Tag Archives: Greek grammar

Predicative adjectives, wordpress blogs

And the three-hares problem.
three_hares I’ve mentioned wordpress in the title because on a whim I thought I’d try a link to a wordpress blog while I was looking for a picture for the three-hares problem. And there they are in the picture – all hairy [Are you sure about that? –ed.] and problematic. And lo and behold! the wordpress blog was accessible, though perhaps not unto the seventh generation. I note, on the other hand, that livejournal blogs are still off the menu.
Anyway, that’s not why we’re here today. I worked my way through the Greek exam from Durham University which I found while searching, I think, for Dikaiopolis, who features in JACT Reading Greek. I didn’t attempt the thing under exam conditions, but it was, in my view, a fairly easy exam. To get back to Dikaiopolis, though, he’s the main character in Aristophanes’ play Acharnians, which is a satire on the Peloponnesian War. Dikaiopolis concludes a private peace treaty with Sparta. I assume that the JACT text is based on the play, but is actually artificial Classical Greek prose. The passage in the exam was fairly simple, I thought.
For some reason this got me wondering about predicative adjectives. For those of you who missed the memo, a predicative adjective is the complement of a verb such as be, become, seem, appear, turn etc. as well as a few which take a direct object and an adjectival complement such as turn (e.g. The chemical turned the water green) and paint (e.g. They painted their house white). And Classical Greek was fairly similar.
One difference is that εἶναι “to be” may be omitted and the adjective may occur before or after its NP (e.g. καλὴ ἡ γυνή or ἡ γυνὴ καλή “The woman is beautiful”). It’s not really the same as Chinese in which adjectives are stative verbs, but the two languages do bear a superficial similarity on this point. On the other hand, Greek goes well beyond paint-verbs. A common pattern I’ve noticed on this occasion (of reacquainting myself with Classical Greek, that is) is the fronting of predicative adjectives. Morwood (2001:125) has this example:

ἀθάνατον τὴν περὶ αὑτῶν μνήμην καταλείψουσιν “They will leave behind a memory of themselves (that will be) immortal.”

(Isocrates 1.9.3)
If you wanted to be really prosaic about it, you could translate it as “Immortal will be the memory of themselves that they will leave behind”, although this sort of translation won’t necessarily work with more complex sentences or, indeed, even some simple ones. For example, Weir Smyth (1920:257, §915) has

μετεώρους ἐξεκόμισαν τὰς ἁμάξας “They lifted the wagons and carried them out.”

(Xenophon, Anabasis 1.5.8)
which more literally is “They carried out the wagons (which had been) raised”.
I assume that this fronting is emphatic, although that sentence from Xenophon hardly seems to demand that the adjective should be emphasised (“Raised were the wagons which they carried out” – O noble exercise in vehicular logistics!). But I’m not sure whether such adjectives are performing a limiting or non-limiting function, or whether they can do either. As far as I can find in Weir Smyth, there’s nothing about this.
As for what can be modified, Weir Smyth (1920:275ff., §1040ff.) mentions the usual verbs (be, become etc.) as well as active verbs which take a preposition.

νόμους ἔθεσθε ἐπ’ ἀδήλοις τοῖς ἀδικήσουσι “You have enacted laws with regard to offenders who are unknown.”

(Demosthenes 21.30)
I’m not really certain what Weir Smyth actually means because the verb is transitive and has an adverbial adjunct which, itself, contains a predicative adjective. Or perhaps he’s referring to the participle, ἀδικήσουσι “those who offend; offenders”. On the other hand, that’s dative because of the preposition ἐπί.
In other instances, an adjective of time, place or order of succession is used where English would use an adverbial expression instead (e.g. κατέβαινον σκοταῖοι “they descended in the dark”). Adjectives of degree and manner are used in the same way (e.g. φέρονται οἱ λίθοι πολλοί “The stones are thrown in great numbers”, Xenophon, Anabasis 4.7.7).
Although I’m unsure of the exact details because I’m not a syntactian, the adjective either remains in situ (e.g. φέρονται οἱ λίθοι πολλοί) or gets raised (e.g. μετεώρους ἐξεκόμισαν τὰς ἁμάξας). This would also apply to my original examples, καλὴ ἡ γυνή and ἡ γυνὴ καλή. I don’t know whether there are sentences of the type ἐξεκόμισαν μετεώρους τὰς ἁμάξας, but presumably it’s possible. It would also seem that the adjective cannot be raised outside of a preposition, although in the example above, it’s behaving like a conjunction. There’s probably some principle in syntactic theory which would explain this. I just don’t happen to know what it is.
And finally, what about attributive adjectives, or more exactly, the construction ἡ γυνὴ ἡ καλή “the beautiful woman”? One DP/NP or two? Have to be two, but I don’t know what the structure is above that.

