

477. The following examples illustrate the principles of 476.

a. ει οι ι : λείπω leave, λείψω, 2 perf. λέλοιπα, λέλειμμαι, ἐλείφθην, 2 aor. ἔλιπομ


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N. The weak form appears when the verb undergoes Attic reduplication (446); as in ἀλείφω anoint, 2 perf. ἀλήλιφα, ἀλήλιμμαι; ἐρείκω tear (Ionic and poetic), 2 perf. ἐρήριγμαι, 2 aor. ἤρικον; ἐρείπω overthrow, Epic ἐρήριπα; but ἐρείδω prop, ἐρήρεισμαι.

b. ευ ου υ : ἐλεύ(θ)σομαι I shall go, 2 perf. ἐλήλυθα (Epic ἐλήλουθα), 2 aor. (Epic ἤλυθον); φεύγω flee, φεύξομαι or φευξοῦμαι, 2 perf. πέφευγα, 2 aor. ἔφυγον; ῥέω flow (for ῥευ-ω, 43), ῥεύσομαι, ἐρρύηκα (ῥυε-), 2 aor. pass. ἐρρύην.

N. χέω pour (for χευ-ω, 43), ἔχεα (for ἔχευα), has υ in κέχυκα, κέχυμαι, ἐχύθην; σεύω (poetic) urge, ἔσσευα, ἔσσυμαι, ἐσσύθην or ἐσύθην rushed.  See also τεύχω in the List of Verbs.

c. η ω α : ῥήγ-νῡμι break, ῥήξω, ἔρρηξα, 2 perf. ἔρρωγα, 2 aor. pass. ἐρράγην; τήκ-ω melt, τήξω, ἔτηξα, τέτηκα, ἐτήχθην, 2 aor. pass. ἐτάκην.

N. Verbs of class c usually have in the 2 aorist, ω in the 2 perfect (if there is one), elsewhere η.  ω occurs in the present in τρώγω gnaw, 2 aor. ἔτραγον.

478. Change of ε to ο in the Second Perfect. In the second perfect ε of the verb-stem is changed to ο.

κλέπ-τ-ω steal κέκλοφα, (ἀπο-) κτείνω kill (κτεν-, 519) -έκτονα, λέγ-ω collect εἴλοχα, πάσχω, fut. πείσομαι (from πενθσομαι, 100) πέπονθα, πέμπ-ω send πέπομφα, στέργ-ω love ἔστοργα, τίκτω beget τέτοκα, τρέπ-ω turn τέτροφα, τρέφ-ω nourish τέτροφα, φθείρ-ω corrupt ἔφθορα.  So in γίγ(ε)νομαι become ἐγενόμην, γέγονα; ἐγείρω awaken ἐγρήγορα (446).  This change corresponds to that of ει to οι (477 a).

479. Change of ε to α. In verb-stems containing λ, μ, ν, ρ, an ε is usually changed to α in the first perfect, perfect middle, and second passive systems.

τρέπ-ω turn, τέτραμμαι, ἐτράπην (1 aor. ἐτρέφθην); τρέφ-ω feed, τέθραμμαι, ἐτράφην (1 aor. ἐθρέφθην); σπείρω (σπερ-) sow, ἔσπαρμαι, ἐσπάρην; φθείρω (φθερ-) destroy, ἔφθαρμαι, ἐφθάρην; στέλλω (στελ-) send, ἔσταλκα, ἔσταλμαι, ἐστάλην; τείνω (τεν-) stretch, τέτακα, τέταμαι, ἐτάθην (1 aor.).

a. Also in the 2 aor. pass. of κλέπτω steal (ἐκλάπην), πλέκω weave (ἐπλάκην), τέρπω gladden (Epic ἐτάρπην).  Many of these verbs also show ο in the second perfect (478).

480. This is also found in the second aorist active and middle of κτείνω kill (ἔκτανον poetic), τέμνω cut (dialectal ἔταμον), τρέπω turn (ἔτραπον poetic), τέρπω gladden (ἐταρπόμην poetic), poetic δέρκομαι see (ἔδρακον).  Also πέρθω, πτήσσω.

481. ε in the perfect middle in κέκλεμμαι (κλέπτω steal), πέπλεγμαι (πλέκω weave) is introduced from the present.

482. The in 479, 480 is developed from a liquid or nasal brought between two consonants (35 b). Thus, ἔσταλμαι, τέταμαι from ἐσταλ̥μαι, τέτν̥μαι, ἐτάθην from ἐτν̥θην (20 b).  Here στλ, τν represent weak grades of the stem.

