Unusual Wordforms

I was perusing through a variety of texts this morning looking to see whether all of the wordforms I’m using in my morphological analysis/database are attested in the texts that I have on my computer: Josephus, Philo, LXX, NT, Apostolic Fathers, and the Pseudepigrapha.

Thus far, I’ve found all of my wordforms.

But in the process, I’ve come across some unusual forms that I really don’t know what to do with – all from the Greek Pseudepigrapha:

ἀγαθοῖσιν and ἀγαθοῖο

I’m guessing that its dialectal difference, but I know too little about Greek dialects to say for sure and I’d be curious if anyone has any suggestion. The first form is quite obviously a Dative Plural, either masculine or neuter (in this case its masculine, modifying ἀνδράσι; Sibylline Oracles 5.69).

As for the second, form, it appears to be a genitive since it follows a genitive preposition (ἀντ’ – Sibylline Oracles 1.46).

If anyone has any comments on these forms themselves and their origins, I’d be interested. There are numerous examples of “normal” genitive and dative forms throughout the texts.

6 thoughts on “Unusual Wordforms

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  1. Yeah, the second is genitive. That form is used a lot in Homer, so I am guessing it is Ionic…but I am not certain of that. Actually as I think of it, the first also is common in Homer.

    1. which reminds me that I have the Iliad on my computer too…

      I just got a couple more hits:

      Homer, Iliad 21.109
      Homer, Iliad 17.102
      Homer, Iliad 13.238


      Ionic, you say. Maybe Carl will stop by and confirm that…

      1. Yes, ἀγαθοῖσιν is dative plural and ἀγαθοῖο is genitive singular; the Homeric poems constitute a “Kunstsprache” which employs forms from several dialects, but mostly Ionic and Aeolic. The epic Kunstsprache continued to be used for poetry well into the late Hellenistic period, especially for dactylic hexameter and elegiac couplet — meters used, for instance, by Meleager of Gadara, a prolific poet of the first century BCE from the Decapolis, the city of the celebrated “demoniac”; that explains why you find them in the Sibylline Oracles, which are in dactylic hexameters.

  2. I would recommend brushing up your Homeric Greek; it is well worth the study. You’ll see these and other forms in that corpus.

    My favorite example is Iliad 1.34, which reads βῆ δ’ ἀκέων παρὰ θῖνα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης· (“but quietly he came by the shore of the loud-roaring sea”). Not only do you see the genitive ending -οιο but you also see an aorist without a augment. This verse inspired the following ditty:

    Polyphloisboisterous Homer of old
    Threw all his augments into the sea,
    Although he had often been courteously told
    That perfect imperfects begin with an e.
    But the poet replied with a dignified air,
    “What the Digamma does any one care?”

    1. Brush up? I’m yet to have read Homer. Maybe I’ll read it this fall and then brush up on it next spring instead.

      I do like the augment poem though – I think I’ve seen it before.

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