2 To die in Ancient Greek: Οn the meaning of ἀπο- in ἀποθνῄσκειν 245 JULIÁN MÉNDEZ DOSUNA To die in Ancient Greek: Οn the meaning of ἀποin ἀποθνῄσκειν ἦ πεπρωμένον ϝοι ἦς ἀποθαν εν; Was it fated for him to die? Oracular consultation (Dodona, ca BC?) Vokotopoulou, Dakaris & Christidis (forthcoming), no 461A
3 246 Julián Méndez Dosuna 1 It is a well-known fact that some verbs whose simple form is still common in the Homeric poems are replaced by compounds in Attic prose and comedy. Thus, εὕδειν to sleep, ἧσθαι to be sitting, ἵζειν to seat, ἕζεσθαι to sit down, οἰγνύναι (οἴγειν) to open, ἑννύναι to clothe, ἀγνύναι to break, ὀλλύναι to destroy yield to καθεύδειν to fall asleep (lit. to sleep down ), καθῆσθαι lit. to be sitting down, καθίζειν to sit down, καθέζεσθαι to sit down, ἀνοίγειν (ἀνοιγνύναι) lit. to open up, ἀμφιεννύναι lit. to clothe on both sides, καταγνύναι to break down, ἀπολλύναι to wipe out. The compounds are already attested in Homer, but, except for καθίζειν, simple forms are still more frequent (Table I): Table I: Simple and compound verbs in Homer εὕδειν ἑννύναι ἀγνύναι ἧσθαι οἴγειν (οἰγνύναι) ὀλλύναι ἕζεσθαι ἵζειν 60x 39x 15x 75x 2x 86x 74x 29x καθεύδειν ἀμφιεννύναι καταγνύναι καθῆσθαι ἀνοίγειν (ἀνοιγνύναι) ἀπολλύναι καθέζεσθαι καθίζειν 7x 6x 6x 37x 1x 61x 56x 33x [6x tmesis] [3x tmesis] [20x tmesis] [26x tmesis] 8.51: : : : : : : : 1 In Attic, the verbs at issue were no longer felt to be compounds because the prefixes, now void of meaning, had been reinterpreted as being part of the root. This explains why they can take an external augment in the past tenses: impf. ἐκάθιζον, aor. ἐκάθισα for καθῖζον, καθῖσα, impf. ἐκάθευδον for καθηῦδον, aor. ἠμφίεσα for *ἀμφιῆσα, etc. 2 The case of θνῄσκειν to die is somewhat different. In Homer, simple θνῄσκειν is well documented for all verb stems, but there are also a number of occurrences of compound ἀποθνῄσκειν and καταθνῄσκειν (Table II): Table II: θνῄσκειν and compounds in Homer pres. θνῄσκειν, fut. θανεῖσθαι, aor. θανεῖν pf. τεθνάναι verbal adj. θνητός pres. ἀποθνῄσκειν, fut. ἀποθανεῖσθαι, aor. ἀποθανεῖν pf. ἀποτεθνάναι pres. καταθνῄσκειν, fut. κατ(α)θανεῖσθαι, aor. κατ(α)θανεῖν pf. κατατεθνάναι verbal adj. καταθνητός 81x 56x 44x 2x 2x 4x [1x tmesis] 22x 10x In early Greek poetry, non-prefixed forms also prevail (ca. 80x). There are eleven occurrences of apocopated κατθανεῖν. For ἀποθνῄσκειν we find only three instances: one in Callinus (ἀποθνῄσκων, fr. 1.5), and two in Pindar (ἀποθανοῖσα, Οl. 2.25, and ἀπὸ καὶ θανών, Ιsthm. 7.30, with tmesis). In Attic tragedy, θνῄσκειν is still prevalent (Table III). For καταθνῄσκειν, only fut. κατθανεῖσθαι and aor. κατθανεῖν occur (apocope imparted a distinctly literary flavour). Ἀποθνῄσκειν is not used. The only exception of the participial form ἀποθνῄσκοντα in a fragment of Euripides (fr ). This is clear evidence that the compound was avoided as a feature of colloquial speech incompatible with the decorum of tragedy.
