Lesson 14: Nouns/The Third Declension


195. Class 6. comprises the second large group of neuter nouns in the third declension (first group: III.3., §§170-173). They have the same general characteristics as the first group (§170). Nouns in class 6. have stems in -ος, -εσ. They exhibit contraction, as a result, in the gen. and dat. sing, and in all cases of the plur. Nouns in this class are fairly numerous (a full catalogue may be found in Appendix II).

196. Class 6. Neuter nouns with stems in -ος, -εσ

  ἔθνος, ἔθνους, τό nation, people
  S P
N ἔθνος ἔθνη ( < εθνεσα )
G ἔθνους ( < εθνεσος ) ἐθνῶν ( < εθνεσων )
D ἔθνει ( < εθνεσι ) ἔθνεσι(ν) ( < εθνεσσι )
A ἔθνος ἔθνη ( < εθνεσσα )

1960. Mnemonic hints:

1960.1 The nom. and acc. sing, are identical; the nom. and acc. plur. likewise (as in all neuter nouns).

1960.2 The nom. and acc. sing, show the bare stem (in -ος), i.e. have no ending.

1960.3 The gen. and dat. plur. exhibit the regular endings -ων and -σι(ν); cf. the model, τί.

1960.4 All the forms presuppose the regular endings (found on τί), but in some cases contraction has obscured them.

1961. Notes:

1961.1 The stem -εσ appears everywhere but in the nom. and acc. sing.

1961.2 The σ of the stem disappears between two vowels (§930.2), and the vowels thus brought together contract according to regular rules (§917). The relevant contractions may be summarized here:

  ε + ο = ου
  ε + ι = ει
  ε + α = η
  ε + ω = ω

The uncontracted forms are shown in parentheses in the paradigm.

1961.3 The double -σσ- of the dat. plur. is simplified to -σ-.

1962. Additional notes:

1962.1 The gen. plur. of ὄρος, ὅρους, τό mountain, and χείλος, χείλους, τό, lip, sometimes remain uncontracted, i.e. ὀρέων (Rev 6:15) and χειλέων (Heb 13:15) (Bl-D §48: ὀρέων uncontracted in Hermas and 1 Clement also; Bauer s.v.: ὀρῶν some 600 times in Josephus).

1962.2 ἔλεος, ἔλεους, τό mercy, is regular (sing, only) despite the fact that its stem is ἐλεεσ-; the remaining ε, which looks as if it should contract, tends to be confusing: ἔλεος, ἔλεους, ( < ἐλεεσος ), ἐλέει ( < ἐλεεσι ), ἔλεος. Also note δέος, δέους, τό, fear, awe and κλέος, κλέους, τό, fame, glory.

197. Confusions

Because the nom. and acc. sing, end in -ος (which in this case is not ending but stem), these cases in nouns of class 6. may be confused with the gen. sing, in -ος of most other third declension nouns; ambiguity may be resolved by referring to the article or other "qualifiers," or by consulting the catalogue (Appendix II). These same forms may also be confused with the nom. masc. and fem. sing, of nouns in classes II.1. and II.2. Where the nom. is involved the confusion is not crucial, and the acc. may be identified as neuter (but not as acc.) by the article and other 'qualifiers'. Cf. §§208-214.

↓       1970. Nouns in -ης, -ους (mostly masc. proper names) and those in -ας, -ως, which follow the pattern of neuter nouns of class 6., have largely disappeared from hellenistic Greek (Bl-D §47 (1)) and were never common in Attic Greek. The surviving remnants may be noted:

1970.1 Masculine proper names in -ης, -ους, e.g. Σωσθένης, Σωσθένους, ὁ Sosthenes, have nom. in -ης, gen. -ους, dat. -ει, and acc. in -η or -ην (the latter is borrowed from the first declension [Bl-D §46(1)]; -η arises from -εσα). The stem is -εσ- which accounts for the similarity to neuters of class 6. These nouns are catalogued as III.6.b. in Appendix II.

1970.2 There is one noun with stem in -ος-: αἰδώς, αἰδοῦς, ἡ modesty: αἰδώς, αἰδούς ( < αἰδοσος ), αἰδοῖ ( < αἰδοσι ), αἰδῶ ( < αἰδοσα ) (sing. only). While fem., the pattern of contraction makes it analogous to neuter nouns of this class. αἰδώς‚ appears once in the New Testament (1 Tim 2:9; also as v.1. at Heb 12:28).

