H. W. Smyth

Greek Grammar (First Edition)

Part 1 §§149-188


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149. There are three accents in Greek. No Greek accent can stand farther back than the antepenult.

1. Acute (´): over short or long vowels and diphthongs. It may stand on ultima, penult, or antepenult:  καλός, δαίμων, ἄνθρωπος.

2. Circumflex (~): over vowels long by nature and diphthongs. It may stand on ultima or penult: γῆ, θεοῦ, δῶρον, τοῦτο.

3. Grave (`):  over short or long vowels and diphthongs. It stands on the ultima only:  τὸν ἄνδρα, τὴν τύχην, οἱ θεοὶ τῆς ̔ Ελλάδος.

150. The acute marks syllables pronounced in a raised tone. The grave is a low-pitched tone as contrasted with the acute. The circumflex combines acute and grave.

151. Accented syllables in Ancient Greek had a higher pitch (τόνος) than unaccented syllables, and it was the rising and falling of the pitch that made Ancient Greek a musical language. The Greek word for accent is προσῳδίᾱ (Lat. accentus: from ad-cano), i.e. ‘song accompanying words.’ Musical accent (elevation and depression of tone) is to be distinguished from quantity (duration of tone), and from rhythmic accent (stress of voice at fixed intervals when there is a regular sequence of long and short syllables).

N. – The accent heard in Modern Greek and English is a stress-accent. Stress is produced by strong and weak expiration, and takes account of accented syllables to the neglect of the quantity of unaccented syllables. Thus, shortly after Christ, ἄνθρωπος was often pronounced like a dactyl, φίλος like a trochee; and πρόσωπον, ἐννέα, were even written πρόσοπον, έννήα.

152. The marks of accent are placed over the vowel of the accented syllable. A diphthong has the accent over its second vowel (τοῦτο), except in the case of capital ᾳ, ῃ, ῳ (as Ἅιδης, 5), where the accent stands before the first vowel.

153. A breathing is written before the acute and grave (οἵ, ἤ), but under the circumflex (ὦ, οὗτος).  Accents and breathings are placed before capitals: Ὅμηρος,  Ὧραι. The accent stands over a mark of diaeresis (8): κληῗδι.

154. The grave is written in place of a final acute on a word that is followed immediately by another word in the sentence. Thus, μετὰ τὴν μάχην after the battle (for μετά τήν μάχην). It is also sometimes placed on τὶς, τὶ (334), to distinguish these indefinite pronouns from the interrogatives τίς, τί.

a. An oxytone (157) changes its acute to the grave when followed by another word, except: (1) when the oxytone is followed by an enclitic (183 a); (2) in τίς, τί interrogative, as τίς οὗτος; who's this? (3) when an elided syllable follows


the accented syllable:  νύχθ' ὅλην (124), not νὺχθ' ὅλην (174 a); (4) when a colon or period follows.  (Usage varies before a comma.)

155. The ancients regarded the grave originally as belonging to every syllable not accented with the acute or circumflex; and some Mss. show this in practice, e.g. πὰγκρὰτής. Later it was restricted to its use as a substitute for a final acute.

156. The circumflex is formed from the union of the acute and the grave (́̀ = ^), never from ̀́. Thus, παῖς = πάὶς, εὖ = ἔὺ.  Similarly, since every long vowel may be resolved into two short units (morae), τῶν may be regarded as = τόὸν. The circumflex was thus spoken with a rising tone followed by one of lower pitch. μοῦσα, δῆμος are thus = μόὺσα, δέὲμος; μούσης, δήμου are = μὸύσης, δὲέμου.  In διδοῦσα (i.e. διδόὺσα) compared with διδούς the accent has receded (159) one mora.

a. The whole vowel receives the acute when the second short unit of a vowel long by nature is accented:  Δί̄ ̂ Δὶί.

157. Words are named according to their accent as follows:

Oxytone (acute on the ultima):  θήρ, καλός, λελυκώς.

Paroxytone (acute on the penult):  λύ̄ω, λείπω, λελυκότος.