483. a. The variations ε, ο, α, ω appear in τρέπω turn, τρέψω, ἔτρεψα, 2 perf. τέτροφα, τέτραμμαι, ἐτρέφθην, 2 aor. pass. ἐτράπην; frequentative τρωπάω (867).

b. The variations ε, ο, ω appear in πέτομαι fly, ποτέομαι (poet.) and frequentative πωτάομαι (poet., 867) fly about.


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484. η, α in the Second Perfect. In the second perfect of the verb-stem is lengthened to η (ᾱ) : θάλλω (θαλ-) bloom, τέθηλα; φαίνω (φαν-) show, πέφηνα; μαίνω (μαν-) madden, μέμηνα; κρά̄ζω (κραγ-) cry out, κέκρᾱγα.

485. Addition of ε. a. To the verb-stem ε is added to make the present stem in δοκέω seem, fut. δόξω, aor. ἔδοξα (δοκ-); so in γαμέω marry, ὠθέω push.  Usually ε is added in some stem other than the present.

b. In many verbs ε is added to the verb-stem to form the tense-stems other than present, second aorist, and second perfect, e.g. μάχομαι (μαχ-) fight, μαχοῦμαι ( = μαχε(σ)ομαι), ἐμαχεσάμην, μεμάχημαι.  So ἄχθομαι am grieved, βούλουαι wish, γίγνομαι become, δέω want, (ἐ)θέλω wish, μέλλω intend, μέλει is a care, οἴομαι think.

c. In some verbs ε is added to form one or more tense-stems, as μένω (μεν-) remain, μεμένηκα (μενε-) to avoid -ν-κα in the perfect.  So, νέμω distribute, ἔχω have, οἴχομαι am gone.  So also δαρθάνω, ὀσφαίνομαι, ῥέω, στείβω (poetic), τυγχάνω.

d. Some verbs have alternative presents with or without ε.  Here sometimes one is used in prose, the other in poetry, sometimes both are poetic or both used in prose.  Thus, ἕλκω draw (Hom. also ἑλκέω), ἰάχω ἰαχέω sound (both poetic), μέδω μεδέω (both poetic), ῥί̄πτω and ῥῑπτέω throw (both in prose).

486. Addition of α and ο. α or ο is added to the verb-stem in some verbs.  Thus, μῡκάομαι bellow (Epic 2 aor. μύκον), ἐμῡκησάμην; ἁλίσκομαι (ἁλ-) be captured, ἁλώσομαι from ἁλο-; ὄμνῡ-μι swear (ὀμ-) ὤμοσα, ὀμώμοκα etc. (ὀμο-); οἴχομαι am gone, Epic οἴχωκα or ᾤχωκα.

487.  Lengthening of Short Final Vowel. Verb-stems ending in a short vowel generally lengthen that vowel before the tense-suffix in all tenses (except the present and imperfect) formed from them.  Here α (except after ε, ι, and ρ) and ε become η, ο become ω.

τῑμά-ω (τῑμα-) honour, τῑμή-σω, ἐτί̄μη-σα, τετί̄μη-κα, τετί̄μη-μαι, ἐτῑμή-θην; θηρά-ω (θηρα-) hunt, θηρά̄-σω, ἐθήρᾱ-σα, etc. (389); ποιέω (ποιε-) make, ποιή-σω, ἐποίη-σα, πεποίη-κα, πεποίη-μαι, ἐποιή-θην; δηλόω (δηλο-) manifest, δηλώ-σω, ἐδήλω-σα, etc.; ἐάω permit, ἐά̄σω, etc.

a. Note ἀκροά̄σομαι, ἠκροᾱσάμην, etc., from ἀκροάομαι hear; χρήσω, ἔχρησα from χράω give oracles; χρήσομαι, ἐχρησάμην from χράομαι use; τρήσω and ἔτρησα from τετραίνω bore are from τρε-.

b. Verb-stems adding ε or ο (486), and stems apparently receiving a short final vowel by metathesis (128), lengthen the short final vowel, as βούλομαι (βουλ-) wish, βουλή-σομαι (βουλε-, 485), κάμνω (καμ-) am weary, κέκμη-κα (κμα-).


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488.  Retention of Short Final Vowel. Many verb-stems ending apparently in a short vowel retain the short vowel, contrary to 487, in some or all the tenses.

