[B-Greek] Dative participial clauses

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Mon Jul 9 06:00:04 EDT 2007

On Jul 8, 2007, at 4:37 PM, Elizabeth Kline wrote:

> On Jul 8, 2007, at 3:22 AM, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>>> What exactly was Cooper's rubric here? (I had my hands on his work
>> a few years ago, but it was on interlibrary loan even then). I
>> agree that this passage seems quite unexceptional. PROSELQWN and
>> EIPEN are quite enough to make the choice of the dative for the
>> participial clause intelligible.
> Carl,
> Cooper's structure is a left over from Kruger and it takes some
> getting used to.
> Within Cooper's treatment of Participles 1.56, section 1.56.9  is
> Participles Appositive and Absolute and at the very end of this
> section he writes "For the rare and imperfectly developed
> approaches to a dative absolute cf." where section 1.48
> covers the Dative Case, 1:48.5 the Restrictive Dative (aka dative of
> relation) and Near Dative Absolute. The citations I have
> mentioned from Thucydides and Xenophon all appear under Near
> Dative Absolute. Here is the essence of what he said in this section.
> Cooper  ( calls these examples "... participle complexes
> which can be almost an equivalent of a genitive absolute." with a
> qualification "Most examples show datives which remain in
> construction with other elements in the sentence. But the relation is
> sometimes loose enough that that translation as a separate clause is
> convenient." Cooper's citations from Thucydides and Xenophon were
> intended to illustrate this loose relationship. So much for Cooper.

That's helpful to know, at any rate; simply from your citations it  
wasn't clear to me what Cooper intended them to prove. But this last  
citation does seem to me to state the case pretty succinctly and to  
apply to the instances that we have seen also in the GNT: "Most  
examples show datives which remain in construction with other  
elements in the sentence. But the relation is sometimes loose enough  
that that translation as a separate clause is convenient."

> I think it would be useful to list the features of the genitive
> absolute (GA). Here are a few of them:
> *syntactically independent: a. The participle clause does not fill a
> constituent slot within the main clause. b. No constituent within the
> participle clause will be  coreferential with any constituent in the
> main clause.
> Note that not all grammarians would define the syntactical
> independence of the GA in this manner.

Well, my impression is that usage in the GNT doesn't strictly follow  
your second feature (b).

> *switched reference: Subject of participle clause is the currently
> active discourse participant in the immediately preceding context and
> the following clause switches to a new subject.
> *different subject: Subject of participle not coreferential with
> subject of the main verb. Even in cases where the GA follows the main
> clause (not switched reference) it should have a different subject.
> *Note how these overlap.
> pre-verbal: Participle clause located prior to the main clause. This
> feature groups with switched reference, but is not essential for GAs.
> adverbial function with the main clause: The participle clause will
> limit the verbal idea in the main clause. This does not contradict
> the notion of syntactical independence. The GA limits the main clause
> as a whole and does not fill a constituent slot within the main  
> clause.
> subject in the same case: When the participle has a explicit subject
> it will be in the same case as the participle.
> This incomplete list of features illustrates why GAs present
> difficulties for classification. I agree with R.A. Young
> (Intermediate NT Greek, 1994:159) who under the heading Genitive
> Absolute says: "The purpose of the construction then is not to
> construct a clause with a subject that is not mentioned elsewhere in
> the same sentence. Rather it seems to serve within the sentence as a
> switch-reference device to show that the subject of the main clause
> is different from its own subject. ... It also seems to have a
> discourse function at the beginning of paragraphs (or subparagraphs)
> to indicate a change in setting. This is especially true in  
> narrative."
> What Young says about GAs might also be useful in the analysis of
> dative pre-verbal participial clauses. If we drop our preoccupation
> with strict syntactical independence we might discover significant
> features that GAs have in common with dative pre-verbal participial
> clauses.

This is good and helpful, Elizabeth. It certainly seems to be the  
case; that these dative participial clauses at the beginning of a  
sentence function very much like the so-called genitive "absolute"  
constructions. I don't know whether this would be useful or not, but  
I'm now wondering whether even nominative participial phrases in  
agreement with the subject of main clauses don't generally display  
these same characteristics.

The Classical examples from Thucydides and Xenophon do seem to  
display features comparable to those of dative participial clauses  
that we see in the GNT, and I appreciate your calling them to our  
attention and commenting helpfully on them. I remain, however,  
curious about usage of dative participial clauses elsewhere in  
Hellenistic literature as well aa about possible influence of their  
usage in Classical Latin authors. It seems to me this would be a  
worthwhile project for scholarly investigation by a grad student or a  
seasoned scholar with ready access to a good research library and  
tools for conducting syntactic searches of the TLG (and PHI)  
databases. I've suggested previously and am still inclined to think  
that a study focusing on this phenomenon in "Second Sophistic"  
Atticists Lysias and Plutarch and in Hellenistic-Jewish authors Philo  
and Josephus might be illuminating with regard to the few instances  
of dative participial clauses we've isolated in the GNT.

Thanks again for your efforts and presentation, Elizabeth.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
1989 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad2 at mac.com
WWW: http://www.ioa.com/~cwconrad/

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