H. W. Smyth

Greek Grammar (First Edition)

Part 1 60-76


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60. In poetry two vowels, or a vowel and a diphthong, belonging to successive syllables may unite to form a single syllable in pronunciation, but not in writing. Thus, βελέα missiles, πόλεως city, Πηληϊάδεω son of Peleus, χρῡσέῳ golden. This is called Synizesis (συνίζησις settling together).

61. Synizesis may occur between two words when the first ends in a long vowel or diphthong. This is especially the case with δή


now, or, (interrog.), μή not, ἐπεί since, ἐγώ I, oh; as ἦ οὐ O 18.

a.   The term synizesis is often restricted to cases where the first vowel is long. Where the first vowel is short, ε, ι were sounded nearly like y; υ nearly like ω.  Cp. 44 a. The single syllable produced by synizesis is almost always long.


62. Crasis (κρᾶσις mingling) is the contraction of a vowel or diphthong at the end of a word with a vowel or diphthong beginning the following word. Over the syllable resulting from contraction is placed a called corōnis κορωνίς hook), as τἅ̄λλα from τὰ ἄλλα the other things, the rest.

a. The coronis is not written when the rough breathing stands on the first word: ὁ ἄνθρωπος = ἄ̄νθρωπος.

b. Crasis does not occur when the first vowel may be elided. (Some editors write τἄλλα, etc.)

63. Crasis occurs in general only between words that belong together; and the first of the two words united by crasis is usually the less important; as the article, relative pronoun (ὅ, ἅ), πρό, καί, δή, ὦ.  Crasis occurs chiefly in poetry.

a. It is rare in Hom., common in the dialogue parts of the drama (especially in comedy), and frequent in the orators.

64. π, τ, κ become φ, θ, χ when the next word begins with the rough breathing (124):  τῇ ἡμέρᾳ = θἡμέρᾳ the day, καὶ οἱ and the = χοἱ (68 c).

65. Iota subscript (5) appears in the syllable resulting from crasis only when the first syllable of the second word contains an ἐγὼ οἶδα = ἐγᾧδα I know (but τῷ ὀργάνω = τὡργάνῳ the instrument, 68 a).

66. The rules for crasis are in general the same as those for contraction (48 ff.). Thus, τὸ ὄνομα = τοὕνομα the name, ὁ ἑν = οὑν, ὦ ἄνερ = ὦνερ oh man, πρὸ ἔχων = προὕχων excelling, τὸ μάτιον = θοἱμάτιον the cloak (64), ἃ ἐγώ = ἁ̄γώ.

But the following exceptions are to be noted (67-69):

67. A diphthong may lose its final vowel: οἱ ἐμοί = οὑμοί, σοι ἐστί = σοὐστί, μου ἐστί = μοὑστί. Cp. 43, 68.

68. The final vowel or diphthong of the article, and of τοί, is dropped, and an initial α of the next word is lengthened unless it is the first vowel of a diphthong. The same rule applies in part to καί.

a. Article. ὁ ἀνήρ = ἁ̄νήρ, οἱ ἄνδρες = ἅ̄νδρες, αἱ ἀγαθαί = ἁ̄γαθαί, ἡ ἀλήθεια = ἁ̄λήθεια, τοῦ ἀνδρός = τἁ̄νδρός, τῷ ἀνδρί = τἁ̄νδρί, ὁ αὐτός = αὑτός the same, τοῦ αὐτοῦ = ταὑτοῦ of the same.

b. τοί. τοὶ ἄρα = τἅρα, μέντοι ἄν = μεντἅν. 

c. καί. (1) αι is dropped: καὶ αὐτός = καὑτός, και οὐ = κοὑ, καὶ ἡ = χἡ, καὶ οἱ = χοἱ, καὶ ἱκετεύετε = χκετευτετε and ye beseech (64). (2) αι is contracted chiefly before ε and ει : καὶ ἑν = κἁ̄ν, καὶ ἐγώ = κἁ̄γώ, καὶ ἐς = κἁ̄ς, καὶ εἶτα = κᾇτα (note however καὶ εἰ = κεἰ, καὶ εἰς = κεἶς); also before ο in καὶ ὅτε = χὥτε, καὶ ὄπως = χὥπως (64).


N. The exceptions in 68 a-c to the laws of contraction are due to the desire to let the vowel of the more important word prevail: ̄vηρ, not ὡνηρ, because of ἀνήρ.

69. Most crasis forms of ἕτερος other are derived from ἅτερος, the earlier form: thus, ὁ ἕτερος = ἅ̄τερος, οἱ ἑτεροι = ἅ̄τεροι; but τοῦ ἑτέροῦ = θοὐτέρου (64).


70. Elision is the expulsion of a short vowel at the end of a word before a word beginning with a vowel. An apostrophe ( ) marks the place where the vowel is elided.

ἀλλ(ά) ἄγε, ἄδωκ(α) ἐννέα, ἐφ ( = ἐπὶ) ἑαυτοῦ (64), ἔχομ (ι) ἄν, γένοιτ(ο) ἄν.

a. Elision is often not expressed to the eye except in poetry. Both inscriptions and the Mss. of prose writers are very inconsistent, but even where the elision is not expressed, it seems to have occurred in speaking; i.e. ὅδε εἶπε and ὅδ εἶπε were spoken alike. The Mss. are of little value in such cases.

71. Elision affects only unimportant words or syllables, such as particles, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions of two syllables (except περί, ἄχρι, μέχρι, ὅτι 72 b, c), and the final syllables of nouns, pronouns, and verbs.

a. The final vowel of an emphatic personal pronoun is rarely elided.

72. Elision does not occur in

a. Monosyllables, except such as end in ε (τέ, δέ, γέ).

b. The conjunction ὅτι that ὅτ is ὅτε when).

c. The prepositions πρό before, ἄχρι, μέχρι until, and περί concerning (except before ι).

d. The dative singular ending ι of the third declension, and in σι, the ending of the dative plural.

e. Words with final υ.

73. Except ἐστί is, forms admitting movable ν (134 a) do not suffer elision in prose. (But some cases of ε in the perfect occur in Demosthenes.)

74. αι in the personal endings and the infinitive is elided in Aristophanes; scarcely ever, if at all, in tragedy; its elision in prose is doubtful. οι is elided in tragedy in οἴμοι alas.


75. Interior elision takes place in forming compound words. Here the apostrophe is not used. Thus, οὐδείς no one from οὐδὲ εἱς, καθοράω look down upon from κατὰ ὁράω, μεθκατὰ ὁράω, μεθημι let go from μετὰ  ημι (124).

a. οδ, τουτ this are derived from the demonstrative pronouns ὅδε, τοῦτο + the deictic ending ι(333 g).

b. Interior elision does not always occur in the formation of compounds. Thus, σκηπτοῦχος sceptre-bearing from σκηπτο + οχος (i.e. σοχος).  Cp. 878.

c. On the accent in elision, see 174.


76. Aphaeresis ἀφαίρεσις taking away) is the elision of ε at the beginning of a word after a word ending in a long vowel or diphthong. This occurs only in poetry, and chiefly after μή not, or. Thus, μὴ νταῦθα, ἢ μέ, παρέξω μαυτόν, αὐτὴ ξῆλθεν. In some texts editors prefer to adopt crasis (62) or synizesis (60). a is rarely elided thus.  

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