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Coordination in Homer

David Goldstein

Conjunction beyond Truth-Function

The LSJ (s.v.) recognizes two meanings for τε, which have since (e.g. Gonda 1954:182) become known as τεA and τεB (on account of its presence in Homer, τεB is also known as “epic” τε, see above all Ruijgh 1971). The basic intuition is that τεA is a coordinator meaning (more or less) ‘and,’ while τεB contributes a sense of habituality and/or generality (Monro 1891:232, 301-304; Denniston 1954:496, Monteil 1963; Ruijgh 1971:89-92; Klein 1992:18-19: none of these accounts are identical):

(1) Conjunction τε (τεA)

ἦ κεν γηθήσαι Πρίαμος Πριάμοιό τε παῖδες

ἄλλοι τε Τρῶες μέγα κεν κεχαροίατο θυμῶι. . .

‘Certainly would Priam and the sons of Priam rejoice,

and the rest of the Trojans would be most glad at heart. . .’ Il. 1.255-256

(2) “Epic” τε (τεB)

                                               νῦν αὖτέ μιν υἷες Ἀχαιῶν

ἐν παλάμηις φορέουσι δικασπόλοι, οἵ τε θέμιστας

πρὸς Διὸς εἰρύαται.

‘Now in turn the sons of the Achaeans carry it

in their hands as judges who guard the ordinances

that come from Zeus.’ Il. 1.237-239

The question of what τε A and B have in common has been a topic of intense investigation (Wackernagel 1942; Gonda 1954; Szemerényi 1987; Dunkel 1982; Dunkel 2000; Dunkel 2008), which has yielded no agreement. Some have gone so far as to question (Denniston 1954:496) or even deny (Bloch 1955) that we are even dealing with same word.

Using a corpus from the Iliad, this paper takes a novel approach to the meaning and usage of τε by beginning from so-called “non-logical” aspects of conjunction. In the semantics/pragmatics literature, it has long been established (e.g. Dik 1968; Schmerling 1975; Grice 1981; de Swart 1998:53-56; Ariel 2008:72-77) that coordinate clauses and noun phrases generate meanings well beyond that of their truth-functional meaning (which requires only that both conjuncts be true for the whole coordinated proposition to be true). The recognition of these “non-logical” meanings is crucial to understanding both the diversity as well as the unity of τε. I argue that both τεA and τεB are characterized by collective, single-event readings (in contrast to the distributive readings of καί). These synchronic collective readings are due to the diachronic source of the conjunction, which I argue is ultimately the instrumental singular of the interrogative/indefinite stem. The development from an instrumental characterized by comitative (i.e., ‘with’-type) semantics to a conjunction is typologically well supported (Mithun 1988, Heine and Kuteva 2002:80-83). This paper not only impacts our fine-grained understanding of the Homeric texts, but also contributes to our understanding of coordination in Indo-European, as reflexes of *kwe are amply attested outside of Greek.

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Greek and Latin Linguistics

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