Middle Voice

Wed, 22 Jan 1997 00:22:20 -0500 (EST)

The discussion of the middle voice and deponents reminds me of ground already
covered by "literary anthropologists." Owen Barfield for one discussed middle
voice in his 1957 book, Saving the Appearances (2nd U.S. ed., 1988, Wesleyan
UP). He suggested that we living today have difficulty understanding the
thinking behind such linguistic devices because of our change in thinking,
particularly predication. (Put perhaps too simplistically, Barfield was
searching for literary evidence for a consciousness more comfortable with
concomitant thinking and transcendence.) Barfield wrote, "The middle voice of
the Greek verb suggests neither wholly 'what is perceived, from within
themselves, by men' nor wholly 'what, from without, forces itself on man's
senses,' but something between the two" (48).

I don't know whether he addresses the middle voice, but Stephen Prickett, now
of the University of Edinburgh, addresses "'primal consciousness' and
literary change" in his 1986 book, Words and The Word: Language, poetics and
biblical interpretation (Cambridge UP). Wolfgang Iser is another "literary
anthropologist" working today.

It's been a long time since I read it, but I believe Alan Bloom also
discussed the middle voice in his commentary on The Republic, which follows
his translation of that work. (I can't find my copy.)

M. N. Surratt