1970.3 There are also remnants of a few neuter nouns in -ασ-. In Attic γέρας, γέρως, τό, gift, was declined: γέρας, γέρως ( < γερασος ), γέραι ( < γερασι ), γέρας; γέρα ( < γερασα ), γερῶν ( < γερασων ), γέρασι(ν) ( < γερασσι ), γέρα (cf. nom.), i.e. in accordance with the pattern of class 6. γέρας conforms to the pattern to the extent that it is attested in hellenistic Greek; γῆρας, γήρως or γήρους, τό, old age, is being assimilated to the pattern of stems in -εσ-: γήρους (1 Clem 63:3) = ἔθνους; γήρει (Lk 1:36) = ἔθνει; γήρᾳ (iota written subscript, 1 Clem 10:7) is also found; κρέας, κρέως (κρέατος is a later gen.) τό, meat, is represented by the plur. τὰ κρέα (Rom 14:21, 1 Cor 8:13). Neuters in -ασ- were being transposed to neuters in -τ- (III.3.b., §172.3).

↑       Nouns in §1970.2. and 3. are catalogued under III.6.c. in Appendix II.

198. Class 7. Masculine and Feminine Nouns with stems ending in consonantal ι̯ and υ̯

The final group of third declension nouns are masculines and feminines ending in ι̯ and υ̯ (also ευ, αυ, ου, οι). Where they deviate from the model, τίς, it owes to vowel gradation in the stem and irregularity of contraction. They may be divided into four subclasses.

199. Class 7.a. Stems in υ

ἰχθύς, ἰχθύος, ὁ fish
  S P
N ἰχθύς ἰχθύες
G ἰχθύος ἰχθύων
D ἰχθύϊ ἰχθύσι(ν)
A ἰχθύν ἰχθύας

Mnemonic hint:

The endings learned with τίς are added directly to the stem with no changes; the acc. sing., however, has -ν rather than -α (§§1540f.).

1990. Peculiarities:

1990.1 μῆνις, μήνιος (also μήνιδος = III.l.e.), ἡ, implacable anger, is a stem in ι belonging to this class (only Herm. Man. S.2.4); νῆστις, νήστιος, (also νήστιδος = III.I.e.), ὁ or ἡ, hungry, is comparable.

1990.2 δάκρυσιν, a dat. plur. apparently preserved from old δάκρυ, δάκρυος, τό tear, is found at Lk 7:38, 44. The customary ↑ form in Hellenistic is δάκρυον, -ου, τό (II.3.).

A complete catalogue of 7. a. nouns will be found in Appendix II.

200. Class 7.b. Stems in ι / ε

This is the largest single group in the third declension (245 examples in Bauer; a catalogue of 7.b. nouns appearing ten times or more in the New Testament will be found in Appendix II). With few exceptions, nouns in this group are feminine. A large number have nom. sing, in -σις.

         πόλις, πόλεως, ἡ city
  S P
N πόλις πόλεις
G πόλεως πόλεων
D πόλει πόλεσι(ν)
A πόλιν πόλεις

2000. Mnemonic hints:

2000.1 The nom. sing, has -ς

2000.2 The acc. sing, has -ν (cf. 7.a., §199, and §§1540f.).

2000.3 Unlike most masculine and feminine nouns, the nom. and acc. plur. are identical (cf. §1540.3).

2001. Notes:

2001.1 ι appears before consonants (nom. and acc. sing.), ε before vowels and in the dat. plur. by analogy (leveling). The strong grade was originally ει, but ι was subsequently lost.

2001.2 Contraction: dat. sing, πολει < πολε-ι; nom. and acc. plur. πόλεις < πολε-ες ( ε + ε = ει, §917.2).

2001.3 The gen. sing, involves an interesting phonetic phenomenon: πόλεως comes from πολήος (a different stem, found in Homer); by transfer of quantity (quantitative metathesis, §909), the length of the vowels -ηο- was interchanged: -εω-. That this is so is demonstrated by the accent (πόλεως), which contradicts the rule (§0720.3) but is suitable for πόληος. However, πόλεως may be thought of as a gen. sing, comparable to those rare forms mentioned in §1970.3.

2001.4 The accent of the gen. plur. (also against the rule, §0720.3), is by analogy with the gen. sing.

↓       2002. Peculiarities:

2002.1 One neuter, σίναπι, σινάπεως, τό mustard, belongs to class 7.a.: σίναπι, σινάπεως, σινάπει, σίναπι (nom. and acc. identical — no ending; sing, only).

↑       2002.2 The masculines, μάντις, μάντεως, ὁ, soothsayer, and ὄφις, ὄφεως, ὁ, serpent, are declined exactly like the fem. forms.

↓       2003. πῆχυς, πήχεως, ὁ forearm, cubit, actually has a stem in υ / ε (originally υ / ευ; cf. §2001.1), but it follows the pattern of πόλις precisely: merely substitute υ for ι in nom. and acc. sing, (all other forms are identical). πῆχυς is the only noun of its type in the literature covered by Bauer (but in Attic, e.g. πέλεκυς, πελέκεως, ὁ town).

