Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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The comparative expresses contrast or comparison. Thus, δεξίτερος is right in contrast to its opposite, ἀριστερός left. Cp. cross1082 b. Usually comparison is expressed, as εὖ τε καὶ χεῖρον well or ill T. 2.35.

a. When the positive precedes, μᾶλλον alone may stand for the comparative; as in ἐκεῖνοί τε ἄξιοι ἐπαίνου καὶ ἔτι μᾶλλον (i.e. ἀξιώτεροι) οἱ πατέρες they are worthy of praise and still more worthy are our fathers T. 2.36.

b. The persons or things with which comparison is made may include all others of the same class: ἡμῶν ὁ γεραίτερος the elder (= eldest) of us X. C. 5.1.6.


The comparative is sometimes used merely as an intensive and does not differ essentially from the positive: τούτων καταδεέστερος at a disadvantage with (inferior to) these men D. 27.2.


For the use of μᾶλλον instead of the comparative, and μάλιστα instead of the superlative, see cross323. When either form can be used, that with μᾶλλον or μάλιστα is more emphatic. Thucydides sometimes uses πλέον (τι), τὸ πλέον instead of μᾶλλον.


The comparative degree may be followed by the genitive ( cross1431) or by than: σοφώτερος ἐμοῦ or σοφώτερος ἢ ἐγώ wiser than I. The genitive may precede or follow the comparative. With , the persons or things compared usually stand in the same case, and always so when they are connected by the same verb: φιλῶ γὰρ οὐ σὲ μᾶλλον ἢ δόμους ἐμούς for I do not love thee more than my own house E. Med. 327.

a. The genitive is usual if two subjects would have the same verb in common; as οἱ Κρῆτες βραχύτερα τῶν Περσῶν ἐτόξευον the Cretans shot a shorter distance than the Persians ( = ἢ οἱ Πέρσαι) X. A. 3.3.7.

b. When two objects have the same verb in common: if the object stands (1) in the accusative, the genitive is preferred, as ἐμοὶ δοκεῖ Κῦρος, οὕστινας ἂν ὁρᾷ ἀγαθούς, φιλεῖν οὐδὲν ἧττον ἑαυτοῦ Cyrus seems to me to love all whom he finds excellent quite as much as he loves himself X. C. 2.3.12, but the accusative is not uncommon, as E. Med. 327 quoted above; (2) in the dative, the genitive is frequent, as προσήκει μοι μᾶλλον ἑτέρων . . . ἄρχειν it behooves me rather than others to rule T. 6.16; (3) in the genitive, the genitive is very rare (X. M. 4.3.10). Here is preferred to the genitive for the sake of euphony: οἱ γὰρ πονηροὶ πολὺ πλειόνων εὐεργεσιῶν ἢ οἱ χρηστοὶ (not τῶν χρηστῶν) δέονται for the wicked need more favours than the good X. M. 2.6.27.

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c. The genitive is often used where would be followed by some other case than nominative or accusative, or by a preposition: ταῦτα τοῖς ὁπλί_ταις οὐχ ἧσσον τῶν ναυτῶν ( = ἢ τοῖς ναύταις) παρακελεύομαι I address these exhortations to the hoplites not less than to the sailors T. 7.63, (δεῖ βλέπειν) εἰς τὴν ἐμπειρία_ν μᾶλλον τῆς ἀρετῆς ( = ἢ εἰς τὴν ἀρετήν) we must look at skill more than (at) courage Aristotle, Politics 1309 b 5.

d. ἐλά_ττων (χείρων, ἐνδεέστερος, ὕστερος, etc.) οὐδενός inferior to none, greater than all; here is not used). Thus, δουλεύειν δουλεία_ν οὐδεμιᾶς ἧττον αἰσχρά_ν to endure a most disgraceful slavery X. M. 1.5.6.


The word following may be the subject of a new verb (expressed or understood): ἡμεῖς ὑπὸ κρείττονος διδασκάλου πεπαιδεύμεθα ἢ οὗτοι we have been educated by a better teacher than they (have been) X. C. 2.3.13; but this word is more often attracted into the case of the preceding word: τινὲς καὶ ἐκ δεινοτέρων ἢ τοιῶνδε ( = ἢ τοιάδε ἐστίν) ἐσώθησαν some have been rescued from dangers even greater than these T. 7.77. The genitive is also common without : λέγων ὅτι οὔπω . . . τούτου ἡδί_ονι οἴνῳ ἐπιτύχοι saying that he had never met with sweeter wine than this X. A. 1.9.25.


