Hugo Münsterburg Howard Jason Rogers.

Congress of arts and science: Universal exposition, St. Louis, 1904 online

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160 GREEK LANGUAGE

"Operam et oleum perdidi," says the Roman; "Da ist Hopfen und
Malz verloren," says the German. Many Greek proverbs, especially
those in Aristophanes, take their point from Attic life or history;
others, as those drawn from the sea, epitomize national sentiment.

Such are hrl &vo2v ayicvpaiv 6pfi€iVy ovk hrl rrjs avnjq (dyKvpas) op/itlvf Scvrc-
pos 7rXov9, and the less common Av6 Kumrf^ iirl P^jlio^ aXas Sytov KO^cvScis,
wpo^ KiapvKov yv/Avai€a$aif oXtcvs 'TrXi/yclc vovv oicrci, 'Attikoc ck XLfjJya^ KtpSov^

heart K&v hrl ptiros ttXcoi. The pithy sententioe of the Spartan mark his
sturdy and homely character; ihe wit of the keen Sicilian is barbed

(iK iravTo^ (vXov kXa^ ytvoir* &y koI ^cos).

So the principles that are a guide to life are set down in the homely
language of peasant and merchant. Nor are there indications lacking
that in Greece too there were those "whose whole wisdom lies in
a collection of proverbs." Innumerable are the proverbs taken from
the close intimacy of men with animals and their observation of the
life of birds.

Versification

The rhythms in which the poet's thought gains an utterance
embody the national genius. Nowhere is this the case with greater
certainty than in Greece. The versatility of the Greek mind is
expressed in the countless rhythms of their manifold lyric; their
subtle sense of the connection between form and content finds
opportunity for expression in a wealth of rhythms incomparably
superior to that possessed by any other civilized people. If we
r^ard only the dactylic hexameter as the national meter, the
spontaneity, grace, and mobility of the Hellenes is mirrored in the
movement of the verse; while the Satumian, as has often been
pointed out, reflects the stately and dignified Roman.

National Style

If style is regulated by the movement of thought itself it may
not be hazardous to speak of a national style voicing national
endowment in poetry or prose or in both. Thus the national style of
the Romans is prose, which is suited to the gravity of the national
manners and character, to the logical character of the national mind.
With all the majesty of Virgil and the vehemence of Juvenal, the
Roman character is not essentially poetic. As the Latins came
under the influence of the Greeks they lost something of their stiflF-
ness, sharpness, and homely hard sense. But in that department of
the poet's art which is most individual, in lyric, the Roman failed,
with all his dependence on his Greek models, to acquire the power of
the wing. The Romans had a distinct genius for prose, as have the
French, the creators of modem prose style. (Boccaccio and Cervantes,



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GREEK AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE GREEKS 161

I am told, still latinized.) French l)rric that is not due to the influence
of Provengal or English lacks in power when measured in comparison
with German, English, or Greek. The intellectual and emotional
qualities of the Hellenic race endowed it equally with a genius
for poetry and for prose; though poetry rather than prose is perhaps
truly national in its scope. The sovereignty of Greek style exacted
submission in the form of imitation among all nations and at every
time. The creative quality of the Greek spirit transfused its imitat-
ors so that they gained the power of originality, of passing through
imitation to creation. Bossuet read Homer whenever he had to
compose a fimeral oration.

One salient difference between the classic tongues (and especially
Greek) in comparison with modem languages is their greater pre-
cision and lucidity. We pack such an infinite deal into our words
that exactness and clearness of thinking often disappear. The Greeks
developed their thought in order to be clear. Their connectives focus
attention on the logical evolution of their thought.

Aristotle says that a foreigner could be recognized by his avoidance
of certain particles. The particles are logical; but they are also
lyric and emotional. They indicate personality, opinion, hope,
doubt; though they reproduce the Greek dialectical keenness, they
have less of that reflective character that marks our ponderous and
meticulous "I believe," "I assimie," "I daresay." The intellectual
quality of Greek speech does no violence to its poetic quality. Feeling
holds its own when the reason is most at work. The language of the
Greeks is a diaphanous robe of finely spun texture which allows
each delicate contour of the thought to display its just proportions.



