Louis L Sorenson wrote:Here is another question I have. Does the Greek active voice map directly to the English active voice. If we think of them as set theory (a group of circles), do they line up entirely, is one inside the other. What areas do they not match up. If the κοινή διάθεσις is unmarked for subject affectedness, is it marked for something else?
Your question makes me realize how little confident I am that I can describe English verb forms and usage clearly. As I see it, a key problem here is how we use the word "active" to refer to any verb-form indicating a subject performing an action, whether the verb is transitive or intransitive. I think we would say that "The dog runs" and "The dog bites the boy" both have verbs in the active voice; we would probably say that the verb in "The boy bathes" is active also, but I think that ancient Greek would formulate that last sentence in a middle-voice form, λούεται ὁ παῖς. If that's accepted, then I think we'd have to say that ancient Greek active voice does not
map directly to the English active voice.
I don't see how the κοινὴ διάθεσις in ancient Greek can be said to be marked for anything. But maybe I'm wrong; there are a number of middle verbs that are intransitive, e.g. παύεσθαι, λούεσθαι, ἀνίσταμαι, the active form of which might be said to be "marked for causativity": παύειν, λούειν, ἀνίστάναι, That is to say: verbs such as these are probably best understood as middle verbs and should probably be lemmatized in the middle form, and their active forms should be understood as marked for causativity. But I don't see that anything can be said about Greek active forms -- the κοινὴ διάθεσις -- that is a valid attribute of all such forms.
I'm sure that others can speak much more precisely and helpfully to your question, Louis, but I do think it's worth noting that the simple description of voice usage in English that we were taught in school (if we had any teaching in English grammar at all) seems pretty superficial. I recall vividly one item of voice lore that I learned in the fifth grade (back in the 40's of the last century) about "the received object of a passive verb" -- as in "I was given this book by John", where "this book" is the object of "was given" as a passive transformation of "John gave me this book." It was reflection upon this usage that got me to thinking about how we should really best understand τρίχας καμήλου καὶ ζώνην δερματίνην περὶ τὴν ὀσφὺν with ἦν ὁ Ἰωάννης ἐνδεδυμένος in Mark 1:8: is ἦν ... ἐνδεδυμένος really a passive or shouldn't it rather be understood as a middle, "he had clotthed himself with ... "
So: as I said at the outset, I have become painfully aware of how little I understand about English grammar and of the inadequacy of what I was taught about it.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
ἄτοπον, ἔφη, λέγεις εἰκόνα καὶ δεσμώτας ἀτόπους.
ὁμοίους ἡμῖν, ἦν δʼ ἐγώ. Plato, Rep. 7 (515a)