Re: How do you form a passive voice from a deponent verb?

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Tue Feb 15 2000 - 12:42:36 EST

At 11:57 AM -0500 2/15/00, Kevin W. Woodruff wrote:
>I'm embarassed to ask such an elementary question, but today while I was
>explaining deponent forms of verbs, a student asked me how that if one
>wanted to state something in the passive voice with a verb that is deponent,
>how would it be written? For example, ASPAZOMAI is deponent, how would one
>write, "I am greeted?" Anyone care to answer such a elementary question
>whose answer seems to elude me?

In fact you'd have to say EME ASPAZHi, EME ASPAZETAI, or the like. It would
be better to understand such verbs as essentially reflexive: ASPAZOMAI
essentially means something like "I welcome to myself" or "I take to my
heart." You're normally only going to have genuine passive forms for a verb
that distinguishes active and middle/passive. What are CALLED passive forms
are really middle/reflexive forms that function as passives when there's
either an implicit or explicit agent or instrumentality involved (such as
would get expressed by means of an instrumental dative or an agent
construction:hUPO + genitive).

I think that the question arises from the mistaken notion that a deponent
verb is really an active verb masquerading in middle-passive
morphology--and it's why I dislike the term "deponent," the very name of
which seems to suggest some misplacement or deficiency in Greek (or Latin).

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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