Re: Deponent theory?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Wed Jun 02 1999 - 13:31:09 EDT

At 11:18 AM -0400 6/2/99, Perry L. Stepp wrote:
>As I recall, there are two different approaches to deponents. One is
>morphological, the other is functional.
>Do I have this right? Can someone flesh out the details of the respective

Until I finish rewriting my little treatise on Ancient Greek Verb Voice,
I'll refer back to the archives of my original version, Tuesday, May 27,

My basic position on this right now is one might as well continue to use
the term "deponent" for verbs that have middle/passive morphology and no
active morphology, although I think that the term is misleading (it's
always seemed to me to imply that these verbs are somehow 'non-conformist'
verbs, an aberration in Greek or Latin--whereas it might be better to call
them what one calls the same kind of verbs in modern European languages:
'reflexive verbs.' One simply has to learn the reflexive verbs in any

I'm also now inclined to think that one ought to conceive of BOTH the
-MAI/-SAI/-TAI (-MHN/-SO/-TO) endings AND the -QHN/-QHS/-QH (-HN/-HS/-H) as
reflexive, and that one ought to learn which 'reflexive' verbs in Greek can
take a passive sense and under what conditions. I think it is a dangerous
pedagogy to teach or learn that the -QH- morphology is fundamentally
'passive.' Rather, I think, it is fundamentally reflexive and not
infrequently passive in sense. And there are really very many -QH- forms
that are not at all passive in sense, e.g. HDUNHQHN, EPOREUQHN.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243

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