John 11:25 - APOQANHi

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Mon Sep 24 08:59:22 EDT 2001

At 6:38 AM -0500 9/24/01, Kevin Buchs wrote:
>I am puzzled by the O vowel in this word.  I parse it as 3s aorist
>subjunctive of APOQNHSKW, but I cannot explain the O appearing in the
>conjugated form of APOQANHi, because my lexicons list the aorist principle
>part as APEQANON.  How did the E change to a O?

The principal parts always give an indicative form--but the indicative is
formed by augmenting a verb-stem; the aorist verb-stem of this verb is
APO-QAN-; when a verb is compounded, the augment comes AFTER the prefix
(because the prefix was originally a separate word, an adverb preceding the
verb) and BEFORE the verb-root; that would yield APO-E-QAN, but the -O of
the prefix ELIDES before the -E- augment (this is really elision, because
the APO was originally a separate word--the adverb preceding the verb),
yielding AP-E-QAN- as the augmented aorist verb stem. BUT, only the
indicative forms use the augment; the subjunctive uses the UNAGUMENTED stem

There are teachers of Greek who question the value of learning principal
parts because of the problem you raise; I think they are valuable, but one
needs to understand how to deduce the verb-stems from each of the principal
parts by omitting the augment and restoring any elided vowel(s) from an
adverbial prefix.

For example:

Principal parts:
KATERCOMAI 	present indic 1 sg.:	present stem: KAT(A)-ERC-
KATELEUSOMAI 	future indic 1 sg.:	future stem: KAT(A)-ELEUS-
KATHLQON	aorist indic 1 sg.:	aorist stem: KAT(A)-ELQ-
KATELHLUQA	perfect indic 1 sg.:	perfect stem: KAT(A)-ELHLUQ-

In each of the above the -A of the KATA prefix is elided before a following
vowel; but note that in the aorist the -H- of -HLQ- is itself a verb-root
ELQ- augmented (with the so-called "temporal" augment--lengthening of the
vowel--rather than the syllabic -E- augment).

I think that at least 80% of the effort involved in learning ancient Greek
must be spent on mastery of the convoluted configurations of a verbal
system that has far more inflected forms than one may naively imagine to be
possible. Achieving that mastery depends ultimately not upon rote
memorization but rather upon understanding the factors at play in
morphological combination--and among those factors phonological factors
play a very significant role.

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

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