4 To die in Ancient Greek: Οn the meaning of ἀπο- in ἀποθνῄσκειν 247 Table III: (κατα)θνῄσκειν in Attic Tragedy1 Conversely, in the language of comedy and prose, the prefix is all but general in the present (ἀποθνῄσκειν), in the future (ἀποθανεῖσθαι), and in the aorist, (ἀποθανεῖν). Thucydides marks the turning point. Besides pres. ἀποθνῄσκειν (15x) and aor. ἀποθανεῖν (50x), he still has seven occurrences of pres. θνῄσκειν (intriguingly, these all occur in the description of the pestilence in Athens, Thuc ). Isolated instances of non-compound θνῄσκειν turn up in Plato (Phd. 72d; Leg. 946e), Aristotle (8x), and Theophrastus (4x).2 Aristophanes θανών (Ach. 893), ἔθανον (Th. 865) occur in parodic quotations of Euripides Alc. 367 and Hel. 53 respectively. Καταθνῄσκειν is missing altogether, except for κατθανεῖν in a parodic quotation of Euripides in Aristophanes Frogs Pf. τεθνάναι (1sg. ind. τέθνηκα) never takes the prefix. The contrast between prefixed present, aorist and future vs. non-prefixed perfect was by no means exclusive of Attic. In Herodotus Ionian we find pres. ἀποθνῄσκειν (24x), fut. ἀποθανεῖσθαι (5x), aor. ἀποθανεῖν (63x + 2x ἀπὸ ἔθανε with tmesis), but pf. τεθνάναι (17x). In inscriptions, θνῄσκειν is used in metrical texts. In prose texts, ἀποθνῄσκειν is common in all dialects: e.g., Megar. ἀποθάνˉει (IvO 22.4; Olympia, sixth c.); Cret. ἀποθάνηι (IC 4.47 A.21; Gortyna, early fifth c.?), ἀποθάνοι (IC 4.72 III.17; Gortyna, ca ?); Arc. ἀποθάνˉει (IPArk 1A.3; Tegea, ca. 450?), ἀπυθανόντōν (IPArk 8 II.32; Mantinea, ca. 460?), Ion. ἀποθανόντος (IG 12 Suppl (fourth c.); Heracl. ἀποθάνˉει (IG I.152; Heraclea, ca. 300?). The only exception I am aware of is a fifth century text from Tenos regulating burials (IG ), where non-prefixed forms are used regularly: τὸν θανόντα (A 2, A 10), ἐπὶ τῶι θανόντι (A 20), ὅπου ἂν θάνηι (Α 23). As in Attic, the perfect has no prefix: Arc. τεθναότος (IG ; Tegea, fourth c.);3 Delph. τεθνακότων (CID 1.9C.40; Delphi, ca ); Lesb. τε[θ]νάκην (IG d.15; Eresos, ca BC). The evidence of the Dodona oracular consultations (Dakaris, Vokotopoulou & Christidis forthcoming) is illustrative: cf. ἀποθαν εν (no 461A, probably Doric, ?), πέθανε (Lhôte 2006, no 107 B.2, Doric, ?) as against τέθνακε and τεθνακότι (no 2980, Doric consultation, early fifth century?), τέθνακε (no 115A = Lhôte 2006, 124A, ca ?), τέθνακε (Lhôte 2006, no fourth c. BC). The prefixed perfect ἀποτεθνάναι shows up occasionally in later writers (Plutarch, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the Church Fathers, etc.), in a late inscription from Chios (συναποτεθνηκέναι, ABSA 1966, 201 2, no 4.7; earpres. θνῄσκειν, fut. θανεῖσθαι, aor. θανεῖν pf. τεθνάναι verbal adj. θνητός fut. κατθανεῖσθαι aor. κατθανεῖν 66x Aeschylus 177x Sophocles 432x Euripides 16x Aeschylus 34x Sophocles 61x Euripides 19x Aeschylus 14x Sophocles 74x Euripides 16x Euripides 8x Aeschylus 10x Sophocles 86x Euripides 1. The fragments of tragic works have not been taken into account. 2. Curiously enough, Aristotle and Theophrastus use θνῄσκειν only for animals and plants. This applies also to Thuc (τὰ πρόβατα ἔθνῃσκον) and Pl. Phd. 72d (εἰ τὰ δὲ ζῶντα θνῄσκοι). Yet, ἀποθνῄσκειν was also possible: e.g., ἀποθνῄσκουσι δὲ κύνες πολλαὶ ἐν τῇ τοιαύτῃ θήρᾳ Many hounds die in this type of hunting (Xen. Cyn ). 3. This example is uncertain since the preceding context is missing in the inscription.
