Re: More on Participles . . .

From: Don Wilkins (
Date: Wed Oct 29 1997 - 14:00:53 EST

At 09:13 AM 10/29/97 -0600, Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>I'm sorry to keep responding with what are intense feelings rather than
>principles I can demonstrate, but the fact is that I don't really think one
>can formulate a universal principle about when an aorist participle must
>necessarily refer to action prior to that of the main verb. My inclination,
>however, is to think that it most commonly has this sense of indicating
>prior action when it PRECEDES the main verb; when it FOLLOWS the main verb,
>the aspect may well be much more important than any indication of time or
>they may not be any indication of time at all. Now the Christ Hymn in Phil
>2 is not so much straightforward narrative but it does seem to set forth a
>clear temporal sequence. Of the participles you've cited, hUPARCWN is
>present tense and is coordinated with OUC hHGHSATO, implying, I think
>simultaneity of the state indicated by hUPARCWN and the OUC hHGHSATO clause
>is indicated--which is why I think it's often translated as a concessive
>clause: "although he was ...." On the other hand LABWN and GENOMENOS would
>seem to be adverbial explainers of hEAUTON EKENWSEN and indicating what he
>did in this self-emptying process. Sometimes there's ambiguity in a
>preceding aorist participle; I remember one vivid example in Plato: GELASAS
>EIPEN ... "He said with a smile" -- rather than "He smiled and then said
>In sum then, I think I'd say that an aorist participle preceding a main
>verb in narrative very common indicates action prior to that of the main
>verb--but not necessarily is this always the case--and that it is less
>likely to be the case when you have a participle FOLLOWING the main verb.

Carl, I think you're right about the uses of the participles here, but I've
done some research (more yet to be done) on this question and found that
there are probably as many (or maybe more) examples of such "postpositive"
aorist participles referring to prior action as otherwise. It seems that the
position has more to do with emphasis or deemphasis (somewhat in the sense
of an afterthought) than with the timing of events.

Don Wilkins

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