Re: peribleyesqai

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Apr 15 1999 - 09:55:08 EDT

At 4:55 PM -0400 4/14/99, Jim West wrote:
>The thing I like so much about commenting here is that no matter what I say
>someone will disagree--- forcing me to offer proof.

You are certainly right on that point, Jim; but the kind of proof you offer
may go part of the way to explain why someone will disagree. You are right
on the assertion by BDF that PERIBLEPESQAI they give a present infinitive
rather than the future infinitive you cite) must have an active meaning,
but what you actually say here is a bit muddled; you say that they list
this MIDDLE form as an example of active meaning "even though the form is
passive." I don't understand where you get the notion that it's passive: it
is, after all, a future middle infinitive, and the future is one of two
tenses where we're taught conventionally that all three voices are found.

>So, regarding the verb we were earlier discussing, I would point the
>interested to Blass-Debrunner sec. 316(1), where they list peribleyesqai
>(middle!!!!) as an example of active meaning even though the form is
>passive. They also point out that it is active in Attic.

Blass-Debrunner sec. 316(1) refers to PERIBLEPESQAI as an EXCEPTION to the
rule that "NT authors in general preserve well the distinction between
middle and passive. The middle is occasionally used, however, where an
active is expected (cf. the reverse ##307 and 310)."

I think there's something interesting going on here. While I would want to
affirm that the language is always in flux, I think there are some general
trends, and one of them, I believe, is the gradual shift of many active
verbs into the middle--and even intransitives, like EIMI --> EIMAI. I think
this probably needs some careful study, but my hunch is that the
morphological shift from active to middle forms does not take place without
a corresponding conception--however much this may hover at or below the
level of full consciousness--that some sort of self-projection is at work
in the actions/states referred to by these forms.

I'm hoping soon to be able to issue a revised form of my general
observations on voice in the ancient Greek verb (originally sent to B-Greek
May 27, 1997 and in the archives); I'm hoping it might help some like Jay
Adkins who find the phenomenon of voice in the Greek verb confusing. I
don't wonder at that; I think that voice in the Greek verb is shamefully
muddled in the conventional grammatical presentations--both Attic and Koine.

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

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