5 248 Julián Méndez Dosuna ly first century AD) and possibly in an Egyptian papyrus ( ἀ[ποτεθ] νηκότα, PTorAmen. 7.20; Thebes, ca BC?). But these data are irrelevant, since by this time the perfect had become entirely synonymous with the aorist. To sum up, Classical Greek had a mixed paradigm, in which prefixed and non-prefixed forms appeared in complementary distribution: pres. ἀποθνῄσκειν, fut. ἀποθανεῖσθαι, aor. ἀποθανεῖν vs. pf. τεθνάναι. It is evident that the presence or absence of the prefix depends crucially on aspect, but, as I will try to show, the facts have not been adequately explained. 3 In this section I will sketch an outline of the interaction between actionality (lexical aspect, Aktionsart) and grammatical aspect in the verb at issue. Like the verb for to die in many other languages (Botne 2003), Gk. (ἀπο) θνῄσκειν encodes a complex telic event which entails three successive stages (Berrettoni 1976, 213 4): d A (potential) preliminary period of illness and agony (dynamic activity) (Stage 1): to be dying, moribund. 4 d The point of transition from life to death (the pivotal moment of death) (Stage 0):5 to die, to expire d The resultant state of being dead (resultative state) (Stage +1).6 Broadly speaking, in Ancient Greek these three phases correspond to the different grammatical aspects. The present-stem expressed imperfective (durative) aspect. This is consistent with the frequentative meaning of the suffix -σκ-: the original meaning of pres. ἀποθνῄσκειν must have been something like to be dying little by little. Imperfect aspect favours a progressive reading (dynamic development of the verbal action), which corresponds with Stage 1:7 1 Νικήρατος δὲ ὅτ ἀπέθνῃσκεν (but when Niceratus was dying ; Lys ) 2 ἀδίκως ἀποθνῄσκω (I am dying [sc. being executed] unjustly; Xen. Ap. 26.1) Conversely, the perfective (punctual) aspect of the aorist tends to be associated with Stage 0, the pivotal moment of death:8 3 ἐπειδὴ δ ἐκεῖνος ἀπέθανεν, οἱ πολλοὶ τῶν τετρακοσίων ἔφυγον (after he died, most of the Four Hundred fled; Lys ) A perfective reading seems also to be normal for aspect-neutral future: 4 Εἰ μή μ ἀναπείσετ, ἀποθανεῖσθε τήμερον (if you fail to persuade me, you will die today; Ar. Eq. 68) Finally, the perfect-stem refers unequivocally to Stage 1 (resultative stative reading): 5 ἐπεὶ τέθνηκε Πρωτέας ἔτη δέκα (Since Proteas has been dead these ten years; Ar. Thesm. 876) 6 Ἀλκίᾳ Ἀντιθένους ἀπελευθέρῳ ἐμίσθωσα, ὃς τέθνηκε (I rented [the plot] to Alcias, a freed-man of Antistenes, who is dead; Lys. 7.10) 4. This corresponds to Botne s (2003, 237) Onset, where he distinguishes between Stage A ( [a] state of prolonged illness or injury during which one could speak of a state of dying ) and Stage B ( a more dynamic stage representing a relatively rapid decline when death is imminent ). 5. Botne s (2003, 237) Nucleus (Stage C). 6. This is Botne s (2003, 237) Coda. He distinguishes between Stage D ( the denouement of the event represents entry into the state of death, that brief period when the individual being, in the form of the extant body, still exists ) and Stage E ( the ensuing state of being dead ). We will see later on that this distinction might be relevant for Greek. 7. Botne s (2003, 237) Stage B could be expressed by the periphrastic past future with μέλλω: e.g., ὅτε ἀποθνῄσκειν ἔμελλε προσκαλέσας με εἶπε (When he was just about die, [Cyrus] summoned me and said; Xen. Cyr ). Note also the adjective ἡμιθνής, -ῆτος half-dead in Thuc , Ar. Nub. 504 (later also ἡμιθανής/-ές). 