Aorist passive: historical reasons for active endings

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Jonathan Robie
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Aorist passive: historical reasons for active endings

Post by Jonathan Robie » July 7th, 2011, 8:34 am

Funk 316.3 wrote:There is a second respect in which the general rule must be qualified: the aorist passive (but not the future passive) tense employs active endings even though it is passive in voice. There are historical reasons for the hybrid character of this tense.
What are those historical reasons?
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ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες καὶ διηποροῦντο, ἄλλος πρὸς ἄλλον λέγοντες, τί θέλει τοῦτο εἶναι;
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cwconrad
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Re: Aorist passive: historical reasons for active endings

Post by cwconrad » July 7th, 2011, 9:26 am

Jonathan Robie wrote:
Funk 316.3 wrote:There is a second respect in which the general rule must be qualified: the aorist passive (but not the future passive) tense employs active endings even though it is passive in voice. There are historical reasons for the hybrid character of this tense.
What are those historical reasons?
Funk's account of voice morphology, like the accounts in most ancient Greek textbooks of the last century or two, does need to be revised in the light of fresh perspectives on ancient Greek voice forms and functions. The supposed anomaly noted here, that "active" endings appear in the aorist passive although the form is passive in voice, can be better understood in terms of a fundamental distinction of voice between (1) a default voice form that we have traditionally called "active" and (2) a form that is marked for subject-affectedness that we have traditionally called "middle-passive." The aorist passive, however, which Funk here and most ancient Greek textbooks of the last century or two have claimed to be really passive in meaning, is actually an alternative form of the middle-passive.

This is actually a complicated story, but perhaps it can be illustrated simply by calling attention to the forms of the verb ἵσταμαι. The lexica lemmatize this verb as ἵστημι, although that is the transitive causative form of the verb and means "cause to stand" or "make stand up," while the intransitive verb ἵσταμαι means "come to a standing position" or "rise to one's feet" or "come to a standstill." ἵσταμαι really ought to be the lemma for this verb. The perfect and aorist forms of this verb are both intransitive and what we refer to as "active" in form, although, as I noted above, this is really the default voice form, unmarked for voice. The perfect-tense forms ἕσταα (older form) and ἕστηκα (later form) correspond to ἵσταμαι and mean "I am standing." The aorist-tense form originally and well into the Hellenistic era was ἔστην, which was beginning to be supplanted in the NT Koine period by the form ἐστάθην. Both forms, ἔστην and ἐστάθην, are middle-passive; both can mean "stood, came to a standstill" or "was established." What is true of the aorist of ἵσταμαι is true of many so-called aorist "passives" that have two forms: ἐβλάβη/ἐβλάφθη, ἐφάνη/ἐφάνθη. These -θη- forms are conjugated as non-thematic aorists like ἔβην/ἔγνων: they are not passive endings but default endings. Both forms, ἐφάνη and ἐφάνθη, can in context be understood as "appeared" or "was revealed. The story, as I've said, is really complicated, and the little I've said here probably raises more questions than it resolves for newbies, but this is not the time and place to lay it all out.

In sum, then, §316.3 of Funk's BIGHG needs revision. It is accurate enough in terms of older terminology; the apparent anomaly to which it calls attention has been a major focus of a re-formulation of an understanding of ancient Greek voice.
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

cwconrad
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Re: Aorist passive: historical reasons for active endings

Post by cwconrad » July 7th, 2011, 9:48 am

Just to follow up on what I stated in my previous response to the question, I ought not to have said that ἔστην is middle-passive. In fact it is "active" although by that I mean, "takes active endings." I have seen the form ἔστην referred to in some recent grammars (e.g. the JACT "Reading Greek" course) as "quasi-passive." In historical terms, the non-thematic aorist endings (I've sometimes called these non-thematic aorists, in a quasi-humorous manners, "third aorists." The older forms in -ην/ης/η/ημεν/ητε/ησαν are actually "default" or "unmarked" forms for voice. They are not "active" in the sense that these verbs are transitive, taking direct objects. They are non-specific for voice. On the other hand, the -θη- forms, traditionally called "passive," should preferably be called "middle-passive": ἀπεκρίνατο and ἀπεκρίθη are earlier and later alternative forms of the middle-passive, both aorists of the middle verb ἀποκρίνομαι, "answer."
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