Proparoxytone (acute on the antepenult):  ἄνθρωπος, παιδεύομεν.

Perispomenon (circumflex on the ultima):  γῆ, θεοῦ.

Properispomenon (circumflex on the penult):  πρᾶξις, μοῦσα.

Barytone (when the ultima is unaccented, 158):  μοῦσα, μήτηρ, πόλεμος.

158. A word is called barytone (βαρύ-τονος deep-toned, low-toned) when it has no accent on the ultima. All paroxytones, proparoxytones, and properispomena are also barytones.

159. An accent is called recessive when it moves back as far from the end of the word as the quantity of the ultima permits (166). The quantity of the penult is here disregarded (τρέπωμεν). Cp. 178.

160. Oxytone (ὀξύς, sharp + τόνος) means ‘sharp-toned,’ perispomenon (περισπώμενος) ‘turned-around’ (circumflectus, 156). Paroxytone and proparoxytone are derived from ὀξύτονος with the prepositions παρά and πρό respectively. Acute corresponds to Lat. acutus (ὀξεῖα, scil. προσῳδίᾱ).

161. The invention of the marks of accent is attributed to Aristophanes of Byzantium, librarian at Alexandria about 200 B.C. The use of signs served to fix the correct accentuation, which was becoming uncertain in the third century B.C.; marked the variation of dialect usage; and rendered the acquisition of Greek easier for foreigners. The signs for the accents (and the breathings) were not regularly employed in Mss. till after 600 A.D.

162. The position of the accent has to be learned by observation. But the kind of accent is determined by the following rules.


163. The antepenult, if accented, can have the acute only (ἄνθρωπος, βασίλεια queen, οἰκοφύλακος of a house-guard). If the ultima is long, either by nature or by position (144), the antepenult cannot take an accent: hence ἀνθρώπου (176 a), βασιλείᾱ kingdom, οίκοφύλαξ.

a. Some nouns in -εως and -εων admit the acute on the antepenult. Thus, the genitive of nouns in -ις and -υς (πόλεως, πόλεων, ἄστεως), the forms of the Attic declension, as ̄λεως (289). So the Ionic genitive in -εω (πολί̄τεω); also some compound adjectives in -ως, as δύσερως unhappy in love, ὑψίκερως lofty antlered. On ὧντινων see 186.

164. The penult, if accented and long, takes the circumflex when the ultima is short by nature (νῆσος, ταῦτα). In all other cases it has the acute (φόβος, λελυκότος, τούτου).

a. Apparent exceptions are ὥστε, οὔτις, ἥδε (properly ἧδε).  See 186.

b. A final syllable containing a vowel short by nature followed by ξ or ψ does not permit the acute to stand on the antepenult (οἰκοφύλαξ); but the circumflex may stand on the penult (κῆρυξ).

165. The ultima, if accented and short, has the acute (ποταμός); if accented and long, has either the acute (λελυκώς), or the circumflex (Περικλῆς).

166. When the ultima is long, the acute cannot stand on the antepenult, nor the circumflex on the penult. Thus, ἄνθρωπου and δῶρου are impossible.

167. When the ultima is short, a word, if accented

a. on the ultima, has the acute: σοφός.

b. on a short penult, has the acute: νόμος.

c. on a long penult, has the circumflex: δῶρον.

d. on the antepenult, has the acute: ἄνθρωπος.

168When the ultima is long, a word, if accented

a. on the ultima, has the acute or the circumflex: ἐγώ, σοφῶς.

b. on the penult, has the acute: λέων, δαίμων.

169. Final -αι and -οι are regarded as short: μοῦσαι, βούλομαι, πρόπαλαι, ἄνθρωποι. But in the optative -αι and -οι are long (λύ̄σαι, βουλεύοι), as in contracted syllables. So also in the locative οἴκοι at home (but οἶκοι houses).

a. The difference in the quantitative treatment of -αι and -οι depends on an original difference of accentuation that may have vanished in Greek. -αι and


-οι, when short, were pronounced with a clipped, or simple, tone; when long, with a drawled, or compound, tone.

