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The Perfect Participle Active in Homer: Against an Aeolic Phase.

Jesse Lundquist


The Perfect Participle Active in Homer: Against an Aeolic Phase

Two forms of the perfect participle active are held to offer evidence for a discrete Aeolic phase in the prehistory of Homeric diction. The first is paradigms declining -ῶτ– (pro -ότ-, e.g. τεθνηῶτ- Il.17.161 et passim, κεκμηῶτ- Il. 23.232 al., etc.), which would preserve the syllabic weight of putative original Aeolic participles in *-οντ-, though they would owe their present form to an Ionic ‘‘compromise’’ to -ῶτ-. The second piece of evidence is κεκλήγοντ- ‘clamoring’ which would attest directly the Aeolic participle in -οντ- preserved in epic (so e.g. Nagy 2011:167ff.). That these participles are of Aeolic provenance is the majority opinion and as such is found in standard commentaries (e.g. Wachter 2001:101). Against this approach, I will argue that the participles in -ῶτ- represent an inner-epic evolution of Proto-Ionic *-η-ϝότ- > –εῶτ- with quantative metathesis over w-loss (and scanned with synezeis τεθνεῶτι ‘to the dead one’ Od.19.331), which was then reformed metri causa within the epic tradition. These forms have been treated as metrical lengthenings in older treatments, with which I will agree (Debrunner 1917; Meister 1921:174-5; Werner 1948:52ff.). We can defend the analysis of metrical lengthening and advance its explanation here by appealing to a richer typology of inner-epic analogical innovations, into which the phenomenon at hand nicely fits (see Nikolaev 2013: n.40, following Rau 2008). The perfect participle in -ῶτ- will offer testimony for Old Ionic to Neo-Ionic developments, and the response to these changes by singers within the tradition. An argument to this effect will have a bearing on what admixtures of Aeolic and Ionic constitute the dialectal basis of epic diction, and in particular whether the prehistory of epic diction knew a discrete Aeolic phase or whether the evidence points rather to an internal Ionic evolution with borrowing from neighboring Aeolic. Our discussion of the perfect participle active will also provide an opportunity to revisit κεκλήγοντ- ‘clamoring’. Diagnosis of Aeolic origin comes solely from the ending –οντ-, since the item is not attested in Aeolic and does not show Aeolic phonology, i.e. we find κληγ- for expected *κλᾱγ-. I will suggest that we may have instead an Ionic archaism: there is clear evidence for ancient thematic inflection in precisely this class of intensive perfects, e.g. μέμηκον ‘bleated’ (Od.9.439), γεγωνέμεν inf. ‘to shout’ ( Il.8.223,11.6), etc. (cf. Chantraine GH 1 §207). Such thematic forms of the intensive perfect are without doubt of at least Proto-Greek vintage. I will argue that the perfect participle in –οντ- may be a relic of Old Ionic date, *keklāgont- > κεκλήγοντ-, and was preserved thanks to its metrical structure, but was refashioned wherever possible, hence κεκλήγων competes with metrically equivalent κεκληγώς. 

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Greek and Latin Linguistics

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