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THE PROBLEMS OF GREEK

BY BflLTON WYLIE HUMPHREYS

[Milton Wylic HumikhreyB, Professor of Greek, University of Virginia, since 1887.
b. Sept. 16, 1844, Greenbrier County, West Virginia. M.A. Washinjjton and
Lee University, 1860; Ph.D. Leipzig, 1874; LL.D. Vanderbilt University, 1883;
studied at Berlin, 1872-73; Leipzig, 1873-74. Gunner in Confederate ArtiDery,
1861-65; Assistant Professor of Latin and Greek, Washington and Lee Univer-
sity, 1867-70; Adjunct Professor, ibid, 1872-75; Professor of Greek, Vander-
bilt University, 1875-83; Professor of Ancient Languages, University of Texas,
1883-87. Member of American Philological Association; President of American
Philological Association, 1882-83. Editor of The Clouds of Aristophanes; The
Antigone of Sophocles; also editoi^general of Revues des RevuM (Paris), for
North America, 1878-88; and author of numerous articles in periodicals.]

An adequate treatment of the problems of Greek would require
the prolonged labor of many specialists, and the result would be,
not a short essay, but volumes. It is reasonable, therefore, for one
man, whose specialty is not suited for elaboration here, to hope for
lenience on the part of specialists in other branches of the subject.

Under the perplexing conditions it seems best to give a rough,
general survey of the territory, and while doing so to make as it were
a few raids through some special parts. These parts will be confined
to the language proper, and definite references to modem works
will be avoided.

This paper does not deal with the objects and tasks of Greek
philology; but a few remarks on the obstacles to the solution of
problems seem appropriate. Since many of the problems can be
solved only by means of accumulated results, it is obvious that all
errors or defects of research are obstacles. Two or three of these
will be noted by way of illustration. One is the failure to make
discriminations. I do not refer to hair-splitting distinctions, of which
we have too many, but to the confusion of wholly different things.
We find Sctva iroietv with its two meanings confounded with Sctvov (or

8€tm) irot€t<r^ai, apx€iv with apx€<r6(Uy c^ori and the dative with cfcoTi

and the accusative with the infinitive, Sci and the accusative with
Set and the dative with the infinitive, and so on; and sometimes we
are told that one of the usages is "rare," when it is rare only in the
sense in which "broadaxe" is rare in comparison with "hatchet."
Sometimes we are told that the perfects of certain verbs are used as
presents, and find TiOvrjKa, " I am dead," cited as an example instead of
reOvdrw, "let him die"; and we actually find the supposed confusion
of the infinitive with /41; and the subjimctive or optative after verbs
of fearing ridiculed as if the infinitive after such verbs were never
used as the equivalent of fi^ with the finite verb. Then there is the



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THE PROBLEMS OF GREEK 163

widespread disposition of critics to eliminate the scattering early
examples of phenomena which abound in later periods. We are
told, for example, that the second aorist passive ^^-^yytXtp^ is fre-
quent in later Greek, and was introduced by copyists into correct
writers"; and so it has been "emended" even from Euripides; and
yet it occurs in a good Attic inscription. It should be borne in mind
that many of the seeming peculiarities of late Greek had their origin
at an early period, and sporadic examples should be expected.

One sample of defective method will now be mentioned ; the use
made of statistics, or rather the making of statistics that are of no
use. What is gained, for instance, by knowing the ratio of the aorists
to the imperfects in any given work imless we know in how many
of the examples either tense might have been used? In Xenophon's
Hellenica the ratio of the aorists to the imperfects is much greater
for the compounds of irXco) than for the simple verb. Does this show
that Xenophon had a predilection for the aorists of the compounds as
compared with the simple verb? Of course not. The circumstances
under which ckitXciv, /caTairXctv, StairXciv, etc., are used more frequently
call for the aorist, and the same phenomenon appears in Thucydides.
Again, even if statistics have been intelligently made, they should
be used with great care. By one of the metrical tests it can be demon-
strated that the ninth and the tenth books of the jEneid are by
different authors.

The problems of Greek relate to every part of the subject: the
letters, the history of their forms in inscriptions and manuscripts
in different places; the sounds represented 'by the letters; the
accents; words, their forms, meanings, and origins or etymologies;
the combination of words into sentences; the modes of speaking or
reciting from the ^lA.^ Xcfts of conversation up to the singing of
lyric poetry; the restoration of texts; the authorship, chronology,
sources, and possible revision of works; the origin and mutual
relation of dialects; the subject-matter, and so on. These subjects
bring us into contact with comparative linguistic, meters and music,
textual and higher criticism, and most branches of the so-called
sciences. The Hellenist must also deal with the results of research in
the fields of archaeology, mythology, history, and general antiquities.
We can never know when a new fact may throw light on our subject.
The antepirrhema of the knights, however much admired by some
for its exquisite humor, was sheer nonsense, until we learned from an
arehseological source that the horses on which the knights entered
the theatre, those horses that preferred crabs to clover, were two-
legged horses. How far the Hellenist must deal with the subject-
matter is a perplexing question. If he must explain mythological
and historical allusions, why not also scientific facts or theories?
Wherever the line be drawn, Greek scholars must at least aid in the



