Sophia says: How to give orders
Direct commands: are expressed by the imperative, normally present if used for a general command or aorist if used for a particular occasion
λεγε ταυτα = Say these things
ελθετω δευρο = Let him come here
Prohibitions: are expressed by μη with the present imperative if general, or μη with the aorist subjunctive if used for a particular occasion
μη κλεπτε = Don’t steal
μη αποπεμψη˛ς τους συμμαχους = Don’t send away the allies
Exhortations: are expressed by the first person plural of the subjunctive, negative μη
θαυμαζωμεν τους αγαθους = Let us admire good men
μη παυσωμεθα τουδε του πολεμου = Let us not cease from this war
Indirect commands: are expressed by the infinitive (as in English), negative μη
ελεγον αυτοις μη αδικειν = They told them not to act unjustly (Thucydides)
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Sophia says: How to recognise direct and indirect questions
Direct questions are introduced by an interrogative (questioning) word followed by an indicative verb. Note that the equivalent of our question mark is ; Take care not to mix up interrogative (τι´ς) and indefinite (τις) pronouns (word order will help). The negative is ου.
Common interrogatives include:
αρα; – if used introduces a simple question
αρα ου; – surely?
αρα μη; – surely… not?
τι´ς; – who?
τι´; – what?
που; – where?
ποι; – where to?
ποθεν; – where from?
ποτε; – when?
πως; – how?
Note also ποτερον… η – whether… or
αρα αυτω˛ πιστευουσι; = Do they trust him?
αρα ου αυτω˛ πιστευουσι; = Surely they trust him? (Expects the answer ‘yes’)
τι´ς εστι ‛ο ξενος; = Who is the stranger?
Indirect questions are introduced by an interrogative word, most commonly followed by an indicative verb in the tense used by the original speaker. Note that indirect questions may follow verbs which do not mean ask (e.g. say, see, hear). The negative is ου.
ηρετο που ‛οι πολεμιοι εισι = He asked where the enemy were
ηρετο αυτους ποτερον ενικησαν η ου = He asked them whether they had won or not
Sophia says: How to recognise indirect statement
Greek expresses indirect or reported statement (often indicated by ‘that’ in English) in three main ways.
Verbs of saying and thinking: after φημι (I say) or νομιζω (I think) the verb of the indirect statement is infinitive; if the subject is the same use nominative and infinitive, if the subject of the indirect statement is different use accusative and infinitive; the negative is ου, which is normally placed before φημι
εφη αυτος ιεναι = He said that he himself would go
ου εφη αυτος ιεναι = He said that he himself would not go
εφη τον παιδα ειναι σοφον = He said that the boy was wise
Verbs of knowing and perceiving: after οιδα (I know), ακουω (I hear), ορω (I see) and other verbs of knowing and perceiving the verb of the indirect statement is a participle; other aspects of the construction are as above
οιδα ου σοφος ων = I know that I am not wise
οιδα τον παιδα οντα σοφον = I know that the boy is wise
‛οτι or ‛ως construction: after λεγω (I say) and some other verbs (including αγγελλω I announce, αποκρινομαι I reply) Greek uses ‛οτι or ‛ως (meaning ‘that’) followed by an indicative verb in the tense used by the original speaker; the negative is ου
λεγουσι ‛οτι ‛ο Πρωταγορας ου σοφος εστι = They say that Protagoras is not wise
απεκρινατο ‛οτι ‛οι πολεμιοι απηλθον = He replied that the enemy had departed
Sophia says: Understand purpose clauses and result clauses
Greek expresses purpose clauses (sometimes known as final clauses) in two main ways. It is important to distinguish these from result clauses (also known as consecutive clauses). Both are sometimes translated using ‘to…’ in English.
