Re: Verbal adjectives: how much verbal force?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Mar 09 1997 - 21:06:37 EST

At 7:34 PM -0600 3/9/97, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>At 04:28 PM 3/9/97 -0600, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>>I think I'd say that the forms below have lost their verbal force, EXCEPT
>>for BLHTEON, which is used exactly as it is in Classical Attic. In Attic
>>the -TOS forms had a sense, "able to be (x)ed," i.e. they were passive and
>>involved a sense of possibility, whereas the -TEOS forms were passive and
>>involved a sense of the obligatory nature of the action indicated by the
>>verb. My favorite examples of the classical usage of the -TOS forms are in
>>the two major divisions in Plato's "Figure of the divided line": hORATON
>>GENOS and NOHTON GENOS, the "visible" (= "able to be seen") and
>>"intelligible" (= "able to be entertained by the NOUS") categories.
> seems that you say they lost their verbal sense,
>but then go on to allude to verbal senses that they have.
>I'm aware that the primary sense is adjectival, but even
>you allude to "passive verbal sense", etc.

Well, I guess your question really WAS "How MUCH verbal force?" So I fell
into your little trap! Suppose I said that QEOPNEUSTOS has 2.7% verbal
force. Would that satisfy you? Of course not. If I asked you to tell me how
much verbal force does "done" have in the sentence, "It's a done deal,"
what would you say? Now, how much of a quibble is this? Is "done" in that
sentence a participle or is it an adjective? When we speak of "running
water," is "running" a participle or an adjective? In the phrase "love of
God," how much verbal force does the noun "love" have?

>>>2Tim 3:16 (GNT) pasa grafh *qeopneustos* kai wfelimos pros didaskalian,
>>>pros elegmon, pros epanorqwsin, pros paideian thn en dikaiosunh,
>>Here I'd say that QEOPNEUSTOS is adjectival. Incidentally, it is this same
>>PIE element which became the perfect passive participle. I'd say that
>>"inspired" here could be understood as equivalent to a perfect passive
>>participle but is really quite simply adjectival with a passive verbal
>So it *does* have a passive verbal sense, which means that it has not
>completely lost its verbal sense, right?

Sure, and when you say, "That music is inspired!" and breathe a deep sigh,
what exactly do you mean by "inspired." Maybe it depends on whether it's
W.A. Mozart or Peter Schickele. Does "inspired" have verbal force? It has
participial form, of course. The question is whether it is more verbal or
more adjectival, because it is always to some extent both.

>>>Matt 3:17 (GNT) kai idou fwnh ek twn ouranwn legousa: houtos estin
>>>ho huios mou ho *agaphtos*, en hw eudokhsa.
>>This is similar--if any thing even clearer that it's adjectival, used
>>attributively with the repeated article.
>Primarily adjectival, but isn't there a passive verbal sense here, too?
>That he is loved?
>>>And for trivia buffs, here's the one use of -TEOS:
>>>Luke 5:38 (GNT) alla oinon neon eis askous kainous *blhteon*.
>>>Luke 5:38 (NASU) "But new wine *must* *be* *put* into fresh wineskins.
>>>The -TEOS implies "must be", so BLHTEON here means "must be put".
>>As noted already, this conforms to one of the common Attic constructions:
>>it is in the n. sg. with an implicit ESTI, and curiously, OINON NEON is the
>>direct object of the passive verbal adjective. The alternative construction
>>in Attic would have been to make the "new wine" the subject and make the
>Any idea what this unusual construction might mean? (I know this isn't
>fair; it is much easier to ask this question than to answer it!)

Which construction are you referring to? In Lk 5:38? You cannot convey its
sense literally into English; rather, you have to understand it and then
find the right English way to express the idea. Theoretically you COULD say
that BLHTEON means "it is necessary to put" or "one must put." So it
doesn't even quite do to say that BLHTEON is passive; it would be more
accurate to say that it is impersonal, like DEI or ANAGKH (ESTIN).
Technically speaking OINON NEON is the direct object of BLHTEON; your
English translation can be "New wine must be put into new skins" or it can
be, "One must put new wine into new wine skins."

>>Actually DUNATOS is a -TOS verbal adjective also, from DUNAMAI, but it has
>>long since ceased to have real verbal force; the adjective DUNATOS means
>>"able" or "possible." In classical Attic, ADUNATOS is used substantivally
>>for a "cripple." In fact, there's a celebrated short civil court speech of
>>Demosthenes written on behalf of a cripple who is fighting to continue
>>getting his public support allowance from the Athenian government; it's
>I believe that Perry Mason was named after PERI TOU ADUNATOU ;->

Yes, and what about "Periwinkle" ? But my favorite Greek treatise title is
attached to a work by the Sophist Gorgias: PERI TOU MH ONTOS; its much like
my favorite French title--a two volume work entitled, La litterature latine
inconnue. The guy wrote TWO VOLUMES on that subject! Just goes to show how
far you can go with what you don't know.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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