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164 GREEK LANGUAGE

restoration and interpretation of Greek works of all sorts. The
Optics ascribed to Euclid, the treatise of ApoUonius on Conic Sections
with the use of coordinate axes, the invention of differentiation and
integration by Archimedes, and similar works, can be interpreted
only by Greek scholars competent to understand the subject-matter,
or, less satisfactorily, in collaboration with mathematicians. So the
Hellenist must support the investigator on the slippery field of
comparative linguistic, and must avail himself of all the light shed
from that source and be able to distinguish the light from the dark-
ness.

To begin, then, at the beginning. The letters of the alphabet,
including tachygraphy, present too many problems to be so much
as named. The digamma alone presents a legion of problems. How
was Z pronounced? How the aspirated mutes, especially when two
stand together? And the diphthongs: when did the two syllables of
XctWciv assume the same vowel sound, and what was that sound?
Was the future of vd<rx(a identical with that of wtCOofiai. for Pericles?
If not, how was it for Demosthenes? When did (Andoc. Myst. 147)

ov8' '^fidfyniTai ouScv o^rrc -^fuv cis Vfmi o!h€ v/uv cts rffia^ beCOme ouS' i/xaprirc

ouScv ovT€ Ifuv h tftos ovT€ Ifilv 15 t/iSs? Such are some of the questions.
Then, it being assumed that the soimds represented by the letters are
known, numerous questions arise. There is still a question as to the
nature of accent, and there is actually a question whether the accent
was observed in reading poetry, and on the other hand the much
more reasonable question whether there was any metrical stress. The

questions relating to i/riX^ Xc^i9, KaToXoyrjy irapcucaTaXoyiy, Tflt Ith;, ficXos,

etc., bring us into contact with metric, music, and dance, and the
analysis and performance of plays. All these must be passed over
here. The analysis of a tragedy, thanks to Aristotle, is fairly well
settled, and that of a comedy has entered upon a new epoch, but
still has its problems, I might say, its warfare.

Words present coimtless problems. The etymology and meaning
are in some instances unknown even when these seem as if they
ought to be obvious, such, for example, as the much-discussed
afuu/Atticeros and ^kCfiaTo^. And evenyXavKtoTTis: is it "gray-eyed," or
"of the gray water"? Or is it "owl-faced"? ("AvoXXov dTrorpoiroic!)
The Homeric poems alone furnish a considerable vocabulary of
unexplained words. Some whole classes of words have their problems.
When does rpcis rjfiipai mean three actual days and nights, and
when does it mean one day and two nights, or can it mean this at all?
If Sict TTcvn/ptSos means "every five years," how is it that a festival
celebrated every four years is called a wevrenjpk? (Our lexicon has
a serious error on this word.) In short, when do numerals and their
compoimds, applied to units of time, denote our cardinal numerals
and when our ordinal? Also the history of numeral notation is still



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THE PROBLEMS OF GREEK 165

to be written. One "specialist" says that for some unknown reason
the early Athenians used H instead of E for licardvl The history
of the transition to the later system is needed for purposes of textual
criticism. The date of the well-known couplet on the 1$ &pat of labor
would aid in the solution of several problems, fixing the terminus
ante quern for the new system, the use of wpa for "hour," and the
imperative ^jOi.

The names of animals and plants are troublesome. The aZXovpos
and the yaXyj, with the later Karra and Karros, have a literature of
their own, and yet the cat problem remains imsolved. Despite
volumes on Greek birds, the make-up of the chorus in the Aves is
not altogether settled. And now, to pass on to plants, we are told
that the voKivOoi could not have been the hyacinth, that f^iyyos was
probably not the oak, that the Kfovciov with its painless death
could not have been the conium maculatum nor the cicuta virosa.
But there is scarcely any end to such questions.

The inflection of words still has its problems. It is suflScient to
refer to the controversy over the dative plural in Homer, and the
question to what extent ^v was plural and ivrC singular. Our gram-
mars change from year to year. Now we have the long delayed
riOrjKa; shall we ever have -oaOiav as an alternative for -€<r^a)v?
There are still questions enough as to forms, and even as to accents^
as in the case of the so-called proclitics; but I must hasten on.

