Sunday, December 4, 2022

The Long Augment in Homer: a formula-based approach

Chiattelli, Edoardo

In ancient Greek, past tenses of verbs starting with a consonant are prefixed with the vowel epsilon, but some verbs in Homer show an eta instead. These forms were linked to Vedic instances of long augments by part of the relevant literature. Other scholars preferred to explain the Greek instances as inner developments, while others denied any philological validity for the long augment as an actual morpheme, and rather explained its presence in some Homeric verbs as the product of analogical processes. My thesis focusses on specific Homeric forms within the heterogeneous set of evidence offered by ancient Greek. I take these long-augmented verbs to be artificial creations of the Homeric language. This line of interpretation is supported not only by considerations of historical phonology and morphology, but also through an innovative formula-based method. Its aim is to describe, through an analysis of the Homeric traditional language, the possible reasons and dynamics for the creation in the Kunstsprache of artificial long-augmented forms. More specifically, it might be possible to explain them as part of analogical modifications of pre-existent formulaic patterns, so as to provide an accurate description of how (and why) their artificial structure was used as a metrical alternative to their counterparts in the spoken language. The focus of my thesis is on ἠείδη ‘she/he knew’ (and ἠείδης ‘you knew’), ἤϊκτο ‘she/he resembled’, ἀπηύρα ‘she/he took away’, and the trisyllabic forms of the imperfect of εἶμι, i.e. ἤϊα ‘I went’, ‘ἤϊε ‘she/he went’, ἤϊσαν/ἤϊον ‘they went’. A detailed analysis of historical morphology shows that none of them can be assumed to be the result of linguistic processes in the ordinary language. This is also confirmed by their attestations limited to Homeric diction or later poetry imitating it. Furthermore, I show through the formula-based method how most of these long-augmented forms are part of analogical modifications derived from formulaic patterns, which contain forms of the same paradigm but without long augment (i.e. ᾔδεε ‘she/he knew’, ἐϊκυῖα/ἔϊκτο ‘resembling’/‘she/he resembled’, ἴσαν ‘they went’). This suggests that long-augmented forms are used primarily as metrically functional alternatives, which is a feature typical of artificial creations in Homer. Since the results of the method confirm the artificial nature of these forms, they cannot be compared with the Vedic data, nor can their long augment be deemed a genuine morpheme of ancient Greek. It is rather the product of analogical processes within the Homeric Kunstsprache. In particular, I provide a possible narrative for the origin and analogical use of a Homeric long augment in the pluperfect of οἶδα and imperfect of εἶμι, while explaining the initial long vowels of ἠειδ- and ἤϊκτο as analogical temporal augments used by the Homeric poets for metrical purposes. As for ἀπηύρᾱ, this morphologically controversial form is best explained as another analogical use of temporal augmentation, applied by the Ionian bards to original *ἀπεύρᾱ despite its metrical irrelevance. My method shows how forms like ἀπηύρᾱ, which had become extraneous to the Ionian bards, could nonetheless undergo analogical reshaping through the influence of structural connections among formulaic patterns.

Meissner, Torsten
Clackson, James
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



No comments:

Post a Comment