You are here

Final and consecutive clauses in the Greek documentary papyri of the Roman period

Giuseppina di Bartolo


I present a study of the syntax of final and consecutive clauses in Greek documentary
papyri of the Roman period (1st c.– 4th c. AD), focusing on the use of the conjunctions ἵνα
and ὥστε.
The documentary papyri belong to the most relevant and copious sources for the study of
the ancient everyday language. They are written in an informal register characterized by
the use of common words and colloquial expressions (e.g. private letters, military reports,
contracts). Since, they contain several constructions different from those of the literary
language, they provide some essential parameters for distinguishing between normalized
texts and texts with a stronger penetration of colloquial elements. They are very useful for
reconstructing the ancient spoken language and the living development of the Post-
Classical Greek.
I have analyzed a corpus of documentary papyri beginning with the Oxyrhynchus Papyri
and using various papyrological databases. I focus on the documents of the Roman period
(1st c.– 4th c. AD) for two main reasons: there is currently a lack of linguistic-philological
studies regarding the Greek of the Roman and Byzantine papyri, especially about the
syntax (Gignac, 1976, Phonology; 1981, Morphology); in this lapse the papyri show
several of the upcoming transformations of the language and a transitional stage between
Classical and Modern Greek.
Final and consecutive clauses are significant not only for indicating the change of some
syntactic constructions, but also they enable us to consider some particular daily ways of
expression, in other words the usage of these conjunctions in relation to specific
sociolinguistic contexts (e.g. ὥστε in land lease contracts, ὅπως in petitions, ἵνα in private
Ἵνα, ὅπως and ὥστε are the prevalent conjunctions in the papyri used to express
respectively purpose and result. Moreover, the papyri show several examples of mixed
constructions building the final and the consecutive clauses:
- a confusion of the mood, ἵνα with indicative instead of the subjunctive (e.g. P. Oxy. LIX
- a substitution in the conjunction, ὥστε instead of ἵνα with subjunctive in a final sense
(e.g. P. Oxy. VI 933);
- the use of the same conjunction to express both purpose and result, examples are to be
found with ἵνα as well as with ὥστε.
In my presentation, I will illustrate the clear tendency in the Greek of the papyri to overlap
the meaning of purpose and result in everyday contexts, which can be also observed in
Latin or in many modern languages (Cabrillana, 2011). I will show the use of these
conjunctions in relation to specific sociolinguistic contexts. I will investigate questions
concerning the diachronic development of the examined syntactic phenomena, in order to
stress their importance in relation to the later stage of the Greek. Moreover, I will compare
the presence of these constructions with the same that could be found in other
contemporary sources (e.g. the New Testament).

Session/Panel Title

Culture & Society in Greek Roman & Byzantine Egypt

Session/Paper Number


© 2020, Society for Classical Studies Privacy Policy