Class time was productively utilised

And you’re right. I did the productive utilising.

I had planned a media studies day for Class 7 this morning, but finding that I had quite a lot of copies of yesterday’s worksheet, I thought I’d give them that to stare at in class while I busied myself with some Greek. In fact, quite a number of the little darlings were absent because of this interminable arts festival, although that should be finishing today. And it was because quite a number of the bratlings in Class 5 had been absent yesterday that I had enough copies of the worksheet for Class 7. 

I was going through the chapter on time, place and space in Morwood when I wondered why the place is called αἱ Ἀθῆναι. Liddell and Scott supply an answer: it was plural because it consisted of several parts. My guess was that it might’ve meant “the people of Athena”, where the plural form of the goddesses name covered the whole people in much the same way that DJ use band names in the plural to mean a countable collective of the members within it. I suppose the principle is, in fact, similar. 

It’s interesting to note the different adverbial forms of the name. Ἀθήναζε “to Athens” is from Ἀθήνας (acc pl) + –δε, but Ἀθήνησι “at Athens” and Ἀθήνηθεν “from Athens” are based on the singular stem. Thus people went to the collective, but seem only to have been in or from one particular part.

I was also curious about the relationship between ἐνταῦθα “here, there; to here, to there” and ἐντεῦθεν “from here, from there”, and why the vowel is different. For a start, ἐνταῦθα is from ἔνθα “there”, whereas ἐντεῦθεν is from ἔνθεν. Both words have been affected by Grassmann’s Law (the first of a pair of aspirates in sequential syllables becomes a plain stop). But, I ask myself, where do the υ’s come from? Were they originally u-stems? 

If that is the case, then ἐντεῦθεν can’t be derived directly from ἔνθεν, but must rather come from ἐνθεῦ-. Similarly, ἐνταῦθα can’t really be from ἔνθα, but rather from ἐνθαῦ-. Besides, ἔνθα and ἔνθεν would appear to be underlying unaccented,[1] whereas –θαῦ– and –θεῦ– are inherently accented – perhaps.[2]

I got through quite a few more sections of Lysias’ oration On the murder of Eratosthenes (OME) yesterday and I’ve been gradually getting a translation of κατὰ Νεαίρας which, it turns out, was quite a long piece of work. I really need an edition of OME rather than just some marginal glosses (not that they’re handy). I read these things and find myself thinking that they all protested too much. Perhaps Athenian audiences were ready to buy into this. Never mind the facts, feel the emotion. I always feel sorry for Neaira, but know that a misogynistic Athenian audience wouldn’t have recognised that she was a victim of the society in which she lived. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the men of Athens were outraged by her behaviour, but hypocrites for being so.

