[B-Greek] the Passive for the Aggressive (was Active for Passive?)

Mark Lightman lightmanmark at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 15 08:45:45 EDT 2010

Eric wrote:

<The Wikipedia article on "deponent verb" gives examples from Norwegian
and English
 of an active form having a passive meaning: "The book sold
a thousand copies".>

Hi, Eric.  Have you done your taxes yet?

What's interesting about this sentence is that if you translate it into Greek, you can use the Active...

το βιβλιον επωλησε χιλια αντιγραφα (TO BIBLION EPWLHSE CILIA ANTIGRAFA)
"He (the book seller) sold the book to the extent of a thousand copies" (Accusative of Extent, Smyth 1582)

...or you can use the Middle...

το βιβλιον επωλησατο (EPWLHSATO) χιλια αντιφραφα
"The book sold for itself, sold to its interest, a thousand copies of itself"

...or you can use the Passive...

το βιβλιον επωληθη (EPWLHQH) χιλια αντιγραφα
"The book was sold, that is, a thousand copies (were sold.")

Only the voice of the verb is changed, and yet all three Greek sentences basically mean the same thing.

In real Greek, more often than you would think, analyzing Voice is complicated by the fact that
the neuter nominative and accusative have the same form, and by the fact that
neuter plural subjects take singular verbs.

One of my Ad Nauseams is that the guy who finally figures out Greek Voice
is more likely to be a Metaphysician or a Psychiatrist than a Grammarian or a Linguist.

The only real question here, is whether this English sentence, or any sentence from any other
language, will help the student understand Greek Voice, or will just complicate things.

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" --
>> written, unreferenced. Of course Wikipedia stuff varies considerably
in quality.
I have often wondered whether you can trust the Wikipedia article on "Wikipedia."  :)
 Mark L


From: Eric Inman <eric-inman at comcast.net>
To: yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net; greek B-Greek <B-Greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Tue, April 13, 2010 8:13:35 PM
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Active for Passive?

Carl, your guess is similar to a second guess I was trying to formulate. Rather than representing a beneficiary role it would represent a causal role.

The Wikipedia article on "deponent verb" gives examples from Norwegian and English of an active form having a passive meaning: "The book sold a thousand copies".

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: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 4:55 PM
To: 'greek B-Greek'
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Active for Passive?

The complete inscription is in Tituli Asiae Minoris, V. Tituli Lydiae, linguis Graeca et Latina conscripti, ed. Peter Herrmann. 2 vols. Vienna 1981 and 1989. Vol. 1, nos. 1-825, Regio septentrionalis, ad orientem vergens. You can view it at http://epigraphy.packhum.org/inscriptions/main?url=gis%3Fregion%3D8%26subregion%3D30
which gives it as a bilingual code-switcher:

Deus Men dextra sceptro innisus, sinistra pinum tenens.
Μῆνα ἐγ Διοδότου
Ἀλέξανδρος Θαλού-
σης μετὰ Ἰουλίου καὶ
τῆς ἀδελφῆς ἐλυτρώ-
σαντο τὸν θεὸν ἐξ εἰδό-
των καὶ μὴ εἰδότων.
   ἔτους σλγʹ.

-----Original Message-----
From: Carl Conrad [mailto:cwconrad2 at mac.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 4:37 PM
To: Eric Inman
Cc: yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net; 'greek B-Greek'
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Active for Passive?

On Apr 13, 2010, at 5:01 PM, Eric Inman wrote:
> Regarding the concern about the use of EX instead of hUPER (or ANTI) for the beneficiary role, I wonder if the beneficiary may be assumed to be hHMWN, and the EX may further specify that both those who knew and didn't know are to be included:

