Re: Enclitic forms of EIMI as emphatic?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Fri Feb 11 2000 - 12:20:35 EST

At 10:20 AM -0500 2/11/00, Rodney J. Decker wrote:
>Yesterday I ran into something in the grammars that was new to me.
>Robertson, 233-34 and Moulton-Howard, 203 discuss the significance of the
>enclitic forms of EIMI, proposing, if I understand them correctly, that the
>enclitics serve as emphatic forms of EIMI and express existence or
>possibility rather than being a simple, nonemphatic linking verb. (There
>are exceptions: at the beginning of a sentence or following one of a half
>dozen conjunctions.)
>That is, the usual form of ESTIN is accented ESTI/N and is not emphatic;
>but the enclitic form, which is emphatic, is accented E/STIN.
>Robertson's comments are based, I think, on the WH text. I notice that our
>current NA and UBS texts do not print an accent on the enclitic form at all
>In light of the nonexistence of the accents in the original text (so far as
>we can tell), are there other factors that are involved in this
>explanation? Is it a valid one? Is it a useful/significant one?
>Any comments or clarification would be appreciated.

How about a comment and an OBFUSC-ation?

I'm rather hesitant to get into this; I don't have Moulton-Howard but I've
just looked at Robertson pages as cited below and confess that I was
somewhat surprised at what I read there. It does look to me like it's a
matter of a late 19th- and earlier 20th-century editorial convention. My
own 'understanding'--i.e. what I have learned or assumed to be the case--
of the facts is that the accent on the forms of enclitics is determined
strictly by relationship to the accentuation of the preceding word or in a
string of enclitics and not, in the case of ESTI, whether it is existential
or copulative; my understanding is that when ESTI is existential it tends
to initial position in the clause or sentence and therefore cannot be
enclitic but must be accented )/ESTI(N). Furthermore, as I 'understand' it,
enclitic ESTI will be unaccented following upon a word with an
acute-accented ultima ("oxytone") but will be accented as ESTI/(N)
following upon a word with an acute-accented penult ("paroxytone") or with
a circumflexed-ultima ("perispomenon")--and of course if the preceding word
has an acute-accented antepenult ("proparoxytone") or a circumflexed penult
("properispomenon"), then it will also have a second acute on the ultima
before an enclitic and therefore an ESTI(N) will have no accent at all. Now
IF that understanding is valid (and I won't venture too far out on a limb
here), then it is the initial positioning of an ESTI that is the most
common indicator of an existential ESTI, and that's when one would expect
to see the accentuation as )/ESTI. I'm frankly surprised to see that
accentuation elsewhere and I'm somewhat dubious about the rightness of
it--and I'm inclined to think that it's a rather arbitrary editorial
decision to mark an ESTI that the editor thinks is existential rather than
a reflection of actual practice in pronunciation.

Now looking at the USB text of Rev 17:18 I see KAI hH GUNH hHN EIDES
my opinion the only real justification for that accentuation is the
probability of a pause following EIDES so that ESTIN in this instance is
not affected by the preceding word, EIDES--and if that's the case, I don't
think there's really anything emphatic about the ESTI nor do I think it's
existential but copulative linking the subject hH GUNH which preceded the
relative clause to the predicate noun hH POLIS hH MEGALH.

Another text in question (in the UBS text, mind you) is Acts 2:29 where we
hHMERAS TAUTHS. Here I'm not even convinced that ESTIN is existential in
import (it really seems (to me) to link the subject TO MNHMA AUTOU with the
predicate EN hHMIN. I really think this is an editor's choice to mark this
ESTIN as )/ESTIN and I really would question its justification.

Robertson only discusses the 3d-person singular form ESTI, but I really
don't understand why EIMI, which is normally enclitic, shouldn't be
governed by the same principles. Yet the the celebrated "meist diskutiert
(sowie disputiert)" passage John 8:58 readS in the UBS text: AMHN AMHN LEGW
hUMIN, PRIN ABRAAM GENESQAI EGW\ EIMI/. I suppose that the accentuation
here reflects the editors' understanding that this EIMI is existential,
because otherwise I think the accentuation would be EGW/ EIMI (with no
accent at all on EIMI).

Smyth's statement on this strikes me as infinitely clearer than what
Robertson says, and it is very simple (#187b):"'ESTI is written )/ESTI at
the beginning of a sentence; when it expresses existence or possibility;
when it follows OUK, MH, EI, hWS, KAI/, ALLA/ (or ALL'), TOUTO (or TOUT');
and in )/ESTIN hOI/ 'some', )/ESTIN hOTE 'sometimes. Thus EI )/ESTIN
hOU)/TWS 'if it IS so, TOUTO hO\ )/ESTI 'that which exists.'" These are all
instances of an existential ESTI or where ESTIN stands for EXESTI(N). The
problem, it seems to me, is that it's editor's choice that is going to
determine some of these instances such as the three passages I've indicated
above, Rev 17:18, Acts 2:29, John 8:58--and I'm not convinced that any one
of these ought to have been decided as it has been decided--and I'd like to
know, if it can be determined, just how old this convention of
distinguishing accentuation of the enclitic and emphatic forms of ESTI(N)
and EIMI really is.

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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