201. Class 7.c. Stems in ευ / ε

This group follows the pattern of πόλις (7.b.) in most respects. All nouns in this group are masculine.

       ἀρχιερεύς, ἀρχιερέως, ὁ high priest
  S P
N ἀρχιερεύς ἀρχιερεῖς
G ἀρχιερέως ἀρχιερέων
D ἀρχιερεῖ ἀρχιερεῦσι(ν)
A ἀρχιερέα ἀρχιερεῖς

2010. Mnemonic hints:

2010.1 ευ is preserved in nom. sing, and dat. plur.; elsewhere ε appears (cf. πόλις where ι is found in nom. and acc. sing., ε elsewhere: §2001.1).

2010.2 Unlike nouns of 7.a. and 7.b. (with acc. sing, in -ν), nouns in 7.c. have acc. sing, in -έα (cf. τίς -τίνα).

2010.3 The nom. and acc. plur. are identical (cf. πόλις, §2000.3).

2010.4 The pattern conforms to that of πόλις, except for nom. sing, (ευ for ι), acc. sing, (-έα for ιν), and dat. plur. (ευ for ε).

A full catalogue of 7.c. nouns will be found in Appendix II.

202. Class 7.d. Stems in ου / ο

In nouns of this type the variation is between ου and ο: ου appears in the nom. and acc. sing., and dat. plur., ο elsewhere. There are few nouns in this group and none of high frequency (see Appendix II).

  βοῦς, βοός, ὁ (or ἡ) ox
  S P
N βοῦς βόες
G βοός βοῶν
D βοΐ βουσί(ν)
A βοῦν βόας

2020. Mnemonic hints:

2020.1 Nom. sing, in -ς acc. sing, in -ν (like τὸν ἰχθύν [7. a.], τὴν πόλιν [7.b.]).

2020.2 Nom. and acc. plur. have regular ending, i.e. like τίνες-τίνας (unlike τὰς πολεῖς [7.b.], τοὺς βασιλεῖς [7.c.]).

2020.3 ου appears in nom. and acc. sing., and dat. plur., ο elsewhere.

↓       2021. Remnants of other class 7. nouns.

There are only remnants of class 7. nouns with stems in αυ, οι.

2021.1 ναῦς, νεώς, ἡ, ship, occurs once in the New Testament at Acts 27:41: acc. sing, τὴν ναῦν. For Attic Greek the final test of one's mastery of the noun is the declension of ναῦς: ναῦς, νεώς, νηΐ, ναῦν; νῆες, νεῶν, ναῦσι(ν), ναῦς. It has been replaced in hellenistic by πλοῖον, -ου, τό (II.3.).

↑       2021.2 From stems in οι there are only two problematic instances in the New Testament. πειθοι 1 Cor 2:4 (v.l. πειθοις may be a dat. sing, from πειθω, πειθοῦς, ἡ persuasiveness (Bl-D §7(4)). ἠχοῦς Lk 21:25 (Westcott-Hort) is from ἠχώ, ἠχοῦς, ἡ sound, if it is properly accented (cf. IgnRom 2:1, Bauer s.v.); this noun appears also as ἦχος, ἤχους, τό (III.6.a.) and as ἦχος, ἤχου, ὁ (II.1.) (Bl-D §50). Nouns with stems in οι, for which the plural was lacking even in classical, were declined: ἠχώ (or -ωι), ἠχοῦς (ηοιος). ἠχοῖ ( < ηχοιι), ἠχώ (ηχοια). Other examples in classical: εὐεστώ well-being, φειδώ sparing, Σαπφώ, Λητώ, Καλυψώ (proper names).

203. Summary of class 7. Leaving aside the marginal cases, the following generalizations apply to class 7. nouns:

203.1 The nom. sing, is always in -ς.

203.2 The gen. sing.

a) in -ος: 7.a., 7.d.
b) in -ως: 7.b., 7.c.

203.3 The acc. sing.:

a) in -ν: 7.a., 7.b., 7.d.
b) in -α: 7.c.

203.4 The nom. and acc. plur.:

a) in -ες, -ας: 7.a., 7.d.
b) identical (-εῖς): 7.b., 7.c.

203.5 The dat. plur.:

a) Nouns in 7.a. and 7.b. show a reduced vowel (υ / ε) before the ending -σι.
b) Nouns in 7.c. and 7.d. show a diphthong (ευ, ου) [nouns in 7.c. show a dipthong also in the nom. sing., those in 7.d. also in the nom. and acc. sing.].

The only other irregularities concern vowel gradation and contraction, which are difficult to summarize without merely repeating.