1. But note ἐνθάδε “to here” and ἐνθένδε “from here”, where –δε appears to be a pre-accenting particle. I can’t explain Ἀθήναζε instead of *Ἀθηνάζε unless the leftmost of two lexical accents, provided it still falls within the window of stress at the right edge (i.e., doesn’t fall further from the final syllable than the antepenultimate), bears primary stress.
The stress on Ἀθῆναι is lexical because the nom pl morpheme –αι counts as light, which means that a phonologically assigned accent would fall on the initial syllable.
Things get even more complicated with doubly accented words such as Ὄλυμπόνδε “to Olympus”; Ἰθάκηνδε “to Ithaca”, which has a phonologically assigned accent; Φαληρόνδε “to Phalerum”, but note Φάληρον with the phonologically assigned accent on the antepenultimate syllable and the locative Φαληροῖ.
Perhaps some stems are inherently accented regardless of the source of the accent, while others aren’t.
Weir Smyth (1920:43, §186) says “Sometimes an enclitic unites with a preceding word to form a compound (cp. Lat. –que, –ve), which is accented as if the enclitic were still a separate word. Thus… the inseparable –δε in ὅδε, τούσδε, οἴκαδε”. Thus, Φαληρόνδε is an enclitic accent of the usual sort (which means that ἐνθάδε, ἐνθένδε, and Φάληρον, which has a recessive accent, are underlyingly unaccented; Ὄλυμπόνδε retains the antepenultimate accent, but I don’t know why this should be; Ἀθήναζε retains the original accent because the gap between the two accents isn’t bimoraic).
2. But –θεν behaves much like –δε with respect to accentuation, and –θα may behave in a similar fashion. –θαῦ– and –θεῦ– may not be inherently accented at all. On the other hand, I’m not aware of the enclitic accent producing a circumflex. As far as I’m aware, the resulting accent is always acute. Weir Smyth (1920:42, §183b) has φιλῶ σε and τιμῶν τινων, but these are the original accents with no possibility of the enclitic accent being assigned to the preceding syllable even before contraction because the distance between the two accents would be a single mora (e.g. φιλέω σε = é.oo.e; cf. ἄνθρωπός τις = á.oo.ó.i with a bimoraic span between the accents). In other words, it appears that –θαῦ– and –θεῦare inherently accented.

It’s not just rhetoric

Well, some of it is, I suppose.

As you may recall, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, I expressed vexation at the long-standing claim that Classical Greek was allegedly a bit quodlibet when it came to word (i.e., constituent) order. Out of curiosity, I decided to have a closer look at a short section of Lysias’ On the murder of Eratosthenes and found that a high degree of regularity was the order of the day. Here’s the section in question.

[8] ἐπ’ ἐκφορὰν γὰρ αὐτῇ ἀκολουθήσασα ἡ ἐμὴ γυνὴ ὑπὸ τούτου τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὀφθεῖσα χρόνῳ διαφθείρεται· ἐπιτηρῶν γὰρ τὴν θεράπαιναν τὴν εἰς τὴν ἀγορὰν βαδίζουσαν καὶ λόγους προσφέρων ἀπώλεσεν αὐτήν.

The subject of the first sentence is ἡ ἐμὴ γυνὴ “my wife”, which is modified by two non-finite verb clauses, αὐτῇ ἀκολουθήσασα “while she followed her” and ὑπὸ τούτου τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ὀφθεῖσα “seen by this person”. Note the structure of both of these. The complement (αὐτῇ, ὑπὸ τούτου τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) precedes the head (ἀκολουθήσασα, ὀφθεῖσα). Note also how αὐτῇ ἀκολουθήσασα, which is a modifier, precedes its head, ἡ ἐμὴ γυνὴ, but in order to avoid the whole phrase being top-heavy, Lysias places the second modifier after the subject and gets a nice modifier – head – modifier pattern. 

I got tripped up by χρόνῳ “in time”, which actually follows the same pattern because it goes with the verb διαφθείρεται “she was seduced”. However, as a speaker of a VO language, my inclination was to take it with the preceding verb. Nonetheless, the sentence ends up being subject – adverbial adjunct – verb. 

The second sentence shows a similar sort of patterning in some of its parts. τὴν θεράπαιναν τὴν εἰς τὴν ἀγορὰν βαδίζουσαν “the maid who was walking in the market place” follows the spec + noun + spec + modifier pattern (e.g. ἡ γυνὴ ἡ σοφή “the wise woman”), but inside the modifying phrase, εἰς τὴν ἀγορὰν βαδίζουσαν follows the adjunct/complement + head order. So does λόγους προσφέρων “addressing arguments” with the dO preceding the verb. αὐτήν “her”, on the other hand, stands in a marked position, which makes it emphatic.