γελᾰ́-ω laugh, γελᾰ́σομαι, ἐγέλᾰσα, ἐγελᾰ́σθην; τελέω finish, τελῶ from τελέ-ω, ἐτέλεσα, τετέλεκα, τετέλεσμαι, ἐτελέσθην; ἀνύω accomplish, ἀνῠ́σω, ἤνῠσα, ἤνῠσμαι.

a. The following verbs retain the final short vowel of the verb-stem in all tenses:  ἄγα-μαι, αἰδέ-ομαι, ἀκέ-ομαι, ἀλέ-ω, ἀνύ-ω, ἀρέσκω (ἀρε-), ἀρκέ-ω, ἀρό-ω, ἀρύ-ω, γελά-ω, ἐλαύνω (ἐλα-), ἑλκύ-ω, and ἕλκ-ω (ἑλκ-ε-), ἐμέ-ω, ἐρά-ω, ἔρα-μαι (poet.), ἐσθίω (ἐσθι-, ἐδ-ε-, ἐδο-), ζέ-ω, θλά-ω, ἱ̄λάσκομαι (ἱ̄λα-), κλά-ω break, μεθύσκω (μεθυ-), ξέ-ω, πτύ̄-ω (πτῡ-, πτῠ-), σπά-ω, τελέ-ω, τρέ-ω, φθίνω (φθι-), φλά-ω, χαλά-ω, χέ-ω (χυ-).  Also all verbs in -αννῡμι and -εννῡμι (except ἔσβηκα from σβέννῡμι extinguish), and ὄλλῡμι (ὀλ-ε-), ὄμνῡμι (ὀμ-, ὀμε-, ὀμο-), στόρνῡμι (στορ-ε).

b. The following verbs keep short the final vowel in the future, but lengthen it in one or more other tense-systems, or have double future forms, one with the short vowel, the other with the long vowel:  αἰνέω (αἰνέσω, ᾔνεσα, ᾔνεκα, ᾐνέθην, ᾔνημαι), ἄχθομαι (ἀχθ-, ἀχθε-), καλέ-ω, μάχομαι (μαχ-ε-), μύ̄ω, πί̄νω (πι-, πο-), ποθέ-ω, πονέ-ω, ἐρύ-ω (Epic), φθάνω (φθα-).

c. In some verbs the final short vowel of the verb-stem remains short in one or more tense-stems, but is lengthened in the future, as δέ-ω bind, δήσω, ἔδησα, δέδεκα, δέδεμαι, ἐδέθην.  So αἱρέω, βαίνω (βα-), βῡνέω (βυ-), δίδωμι (δο-, δω-), δύνα-μαι, δύ̄ω (δῠ-, δῡ-), εὑρίσκω (εὑρ-ε-), ἔχω (σεχ-, σχε-), θύ̄ω (θῠ-, θῡ-), ἵημι (ἑ-, ἡ-), ἵστημι (στᾰ-, στη-), λύ̄ω (λῠ-, λῡ-), τίθημι (θε-, θη-), τίνω (τι-), φύ̄ω (φῠ-, φῡ-), and the root ἐρ-, ῥε- (εἶπον).

d. Most of the verbs refusing to lengthen a final short vowel have verb-stems originally ending in σ (624); as τελέω from τελεσ-ι ̯ω (cp. τὸ τέλος).  By analogy to these, other verbs retain their short final vowel.

489. Insertion of σ. In the perfect middle and first aorist passive systems, verbs which retain a short final vowel and some others usually insert σ before the personal ending.

Thus, τελέω (488 d), τετέλεσμαι, ἐτελέσθην; σπάω draw, ἔσπασμαι, ἐσπάσθην; κελεύω order, κεκέλευσμαι, ἐκελεύσθην; γιγνώσκω know, ἔγνωσμαι, ἐγνώσθην.

a. If the aorist passive ends in -θην and not in -σθην, the perfect middle does not insert σ.  Thus -θην, not -σθην, occurs in all verbs in -ευω except λεύω stone to death, in all verbs in -εω which have -θην preceded by η, in all verbs in -οω except χόω heap up, and in all verbs in -αω except those that retain ᾰ.  Stems originally ending in σ (624) properly show σ

b. If the aorist passive ends in -σθην, the perfect middle may or may not insert σ.  Verbs in -αζω and -ιζω (stems -αδ, -ιδ) regularly have σ by 83, 587In the case of other verbs some always show σ, some never show σ, and some are doubtful.  In many cases the later usage with σ has crept into the Mss. of