ὡς for is rare, and suspected by some. But cp. A. Pr. 629, P. A. 30b, 36 d, R. 526 c.


μᾶλλον ἤ may be used though a comparative precedes: αἱρετώτερόν ἐστι μαχομένους ἀποθνῄσκειν μᾶλλον ἤ φεύγοντας σῴζεσθαι it is more desirable for men to die fighting (rather) than to save themselves by running away X. C. 3.3.51. Here μᾶλλον ἤ is to be taken with the verb.


Instead of the genitive or , the prepositions ἀντί, πρό (w. gen.) or πρός, παρά (w. accus.) are sometimes used with the comparative: κατεργάσασθαι αἱρετώτερον εἶναι τὸν καλὸν θάνατον ἀντὶ τοῦ αἰσχροῦ βίου to make a noble death more desirable than (instead of) a shameful life X. R. L. 9.1, μὴ παῖδας περὶ πλείονος ποιοῦ πρὸ τοῦ δικαίου do not consider children of more account than (before) justice P. Cr. 54b, χειμὼν μείζων παρὰ τὴν καθεστηκυῖαν ὥρα_ν a cold too severe for (in comparison with) the actual time of year T. 4.6.


In statements of number and measure may be omitted after the adverbial comparatives πλέον (πλεῖν) more, ἔλα_ττον (μεῖον) less, which do not alter their case and number: πέμπει οὐκ ἔλα_ττον δέκα φέροντας πῦρ he sends not less than ten men carrying fire X. H. 4.5.4, πόλις πλέον πεντακισχι_λίων ἀνδρῶν a city of more than 5000 men 5. 3. 16. Even when is kept, πλέον (πλεῖν), etc., remains unchanged: ἐν πλεῖν ( = πλείοσιν) ἢ δια_κοσίοις ἔτεσιν in more than 200 years D. 24.141, τοξότα_ς πλεῖν ἢ εἴκοσι μυ_ριάδας more bowmen than 20 myriads X. C. 2.1.6.

a. In place of the adverbial πλέον, etc., we find also the adjectival forms with or without or with the genitive: τοξότα_ς πλείους ἢ τετρακισχι_λίους more bowmen than 4000 X. C. 2.1.5, ἔτη γεγονὼς πλείω ἑβδομήκοντα more than 70 years old P. A. 17d, ι·ππέα_ς πλείους τρια_κοσίων more than 300 horse X. H. 1.3.10.


The genitive sometimes occurs together with , and either when the genitive has a separate construction, or is a pronoun to which the clause stands as an appositive, or of which it is explanatory. Thus, προῄει πλέον . . . ἢ δέκα σταδίων he advanced more than ten stades X. H. 4.6.5 (here πλέον is treated as a

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substantive), τίς γὰρ ἂν γένοιτο ταύτης μανία_ μείζων ἢ . . . ἡμᾶς κακῶς ποιεῖν; for what madness could be greater than (this) . . . to use us ill? Is. 1.20. Cp. cross1070.


Compendious Comparison.—The possessor, rather than the object possessed, may be put in the genitive after a comparative: εἰ δ' ἡμεῖς ἱππικὸν κτησαίμεθα μὴ χεῖρον τούτων ( = τοῦ τούτων ἱππικοῦ) but if we should raise a cavalry-force not inferior to theirs X. C. 4.3.7.


Comparison with a Noun representing a clause.—When one person or thing is to be compared, not with another person or thing in regard to its quality, but with an entire idea expressed by a clause (e.g. ἢ ὥστε with the infinitive, ἢ ὡς with the potential optative, or and a finite verb), this clause may be abridged into a substantive or a participle. Thus, πρᾶγμα ἐλπίδος κρεῖσσον an event beyond our expectations (too great to be expected) T. 2.64, προσωτέρω τοῦ καιροῦ προϊόντες advancing further than the proper measure (i.e. further than they should have gone) X. A. 4.3.34, ὡς τῶν γε παρόντων οὐκ ἂν πρά_ξαντες χεῖρον in the belief that they could not fare worse than at present (ἢ τὰ παρόντα ἐστίν) T. 7.67.