The point is that Classical Greek had some sort of constituent order, albeit one that could, for whatever reason, be violated. However, this modifier-head pattern in the language could be helpful in deciding what to do with adverbial adjuncts: as a general principle, they might be taken with what follows rather than with what precedes.

Is it an adverb? Is it a conjunction?

Or is it an enormous pain in the arse?

There are only two parts to the grammar in Unit 22 [of TY Ancient Greek] and one of them is about ὡς. I wrote that out in my notebook, not verbatim, but just the details and the examples. That took up seven pages and I’m still none the wiser when it comes to spotting some of the less obvious functions of this pesky little word.

The other part of the grammar was various other functions of the accusative, which means verbs taking two accusatives and cognate accusatives.

The prize for most puzzling sentence in the reading has to go to δίδου πένησιν ὡς λάβῃς θεὸν δότην. The first part is simple enough: “Give to the poor”. Since the verb is subjunctive and there’s no sign of ἄν, it would appear that ὡς is introducing a purpose clause. The verb seems to be taking some sort of double accusative, but I didn’t know that λαμβάνω “take; receive” could do that, LSJ has

6. c. dupl. acc., take as, λαβὼν πρόβλημα σαυτοῦ παῖδα τόνδ’ Id.Ph.1007; ξυμπαραστάτην λ. τινά ib.675; τοὺς Ἕλληνας λ. συναγωνιζομένους Isoc.5.86.

But where does that leave the sentence in question? “Give to the poor to take the giver as a god”? That doesn’t make much sense and reversing the order of the two accusatives makes even less sense. I admit defeat. The book has, “Give to the poor in order that you find god a giver”. Er, all right. λαμβάνω can mean “find”, but in the sense “come upon”.

Another sentence which could do with some additional explanation.

Of what kind

He is such a kind, sort of.

The likes of τοσοῦτος/ὅσος “so many/much” and τοιοῦτος/οἷος “such” predict the likelihood of at least one sentence in any subsequent reading which I’ll probably find incomprehensible. I’ve never been disappointed on other occasions, and I certain wasn’t disappointed this time. The sentence is

οἵῳ τις ἂν τὸ πλεῖστον τῆς ἡμέρας συνῇ, τοιοῦτον ἀνάγκη γενέσθαι καὶ αὐτὸν τοὺς τρόπους.

The first part isn’t so dire. It runs something like “Whoever is with a certain sort of person most of the day”.

The dark corners

I guessed that τοὺς τρέπους “in habit” was accusative of respect. Initially, I came to the same conclusion about τοιοῦτον…αὐτὸν because there isn’t a transitive verb in sight. I actually have no idea what αὐτὸν is doing there and whether I’m even right to assume that it has a connection with τοιοῦτον. It shouldn’t have any connection to ἀνάγκη [ἐστί] “must” because that takes a dative and infinitive.[1] It looks like the second clause means “he must also become such a person in his habits”.

A light is shone into the dark corners

The notes in the book shed no light on this. The meaning appears to be obvious and even if the translation can’t be literal, I still want to know what the grammar is up to. Consulting Weir Smith (see fn. 1) reveals that αὐτὸν is probably the subject of ἀνάγκη [ἐστί], and τοιοῦτον, therefore, is probably the complement of γενέσθαι “become” because with this particular verb, the complement agrees in case with the subject (cf. archaic English it is I; I am he etc.). But without this additional piece of information, the reader is going to be baffled. It’s possible that somewhere in TY Ancient Greek there’s a note which says that ἀνάγκη [ἐστί] can also take an acc/inf. construction, but that’s buried somewhere.

So if I’m right about this, I can now see what the mechanics of the sentence are instead of merely knowing what the words mean and then arranging them intelligibly in English. The point is that a piece of information which is necessary for the reader to know to understand this sentence properly is missing or hidden.

I can at least say from an online search that it’s a fragment of Antiphon (c. 485-390 BC).


1. According to the glossary in TY Ancient Greek. On the other hand, Weir Smith (1920:442, §1985b.) says that it can take the accusative or dative and infinitive.

