Re: kappa aorists

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Oct 18 1997 - 14:20:08 EDT

At 9:34 AM -0500 10/18/97, Ward Powers wrote:
> ...
>There are however three verbs in NT Greek which are kappa aorists - that
>is, in these verbs the aorist morph is KA instead of the standard SA. Thus
>we are talking here of aorist FORMS, not of aorist MEANINGS. This KA is
>simply an allomorphic variant of SA, and these verbs conjugate their aorist
>exactly like a verb with SA aorist morph.
>These three verbs are DIDWMI (aorist EDWKA), hIHMI (aorist hHKA), and
>TIQHMI (aorist EQHKA).

My only point of qualification here would be with the assertion that the
"KA is an allomorphic variant of SA." It was originally a distinct
(archaic) type of aorist formation more akin to the athematic types with
alternating long and short vowels in the singular and plural--and yet it
tends to be irregular, as one may find --even in the classical period -- a
3rd plural EQESAN or EQHKAN (where the singular mode of conjugation has
been carried over to the plural, and likewise alternative forms of DIDWMI:

>There is also a fourth, bodgy, "improper", kappa aorist: the suppletive
>aorist of FERW. Originally this was a second aorist HNEGKON, but in the NT
>(though the second aorist is encountered) it has usually been given first
>aorist endings, and thus appears as HNEGKA, and conjugates as first
>conjugation. This transition from second aorist to the much more common
>first aorist paradigm is assisted by the fact that the third singular form
>HNEGKEN is identical for both first and second aorist paradigms.

While it may well be true that the second aorist form HNEGKON antedated
historically the form HNEGKA, the fact is that both are found in Homer, as
is also at least one other aorist conjugated in -A, namely ECEA (from CEW,
I think that a simpler statement about the facts of alpha conjugation is
that (a) it is already found in a couple aorists in Homer that also have
thematic "second" aorist conjugations; (b) it is already being used in
Homer with the Sigma aorist marker to constitute what is traditionally
called the "first aorist"; (c) it is used as early as Homer with the Kappa
aorist marker, although consistently only in the singular of DIDWMI,
TIQHMI, and -hIHMI; (d) in the course of time the Alpha endings came to be
used with the older thematic "second" aorist type verbs as well--and this
is what we find so commonly in the NT; (e) over the next millennia the
Alpha form spread completely through the conjugation of all active past
tense forms in Greek, including the imperfect. No doubt this process
occurred more quickly in some dialects than in others, but the alternative
forms of HNEGKA and HNEGKON in Homer indicate that Alpha endings were
perhaps even then beginning to supplant older aorist endings.
> . . .
>The question was raised about hHKW (present) and the apparently perfect
>form hHKASIN in Mark 8:3. BAGD comment on hHKW, "Since it has the meaning
>of a perfect, its conjugation sometimes has perfect forms," and they cite
>examples outside the NT as well as Mark 8:3. Thus the perfect forms could
>originate from its present forms, with "form following meaning".
>Alternatively, hHKA could be the older perfect form, defective in the
>present, and thus the present hHKW a later "back formation" from the
>perfect, to fill the gap - just as STHKW, a present form used in the NT, is
>a "back formation" from hESTHKA, the perfect of hISTHMI.
>Both the present and perfect forms of hHKW mean "have come".
>In any case, hHKW is not a kappa aorist - its aorist is hHXA.

Is this form hHXA (X = KS?) actually attested?

>Please tell me - is anyone out there interested in this kind of info?

Well, Ward, there is at least One!

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649 OR

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