First and second aorists

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alanmacall
Posts: 15
Joined: January 9th, 2017, 2:45 pm

First and second aorists

Post by alanmacall » January 11th, 2017, 3:19 pm

I've been learning about the aorist. Are there words that are both first and second aorist? So if I learn that a given word like lambano has a second aorist form, I can safely assume there won't be a first aorist?

And also are the stem changes for second aorist predicable in any way? So λαμβάνω to
ἔλαβον loses a mu, but does that mean that any stem with a mu will change this way?

Alan
A beginner trying to self learn Greek
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Alan
A beginner trying to self learn Greek

timothy_p_mcmahon
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Re: First and second aorists

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon » January 11th, 2017, 5:30 pm

There are a few verbs that generate two distinct aorist forms. The one that comes immediately to mind is ιστημι, which has aorists εστην and εστησα. But for the most part you're safe in your assumption.

On the "stem changes for the 2nd aorist" – there are patterns but no slam dunk. It's actually the other way around: the aorist form is the base stem and the stem changes occur in the present.

Specifically with λαμβανω, the base stem is λαβ- as seen in the aorist. A number of verbs (λανθανω, aorist ελαθον, comes to mind) acquire an infix -αν- in the present stem (the μ in λαμβανω is due to assimilation of the ν to the labial β in the stem).

So there's a certain amount of rote learning on this one.
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cwconrad
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Re: First and second aorists

Post by cwconrad » January 12th, 2017, 10:29 am

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:There are a few verbs that generate two distinct aorist forms. The one that comes immediately to mind is ιστημι, which has aorists εστην and εστησα. But for the most part you're safe in your assumption.

On the "stem changes for the 2nd aorist" – there are patterns but no slam dunk. It's actually the other way around: the aorist form is the base stem and the stem changes occur in the present.

Specifically with λαμβανω, the base stem is λαβ- as seen in the aorist. A number of verbs (λανθανω, aorist ελαθον, comes to mind) acquire an infix -αν- in the present stem (the μ in λαμβανω is due to assimilation of the ν to the labial β in the stem).

So there's a certain amount of rote learning on this one.
The ancient Greek aorist is a much more complicated thing than it's usually made out to be. It's standard pedagogy to speak of "first" and "second" aorists as if they constituted two clearly-defined inflectional patterns. In fact, however, "second" aorist may refer either to the thematic verb-forms such as ἕλαβον, or it may refer collectively to all the archaic types of aorist, including the thematic type and also the few instances of κα aorists such as ἕθηκα and ἔδωκα and the athematic verbs with long-vowel/short-vowel alternatives such as ἕστην, ἕγνων, and ἔφυν. And although nobody ever speaks openly of this fact, all of the so-called "aorist passive" forms in -θην and -ην belong to this same type of aorist with "active" endings. It is perhaps these types of "second" aorist and their variety and distinctive features that make it necessary to learn the principle parts of the verbs these verbs in particular. There aren't that many of them, but they are important verbs.
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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)

alanmacall
Posts: 15
Joined: January 9th, 2017, 2:45 pm

Re: First and second aorists

Post by alanmacall » January 12th, 2017, 9:13 pm

Thanks for the helpful responses
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Alan
A beginner trying to self learn Greek

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