Reflexive Comparison.—The comparative followed by the reflexive pronoun in the genitive is used to denote that an object displays a quality in a higher degree than usual. The degree of increase is measured by comparison with the subject itself. αὐτός is often added to the subject: αὐτοὶ αὑτῶν εὐμαθέστεροι γίγνονται they learn more easily than before I. 15.267, πλουσιώτεροι ἑαυτῶν γιγνόμενοι becoming richer than they were before T. 1.8. Cp. cross1093.


Proportional Comparison.—After a comparative, ἢ κατά with the accusative ( cross1690. 2 c), or ἢ ὥστε, ἢ ὡς, rarely alone, with the infinitive (not with the indicative), denote too high or too low a degree: ὅπλα ἔτι πλείω ἢ κατὰ τοὺς νεκροὺς ἐλήφθη more arms were taken than there were men slain T. 7.45, φοβοῦμαι μή τι μεῖζον ἢ ὥστε φέρειν δύνασθαι κακὸν τῇ πόλει συμβῇ I fear lest there should befall the State an evil too great for it to be able to bear X. M. 3.5.17 ( cross2264).


Double Comparison.—Two adjectives (or adverbs) referring to the same subject, when compared with each other, are both put in the comparative; is always used: ἡ εἰρήνη ἀναγκαιοτέρα_ ἢ καλλί_ων a peace inevitable rather than honourable Aes. 3.69, συντομώτερον ἢ σαφέστερον διαλεχθῆναι to discourse briefly rather than clearly I. 6.24.

a. μᾶλλον may be used with the first adjective in the positive (cp. cross1065), and before the second: πρόθυ_μος μᾶλλον ἢ σοφωτέρα_ with more affection than prudence E. Med. 485.


A comparative may follow a positive to mark the contrast with it: καὶ μι_κρὰ καὶ μείζω both small and great(er) D. 21.14.


The comparative may stand alone, the second part being implied.

a. That which is exceeded is indicated by the sense only: οἱ σοφώτεροι the wiser (those wiser than the rest); ἐν εἰρήνῃ αἱ πόλεις ἀμείνους τὰ_ς γνώμα_ς ἔχουσιν in

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time of peace States are actuated by higher convictions (than in time of war) T. 3.82. So τι νεώτερον something new (more recent than that already known) P. Pr. 310a (often = a calamity or a revolutionary movement); ὕστερον ἧκον they came too late T. 7.27; and often where we supply is usual (right, fitting, etc.).

b. The Hom. θηλύτεραι γυναῖκες implies a comparison with men. In Κῦρος . . . ἐγεγόνει μητρὸς ἀμείνονος, πατρὸς δὲ ὑποδεεστέρου Cyrus was born of a mother of superior, but of a father of inferior race (Hdt. 1.91) the comparison is between the qualities of mother and father respectively. Cp. cross313 b.

c. The comparative denotes excess: μείζοσιν ἔργοις ἐπιχειροῦντες οὐ μι_κροῖς κακοῖς περιπί_πτουσι by entering upon undertakings too great they encounter no slight troubles X. M. 4.2.35.

d. The comparative is used to soften an expression (rather, somewhat): ἀγροικότερον somewhat boorishly P. G. 486c, ἀμελέστερον ἐπορεύετο he proceeded rather carelessly X. H. 4.8.36. Here the quality is compared with its absence or with its opposite.


The comparative is often used where English requires the positive: οὐ γὰρ χεῖρον πολλάκις ἀκούειν for 'tis not a bad thing to hear often P. Ph. 105a.


Strengthened forms.—The comparative may be strengthened by ἔτι, πολλῷ, μακρῷ ( cross1513), πολύ ( cross1609), πολὺ ἔτι, etc. μᾶλλον is sometimes used with the comparative: αἰσχυντηροτέρω μᾶλλον τοῦ δέοντος more bashful than they ought to be P. G. 487b. So the correlative ὅσῳ, ὅσον: ὅσῳ μείζους εἰσὶ τὰ_ς ὄψεις, τοσούτῳ μᾶλλον ὀργῆς ἄξιοί εἰσι the braver they are to appearances, the more they deserve our anger L. 10.29.

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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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