"Retained accusative"? (was: RE: instances of (accusative)objects in passive constructions)

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Tue Oct 23 10:33:09 EDT 2001

Upon reflection, I'm not sure that I answered Iver's question adequately
with the response I sent last night; the question is a good one, "how are
we to understand the verbs that have aorist forms in both active, middle
and passive?"

At 10:04 PM +0200 10/22/01, Iver Larsen wrote:
>> (b) the QHN/QHS/QH & QHSOMAI/QHSHi/QHSETAI morphology
>> traditionally associated in the grammar books and teach of Greek
>> constitutes essentially aorist and future paradigms that have supplanted
>> older MAI/SAI/TAI & MHN/SO/TO paradigms in the aorist and future tenses,
>Carl, I am just focusing on this bit, because I have a question.
>If the -QH- forms ("passive") have supplanted older -MAI- etc forms
>("middle"), how are we to understand the verbs that have aorist forms in
>both active, middle and passive?
>Are you saying that it is only for those verbs that occur in the "passive"
>forms and do not also occur in the "middle" forms where the "passive" has
>supplanted the "middle"?

Perhaps I've misunderstand the question: did you mean (a) in ALL
THREE--Active, Middle, and Passive? or (b) in BOTH: Active Middle-Passive?
Probably (a).

I think probably this has to be looked at in terms of individual verbs, but
I wonder if there really are many verbs that actually do have aorists of
all three sorts.

GINWSKW has a middle future (GNWSOMAI) and a passive future (GNWSQHSOMAI);
it's found in the MP in the present participle and imperfect indicative in
a passive sense; in the aorist there's EGNWN which bears an active sense
and EGNWSQHN which bears, so far as I know, a passive sense in each
instance. But I don't know of any middle aorist of this verb.

LAMBANW has a middle future (LHMYOMAI) and an aorist active (ELABON); the
present MP is found in a passive sense, but I know of NO aorist middle
(*ELABOMHN); the aorist and future passive forms (ELHMFQHN, LHMFQHSOMAI)
are found in the LXX and extra-biblical literature.

The paradigm verb I was taught ages ago is LUW. In the GNT this verb
appears in an active form and in an MP form interpreted as passive in the
present and imperfect; in the future only the "passive" LUQHSOMAI type is
found (no middle LUSOMAI, such as is found in Homer), and in the aorist are
to be found only the active ELUSA and "passive" ELUQHN (in a passive
sense); there is no middle ELUSAMHN.

We've discussed PAUW within recent weeks, in view of a question raised by
Jay Adkins; although there is an active form PAUW with a sense "cause to
stop", it isn't found in the GNT; what we DO find is PAUOMAI in an
intransitive sense, sometimes used with a supplementary participle. In the
GNT this verb is middle in every tense in which it is found, including
future PAUSOMAI, aorist EPAUSAMHN and perfect PEPAUMAI; there is no
"passive" form PAUQH-.

A week ago I brought up the very interesting facts about EGEIRW which
appears as an active in the sense "make rise up" (although found several
times in the present imperative active sg. EGEIRE in the intransitive sense
"get up!") but which is most often found as a middle EGEIROMAI and
"passive" HGERQHN; it's curious that EGEIROMAI is found parsed as a passive
when it is clearly intransitive, and I think that's the case in most
instances with the -QH- forms; there is no aorist *EGEIRAMHN. I'm quite
sure that the "passive" HGERQHN is usually intransitive "middle" although
there are clearly a few instances where it should be understood as a
passive (with hUPO and an agent, for instance).

DIDWMI is interesting, perhaps even instructive. There is no instance of a
middle future or aorist (*DWSOMAI, *EDOMHN); rather there are only the
active forms and MP forms of the present MP used in a passive sense; in the
aorist there is the active EDWKA and the passive EDOQHN. The same is true
of the compound PARADIDWMI: there's no future middle, no aorist middle, but
only PARADOQHSOMAI and PAREDOQHN (and of course MP forms in present and
imperfect with a passive sense). APODIDWMI, on the other hand, is a bit
different: it does have a special sense in the middle: "buy" or "trade off"
and in that sense the middle is found 3x in the GNT (Acts 5:8 APEDOSQE,
Acts 7:9 APEDONTO, Heb 12:16 APEDETO (= APEDOTO) but the passive APEDOQHN
is also found.

In sum, I think that Koine verbs (and classical Attic verbs too, for that
matter) are not nearly so constituted as to yield the simple schoolbook
patterns that show a full array of active, middle, and passive forms for
most verbs, although surely there are a few. What I'm disputing is the
age-old assertion or assumption that -QH- forms are intrinsically passive;
I think they are forms emerging in the course of the history of the
language that assumed the function of the MAI/SAI/TAI morphology in the
aorist and future tenses and that often enough do suggest an authentic
passive meaning for a verb form, but that just as often, perhaps far more
often, indicate an intransitive or authentic middle meaning.


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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