Syntax and style are closely bound together. Of style proper I
shall say as little as possible. Style relates to dififerent ways of saying
the same thing. If a change in a sentence adds to or takes from its
sense, it is not a purely stylistic change. Publishers onee, to suppress
my egotism, changed "I do not know" into "It is not known." We

can say either iirXT^yqv vporcpov ^ hrdraia or irp6r€pos lirkrjyrfv rj hrdra^ay,

but the latter says more than the former, and the difference
does not pertain to style. The delicate tints of stylistic coloring are
very elusive, and the distinctions drawn, I fear, are sometimes
illusory. Much depends on the mental characteristics, natural and
acquired, of the individual. Association particularly plays an im-
portant part. If the Greek scholars should each write down three
brief passages that are respectively most impressive, most touching,
and most beautiful to him, the list would be very interesting. Prob-
ably only one person here would select as the most impressive itrifiaXov

h rrpr *Ami07V, vpfuro 8^ *Kp\&aftJO^ 6 Zcv((3a/i.ov, Aoxc^/tovtW ^ao'ikevs.

Usually, as in the example cited, the subject-matter is the main fac-
tor of impressiveness; but the very sound of words may have a
powerful influence, that of some words on some people, that of others
on others.

Do not, then, judge me too severely when I confess that on me
the ^&o9 of the Greek oases is to a great extent lost. To my mind the



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166 GREEK LANGUAGE

effect of placing the accusative at the head of a sentence is not due
to any vigor of the case itself, but to the fact that its position an-
nounces a departure from the every-day arrangement of the parts of
the sentence. As "onme ignotum pro mirifico," so " omne inusita-
tum pro grandiloquo," The subject accusative with the infinitive in
oratio obliqua is to me nothing more than a nominative. Analog-
ously, to my mind the difference between the genitive and the dative
is purely grammatical. In 6 vanjp fiot t€6vvjk€v, /aoi is not possessive:
it means " I have lost my father," just as in Cicero's single mention
of his father, " Pater nobis decessit a. d. ini. Kal. Decembres, " " nobis "
instead of "noster" is the one note of feeling. The Pindaric Ovydrqp
ol (if ol is dative) is due to the predication involved in apposition,
a latent predication which may become active. The possessive
dative used attributively is a solecism, or rather a Colophonism.
When the case is a predicate, the distinction between ownership
and possession is purely grammatical. 'Eirav^a Kvp<pj8a(riX€ta^k . . .
hm 3c KOI fi€yd\ov pcmrtKiioi ficLcriXtia iv KcXcuvcus : here the predicate
dative and attributive genitive do not imply different kinds of posses-
sion. So ra ip KeXcuFaif fiaa-CKtiA iart Kvpov WOUld not allow Kvp<p.
The rule, however, that if the subject has the article the genitive is
used, if not, the dative, is inadequate and does not get at the root of
the matter. A noun with the article may have the predicate dative
(Dem. 43, 52), and the genitive may be used when there is no article
with the subject. As this paper does not offer solutions of problems,
no attempt is made to state what seems to be the correct rule. The
ordinary distinction between " possession " and " ownership " is prob-
ably due to the fact that (art Kv/xp may be rendered "Cyrus Aos."
The problems of the cases have not all been solved. As yet the
cases have usually been treated separately, and for individual
authors or works, whereas they need to be treated conjointly and
comprehensively. To one point attention is directed. The prevailing
distinction between the accusative and the dative with the infinitive
after ^fcori and Trpo(nJK€ij though sadly muddled in some of our
standards, is theoretically plain enough; but what are we to make
of examples like Isocr. Paneg, 28, where it is said of a A.oyo5 that

has become fivOw&rfi : ofxta^ avr^ KoX vvv firfirjvai irpwrriKti ? Is this Semi-

personification: "it deserves to be told"? A complete collection of
examples would be useful.

With the cases the prepositions are intimately associated. Not
to mention the more general problems, the simple question of differ-
ent cases with the same preposition is often misimderstood, and we
find efforts to force the idea of motion into all examples of irapd
with the accusative, or the view that Trapa of rest must take the
dative at least of a person. Here, by the way, style has its effect tp
the extent that poetry has the greater privilege of being quaint.



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THE PROBLEMS OF GREEK 167

The question of the choice of prepositions has its problems. Why, for
instance, 6/AoAoycirai Trapd (orirpos)riFos rather than wro nvos? Even avv
still seems to need elucidation. We talk of its use in Attic prose as
being restricted to conmiercial. language, and, in another sense, to a
few phrases; but when Stratonicus (who had in his school-room two
pupils and ten statues representing Apollo and the Muses) was asked
how many pupils he had, and answered, <rvv roU OtoU &oScKa, he was
punning on what I believe to have been two good Attic uses of the
preposition, except that one of them is confined to a few phrases
(" with the help of," " thanks to "). I do not recall an instance of ftrro
in the sense "inclusive of."

