14 May 2006

Random Philology

The Vedic Verbal Edifice. One curious turn of phrase common in Epic is βῆ δ’ ἴμεν. It has dozens of variations, from βάν ῥ’ ἴμεναι out to the set phrase βάσκ’ ἴθι (Iliad 2.8., though some might object to that last one being included). The phrase is a little unusual in that it's just a finite form of "to go" followed by an infitive with basically the same meaning. "He went to go?" Now forms of βαίνω sometimes take on the sense of "to step," so I can see how these both might be used together.

Since both stems have clear cognates in Vedic I wondered if there were parallels. At the moment I don't know of a good database that'd let me do a lexical search like that for the Vedic corpus, so I went to my Vedic grammar to look up forms. In Macdonell's Vedic Grammar for Students the entry for i (cognate of ἴμεν) has this listing of infinitives: étum (B.); étave, étavái, ityái, iyádhyai, áyase; étos. Such riches!

Phonetic Echos in Epic. Another common turn of phrase in Epic is αὐτὰρ ἐπεί/ἔπειτα. In fact, some Hellenistic critic referred to hackish Cyclic poets as "people who say 'αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα.'" I recently ran across αὖτις ἔπειτα in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (325), but a quick search shows that it appears once in the Odyssey, too, 11.98. I wonder how much that leading αὐτ- motivated the following ἔπειτα.

1 comment:

Tarik said...

Also quite common in Homer is αὐτίκ᾽ ἔπειτ(α), sometimes αὐτικ’ ἐπεί.