It should be recalled that this is an inscription from somewhere in Anatolia where the God MHN (also MEIS nom.) was worshipped. Note the initial EG (assimilated to the D of DIODOTOU). It looks like EK/EX is being used in a more extensive sense than merely ablatival EK + gen.; see LSJ s.v. EK:
of Cause, Instrument, or Means by which a thing is done, ἐκ πατέρων φιλότητος in consequence of our fathers' friendship, Od.15.197 ; μήνιος ἐξ ὀλοῆς 3.135 ; ἐξ ἔριδος Il. 7.111 ; τελευτῆσαι ἐκ τοῦ τρώματος Hdt.3.29 ; ἐκ τίνος λόγου; E. Andr.548 ; ἐκ τοῦ; wherefore? Id.Hel.93 ; λέξον ἐκ τίνος ἐπλήγης X. An.5.8.4 ; ποιεῖτε ὑμῖν φίλους ἐκ τοῦ Μαμωνᾶ τῆς ἀδικίας make yourselves friends of (i.e. by means of).., Ev.Luc.16.9 ; ζῆν ἔκ τινος X. HG3.2.11 codd.; ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων τρέφειν ἐμαυτόν Isoc.15.152 ; ἐκ τόξων ἀνύσαι γαστρὶ φορβάν S.Ph.710 (lyr.).

Seems to me that EX EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN could well be, "in consequence of those sinning deliberately and those sinning unintentionally."

This is admittedly speculative, but as ML says, "your guess is as good as anyone's."

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

> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org 
> [mailto:b-greek-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Carl Conrad
> Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 2:45 PM
> To: yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
> Cc: 'greek B-Greek'
> Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Active for Passive?
> On Apr 13, 2010, at 2:25 PM, Yancy Smith wrote:
>> Eric EGRAYE:
>> Maybe this is far fetched, but could the participles be referring to the people who committed the sins either knowingly or unknowingly? The ransom would be for the sinners rather than for the sins.
>> Yancy EGRAYE:
>> Yeah, I had considered that and I think it is too far fetched. EX EIDOTWN but seems to assign a separation or source role to EIDOTWN (i.e. "paid the ransom to the god from things/for things knowing and unknowing") and not a beneficiary role. But I like your intuition that the participles must function in an adverbial role, but in relation to what? It seems to me that it has to be in relation to the verb. For the beneficiary role I would expect hUPER and not EX. I don't think grammar can solve this puzzle very well. And yet the writer must have thought he was communicating something to someone.
> Carl EGRAYE:
> Before accepting the proposition that EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN involves participles to be understood as semantically passive, I would weigh the possibility that the participle EIDWS (of course it would have to be EIDOS as a neuter) is being used as an equivalent of hEKWN and MH EIDWS as the equivalent of AKWN. These adjectives are used predicatively (with adverbial force) in conjunction with verbs of action. For instance, Prometheus explains to the chorus in the (Pseudo-)Aeschylean Prometheus Bound, Prometheus declares of his defiance of Zeus, hEKWN hEKWN hHMARTON. Derivative from this are the adjectives hEKOUSIOS and AKOUSIOS used of deeds done deliberately or unintentionally. I'm not altogether sure that this is what's involved here, but it's worth considering rhat EX EIDOTWN KAI MH EIDOTWN may mean "on behalf of those who have acted intentionally and those who have acted unintentionally."
> Carl W. Conrad
> Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
>> [Original message from Yancy]
>> I’m often amazed by what Greek speakers can do with their language (as I also am by what Spanish speakers and English speakers can as well). Here is a puzzler from an inscription that I hadn’t noticed before. Adela Y. Collins draws attention to this inscription from Lydia in the course of her exegesis of Mark 10:45. It is interesting in its own right.
>> 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 knowing and not knowing 
>> [=known and not known. Year 233 (= 148–149 ce)
>> Although the two instances of the participle EIDWS are grammatically active, the only appropriate explanation of the inscription involves taking them in a passive sense. The inscription attests a ritual act whereby people secured their release from the effects of both deliberate and unwitting sins. The fact that the noun θεός (God) is the object of the verb λυτρόομαι (“pay a ransom,” “redeem”) implies that this verb is synonymous here with HILASKOMAI (“propitiate,” “cause a deity to become favorably inclined”). Evidently the group who set up the stele had lost divine favor because of some offense for which the ritual act serves as expiation.
>> Yancy

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