Re: APEPLANHQHSAN in 1 Tim 6:10

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Apr 30 1998 - 07:20:40 EDT

At 1:12 AM -0500 4/30/98, wrote:
>Carl W. Conrad wrote:
>> I think that this verb is a wonderful (Greek DEINOS, which, as Heidegger
>> reminds us, also means "overwhelming" or "terrible") illustration of the
>> problem of Greek voice and the sorts of terminological difficulties
>> entailed in our endeavor to makes sense simultaneously of the MORPHOLOGY of
>> the -QH- forms and their actual SEMANTIC content.
>> PLAZW therefore originally means (etymologically)
>> "knock off course" while PLANAW means "make go without direction." In
>> practice, however, both verbs function to have the same meaning. We see the
>> first in the second line of the Odyssey:
>> "Recount to me, Muse, the versatile man, who roamed quite a lot
>> POLLA PLANGCQH), after he had sacked the sacred citadel of Troy ..."
>> Now the problem with these verbs, so far as VOICE is concerned, is that the
>> active clearly is used in the sense of "make go astray," whereas the middle
>> voice is used in what we call an INTRANSITIVE sense, "go astray"--and the
>> -QH- "passive" forms provide simply the aorist of this middle
>> "intransitive" sense of "go astray." That is to say, this is one of those
>> verbs for which it is hard to demonstrate any genuine passive sense UNLESS,
>> as Clay notes, one can show an external agent as the key factor in the
>> going-astray.
>Carl ~
>This QH 'passive' 2nd [strong] aorist business has got me muddling. I
>love this the first two lines of the Oddyssey ~ 1st time I have seen
>them in the Greek ~ And the idea that is being conveyed with the QH
>passive aorist here is the fact that Oddysseus did not CHOOSE to roam,
>but 'was roamed' [was made to go without direction] by things that
>were quite beyond his control, is it not? And would that not make
>this passive truely a passive? And if so, would that not call into
>question our original understanding of the QH 2nd aorist? The voice
>is passive, and the action transitive, yes? The fact that the 'agent'
>is not indicated is the purpose of saying it this way, as an
>introduction to the story that portrays this agency [these agencies].

George, I understand the notion you're suggesting, and it is certainly true
that Odysseus' "roaming" for ten years after the sack of Troy is not of his
own choice, for the most part, yet some of it is a consequence of his own
folly (the boasting revelation of his name to the Cyclops) and much more of
it is owing to the folly of his crewmen, who never even survived to return
to Ithaca. The point I was making however had to do with the FORM, the -QH-
aorist with active endings, a form which only in the course of Greek
linguistic history came to have regular association with passive meaning
and which, in quite a number of Greek verbs is simply the standard form of
an intransitive or even active aorist. Traditionally this class of verbs,
which most commonly have middle voice forms in the present tense, is called
"passive deponents" (a term which I have argued is a misnomer because the
phrasing suggests that they are odd-ball verbs that don't behave as we
think they ought to behave). In this category are such verbs as
involves any passive notion at all. The lengthy discussion of this which I
originally posted almost a year ago is in the archives, dated May 27, 1997
and titled, "Some Observations on Greek Voice." Much of this was based on
the fact that Indo-European had no distinct passive voice, the passive
being a secondary development in the daughter languages, this being
achieved in Greek by using the middle voice to express passive meanings and
by using the athematic aorist, especially with the -QH- infix, as a
standard passive formative for aorist and future passives.

I might add that Greek may and sometimes does regularly use active forms to
represent passive notions. EKBALLW means "send into exile," but rather than
the perfectly permissible form EKBALLOMAI Greek normally uses EKPIPTW for
"be sent into exile"; similarly APOKTEINW means "put to death," "execute,"
but Greek normally uses APOQHNiSKW for the passive of that, "be put to
death." And there are quite a few other idiomatic "anomalies" of this sort
in ancient Greek.
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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