Purpose clauses may be expressed using ‛ινα, ‛ως or ‛οπως followed by the subjunctive (negative μη); or by using a future participle (negative ου):
πορευομεθα εκεισε ‛ινα τους δουλους λυσωμεν = We are marching there to set free the slaves
επεμψα τον παιδα λυσοντα τον βουν = I sent the boy to let out the cow
Result clauses are normally expressed using a combination of a signpost word meaning ‘so…’ or ‘too…’ (e.g. ‛ουτως, τοιουτος, τοσουτος) followed by ‘that…’ (normally ‛ωστε with the infinitive – negative μη):
‛οι Λακεδαιμονιοι εισι ‛ουτω ανδρειοι ‛ωστε αει ευ μαχεσθαι = The Spartans are so brave that they always fight well
ουχ ‛ουτω μωρος ειμι ‛ωστε τουτο ποιειν = I am not so foolish as to do this
Sophia says: Recognise the genitive absolute
If a noun or pronoun with a participle in agreement cannot be made the subject or object of the main verb, Greek uses a genitive absolute: the noun/pronoun and participle are put into the genitive case.
The easiest way to translate a genitive absolute in English is often by beginning ‘When…’
του στρατηγου κελευσαντος, απεχωρησαν.
When the general had given the order, they withdrew.
Sophia says: Understand pronouns
As in English, pronouns are often used in place of nouns.
If the sense is clear, the definite article is often used as a possessive pronoun: επορευομην μετα του πατρος = I travelled with my father
The genitive of αυτος is used as a third person possessive pronoun: αυτου, αυτης, αυτου = his, her, its (when these are not reflexive); ελυσα τον δουλον αυτου = I set free his slave
αυτος may also be used in the following ways (note the importance of word order in these examples):
‛ο ανηρ αυτος = the man himself
‛ο αυτος ανηρ = the same man
In any case except the nominative to mean him, her, it, them
Some demonstrative pronouns are regularly used: ‛οδε = this, ‛ουτος = this, εκεινος = that
The indefinite pronoun is regularly used, and the same word is also common as an adjective: τις, τι = someone, something, a certain
Sophia says: Notice different uses of the article
The article is used in a variety of ways:
Instead of a possessive adjective – αγει την στρατιαν – He leads his army
With nouns denoting a class – ‛οι ποιηται – Poets
With abstract nouns – ‛η ελπις – Hope
With names of persons and places – ‛αι Αθηναι – Athens
With a participle (where English might use a relative clause) – ου τιμωμεν τους φευγοντας – We do not honour those who flee
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Sophia says: Know the Greek middle
As well as active and passive voices, many Greek verbs have a middle voice. Its tenses are the same as those of the passive, except for the future and aorist tenses (e.g. λυσομαι, ελυσαμην).
The middle voice is often used with a reflexive quality to describe actions which affect the subject:
λυομαι τους αιχμαλωτους – I ransom the prisoners
φερομαι αθλον – I win a prize
It may also be similar in function to deponent verbs in Latin:
αυλιζομαι – I encamp
βουλευομαι – I deliberate
μαχομαι – I fight
οργιζομαι – I grow angry
παυομαι – I cease from (+ gen.)
πειθομαι – I obey (+ dat.)
πορευομαι – I march
The infinitive is in part a verb, in part a noun. It can be used to express purpose (to, for), and is normally negatived by μη.
The tenses of the active infinitive can be recognised as follows:
Present – λυειν – to set free
Future – λυσειν – to be about to set free
Aorist – λυσαι – to have set free
The use of the perfect tense, which is less common, will be explained later.
It is also helpful to recognise the verb to be – ειναι
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We have seen how vowels at the beginning of verbs may be lengthened by an augment. If verb stems end with a vowel, they may be merged (contracted) with the vowel of the ending.
It is helpful to learn these basic rules:
α + ε or η = α
α + ο or ω = ω
ι becomes subscript˛; υ disappears
ε + ε = ει
ε + ο = ου
ε followed by a long vowel or diphthong disappears (NB a diphthong is two vowels combined to make one sound e.g. oi)
ο followed by a long vowel becomes ω
ο followed by a short vowel becomes ου
Any combination with ι becomes οι