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LESSON 2 - ACHILLES' GRIEF - From Homer's Iliad

GREEK ACCENTS

From H. W. Smyth, Greek Grammar, I §§149-188

GENERAL PRINCIPLES,  ANASTROPHE, CHANGE OF ACCENT IN DECLENSION, INFLECTION AND COMPOSITION, PROCLITICS, ENCLITICS

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Page 3

158. A word is called barytone (βαρύ-τονος deep-toned, low-toned) when it has no accent on the ultima. All paroxytones, proparoxytones, and properispomena are also barytones.

159. 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 disregarded (τρέπωμεν).

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. προσῳδίᾱ).

161. 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.

162. The position of the accent has to be learned by observation. But the kind of accent is determined by the following rules. 

163. 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, οκοφύλαξ.

a. 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.

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