Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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Prepositions define the relations of a substantival notion to the predicate.

a. All prepositions seem to have been adverbs originally and mostly adverbs of place; as adverbs they are case-forms. Several are locatives, as περί.


The prepositions express primarily notions of space, then notions of time, and finally are used in figurative relations to denote cause, agency, means, manner, etc. Attic often differs from the Epic in using the prepositions to denote metaphorical relations. The prepositions define the character of the verbal action and set forth the relations of an oblique case to the predicate with greater precision than is possible for the cases without a preposition. Thus, μετὰ δὲ μνηστῆρσιν ἔειπε he spake among the suitors ρ 467 specifies the meaning with greater certainty than μνηστῆρσιν ἔειπε. So ὁ Ἑλλήνων φόβος may mean the fear felt by the Greeks or the fear caused by the Greeks; but with ἐξ or παρά (cp. X. A. 1.2.18, Lyc. cross130) the latter meaning is stated unequivocally. The use of a preposition often serves to show how a construction with a composite case ( cross1279) is to be regarded (genitive or ablative; dative, instrumental, or locative).


Development of the Use of Prepositions.—

a. Originally the preposition was a free adverb limiting the meaning of the verb but not directly connected with it: κατ' ἄρ' ἕζετο down he sate him A 101. In this use the preposition may be called a ‘preposition-adverb.’

b. The preposition-adverb was also often used in sentences in which an oblique case depended directly on the verb without regard to the prepositionadverb. Here the case is independent of the preposition-adverb, as in βλεφάρων ἄπο δάκρυα πί_πτει from her eyelids, away, tears fall ξ 129. Here βλεφάρων is ablatival genitive and is not governed by ἀπό, which serves merely to define the relation between verb and noun.

c. Gradually the preposition-adverb was brought into closer connection either (1) with the verb, whence arose compounds such as ἀποπί_πτειν, or (2) with the noun, the preposition-adverb having freed itself from its adverbial relation to the verb. In this stage, which is that of Attic prose, the noun was felt to depend on the preposition. Hence arose many syntactical changes, e.g.

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the accusative of the limit of motion ( cross1588) was abandoned in prose for the preposition with the accusative.

Prepositions have three uses.


(I) Prepositions appear as adverbs defining the action of verbs.


The preposition-adverb usually precedes the verb, from which it is often separated in Homer by nouns and other words: ἡμῖν ἀπὸ λοιγὸν ἀμῦναι to ward off destruction from (for) us A 67, πρὸ γὰρ ἧκε θεά_ the goddess sent her forth A 195, ἔχεν κάτα γαῖα the earth held him fast B 699.


So, as links connecting sentences, πρὸς δὲ καί and καὶ πρός and besides, ἐπὶ δέ and besides, μετὰ δέ and next, thereupon (both in Hdt.), ἐν δέ and among the number (Hdt.).


The verb (usually ἐστί or εἰσί, rarely εἰμί) may be omitted: οὐ γάρ τις μέτα τοῖος ἀνήρ for no such man is among them φ 93. Cp. cross944.


The preposition-adverb may do duty for the verb in parallel clauses: ἄνδρες ἀνέσταν, ἂν μὲν ἄρ' Ἀτρεΐδης . . . ἂν δ' ἄρα Μηριόνης the men rose up, rose up Atreides, rose up Meriones Ψ 886. So in Hdt.


(II) Prepositions connect verbs and other words with the oblique cases of nouns and pronouns.


It is often impossible to decide whether the preposition belongs to the verb or to the noun. Thus, ἐκ δὲ Χρυ_σηὶς νηὸς βῆ A 439 may be Chryseïs went out of the ship or Chryseïs went-out-from (ἐξέβη) the ship. When important words separate the prep.-adv. from the noun, the prep.-adv. is more properly regarded as belonging with the verb, which, together with the prep.-adv., governs the noun: ἀμφὶ δὲ χαῖται ὤμοις ἀ_ΐσσονται and his mane floats-about his shoulders Z 509. The Mss. often vary: τοῖσιν ἐγὼ μεθ' ὁμί_λεον (or μεθομί_λεον) with these I was wont to associate A 269.


(III) Prepositions unite with verbs (less frequently with nouns and other prepositions) to form compounds. Cp. cross886 ff.

a. From this use as a prefix the name ‘preposition’ (πρόθεσις praepositio) is derived. The original meaning of some prepositions is best seen in compounds.


Improper prepositions ( cross1699) are adverbs used like prepositions, but incapable of forming compounds. The case (usually the genitive) following an improper preposition depends on the preposition alone without regard to the verb; whereas a true preposition was attached originally, as an adverb, to a case depending directly on the verb.