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the classical authors (so with the perfect of ἀλέω, βαίνω, δράω, ζώννῡμι, κλείω (κλῄω), σῴζω, χρί̄ω, and with the aorist of παύω).

c. The following verbs show an inserted σ both in the perfect middle and the aorist passive in classical Greek:   αἰδέομαι, γιγνώσκω, ἑλκύω, θλάω, θραύω, κελεύω, κλάω, κνα(ί)ω, κορέννῡμι, κυλί̄ω, ξύ̄ω, πίμπλημι, πρί̄ω, πτίττω, σβέννῡμι, σείω, σκεδάννῡμι, σπάω, τανύω, τελέω, τίνω, ὕ̄ω, φλάω, χόω, χρῴζω.

d. The following form only the perfect middle with σ in classical Greek:  βῡνέω, ἕννῡμι (εἷμαι, but ἕστο Hom.), ἐρύω, ζώννῡμι, ξέω,*ὀδύσσομαι, πλέω, φλεύω (Hdt.).

e. The following form only the aorist passive with σ in classical Greek:  ἄγαμαι, ἀκούω, ἀνύω, ἀρέσκω, ἄχθομαι, γελάω, δαίνῡμι, δράω, ἐλύω, ἔραμαι, ἐράω, ἱ̄λάσκομαι, κλείω (κλῄω), λεύω, μεθύσκω, μιμνῄσκω, ὀί̄ω, ὄνομαι (Hdt.), παίω, παλαίω, πετάννῡμι, πίμπρημι, ῥαίω, ῥώννῡμι, στόρνῡμι, χαλάω, χράομαι, χράω, χρἱ̄ω.

f. Only in post-classical Greek is σ attested both in the perfect middle and aorist passive in ἀρκέω, ζέω, κλαίω, (ἀπο) λαύω, λόω, ὄλλῡμι, πνέω, πταίω, σάω, ψαύω. Only in the perfect middleἄγαμαι, ἀκούω, ἀνύω, γελάω, δράω, ἐμέω, ἔραμαι, κεράννῡμι, κολούω, μεθύσκω, ναίω, νάω spin, ὀπυίω, παίω, παλαίω, πετάννῡμι (and in Ionic), πίμπρημι (Aristotle; earlier perf. πέπρημαι), στόρνῡμι, χαλάω, ψαύω.  When the perfect middle is not attested in classical Greek some at least of the σ forms from the above verbs may represent classical usage, provided the aorist passive has -σθην. Only in the aorist passiveἀκέομαι, ἀλέω, ἀρύω, βαίνω, βῡνέω, ψεύω, εἰλύω, ἐλαύνω, ἔρυμαι, ἐρύω, ζώννῡμι, καίω, ξέω, μάχομαι, νέω heap up, *ὀδύσσομαι, πλέω, πτύω, σῴζω, φθάνω.

g. Some verbs have double forms (one of which may be disputed) in the classical period: δύναμαι:  ἐδυνήθην and ἐδυνάσθην (chiefly Ionic and poetic); κεράνῡμι : ἐκρά̄θην and ἐκεράσθην; κρούω: κέκρουμαι better than κέκρουσμαι; νέω : νένημαι and νένησμαι; ὄμνῡμι : ὀμώμομαι (and ὀμώμοσται), ὠμόθην and ὠμόσθην. Dialectal or dialectal and late are ἐβώσθην for ἐβοήθην (βοάω), ἐλήλασμαι ἠλάσθην (ἐλαύνω), κεκόρημαι for κεκόρεσμαι (κορέννῡμι), πεπέτασμαι (πετάννῡμι).

h. Some verb-stems ending in ν show -σ-μαι in the perfect middle : ἡδύ̄νω, μιαίνω, παχύ̄νω, περαίνω, ὑφαίνω, φαίνω. Thus πέφασμαι, ἥδυσμαι, μεμίασμαι.  Dialectal or late: θηλύ̄νω, κοιλαίνω, λεπτύ̄νω, λῡμαίνομαι, ξαίνω, ξημαίνω, σημαίνω.  On -μμαι see 579.

i. Observe that some vowel verbs inserting σ do not lengthen the final vowel of the verb-stem in any tense (γελάω, τελέω); and that some not inserting σ (δέω, θύ̄ω, λύ̄ω) do not lengthen the final vowel in some tenses.  ἐπ-αινέω commend and παρ-αινέω exhort do not insert σ and have the short vowel in all tenses.

