Help with AUTOS

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Fri Sep 28 09:57:12 EDT 2001

At 9:04 AM -0400 9/28/01, Art Fox wrote:
>I need some clarification on the use of AUTOS.  My understand has been
>that AUTOS in the Nominative in the predicate position, it means "himself,
>herself, itself" (BDAG speak about the 'subject').  AUTOS in the
>attributive position in any case means "same" and that AUTOS in the
>oblique cases is simply a pronoun.  I have read BDAG, Smyth and Wallace
>and there is basic agreement but herein lays my problem.  In Machen's
>grammar his explanation echos the above yet in his exercises there are
>several places where a predicative accusative is meant as "himself,
>herself, itself".  Example from Machen:
>I have no problem modifying either Machen's statements or his questions,
>but as I help a student through this (free) grammar how do I explain this.
>Thanks in advance,
>Art Fox

a. (gratuitous comment) One of the main problems I had the few times I
actually taught using Machen was with the sentences, many of which, even
when grammatically correct, were idiomatically questionable--and the
English-to-Greek sentences were far more troublesome than the
Greek-to-English sentences.

b. (deadly serious comment, with which some may disagree) Machen's textbook
is not alone in offering inadequate or incomplete explanations; scarcely
any textbook anticipates all the problems that learners will have; that's
the reason why Beginning Greek really needs to be taught and learned in a
classroom and why it should be taught preferably not by a novice but by a
veteran in ancient Greek studies--one who has experienced and worked
through most of the problems already, probably with the help of others.

c. The only thing wrong with that descriptive statement with which you open
your query is that AUTOS may be in ANY case in the predicate position to
mean "himself, herself, itself." Quite often it's found in the nominative
without a noun at all; in older Greek this would always or normally have
been intensive as in the proverbial "AUTOS EFH" = Lat. IPSE DIXIT, "He
himself said it." In later Koine, however, AUTOS in the nominative without
a noun in agreement may be a simple 3rd person pronoun.

Your sentence:


is indeed a regular instance of AUTOS in the predicate position relative to
a noun; here it's accusative, and the sense is "the apostle himself," the
sentence: "These teachers condemn the apostle himself."

If that's NOT clear, then by all means ask further.

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

More information about the B-Greek mailing list