170. The quantity of α, ι, υ (147) may often be learned from the accent. Thus, in θάλαττα, ἥμισυς, πῆχυς, δύναμις, μῆνις, the vowel of the last syllable must be short; in φίλος the ι must be short (otherwise φῖλος). Cp. 163.

171Contraction. – If either of the syllables to be contracted had an accent, the contracted syllable has an accent. Thus:

a. A contracted antepenult has the acute:  φιλεόμενος = φιλούμενος.

b. A contracted penult has the circumflex when the ultima is short; the acute, when the ultima is long:  φιλέουσι = φιλοῦσι, φιλεόντων = φιλούντων.

c. A contracted ultima has the acute when the uncontracted form was oxytone: ἑσταώς = ἑστώς; otherwise, the circumflex: φιλέω  φιλῶ.

N. 1. – A contracted syllable has the circumflex only when, in the uncontracted form, an acute was followed by the (unwritten) grave (155, 156). Thus, Περικλέὴς = Περικλῆς, τῑμάὼ  τῑμῶ. In all other cases we have the acute: φιλὲόντων = φιλούντων, βεβὰώς = βεβώς.

N. 2. – Exceptions to 171 are often due to the analogy of other forms (236 a, 264 e, 279 a, 290 c, 309 a).

172If neither of the syllables to be contracted had an accent, the contracted syllable has no accent:  φίλεε = φίλει, γένεϊ = γένει, περίπλοος = περίπλους. For exceptions, see 236 b.

173Crasis. – In crasis, the first word (as less important) loses its accent: τἀ̄γαθά for τὰ ἀγαθά, τἀ̄ν for τὰ ἐν, κἀ̄γώ for καὶ ἐγώ.

a. If the second word is a dissyllabic paroxytone with short ultima, it is uncertain whether, in crasis, the paroxytone remains or changes to properispomenon. In this book τοὔργον, τἄ̄λλα are written for τὸ ἔργον, τὰ ἄλλα; but many scholars write τοὖργον, τἆλλα.

174Elision.– In elision, oxytone prepositions and conjunctions lose their accent: παρ' (for παρὰ) ἐμοῦ, ἀλλ' (for ἀλλὰ) ἐγώ. In other oxytones the accent is thrown back to the penult: πόλλ' (for πολλὰ) ἔπαθον.

a. Observe that in πόλλ' ἔπαθον the acute is not changed to the grave (154 a, 3). A circumflex does not result from the recession of the accent. Thus, φήμ' (not φῆμ') ἐγώ for φημὶ ἐγώ. τινά and ποτέ, after a word which cannot receive their accent (183 d), drop their accent: οὕτω ποτ' ἦν.


175. Anastrophe (ἀναστροφή turning-back) occurs in the case of oxytone prepositions of two syllables, which throw the accent back on the first syllable.


a. When the preposition follows its case: τούτων πἐρι (for περὶ τούτων) about these things. No other preposition than περί follows its case in prose.

N. 1.– In poetry anastrophe occurs with the other dissyllabic prepositions (except ἀντί, ἀμφί, διά). In Homer a preposition following its verb and separated from it by tmesis (1650) also admits anastrophe (λούσῃ ἄπο for ἀπολούσῃ).

N. 2.– When the final vowel of the preposition is elided, the accent is dropped if no mark of punctuation intervenes: χερσὶν ὑφ' ἡμετέρῃσιν B 374.

b. When a preposition stands for a compound formed of the preposition and ἐστί. Thus, πάρα for πάρεστι it is permitted, ἔνι for ἔνεστι it is possible (ἐνί is a poetic form of ἐν).

N. – In poetry, πάρα may stand for πάρεισι or πάρειμι; and ἄνα arise! up! is used for ἀνάστηθι. Hom. has ἔνι = ἔνεισι.


176When a short ultima of the nominative is lengthened in an oblique case

a. a proparoxytone becomes paroxytone:  θάλαττα θαλάττης, ἄνθρωπος ἀνθρώπου.

b. a properispomenon becomes paroxytone: μοῦσα μούσης, δῶρον δώρον.

c. an oxytone becomes perispomenon in the genitive and dative of the second declension:  θεός θεοῦ θεῷ θεῶν θεοῖς.