When it’s Saturday afternoon

You do Unit 20.

Unit 20 covers -νυ-μι verbs, which, if I remember rightly, are Class 5 verbs in Sanskrit. ἵημι “let go, send forth” and its irksome compounds make an appearance. This is the other especially annoying μι-verb in Greek.

The next couple of sections are about specialised uses of the genitive and accusative cases, which is where we finally get that old chestnut, the accusative of respect. And there’s πόδας ὠκὺς Ἀχιλλεύς “swift-footed Achilles”.

The sentence from the reading which wins the award for Most Pretentious Word Order goes to

ὁ Σωκράτης φανερὸς ἦν οὐ τῶν τὰ σώματα πρὸς ὥραν, ἀλλὰ τῶν τὰς ψυχὰς πρὸς ἀρετὴν εὖ πεφυκότων ἐφιέμενος.
Socrates clearly desired not those naturally well-endowed in body with respect to beauty, but those naturally well-endowed in spirit with respect to virtue.

where the verbs of the two subordinate clauses are right at the end. εὖ πεφυκότων “being well-endowed by nature” goes with the gen pl articles, while ἐφιέμενος “desiring” goes with Σωκράτης.

[06.08.13. Added tags and edited the formatting. Wondering why <span> tags are being used within <div> tags to format text.]

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.

Fie! A pox on’t, I say


ὡς is one of those annoying polysemic words in Classical Greek that is an enigma every time. If the Greeks had had an ounce of sense, they would’ve avoided using it where there was some word more transparent in meaning, keen and eager to be used to comprehensible effect. The following couplet (TY Ancient Greek, Unit 19, No. 6; more like No. 22, but let’s not go there) drove me mad. It wasn’t that I couldn’t understand what it was probably saying, but that I didn’t want to probably translate it. Once you do understand the mechanics, it’s really rather easy, but I felt that there were shoals, shallows and reefs requiring a navigator.

ὡς τοῖς κακῶς πράσσουσιν ἡδὺ καὶ βραχὺν
χρόνον λαθέσθαι τῶν παρεστώτων κακῶν

ὡς…ἡδὺ “How sweet [it is]”. ὡς here is that exclamatory “how”. ἡδὺ “sweet” is nom/acc sg neuter, while ἐστι “it is” is to be understood.

τοῖς κακῶς πράσσουσιν “for those who fare badly”. I got tripped up on πράσσουσιν, thinking that it was either the dat pl fem of the present participle (which would actually be πρασσούσαις) or 3rd pl pres indic active because I’d forgotten it was the dat pl masc of the present participle. It agrees with τοῖς. The phrase is also the subject of λαθέσθαι.

καὶ “even”. It doesn’t co-ordinate the two adjectives.

βραχὺν χρόνον “for a short time”. An accusative of extent of time.

λαθέσθαι “to forget”. Aorist middle inf. of λανθάνομαι. As I noted above, the subject is τοῖς κακῶς πράσσουσιν, a kind of construction which is also found in English (e.g, It’s good for X to do Y). As a verb of forgetting, it takes a dO in the genitive.

τῶν παρεστώτων κακῶν “the evils at hand”. dO of λαθέσθαι, being genitive after a verb of forgetting.

Thus (fairly literally), “How sweet it is for those faring badly to forget the evils at hand even for a short time.”

It’s all mi, mi, mi

μι verbs.

Having got used to βαίνω, βαίνεις, βαίνει and παύομαι, παύῃ, παύεται and various quirks in that yard of moribund junk that is much of the Classical Greek verb, no learner has probably ever met μι-verbs with anything but, “You’ve got to be f_cking kidding me.” It doesn’t matter that mi-verbs are the norm in Vedic Sanskrit or that this was the original form of the verbal conjugation in Indo-European. It probably doesn’t help that they are to thematic verbs as consonant stem nouns are to the o-stems. No, they’re just another zombie from the graveyard of Indo-European verb forms. 