RandallButh
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Re: Aorist passive: historical reasons for active endings

Post by RandallButh » July 8th, 2011, 7:28 am

ἵσταμαι really ought to be the lemma for this verb. The perfect and aorist forms of this verb are both intransitive and what we refer to as "active" in form, although, as I noted above, this is really the default voice form, unmarked for voice. The perfect-tense forms ἕσταα (older form) and ἕστηκα (later form) correspond to ἵσταμαι and mean "I am standing."
I'm glad to see this clearly stated and agree 100% from a pedagogical standpoint. -ἵσταμαι/-ἵστασθαι (aorist: στῆναι) should be a separate lemma for pedagogical purposes from ἵστημι. E.g., ἀνίσταμαι 'I am standing up' (and ἕστηκα ~'I am standing') are real verbs for students. You wouldn't believe how many students and even some teachers ( :o ) that I have heard trying to say "I am standing" with ἵστημι. [[On a rare occasion I've even been recommended to just teach the 'accepted norm' that ἵστημι means "[sic] I stand/am standing".]] Because this "strange student Greek" happens repeatedly, it means that our current lemmata are sending the wrong body-language to students.
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Stephen Carlson
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Re: Aorist passive: historical reasons for active endings

Post by Stephen Carlson » February 19th, 2016, 7:57 am

José Luis García Ramón's article on the origin(s) of the aorist passive -(θ)η- ending, "From Aktionsart to Aspect and Voice: On the Morphosyntax of the Greek Aorists with -Η- and -ΘΗ-" can be found in PDF form here: http://ifl.phil-fak.uni-koeln.de/filead ... /GR148.pdf
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Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D.
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cwconrad
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Re: Aorist passive: historical reasons for active endings

Post by cwconrad » February 19th, 2016, 8:10 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:José Luis García Ramón's article on the origin(s) of the aorist passive -(θ)η- ending, "From Aktionsart to Aspect and Voice: On the Morphosyntax of the Greek
Aorists with -Η- and -ΘΗ-" can be found in PDF form here: http://ifl.phil-fak.uni-koeln.de/filead ... /GR148.pdf
Many, many thanks for this, Stephen!
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οὔτοι ἀπ’ ἀρχῆς πάντα θεοὶ θνητοῖς ὑπέδειξαν,
ἀλλὰ χρόνῳ ζητέοντες ἐφευρίσκουσιν ἄμεινον. (Xenophanes, Fragment 16)

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

James Spinti
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Re: Aorist passive: historical reasons for active endings

Post by James Spinti » February 19th, 2016, 10:36 am

Nice! The whole volume looks worth a read. Interlibrary loan, here I come!

Thanks for sharing!

James
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Proofreading and copyediting of ancient Near Eastern and biblical studies monographs

Eeli Kaikkonen
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Re: Aorist passive: historical reasons for active endings

Post by Eeli Kaikkonen » February 25th, 2016, 5:15 am

Stephen Carlson wrote:José Luis García Ramón's article on the origin(s) of the aorist passive -(θ)η- ending, "From Aktionsart to Aspect and Voice: On the Morphosyntax of the Greek Aorists with -Η- and -ΘΗ-" can be found in PDF form here: http://ifl.phil-fak.uni-koeln.de/filead ... /GR148.pdf
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Shirley Rollinson
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Re: Aorist passive: historical reasons for active endings

Post by Shirley Rollinson » February 29th, 2016, 6:34 pm

Eeli Kaikkonen wrote:
Stephen Carlson wrote:José Luis García Ramón's article on the origin(s) of the aorist passive -(θ)η- ending, "From Aktionsart to Aspect and Voice: On the Morphosyntax of the Greek Aorists with -Η- and -ΘΗ-" can be found in PDF form here: http://ifl.phil-fak.uni-koeln.de/filead ... /GR148.pdf
404 - page not found
Try this :
http://philtypo3.uni-koeln.de/sites/lin ... /GR146.pdf
If that doesn't work, go to
http://ifl.phil-fak.uni-koeln.de/11463.html
then click on his
Gesamtverzeichnis to go to
http://ifl.phil-fak.uni-koeln.de/sites/ ... 2-2016.pdf
and scroll down till you find the paper, then click on it. (or double click - however your computer is set up to handle links in .pdf files.)
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