The addition of a preposition (especially διά, κατά, σύν) to a verbal form may mark the completion of the action of the verbal idea (perfective action). The local force of the preposition is here often lost. So διαφεύγειν succeed in escaping, καταδιώκειν succeed in pursuing, συντελεῖν accomplish, carry into effect (τελεῖν do, perform).


Two or more prepositions may be used with one verb, either sepa

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rately, as adverbs, or in composition with the verb. Thus, στῆ δὲ παρέξ (or παρ' ἐξ) he stood forth beside him Λ 486. When two prepositions of like meaning are used in composition, that preposition precedes which has the narrower range: συμμετέχειν take part in with, ἀμφιπεριστέφεσθαι to be put round about as a crown. When two prepositions are used with one noun, the noun usually depends on the second, while the first defines the second adverbially; as ἀμφὶ περὶ κρήνην round about a spring B 305. It is often uncertain whether or not two prepositions should be written together.

a. Such compound prepositions are ἀμφιπερί, παρέξ, ὑπέκ, ἀπέκ, διέκ, ἀποπρό, διαπρό, περιπρό. Improper prepositions may be used with true prepositions, as μέχρι εἰς τὸ στρατόπεδον as far as (into) the camp X. A. 6.4.26.


Tmesis (τμῆσις cutting) denotes the separation of a preposition from its verb, and is a term of late origin, properly descriptive only of the post-epic language, in which preposition and verb normally formed an indissoluble compound. The term ‘tmesis’ is incorrectly applied to the language of Homer, since in the Epic the prep.-adv. was still in process of joining with the verb.


In Attic poetry tmesis occurs chiefly when the preposition is separated from the verb by unimportant words (particles, enclitics), and is employed for the sake of emphasis or (in Euripides) as a mere ornament. Aristophanes uses tmesis only to parody the style of tragic choruses.


Hdt. uses tmesis frequently in imitation of the Epic; the intervening words are ὦν ( = οὖν), enclitics, δέ, μὲν . . . δέ, etc.


In Attic prose tmesis occurs only in special cases: ἀντ' εὖ ποιεῖν (πάσχειν) and σὺν εὖ (κακῶς) ποιεῖν (πάσχειν). Thus, ὅσους εὖ ποιήσαντας ἡ πόλις ἀντ' εὖ πεποίηκεν all whom the city has requited with benefits for the service they rendered it D. 20.64. Here εὖ πεποίηκεν is almost equivalent to a single notion.


The addition of a preposition to a verb may have no effect on the construction, as in ἐκβῆναι τῆς νεώς, whereas βῆναι τῆς νεώς originally, and still in poetry, can mean go from-the-ship; or it may determine the construction, as in περιγενέσθαι ἐμοῦ to surpass me D. 18.236. Prose tends to repeat the prefixed preposition: ἐκβῆναι ἐκ τῆς νεώς T. 1.137.


A preposition usually assumes the force of an adjective when compounded with substantives which do not change their forms on entering into composition, as σύνοδος a national meeting (ὁδός). Otherwise the compound usually gets a new termination, generally -ον, -ιον neuter, or -ίς feminine, as ἐνύπνιον dream (ὕπνος), ἐπιγουνίς thigh-muscle (γόνυ).


The use of prepositions is, in general, more common in prose than in poetry, which retained the more primitive form of expression.


A noun joined by a preposition to its case without the help of a verb has a verbal meaning: ἀπὸ πα_σῶν ἀρχῶν ἐλευθερία_ freedom from all rule P. L. 698a (cp. ἐλευθεροῦν ἀπό τινος).


In general, when depending on prepositions expressing relations of place, the accusative denotes the place (or person) toward which or the place over which, along which motion takes place, the dative denotes rest in

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or at, the genitive (ablative) passing from. Thus, ἥκω παρὰ σέ I have come to you T. 1.137, οἱ παρ' ἑαυτῷ βάρβαροι the barbarians in his own service X. A. 1.1.5, παρὰ βασιλέως πολλοὶ πρὸς Κῦρον ἀπῆλθον many came over from the king to Cyrus 1. 9. 29. The true genitive denotes various forms of connection.


Constructio Praegnans.a. A verb of motion is often used with a preposition with the dative to anticipate the rest that follows the action of the verb: ἐν τῷ ποταμῷ ἔπεσον they fell (into and were) in the river X. Ages. 1.32. This use is common with τιθέναι, ἱδρύ_ειν, καθιστάναι, etc., and with tenses of completed action which imply rest; as οἱ ἐν τῇ νήσῳ ἄνδρες διαβεβηκότες the men who had crossedto (and were in) the island T. 7.71.

b. A verb of rest is often followed by a preposition with the accusative to denote motion previous to or following upon the action of the verb: παρῆσαν εἰς Σάρδεις (they came to Sardis and were in the city) they arrived at Sardis X. A. 1.2.2, ἐς Κυ_ρήνην ἐσώθησαν they were saved by reaching Cyrene T. 1.110, ᾑρέθη πρεσβευτὴς εἰς Λακεδαίμονα he was chosen ambassador (to go) to Lacedaemon X. H. 2.2.17. Cp. cross1692. 1. a.