177. When, for a long ultima, a short ultima is substituted in inflection

a. a dissyllabic paroxytone (with penult long by nature) becomes properispomenon: λύ̄ω λῦε.

b. a polysyllabic paroxytone (with penult either long or short) becomes proparoxytone:  παιδεύω παίδευε, πλέκω πλέκομεν.

178. In composition the accent is usually recessive (159) in the case of substantives and adjectives, regularly in the case of verbs: βάσις ἀνάβασις, θεός ἄθεος, λῦε ἀπόλῡε.

a. Proper names having the form of a substantive, adjective, or participle, usually change the accent: Ἔλπις (ἐλπίς), Γλαῦκος (γλαυκός), Γέλων (γελῶν).

b. Special cases will be considered under Declension and Inflection.


179. Ten monosyllabic words have no accent and are closely connected with the following word. They are called proclitics (from προκλί̄νω lean forward). They are:

The forms of the article beginning with a vowel (ὁ, ἡ, οἱ, αἱ); the prepositions ἐν, εἰς (ἐς), ἐξ (ἐκ); the conjunction εἰ if; ὡς as, that (also a preposition to); the negative adverb οὐ (οὐκ, οὐχ, 137).


180A proclitic sometimes takes an accent, thus:

a. οὐ at the end of a sentence:  φῄς, ἢ οὔ; do you say so or not? πῶς γὰρ οὔ; for why not? Also οὔ no standing alone.

b. ἐξ, ἐν, and εἰς receive an acute in poetry when they follow the word to which they belong and stand at the end of the verse:  κακῶν ἔξ out of evils Ξ 472 .

c. ὡς as becomes ὥς in poetry when it follows its noun:  θεὸς ὥς as a god. ὡς standing for οὕτως is written ὥς even in prose (οὐδ' ὥς not even thus).

d. When the proclitic precedes an enclitic (183 e):  ἔν τισι.

N. used as a relative (for ὅς, 1105) is written ὅ. On demonstrative see 1114.


181. Enclitics (from ἐγκλί̄νω lean on, upon) are words attaching themselves closely to the preceding word, after which they are pronounced rapidly. Enclitics usually lose their accent. They are:

a. The personal pronouns μοῦ, μοί, μέ; σοῦ, σοί, σέ; οὗ, οἷ, ἕ, and (in poetry) σφίσι.

b. The indefinite pronoun τὶς, τὶ in all cases (including τοῦ, τῷ for τινός, τινί, but excluding ἄττα ̂ τινά); the indefinite adverbs πού (or ποθί), πῄ, ποί, ποθέν, ποτέ, πώ, πώς. When used as interrogatives these words are not enclitic (τίς, τί, ποῦ (or πόθι), πῇ, ποῖ, πόθεν, πότε, πῶ, πῶς).

c. All dissyllabic forms of the present indicative of εἰμί am and φημί say (i.e. all except εἶ and φῄς).

d. The particles γέ, τέ, τοί, πέρ; the inseparable -δε in ὅδε, τοσόσδε, etc.

N. – Enclitics, when they retain their accent, are called orthotone. See 187.

182. The accent of an enclitic, when it is thrown back upon the preceding word, always appears as an acute:  θήρ τε (not θῆρ τε) from θήρ ̈ τέ.

183. The word preceding an enclitic is treated as follows:

a. An oxytone keeps its accent, and does not change an acute to a grave (154 a):  δός μοι, καλόν ἐστι.

c. A proparoxytone or properispomenon receives, as an additional accent, the acute on the ultima:  ἄνθρωπός τις, ἄνθρωποί τινες, ἤκουσά τινων; σῶσόν με, παῖδές τινες.

d. A paroxytone receives no additional accent: a monosyllabic enclitic loses its accent (χώρᾱ τις, φίλος μου), a dissyllabic enclitic retains its accent (χώρᾱς τινός, φίλοι τινές) except when its final vowel is elided (174 a).


