A word is called barytone
low-toned) when it has no accent on the
ultima. All paroxytones, proparoxytones, and properispomena are also
An accent is called recessive when
it moves back as far from the end of the word as the quantity of the
ultima permits (166). The quantity of the penult is here
160. Oxytone (ὀξύς,
sharp + τόνος) means
‘sharp-toned,’ perispomenon (περισπώμενος)
‘turned-around’ (circumflectus, 156).
Paroxytone and proparoxytone are derived from ὀξύτονος
with the prepositions παρά and πρό respectively.
Acute corresponds to Lat. acutus (ὀξεῖα, scil.
The invention of the marks of accent is
attributed to Aristophanes of Byzantium, librarian at Alexandria about
200 B.C. The use of signs served to fix the correct accentuation, which
was becoming uncertain in the third century B.C.; marked the variation
of dialect usage; and rendered the acquisition of Greek easier for
foreigners. The signs for the accents (and the breathings) were not
regularly employed in Mss. till after 600 A.D.
The position of the accent has to be
learned by observation. But the kind of accent is determined by the
The antepenult, if accented, can have the
acute only (ἄνθρωπος, βασίλεια queen,
οἰκοφύλακος of a house-guard). If the
ultima is long, either by nature or by position, the antepenult cannot
take an accent: hence ἀνθρώπου,
βασιλείᾱ kingdom, οἰκοφύλαξ.
Some nouns in -εως and -εων admit the
acute on the antepenult. Thus, the genitive of nouns in -ις and
-υς (πόλεως, πόλεων, ἄστεως), the forms of the
Attic declension, as ἵ̄λεως . So
the Ionic genitive in -εω (πολί̄τεω); also some compound
adjectives in -ως, as δύσερως unhappy in love,
ὑψίκερως lofty antlered.