επιστραφεις

How can I best learn the paradigms of nouns and verbs and the other inflected parts of speech?

επιστραφεις

Postby Chris Engelsma » August 2nd, 2011, 12:08 pm

Sorry for all my morphological questions... :?

First, I look up επιστραφεις in Mounce's Morphology book (MBG) and he lists εστρεψα as the aorist principal part. This implies that it is first aorist. Yet, επιστραφεις is clearly second aorist. I guess maybe the addition of the preposition caused this. :?:

Second, being as how επιστραφεις is aorist, I can't figure out what happened to the augment. Mounce says (BBG 21.20 3rd edition) that the final vowel of the preposition will elide when the augment comes in. He also notes that in a few cases (such as compounds with περι), the final vowel of the prep will stay, and it will contract with the augment. But that doesn't seem to apply to επιστραφεις.

So....there I am. Stuck again. :)
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Re: επιστραφεις

Postby cwconrad » August 2nd, 2011, 12:32 pm

Chris Engelsma wrote:Sorry for all my morphological questions... :?

First, I look up επιστραφεις in Mounce's Morphology book (MBG) and he lists εστρεψα as the aorist principal part. This implies that it is first aorist. Yet, επιστραφεις is clearly second aorist. I guess maybe the addition of the preposition caused this. :?:

Second, being as how επιστραφεις is aorist, I can't figure out what happened to the augment.
Mounce says (BBG 21.20 3rd edition) that the final vowel of the preposition will elide when the augment comes in. He also notes that in a few cases (such as compounds with περι), the final vowel of the prep will stay, and it will contract with the augment. But that doesn't seem to apply to επιστραφεις.

So....there I am. Stuck again. :)


I question the usefulness of a book like Mounce's Morphology; my stance as a long-time teacher of Greek is that students need to learn in full the conjugation of all regular verbs and to learn the principal parts of all (not just two dozen or so) irregular verbs.

In the case of this verb there are two difficulties that seem inherent even in the traditional lexicology: one is the convention of regarding the 1 sg. indic. active as the Lemma from which all other forms are derived, with the added assumption that compounds based on the verb-root should also be understood in terms of the 1 sg. indic. active as the Lemma; closely related to this is the difficulty/problem that στρέφω and στρέφομαι are entered as a single verb when there's a significant difference between the active and the middle forms based on the root ΣΤΡΕΦ/ΣΤΡΟΦ/ΣΤΡΑΦ. To be sure, there's a basic shared notion of "turning" in all forms derived from the root. But one needs to understand that στρέφω (active) means "cause to turn" while στρέφομαι (middle) is the intransitive verb of bodily motion, "turn." I think that the compounds from this root are more often middle than active (I haven't checked the numbers). Certainly the verb in question here, ἐπιστρέφομαι, is indeed fundamentally a middle verb -- here intransitive -- meaning something like "shift one's direction." If one were learning the principal parts here, I'd say one should learn: Present ἐπιστρέφομαι, Future ἐπιστρέψομαι, Aorist ἐπεστράφην.

Second, being as how επιστραφεις is aorist, I can't figure out what happened to the augment.


There is in fact no augment on ἐπιστραφείς because the form is an aorist nom. sg. m. participle (middle-passive). Only indicatives take an augment. The aorist indicative 1 sg. clearly shows the augment between the elided ending of the prefix and the verb-stem itself: ἐπ-ε-στράφην.

I think that questions like this will continue to arise until some glorious day that ancient Greek pedagogy has taken some forward steps. Learning the ancient Greek verb is hard enough with the best of resources and teachers. In many ways the traditional pedagogical methods and the available resources for learning the verbs are far from being as helpful to students as they could be.
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)
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Re: επιστραφεις

Postby Chris Engelsma » August 2nd, 2011, 2:37 pm

I am such a dope. I knew that augments only occur in the indicative. Sorry for that.
Thanks for the explanation of στρεφ. I will go over this again in detail.
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Re: επιστραφεις

Postby Sarah Madden » August 3rd, 2011, 1:33 am

Another thing to keep in mind re. passive aorist participles: The expected ending for this participle in masc. sing. nom. would be -θεις. Although the θ is has disappeared in επιστραφεις, the -εις ending gives you a clue that you're in participle territory. Carl can probably explain quite elegantly why the φ overrides the θ here.
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Re: επιστραφεις

Postby Sarah Madden » August 3rd, 2011, 1:40 am

Chris -- A great tool for learning verbal paradigms (Greek and Hebrew) is the laminated verb card available free from BibleWorks (www.bibleworks.com; 888.747.8200). The card is is 8 1/2 x 5 inches and shows the regular verb with augments and endings in red.
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Re: επιστραφεις

Postby Sarah Madden » August 3rd, 2011, 6:40 am

Chris -- Another terrific tool for learning verb paradigms is a hardback book with all the principal parts of all NT verbs: Trenchard's "Complete Vocabulary Guide to the Greek New Testament." In addition, one section lists all vocab in order of frequency in the NT so you can learn the most-frequent words. The Cognate Word Groups section even groups words by their shared elements. The book is quite inexpensive as well, perhaps because it's been in print for so long.

Another book, "Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek" by Metzger, could be termed a "Reader's Digest" paperback version of Trenchard because it has some similar sections: it lists some important verbs' principal parts, the most-frequent words, and some cognates. It would be a good add-on to Trenchard, easy to carry in a backback, but the type is smaller and it does not include all words or all verbal paradigms.
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Re: επιστραφεις

Postby cwconrad » August 3rd, 2011, 7:58 am

Sarah Madden wrote:Another thing to keep in mind re. passive aorist participles: The expected ending for this participle in masc. sing. nom. would be -θεις. Although the θ is has disappeared in επιστραφεις, the -εις ending gives you a clue that you're in participle territory. Carl can probably explain quite elegantly why the φ overrides the θ here.


Elegance is not what I have in mind here, simply explanation. Aorists that are ordinarily called "passive" (I argue that they should be termed "middle-passive type 2" or "MP2") have later forms with -θη- while many have continued in sufficiently common daily usage to have retained the older -η forms: compare the later ἐγράφθη with the older and still common in Koine form ἐγράφη. Traditional Greek pedagogy has a way of confounding issues by calling the older forms "second" (aorist, perfect, passive" and the newer/more-recent forms "first" (aorist, perfect, passive). Thus ἔγραψα is called a "first" aorist, while ἔλαβον is called a "second" aorist.

The dirty little secret about so-called "second" passives is that they are identical in formation/paradigms with the athematic aorists in -ην/-ης/-η -- and are conjugated with so-called "active" endings. Compare the forms of ἐγράφη "was written" and ἔστη "stood." One of the first times this little mystery appeared before my eyes, I was looking at the form ἐφάνη -- this was before I had really start investigating voice questions. The question is: is ἐφάνη a 3d sg. aor. active intransitive of φαίνω "appeared"-- or is it a 3d sg. aor. passive of φαίνω "was illuminated"? The fact is that it is the standard aorist form of φαίνομαι as the standard aorist form of φαίνω is ἔφηνα. There simply isn't any difference. And already in Homer we note the beginnings of a new formation of these middle-passive aorists with -θην/-θης/-θη appended to the verb roots. There's much more to be said about this, but that much can be stated now.
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)
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