[b-greek] EGEIRW and ANISTHMI--Intransitive, Middle, and Passive

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Thu Nov 08 2001 - 08:01:08 EST

I can't resist making a final comment on this matter, but my concerns are
now completely removed from the initial question of the other thread.

At 11:54 AM +0100 11/8/01, Iver Larsen wrote:
>You are probably right that I overstated the case. I have in the meantime
>looked more at the difference between EGEIRW and ANISTHMI.
>In view of our earlier discussion of active, middle and passive, I find it
>interesting that EGEIRW occurs in active in the transitive sense of "cause
>to get up" whereas it occurs commonly in the middle/passive form in either
>the middle sense of "get up" or the passive sense of "being raised up".
>ANISTHMI is quite different. It never occurs in the morphological passive
>paradigm and it is rare in the middle. The middle form may have either the
>middle or passive meaning.
>In the future tense the active forms of ANISTHMI are apparently transitive
>in meaning "raise up" but the middle forms are intransitive "rising up".
>Outside the future we have active forms in the vast majority of cases, but
>the meaning of this active form is either semantically active "raise up" or
>semantically middle "rise", depending on context.

In my judgment the two verbs overlap considerably in range of meaning and
usage although they are certainly not fully synonymous. ANISTHMI/ANISTAMAI
means most basically "raise/rise from a settled state" (whether the settled
state be reclining, sitting, or spatial position)--or, with an alternative
sense in the ANA- prefix, "re-establish" or "rise/rouse in rebellion",
whereas EGEIRW/EGEIROMAI means most basically "rouse/arise"--generally from
a recumbent position, but quite commonly from sleep, or by metaphorical
extension, death.

ANISTHMI has an active/causative first aorist ANESTHSA; ANISTAMAI, the
intransitive (or would someone want to call it 'passive'?) has a 'third'
aorist, ANESTHN. And although hISTHMI/hISTAMAI does have a passive
morphoparadigm ESTAQHN (which may or may not, in any given instance, be
equivalent to ESTHN, according to the perspective one takes upon it), there
is no instance of any passive form *ANESTAQHN to be found in the GNT.

EGEIRW has an active/causative first aorist HGEIRA; EGEIROMAI the
intransitive MP has an older, rarely attested, second aorist morphoparadigm
HGROMHN (used, as often archaic forms are used, in poetry), but that was
supplanted relatively early by the "passive" morphoparadigm, HGHERQHN. One
rather odd fact about this verb is that it appears in the 2 sg. pres.
imperative form EGEIRE 14 times in an intransitive sense (Mt. 9:5, 10:8; Mk
2:9, 11, 3:3, 5:41; 10:49; Lk 5:23, 24, 6:8, 8:54; Jn 5:8; Acts 3:6; Eph.
5:14; Rev. 11:1). Now we might argue over whether or not HGERQHN is passive
or intransitive in a particular instance; unquestionably it is passive in
numerous instances, but there are enough instances where it is quite
clearly functioning as the aorist equivalent of the middle (the person
rises of his/her own initiative): Mk 2:12 (in response to the EGEIRE
command); Mt 8:15, Jn 11:29; Acts 9:8. I think one might well argue that
several instances of HGERQH without a qualifying agent construction or EK
NEKRWN are equivalent to ANESTH where it too is used of resurrection.

To this I would add a note bearing significantly on our discussions of
middle and passive aorists in particular but on the semantic difference
between middle and aorist more generally; I think it is a mistake to
suppose that deliberate volitional involvement of the subject in the action
is required in a verb that is to be understood as middle. EGEIROMAI is one
such verb: although it may certainly be passive in sense if the person is
awakened by an external agency or instrument such as a startling noise or
light, yet one may awake spontaneously. And there are other such verbs:
KOIMAOMAI ("fall asleep" although a passive sense, "be lulled to sleep" is
certainly also possible); MAINOMAI: when one goes into a fit of madness, do
we assume that it is some demonic visitation, or isn't this an involuntary
sort of behavior? Kimmo has said that he thinks EGENETO is fundamentally
passive; would he say this also of GINOMAI? Perhaps it's worth recalling
that verbs of this sort often have an intransitive perfect 'active'
morphoparadigm: GEGONA, PEPOIQA (PEIQOMAI): how are we to understand these
forms in relationship to SEMANTIC active voice?

Ultimately, I think that the reason why a single morphoparadigm serves to
represent both semantic middle and semantic passive in most Greek tenses is
that the distinction between the middle and passive sense, although often
enough obvious, is often enough not worth the effort to distinguish. And I
still am inclined to believe that the "passive" morphoparadigm in the Koine
Greek aorist and future, frequently represents a semantic "middle" and/or
semantic intransitive--and that this flexibility was always within the
range of meaning of the morphoparadigm from the time it was first invented.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 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 - 15:37:11 EDT