I don’t know whether there’s ever a good time for them to put in an appearance. I wonder whether they should be presented alongside thematic verbs from the start instead of being treated as if they’re somehow some advanced piece of grammar. Most of them and their compounds are high frequency verbs so I suppose many a smug teacher of Greek has said things like, “You get to know them soon enough” when they haven’t been introduced soon enough at all. 

And just to make Unit 18 that little bit more painful, the boys throw in αἱρέω take, capture with its pesky suppletive forms from ἁλίσκομαι be captured and annoying medio-passive αἱρέομαι choose.

It might seem a bit much to then tackle conditional forms after all that lot, but that’s what comes next. The conditional in Greek isn’t quite as monstrous a form as you might fear it to be with fewer instances of the subjunctive and optative than you might expect. Unfortunately (I think), Betts and Henry avoid the traditional terminology, which was unhelpful because sooner or later, the terms protasis and apodosis will be used along with others such as open, unfulfilled and remote. If I remember Reading Greek correctly, it has all this set out clearly. Morwood (2001:183ff.) also has a clear exposition.

And there’s one more piece of grammar – the behaviour of the adjectives ἄκρος high, on top of, μέσος middle, middle of and ἔσχατος furthest, furthest part of. And thus there’s rather a lot of grammar to deal with in this unit.

The reading is some proverbs, a couple of epigrams, some more waggish things Diogenes said, and a short extract from Thucydides about a trick the Athenians pulled on the Syracusians. The extra reading is from Xenophon’s Anabasis.

Order of the day

The imperative.

The quantity of reading for Unit 17 [of TY Classical Greek] has rather slowed me down with maxims from Delphi, proverbs, and stories about the pithy wit of the Spartans, all of which come to more than just one sentence per question. The most annoying sentence is this one

πολλὴ ἔχθρα καὶ μῖσος ἀλλήλων τοῖς πολίταις ἐγγίγνεται, δι’ ἃ ἔγωγε μάλα φοβοῦμαι ἀεὶ μή τι μεῖζον ἢ ὥστε φέρειν κακὸν τῇ πόλει συμβῇ.

which needed a little more annotation than it has in the book. It appears that μεῖζον should be taken with κακὸν, and that the standard of comparison is ἢ ὥστε φέρειν. It seems to mean “Much hostility and mutual hatred appear among the citizens, because of which I always fear lest some greater evil befalls the city than it can bear”.
The unit covers the imperative, and the comparative and superlative. Greek has both 2nd and 3rd person imperatives, and present and aorist forms. The distinction between the present and aorist is aspect, the former being imperfective (continuous) and the latter being perfective (non-continuous). And there’s a tendency to use them with verbs which are inherently one sort of action or the other.
The regular comparative and superlative endings are –τερος and –τατος which cause the stem vowel of o-stem adjectives to be lengthened when the preceding syllable is short. I’ve never seen an explanation of this phenomenon, which produce forms ending in LHLL beside HLLL. as far as I’m aware, Greek does this nowhere else.
n-stem adjectives have acquired their comparative and superlative from the s-stems, hence –εσ-τερος and –εσ-τατος. Other adjectives have retained older comparative and superlative endings in –(ι)ων (-[ι]ον-) and –ιστος, or are suppletive (e.g. ἀγαθός good, ἀμείνων better, ἄριστος best). Curiously, μεῖζων greater shows a mixture of n- and s-stem forms in its declension with an accusative sg μείζονα beside μείζω (< *μεγjοσα, presumably). The Latin comparative is from the s-stem form *-jos-.
The unit ends with a section on verbs which have suppletive passives such as ἀποκτείνω kill which uses ἀποθνῄσκω be killed (usually die).
There’s some extra reading (another passage from Prometheus Bound, but that can wait for the moment.
The moment having been waited… The extract was Hermes rather rudely demanding the Prometheus should reveal the prophecy he knows about a marriage which will deprive Zeus of his throne. But Prometheus basically calls Hermes a parvenu and tells him to bugger off. Probably, the Greeks would’ve regarded Prometheus’ words as impious and self-condemning, but like Milton’s Satan, Prometheus is, to a modern audience at least, more admirable than wicked for his heroic defiance in the face of overwhelming odds.