[B-Greek] Active for Passive?

Carl Conrad cwconrad2 at mac.com
Wed Apr 14 10:26:52 EDT 2010


On Apr 14, 2010, at 9:56 AM, Iver Larsen wrote:
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: <yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net>
> To: "greek B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: 14. april 2010 15:15
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Active for Passive?
> 
> 
>> Carl wrote:
>>> "active form with PASSIVE MEANING???? Ordinarily the term is applied to 
>>> middle/passive forms with ACTIVE meaning.
>>> 
>>> I think that's a pretty pitiful discussion of "deponency" -- poorly written, 
>>> unreferenced. Of course Wikipedia stuff varies considerably in quality.
>>> 
>>> In Greek I know of three verbs commonly used in a passive sense:
>>> 
>>> PASCW, e.g. DEINA EPAQON hUP' AUTWN = "I suffered awful things at their 
>>> hands" = "I was treated dreadflly by them."
>>> PIPTW, e.g. PIPTOUSIN MURIADES TWN POLEMIWN = "Untold numbers of the enemy 
>>> fall" = "Untold numbers of the enemy are cut down."
>>> APOQNHiSKW, e.g. APOQNHiSKEI hO PRODOTHS hUPO TWN POLITWN = "The traitor is 
>>> executed by the citizens."
> ------------------
> PASCW suggests MP semantics in that the subject is clearly the Patient. Some 
> verbs with a patient as subject are active in form in Greek as well as in other 
> languages that have both active and passive morphology.

I quite agree. Of course the future is middle PEISOMAI from PENQSOMAI with expected phonetic alterations.

>>> 
>>> I remain skeptical about EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN meaning "things known and 
>>> unknown."
>> 
>> Text and translation from Horsely [see below]:
>> Μῆνα ἐγ Διοδότου Ἀλέξανδρος Θαλούσης μετὰ Ἰουλίου καὶ τῆς ἀδελφῆς ἐλυτρώσαντο 
>> τὸν θεὸν ἐξ εἰδότων καὶ μὴ εἰδότων. Ἔτους σλγ’
>> MHNA EG DIODOTOU ALEXANDROS QALOUSHS META IOULIOU KAI THS ADELFHS ELUTRWSANTO 
>> TON QEON EX EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN. ETOUS SLH’
>> "Alexander, son of Thalouse, with Julius and his sister
>> paid to the god Men of Diodotos a ransom for things known and not
>> known. Year 233 (= 148-49 CE)."
> 
> What I don't understand is why people talk about a passive meaning here. Maybe 
> they look at the English above and take "things" as subject for (be) known, or 
> maybe I am missing something? It seems to be a rather short and ellipsed 
> statement since the scenario is common knowledge:
> Alexander, Julius and his sister paid a ransom to the god Men because of the 
> things/sins which they knew about and the things/sins which they did not know 
> about (as sins).
> 
> The subject for knowing (the Experiencer) is the three people while the object 
> is the implicit things/sins, and that means no passive idea as far as I can 
> tell. With an elision, the subject for EIDOTES is supplied from the preceding 
> context.

I suppose you mean ellipsis rather than elision.

This seems reasonable, except for the EX + genitive construction where we
could so much more easily have EIDOTES KAI MH EIDOTES in the 
nominative with the subjects -- well, maybe not, since two of them are indicated
as genitive objects of META. On the other hand, we have a singular subject 
ALEXANDROS with a plural verb ELUTRWSANTO, suggesting that perhaps
more of this inscription's text is "constructio ad sensum" than meets the eye. The
genitive participles are almost like genitive absolutes -- but again there's that
preposition EX. It does seem evident that the inscaription follows a more or
less standard formulaic pattern. Yancey has shown two of them with (E)IDOTWN
KAI MH (E)IDOTWN. One would like to know of any other instances of this
phrase and the contexts in which they are found.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)






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