The question of the simple verb with a preposition, iXO€iv c!?,
the compoimd without the preposition, cio-cX^civ, and the com-
pound with a preposition cio-cX^civ cis, needs elucidation. Here style
and meaning are both concerned, and even the latter seems to
be misconceived in some instances. In certain translations we
read " Epidamnus is a city situated on the right as you sail into the
Ionian gulf." Of course it should be, accent it as you will, " There is
a city Epidamnus"; but that by the way. The point is this: we are
told that this is the only prose example of iairXelv with the simple
accusative. If so, it is the only prose example of icnrXelv with an
accusative not depending on ia - directly. As you sail by Epidamnus
on your right, you are far within the Ionian gulf of Thucydides. There

IS a similar confusion of crvoTparcvciV nvi with avoTparvJtiv fJUETo. rtvos

(or <7VV TtVl),

The article, with its development, its prose use and its poetical
omission, its uses with proper names, and so on, must be reluctantly
dismissed with a brief remark on one point: the use of the article
with a noun in address. M^cp Aapctbv -^ yc/xua, Ilar^ '^fxStv 6 Iv toU
ovpavoU and similar examples are familiar to all, and no one would

defend irdr^p ^ap€iov 6 ycpcuc or 6 ^ roiS ovpavoL^ irarcp; but SOme

appear not to know that where there is no vocative form there is
no vocative case and the article is not excluded; but to what extent
the address affects the use of the article I have not seen discussed.
The article with a nominative following and qualifying a true voca-
tive, as just cited, is treated by some as an irregularity, as is the
predicate vocative as in 2> 4>iXraT€ ^erawiirTiay ; but on what grounds?
The pronoims still have their problems. When, for instance, " I "
18 used for "any one," must iyta be expressed? Certainly not in late
Greek. A study of this subject which I have published does not
pretend to be exhaustive or conclusive. Again, what is there specially
"Attic" about rt Xryct? trv? Has the pronoim anything to do with
it? Why was (rv in iXOk <rv, tovto iroirja-ov <rv, in the Kotn; equivalent
to ^a or /Ltwpc, and did it have the same effect in the classic Greek?
But I cannot take time even to ask the many remaining questions.



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168 GREEK LANGUAGE

In the syntax of the verb only a few isolated points will be touched
upon. First, as to tense: the dispute over the fundamental difference
between certain tenses is chiefly a battle of words, and I pass it by.
All will agree that a question between the imperfect and the aorist
is usually a question of the encroachment of the former upon the theo-
retical domain of the latter. ''EXcyc, "he was sapng," "used to say,'*
or "he said"; but cTn-c only "he said." So from the durative are
developed some special tense-relations not derived from the aorist.
The ingressive aorist of a verb denoting a state is not the same as
the imperfect that leaves an act in progress. When a purpose is im-
plied we hear of a conative imperfect if the voice is active: diraiXXvo-av
fA€; but it is equally conative in the passive: airaiXXvfjLTpr vv aurwv, only
the grammatical subject does not make the attempt. - In ia-i^o/jirjv W
avTtav it would be doubtful who made the attempt. But this so-called
conative is the same as we find in Andoc. Myst. 114, avro? fih^ avrov
dTTuAXvov T4^€i5 T^v UcTTypiav, ia'<f(/6/jL'qv Sk Ty tvx27> where there is no
attempt. Like this is the imperfect as the future of the past, as
Antiph. Tetr. A. fi. 3, <f>av€pb^ ycvoficvos &7ra)XXvfir}v. Andoc. Myst. 58,
<^v€V9 oSv avra)v iyvyvofjL'qv fyo) firj cittqiv vfuy & i^Kovaa, h'l 8e TpiaKotriov^
'AOrp/alu)v AirtoXXvoVf Kal ij iroXiS iv icaKois tol^ ftcytoTot? iyiyvero. All these

uses, the "conative," the "ingressive," the "future from the past,"
were probably to the Greeks one and the same: at least some con-
vincing proof of the contrary would be welcome. The problematical
"conative aorist," the "conatus sine effectu," must be passed by.

Omitting also the problems relating to the present and aorist of
the subjunctive, optative, imperative, and infinitive, let us consider



Online LibraryHugo Münsterburg Howard Jason RogersCongress of arts and science: Universal exposition, St. Louis, 1904 → online text (page 19 of 75)