The inscription CEG 28 (Attica, ca. 540-530?) contains the sole example of the dative plural φρασίν in Attic Greek. It occurs in a hexameter, which ends φραϲιν : αλα μενοινον : (= φρασὶν ἄλλα μενοινῶν). It is clear that this dative plural must be the older form of the n-stem φρήν, showing as it does the expected vocalization of the zero grade, *-ṇ-si. Elsewhere in Attic, and indeed almost everywhere else in Greek, it has been analogically replaced by φρεσί. However, scholars have noted that it is not isolated: φρασί occurs twice in Pindar (P.4.219, N. 3.62) and, though not noted by most major lexica, twice in Orphic gold leaves (most recently edited in Edmonds (2011), the Hipponion text (B10) pp.30-31, Entella (B11) pp.32-33). Further, the phrase wherein φρασί occurs is also not isolated, in that it is clearly a Homeric formula: φρεσὶν ἄλλα μενοίνα (h. Merc. 62), νόος δέ οἱ ἄλλα μενοινᾶι (Od. 2.92= Od. 13.381= Od. 18.283), al. There has not, however, been a clear explanation for why a certainly older form, φρασί, occurs in a younger corpus, the Attic inscription CEG 28, and what relation, if any, it bears to the Pindaric and Orphic examples with a-vocalization. Against other possible analyses, I will propose that this form is not simply an archaism in Attica but was diffused from an epic corpus; since Homeric epic never transmits anything but an e-vocalism (without variant readings of a-vocalism), it stands to reason that our form cannot have been simply diffused from Ionic epic. I will try to show that this form in this phraseology could derive from an otherwise lost epic transmission, which shared the Homeric phrase φρεσὶν ἄλλα μενοίνα, but retained an older vocalization of the nasal in φρασί.
In attempting to localize this lost transmission, I will be following (though not to the letter) a well known article by M.L. West (1988) in which he argues that epic must have existed on the mainland during the Dark Age, and I will try to show that the diffusion into Attica came via just such a mainland tradition (a hypothesis first proposed, though without much argument, in von Mess 1898:21). Similar arguments have recently been put forward by Trümpy (2010), arguing for nearly lost traditions of epic and choral lyric being preserved in Archaic, epichoric sources. Ours will represent then another piece of evidence for an otherwise lost epic tradition.
Greek and Latin Linguistics