j. The insertion of σ in the perfect middle started in the 3 sing. and 2 pl. Before the endings -ται and -σθε, σ was retained in the case of verbs with stems originally ending in σ (as τελέω), or where σ developed from τ, δ, θ (98) before -ται, -σθε (πέπεισται from πεπειθται).  See 409 b, 624.  In all cases where the verb-stem did not originally end in σ, the sigma forms are due to analogy; as in κεκέλευσμαι (κελεύω), πέπλησμαι (πίμπλημι), ἔγνωσμαι (γιγνώσκω).

490.  Addition of θ. The present stems of some poetical verbs are made by the addition of θ; as νή-θ-ω spin, πλή-θ-ω am full (πίμ-πλη-μι).  Cp. 832.


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a. Most of the indicative forms seem to be imperfects, but since some have the force of aorists (e.g., Soph. O. C. 862, 1334, O. T. 650), in certain editions they are regarded as second aorists, and the infinitives and participles are accented (against the Mss.) on the ultima (διωκαθεῖν, εἰκαθών).

491.  Omission of ν. Some verbs in -νω drop the ν of the verbal stem in the first perfect, perfect middle, and first passive systems.

κρί̄νω (κριν-), judge, κέκρι-κα, κέκρι-μαι, ἐκρί-θην.  So also κλί̄νω incline, πλύ̄νω wash.

492.  Metathesis. The verbal stem may suffer metathesis (128).

a. In the present: θνῄσκω die, 2 aor. ἔθανον, perf. τέθνηκα.

b. In other tenses: βάλλω throw (βαλ-), perf. βέβληκα, ἐβλήθην (βλη-); τέμνω cut (τεμ-ν-), 2 aor. ἔτεμον, perf. τέτμηκα; δέρκομαι (δερκ-) see, 2 aor. ἔδρακον; τέρπω delight, 2 aor. pass. ἐτάρπην and ἐτράπην (both poetical).

493. Syncope. Some verbs suffer syncope (44 b).

a. In the present: πί̄πτω fall for πι-π(ε)τ-ω, ἴσχω hold for (σ)ι-σ(ε)χ-ω (125 e), μίμνω for μι-μεν-ω.

b. In the future:  πτήσομαι from πέτομαι fly.

c. In the second aorist:  ἔσχον for ἐ-σεχ-ον from ἔχω (ἐχ- for σεχ-, 125 e).

d. In the perfect: πέ-πτα-μαι have expanded from πετά-ννῡμι.

N. Syncopated forms are properly weak stems (476 a).

494. Reduplication. The verb-stem may be reduplicated.

a. In the present with ι : γι-γνώ-σκω (γνω-) know, τί-θη-μι place, ἵ-στη-μι set, δί-δω-μι give.  The present reduplication may be carried over to other tenses: διδά (κ) σκω teach (99), διδάξω.  With ε : τε-τραίνω bore.

b. In the second aorist:  ἄγω (ἀγ-) lead, ἤγ-αγ-ον; ἕπομαι follow, ἑσπόμην (for σε-σπ-ομην).

c. Regularly with ε in the perfect.

495.  Iterative Imperfects and Aorists in -σκόε-. Homer and Herodotus have iterative imperfects and aorists in -σκον and -σκομην denoting a customary or repeated past actionHomer has iterative forms in the imperfect and 1 and 2 aorist active and middleHerodotus has no iteratives in the 1 aorist and few


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in the 2 aorist; and only from ω-verbs.   Herodotus regularly and Homer usually omit the augment.  -αω verbs have -αα-σκον or -α-σκον; -εω verbs -εε-σκον, in Hom. also -ε-σκον. -α-σκον is rare in other verbs than those in -αω.  The vowel preceding the suffix is always short.

a. The suffix -σκόε- is added to the tense-stem.  Imperf.φεύγε-σκε (φεύγω flee), ἔχε-σκον (ἔχω have), νῑκά-σκομεν (νῑκάω conquer), γοάα-σκε (γοάω bewail), κρύπτα-σκε (κρύπτω hide), καλέε-σκον (καλέω call), ζωννύσκετο (ζώννῡμι gird) ; 1 aor.: ἀπο-τρέψα-σκε (ἀποτρέπω turn away); 2 aor.: φύγε-σκε, στά-σκε stood.

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