Friday, October 08, 2010


The Augment in Homer

Herbert Weir Smyth, Greek Grammar, § 438.c:
In Homer and the lyric poets either the syllabic or the temporal augment is often absent; as φάτο and ἔφατο, βῆν and ἔβην, ἔχον and εἶχον. Iteratives (495) in Hom. usually have no augment (ἔχεσκον).

N. – In Homer the absence of the augment represents the usage of the parent language, in which the augment was not necessarily added to mark past time. It is therefore erroneous, historically, to speak of the omission of the augment in Homer.
Δῖος Ὅμηρος, in Prize Translations, Poems, and Parodies: Reprinted from the Journal of Education (London: John Walker & Company, 1881), p. 86:
Polyphloisboisteros Homer of old
Threw all his augments into the sea,
Though he'd been firmly but courteously told,
Perfect imperfects begin with an E.

"What the digamma, does any one care!"
The Poet replied with a haughty stare,
And he sat him down by the wine-dark sea,
To write a fresh book of the Odyssey.
On polyphloisboisteros cf. πολύφλοισβος (a Homeric epithet for the sea).

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