Aorist Morphology (was "Re: On Pulling The Plug")

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sun Apr 12 1998 - 08:53:59 EDT

At 12:48 AM -0500 4/12/98, Ward Powers wrote:
>Fellow b-greekers
>At 10:40 98/04/08 -0500, Carl wrote:
>>I want to call a final halt to this thread now

I'm quite sorry if that was misunderstood. For one thing there was nothing
"official" about that statement, as I thought should have been clear in the
context. It seemed to me that only George and I were carrying on the
dialogue and that each of us had stated his own radically different vision
of the aorist without any input one way or the other from any other; I
didn't see how I could offer any evidence that would convince George that
his notion of a "timeless" -SA- aorist and of some difference in the
meaning of the -SA- aorist and the thematic ("second") and non-thematic
("third") aorists misrepresents the realities of Koine Greek usage and of
Greek usage in antiquity in general. We weren't communicating with each

>I've been having a really hectic time here, completing the writing of some
>Notes for my College students, to a strict deadline. Additional
>complication: here in Sydney we have just had two days of cloudburst rain -
>we have had more rain in these two days than in the whole of the rest of
>the year so far.

I can readily appreciate that: you're entering into Fall at the very point
at which we in North America are entering into Spring, and I would guess
that we are both experiencing a good deal of what Catullus called the
"furor aequinoctialis caeli." Moreover, on this continent I think most of
us are in that frenzied period of winding up to the climax of the academic
year; at my school there are only two more weeks of classes before exams,
and it is a very busy time. If the list has been quiet lately so far as
contributions from the academicians, I'd attribute that as a reason.

>I'd like to re-enter the discussion about aorists (sigmatic/non-sigmatic,
>etc.) between George Dalmatia and Carl Conrad, but can't spare the time.

By all means do so. I have tried in vain to convince George that the -S-
marker of the first aorist is unrelated to the -S- marker of the future and
that the -A- of the first aorist is NOT an alpha privative. But I think,
George, you still believe that, don't you?

>Never mind. A holiday is coming: Good Friday! (Do you people in other parts
>of the world have a public holiday on Good Friday as we do in Australia?)
>What better use for such a significant day than to turn one's mind to the
>meaning of the Scriptures?!
>So I draft out my detailed contribution to this b-greek thread.
>Then I hook up with email, and I receive my mail. And I find (as quoted
>above) that Carl has decided to pull the plug on this discussion. Ah, well!
>That's the way the biscuit breaks.
>But, Carl: Do you think you could give some advance notice of your
>plug-pulling? Or at least, not do it just before a holiday weekend?

As noted above, all I meant to signal by that note was that I saw no point
in continuing my dialogue with George. Perhaps I should have chosen my
language more carefully. When I wrote, "I want to call a final halt to this
thread now," I really did not mean to deter anyone who wanted to from
offering a rebuttal either to George or to myself. I didn't write that in
any official capacity or intend to signal anything more than that it seemed
to me futile to say anything more on the issue of aorist morphology. I do
hope that you've not deleted your response and that you'll go ahead and
send it, along with any comments you have on the matter of possibly
different aspectual senses of the different kinds of Aorist morphology.
There may well be some different understandings of aorist aspect, but I
would hope we can agree, most of us, that the -SA- morph is not itself a
marker of "timelessness."

Regards, Carl

P.S. I hope you are able to meet with Jonathan this weekend and have a nice
time. And I wish you a joyous Easter.

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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