N. – Like paroxytones are treated properispomena ending in ξ or ψ when followed by a dissyllabic enclitic:  κῆρυξ ἐστί; and so probably κῆρυξ τις.

e. A proclitic (179) takes an acute:  ἔν τινι, εἴ τινες.

184. Since an enclitic, on losing its accent, forms a part of the preceding word, the writing ἄνθρωπος τις would violate the rule (149) that no word can be accented on a syllable before the antepenult. A paroxytone receives no additional accent in order that two successive syllables may not have the acute (not φίλός ἐστιν).

185. When several enclitics occur in succession, each receives an accent from the following, only the last having no accent: εἴ πού τίς τινα ἴδοι ἐχθρόν if ever any one saw an enemy anywhere Τ. 4.47 .

186. Sometimes an enclitic unites with a preceding word to form a compound (cp. Lat. -que, -ve), which is accented as if the enclitic were still a separate word. Thus, οὔτε (not οὖτε), ὥστε, εἴτε, καίτοι, οὗτινος, ᾧτινι, ὧντινων; usually περ (ἕσπερ); and the inseparable -δε in ὅδε, τούσδε, οἴκαδε; and -θε and -χι in εἴθε (poetic αἴθε), ναίχι. οὔτε, ᾧτινι, etc., are not real exceptions to the rules of accent (163, 164).

a. οἷός τε able is sometimes written οἷόστε. οὐκ οὖν is usually written οὔκουν not therefore, and not therefore? in distinction from οὐκοῦν thereforeἐγώ γε and ἐμοί γε may become ἔγωγε, ἔμοιγε.

187. An enclitic retains its accent (is orthotone, cp. 181 N.):

a. When it is emphatic, as in contrasts: ἢ σοὶ ἢ τῷ πατρί σου either to you or to your father (ἐμοῦ, ἐμοί, ἐμέ are emphatic: εἰπὲ καὶ ἐμοί tell me too), and at the beginning of a sentence or clause:  φημὶ γάρ I say in fact.

b. ἐστί is written ἔστι at the beginning of a sentence; when it expresses existence or possibility; when it follows οὐκ, μή, εἰ, ὡς, καί, ἀλλά (or ἀλλ'), τοῦτο (or τοῦτ'); and in ἔστιν οἵ some, ἔστιν ὅτε sometimes. Thus, εἰ ἔστιν οὕτως if it is so, τοῦτο δ' ἔστι that which exists.

c. In the phrases ποτὲ μὲν . . . ποτὲ δέ, τινὲς μὲν . . . τινὲς δέ.

d. After a word suffering elision: πολλοὶ δ' εἰσίν (for δέ εἰσιν), ταῦτ' ἐστί.

e. When a dissyllabic enclitic follows a paroxytone (183 d).

N. 1. – When they are used as indirect reflexives in Attic prose (1228), the pronouns of the third person οὗ and σφίσι are orthotone, οἷ is generally enclitic, while is generally orthotone.

N. 2. – After oxytone prepositions and ἕνεκα enclitic pronouns (except τὶς) usually keep their accent (ἐπὶ σοί, not ἐπί σοι; ἕνεκα σοῦ, not ἕνεκά σου; ἕνεκά του, not ἕνεκα τοῦ). ἐμοῦ, ἐμοί, ἐμέ are used after prepositions (except πρός με; and in the drama ἀμφί μοι).

188. Greek has four marks of punctuation. The comma and period have the same forms as in English. For the colon and semicolon Greek has only one sign, a point above the line (·): οἱ δὲ ἡδέως ἐπείθοντο· ἐπίστευον γὰρ αὐτῷ and they gladly obeyed; for they trusted him X. A. 1.2.2 . The mark of interrogation (;) is the same as our semicolon: πῶς γὰρ οὔ; for why not?


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