[B-Greek] Active for Passive?

Eric Inman eric-inman at comcast.net
Wed Apr 14 11:17:44 EDT 2010

Yancy, I would want to know why that suggested ellipsis would be preferred over one which preserves the genitive case of EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN. I'm not aware that ellipsis causes changes like that. Rather I thought the morphology of what is not removed serves to constrain and/or indicate what the ellipsis might be.

Carl, I did not mean to suggest that the Wikipedia article was a good source for understanding deponent verbs. It's simply the site where I happened to notice the particular example that I mentioned, so I gave it credit for that.

Eric Inman

-----Original Message-----
From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Yancy Smith
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 9:47 AM
To: 'greek B-Greek'
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Active for Passive?

I agree that speaking of "passive" in this case is distressing and confusing. What may be going on here is that the participle has been "reverse attracted" and that the surface structure is grammatically nonsensical, but conforms to the expectations of local religious verbiage. One might fill out the ellipsis in this way EX hAMARTIWN hWN EIDWTES KAI MH EIDWTES, which becomes EX EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN.  By reverse attraction, I guess I mean that it picks up phonological features from grammatically non related elements (an implied relative pronoun or NP) in a way that does not conform to grammatical expectation. The genius of participles and other verbal nouns is their usefulness in speaking indirectly, smudging, as it were the thematic roles involved when one wishes to speak in "fuzzy language." Of course that drives 24 carrat grammarians insane.

I note that the late Eugene Lane has a summary article on his work on the god Men that you can view on Google Docs ANRW 18.3. In it he mentions the central importance of EX EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN in this cult. I haven't had a chance to go to the library and get his full discussion in his Dei Mensis book(s).


Iver wrote

> 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."
>> 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 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’
> "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.

Iver Larsen 

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