[b-greek] Re: Participle/Finite Verb

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Fri Jul 21 2000 - 07:03:39 EDT

At 5:13 AM -0500 7/21/00, Ike Tennison wrote:
>In reference to the posts on July 19 about the order of the participle
>and finite verb in Homer's Iliad 1.311, one must remember that the Iliad
>is in poetic meter (dactylic hexameter). For the bard to meet the
>rules of poetry, a combination of long and short syllables, he sometimes
>had to present the words in not "normal" order. Also, in regard to the
>present participle, Homer more than once used such a participle to
>complete the picture he was painting when the participle was not
>necessary to the sense of the story. The explanation given for some
>such word orders and word uses is called metri causa ("for the sake of
>meter"). The two words under question begin a verse. They represent a
>dactyl (the first foot) and the first long syllable of a spondee (first
>half of second foot).

All of this is true, of course,but once one has started down this line of
considerations it has to be added that Homeric poetry was composed
formulaic units consisting of as much as a whole line or more or as little
as a word that fits into a slot in the dactylic hexameter (first noted by
Milman Parry and since developed in a wealth of studies of formulaic
composition by oral bards in Greece and elsewhere). The problem with 'metri
gratia' as an explanation of a particular word-order in Homeric verse or in
any metrical verse composed by a creative composer in any language is that
it ignores the creative powers of the poet. The most frequently used
opening section of a Homeric line is that coming to a caesura after the
first long syllable of the second foot: _ u u _, which is the
configuration, as you say, of hEISET' AGWN; the same segment had several
formulaic variants for the notion "he with these words"--hWS AR' EFH, hWS
FAMENOS, hWS FATO, hWS EFAT'. It should also be remembered that Greek is
not subject to the strictures of some languages regarding the order of the
elements. Ultimately the positioning of the finite verb and the
circumstantial participle in hEISET' AGWN is by no means unnatural in Greek.


Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad@ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
You are currently subscribed to b-greek as: [jwrobie@mindspring.com]
To unsubscribe, forward this message to leave-b-greek-327Q@franklin.oit.unc.edu
To subscribe, send a message to subscribe-b-greek@franklin.oit.unc.edu

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:36:32 EDT