The week ends

Unit 19 ends.

Another unit, another μι-verb. This time it’s ἵστημι “cause to stand, set up”, which has an inherently causative sense and is almost certainly cognate with Latin sistere “place, set, plant”. It’s a pesky verb because you then have to remember that the root aorist form, ἔστην, is intransitive and means “I stood”, whereas the weak aorist, ἔστησα “I raised”, remains intransitive. Just to be perverse (although it’s not alone in this respect), the perfect supplies the present – ἕστηκα “I am standing”. (English once had a few preterite presents. For example, witan “to know” had a present form ic wāt “I know”, which is actually cognate with Greek οἶδα “I know”, being the perfect of IE *ueid– “see” [cf. Latin uideo]. Thus “I have seen”, therefore, “I know”.)

There are several other verbs in Greek which use perfect forms of the verb as the present tense.

I’ve never really thought about it, but I note that verbs in Greek with reduplication in the present use –ι– as the reduplicating vowel instead of –ε-. Odd, because IE *i and *u are typically the zero grade of the series *ei/oi/i and *eu/ou/u. I wonder whether the -i- in the present is affective to distinguish present reduplication from perfects in *Ce-.

Potential clauses are similar to conditional clauses, but all ἄν and no trousers.

The reading includes this famous epitaph by Simonides for Leonidas and the Spartans who held off the Persians at Thermopylae:

ὦ ξεῖν’, ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
κείμεθα, τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.
Stranger, tell the Spartans that here we lie, obedient to their words.


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