Re The time element in the Greek tenses

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Aug 7 09:15:13 EDT 2001


At 8:25 PM -0400 8/6/01, Harry W. Jones wrote:
>> At 8:56 AM -0400 8/5/01, Harry W. Jones wrote:
>> >To All B-Greekers,
>> >
>> >If I have three Greek verbs in a sentence which could or could not be
>> >a mixture of regular verbs or participles, would the tenses of the
>> >verbs represent or determine the sequence in which the actions took
>> >place?
>> >
>> >For example,
>> > <aorist or imperfect verb(could or could not be a participle>1
>> > <present tense verb(could or could not be a participle>2
>> > <future tense verb(could or could not be a participle)>3.
>> >
>> >Would the sequence of occurrence be 1 2 3?
>>
>> I don't think this question can be that simply answered; one might very
>> well have a sequence such as POLLA MEN PRIN MAQWN, PLEIONA DE NUN MANQANWN,
>> hOMWS DE TA PLEISTA MAQHSOMAI EN TOIS ETESI ETI ERCOMENOIS. But it really
>> does depend upon whether which time and action one wants to emphasize in
>> the sentence; the more emphatic element tends to be stated earliest,
>> although it can come climactically at the end.
>> --
>>
>> Carl W. Conrad
>> Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
>> Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
>> cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
>> WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/
>
>Dear Carl,
>
>I am somewhat surprised by your answer. I would think that there would
>be a definite answer to this problem. You seem to be saying that the
>context determines the sequence. Correct?

Generally yes. Of course you need to realize that an aorist participle
doesn't necessarily represent action prior to the action of the main verb;
it may simply indicate aspect as in the old Greek proverb LAQE BIWSAS,
where both the imperative and the participle are aorist, the phrase meaning
something like "Live your life in obscurity" or more literally, "Be
unnoticed living."

There really is a great deal of flexibility in Greek word-order; it isn't
absolute, of course, but the rhetorical possibilities for difference of
emphasis are considerable in Greek.
-- 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/



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