From: Edgar M. Krentz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Wed Nov 06 1996 - 23:28:12 EST
On October 25 Don Wilkins wrote the following:
>That brings me to the question:
>do any of you (Carl, Ed, Carlton, or others) have any solid definitions of
>the aorist from antiquity?
I hooe that I can provide a bit of information and some advice as to where
to look for more. I don't think Carl or Carlton sent anything in the
meantime. I looked quickly into my library to see what I could find. Hence
the following brief notes.
The oldest surviving Greek grammar is that by Dionysius Thrax, who wrote in
the first century before Christ. It is vol. I, part 1 in the series
Grammatici Graeci, ed by Gustav Uhlig (Leipzig: B.G. Teubner, 1883). He has
only a very brief note on the topic:
CRONOI TREIS, EHESTWS, PARELHLUQWS, MELLWN. TOUTWN hO PARELHLUQWS ECEI
DIAFORAS TESSARAS, PARATATIKON, PARAKEIMENON, hUPERSUNTELIKON, AORISTON.
hWN SUGGENEIAI TREIS, ENESTWTOS PROS PARATATIKON, PARAKEIMENOU PROS
hUPERSUNTEKIKON, AORISTOU PROS MELLONTA. (p. 53, 1-4 Uhlic). You will find
the scholiast to this passage in I. Bekker, ed., ANECDOTA GRAECA II,
880-892 (Berlin: G. Reimer, 1816). [Believe it or not, I was able to buy
volumes 2 and 3 of this set, unbound, in 1958 for $3.85!] The scholiast
collected comments from other grammarians on the aorist on pp. 890-892.
At a later date George Choeroboscus (Grammatici Graeci part IV; Leipzig: B.
G. Teubner, 1894) wrote a prolegomena and scholia on Theodosius of
Alexandria's tables on the inflection of Greek verbs. He says that in
present or future time one cannot really distinguish types of action. (Note
that he is close to Dionysius here.)
He discusses past time, first describing the perfect tense, then write the
following about the aorist:
EAN DE TA PARELQOTA ADHLA WSI POTE PARHLQON, APOTELOUSI TON LEGOMENON
AORISTON, OION ETUPSA. ADHLON GAR EITE NEWSTI EITE PRO,P[OLLOU. DIA TOUTO
GAR KAI AORISTOS LEGETAI. ISTEON DE hOTI hO AORISTOS EAN MEN PROSLABHi TO
ARTI ISODUNAMEI TOi PARAKEIMENWi, TO GAR ETUPSA ARTI EN ISWi TW;TETUFA. EAN
DE PROSLABHi TO PALAI ISODUNAMEI TWi hPERSUNTELIKWi, TO GAR ETUPSA PALAI EN
ISWi ESTI Twi ETETUFEN. (p. 12, lines 22-28).
He also points out that the form of the future and the aorist are similar
(as Dionysius Thrax also did): hO DE AORISTOS SUGGENEIAN ECEI PROS TON
MELLONTA, hOION TUPSW ETUPSA.(13, line 10)
Later he has a long discussion of the first aorist (pp. 122-129) and second
aorist forms (pp. 129-145).
I don't know, Don, whether this material will be of any aid to you. If your
university library has the complete GRAMMATICI GRAECI (as you can see I own
only a small part of the total material), you might find more. e.g. in
In any case, thanks for sending me back to the ancient grammarians.
If you get interested in the ancient grammarians and ancient theories of
language, you might consult
R. H. Robins, ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL GRAMMATICAL THEORY IN EUROPE. London: G.
Bell & Sons, 1951. (an excellent book to orient the beginner in ancient
grammatical and linguistic theory, brief, but stimulating. the next two are
the massive treatments of both linguistic theory and grammatical insights
in Greek and Latin antiquity.
H. Steinthal, GESCHICHTE DER SPRACHWISSENSCHAFT B EI DEN GDRIECHEN UND
ROEMERN. 2 vol. Berlin, 1890; reprintHildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, 1961.
Laurenz Lersch, DIE SPRACHPHILOSOPOHIE DER ALTEN. 3 vol. Bonn: H. B.
Koenig, 1838-1841. He discusses verbs in vol 2.
Edgar Krentz, New Testament
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