Stress is often laid on (a) the starting-point or (b) the goal of an action.

a. καταδήσα_ς ἀπὸ δένδρων τοὺς ἵππους tying his horses to (from) trees X. H. 4.4.10. By anticipation of the verbal action (attraction of the prep. with the article): τὴν ἀπὸ στρατοπέδου τάξιν ἔλιπεν he deserted his post in the army Aes. 3.159, οἱ ἐκ τῆς ἀγορᾶς καταλιπόντες τὰ ὤνια ἔφυγον the market-people (οἱ ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ) left their wares and fled X. A. 1.2.18.

b. With verbs of collecting (ἀθροίζειν, συλλέγειν) and enrolling (ἐγγράφειν): εἰς πεδίον ἀθροίζονται they are mustered in (to) the plain X. A. 1.1.2, εἰς ἄνδρας ἐγγράψαι to enrol in (to) the list of men D. 19.230.


So with adverbs: ὅπον ἐληλύθαμεν where ( = whither, ὅποι) we have gone X. C. 6.1.14, ὅθεν ἀπελίπομεν, ἐπανέλθωμεν let us return to the point whence ( = where, ὅπου) we left off P. Ph. 78b, ἀγνοεῖ τὸν ἐκεῖθεν πόλεμον δεῦρο ἥξοντα he does not know that the war in that region will come hither ( = τὸν ἐκεῖ πόλεμον ἐκεῖθεν) D. 1.15.


Some adverbs and adverbial phrases meaning from are used with reference to the point of view of the observer: ἑκατέρωθεν on either side, ἔνθεν καὶ ἔνθεν on this side and that, ἐκ δεξιᾶς on the right (a dextra), οἱ ἀπὸ τῆς σκηνῆς the actors, τὸ ἐκ τοῦ ἰσθμοῦ τεῖχος, τὸ ἐς τὴν Παλλήνην τεῖχος the wall (seen) from the isthmus, the wall toward (looking to) Pallene T. 1.64 (of the same wall).


Position.—The preposition usually precedes its noun. It may be separated from it

a. By particles (μέν, δέ, γέ, τέ, γάρ, οὖν) and by οἶμαι I think: ἐν οὖν τῇ πόλει P. R. 456d, εἰς δέ γε οἶμαι τὰ_ς ἄλλα_ς πόλεις to the other cities I think 568 c.

Note that the order τὴν μὲν χώρα_ν ( cross1155) usually becomes, e.g. πρὸς μὲν τὴν χώρα_ν or πρὸς τὴν χώρα_ν μέν. Demonstrative ὁ μέν and ὁ δέ, when dependent on a preposition, regularly follow the preposition, and usually with order reversed ( cross1109): ἐν μὲν ἄρα τοῖς συμφωνοῦμεν, ἐν δὲ τοῖς οὔ in some things then we agree, but not in others P. Phae. 263b.

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b. By attributives: εἰς Καΰστρου πεδίον to the plain of the Cayster X. A. 1.2.11.

c. By the accusative in oaths and entreaties (with πρός): πρός σε τῆσδε μητρός by my mother here I implore thee E. Phoen. 1665; cp. per te deos oro and see cross1599.

N.—A preposition is usually placed before a superlative and after ὡς or ὅτι qualifying the superlative: ὡς ἐπὶ πλεῖστον τοῦ ὁμί_λου over the very greatest part of the throng T. 2.34. πολύ, πάνυ, μάλα may precede the preposition and its case: πολὺ ἐν πλείονι αἰτίᾳ with far better reason T. 1.35.


In poetry a preposition is often placed between an adjective and its substantive; very rarely in prose (τοιᾷδε ἐν τάξει in the following manner P. Criti. 115c).


περί is the only true preposition that may be placed after its case in Attic prose: σοφία_ς πέρι about wisdom P. Phil. 49a, ὧν ἐγὼ οὐδὲν οὔτε μέγα οὔτε μι_κρὸν πέρι ἐπαΐω about which I understand nothing either much or little P. A. 19c. When used with two substantives πέρι is placed between them: τοῦ ὁσίου τε πέρι καὶ τοῦ ἀνοσίου concerning both that which is holy and that which is unholy P. Euth. 4e. πέρι occurs very often in Plato, only once in the orators and possibly twice in Xenophon. On anastrophe, see cross175.

a. ἕνεκα and χάριν (usually) and ἄνευ (sometimes) are postpositive. The retention of the postpositive use of περί may be due to the influence of ἕνεκα. In poetry many prepositions are postpositive.

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Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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