Pronouns Homer to Koine

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Sun Jul 11 07:05:17 EDT 1999

At 2:34 PM -0700 7/10/99, clayton stirling bartholomew wrote:
>This question is going to be kind of vague since I haven't enough facts
>to ask it specifically.
>Working in the Iliad I notice that Homer has a nearly full set of 3d
>person singular personal pronouns. When did these drop out of use? When
>did AUTOS take their place? Was this already happening when Homer was
>The aspect of this that caught my interest is gender. When you use AUTOS
>as the third person personal pronoun you acquire inflection for gender.
>I was not aware that Greek had at any time a genderless third person
>personal pronoun.
>Does someone want to state the obvious on this topic? I always need the
>obvious pointed out since the obvious is what I am most likely to over

Clay, you really ought to be looking at something like Chantraine's
_Grammaire homerique_ (or Munro's _Homeric Grammar_ or Meillet's
_Morphologie historique du grec_.

I'm not sure which 3d sg. personal singular pronouns you are referring to.
One does see hEO in the genitive, hOI in the dative, hE in the accusative;
if my memory serves me right (and I wouldn't lay great claims to that),
these are actually derivative from the PIE reflexive pronoun and were
original SFEO, SFOI, and SFE (where F represents 'digamma' or the
consonantal U). There are also forms like NIN as an acc. 3d person, and
there are duals like SFE (nom./acc. where F = phi), SFOIN (gen./dat.). But
the word most commonly used in the Homeric poems for the nominative pronoun
is the weak demonstrative which becomes the later article: hO, hH, TO,
which has the same pronominal endings as AUTOS. As for AUTOS, I don't think
it's very commonly used as a nominative pronoun until the Hellenistic era.
In earlier Greek one ought to assume that a nominative form of AUTOS is
intensive rather than personal.

Of course, hO/hH/TO is a weak demonstrative, but a demonstrative
nonetheless. It will be added with a third person verb only when the
speaker/reciter wants to point somewhat more directly to the one who is the
subject of the verb.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at

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