8. To be sure, the interaction between actionality and grammatical aspect is somewhat more complex, since in some contexts the present-stem does not allow for a progressive reading and focusses on Stage 0. Thus, the historic present favours a perfective reading: e.g., ὁ μὲν Ἀστυάγης ἐν τοῖς Μήδοις ἀποθνῄσκει (Astyages dies in Media; Xen. Cyr. 7.10). So-called presents of general truth express (perfective) habitual actions: τὸ δὲ κέντρον ἀποβαλοῦσα ἡ μέλιττα ἀποθνῄσκει (when it loses its sting, a bee dies; Arist. Hist.An., 626a). Finally, plural subjects allow for a distributive perfective reading: καί τινες καὶ ἀπέθνῃσκον ὑπὸ τοῦ λιμοῦ (and some of them died one after another owing to the plague; Thuc ). Since the event of dying is normally irreversible and unrepeatable, it is unlikely that we may find imperfects interpreted as habitual: e.g., ὁ δεῖνα ἀπέθνῃσκε (so-and-so used to die).
6 To die in Ancient Greek: Οn the meaning of ἀπο- in ἀποθνῄσκειν ὅτε νεωστὶ ἐτεθνήκει ὁ πατήρ, πλεῖστα τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἐδόκει κεκτῆσθαι (when his father had just died [lit. was recently dead], [Callias] was thought to possess a larger fortune than any other Greek; Lys ) 8 Οἴμ ὡς τεθνήξεις (Woe! You are going to be dead!; Ar. Ach. 590) The Ancient Greek data have clear correlates in Modern Greek : pres. πεθαίνει he is dying, impf. πέθαινε he was dying (Stage 1), aor. πέθανε he died (Stage 0), pf. έχει πεθάνει he has died, είναι πεθαμένος he is dead (Stage +1). 4 According to prevalent opinion (Schwyzer & Debrunner 1950, 268 9; Brunel 1939; 1946, 67; Chantraine 1953, 93; DELG s.v. θάνατος; Adrados 1992, 448), the prefix in ἀποθνῄσκειν conveyed a culminative meaning involving completion of the verbal action: to die completely.9 Like in other languages (Bybee et al. 1994, 87 90; Tatevosov 2002, 391), Greek preverbs (prepositions in verbal composition), which originally had a spatial meaning, were reinterpreted in terms of time bounders and developed aspectual meanings (Brunel 1939; Adrados 1992, 442 9). A few examples can illustrate this point (the glosses make plain the parallel between Greek compound verbs and English phrasal verbs): ἀπεργάζεσθαι to work off > to finish off κατατέμνειν to cut down > to cut up, to cut in pieces καταπίνειν to drink down καταμανθάνειν to learn up lit. to learn down διαπράττειν to make through > to work through Allegedly, the culminative meaning of ἀπο- in ἀποθνῄσκειν was redundant with the resultative aspect of the perfect and, consequently, could be dispensed with. According to Schwyzer & Debrunner (1950, 268 9), the contrast between ἀποθνῄσκειν/ἀποθανεῖσθαι/ἀποθανεῖν vs. τεθνάναι was a failed attempt to establish in Greek the system found in Slavic languages, where verbal aspect is largely encoded by prefixes: cf. Russ. pisa-l he was writing (IMPFV.) vs. na-pisa-l he wrote (IMPFV.). In the next sections I will try to demonstrate that this line of argumentation is misguided. 9. The label culminative corresponds to what Bybee et al. (1994) call completive. Brunel s résultatif is misleading. In order to avoid ambiguity, I will consistently use culminative as an actionality type as against aspectual perfective (an event presented as bounded temporally) and resultative (the resultant state of a previous action), which are characteristic of the aorist and the perfect stems respectively. 4.1 To begin with, prefixes in Greek modify actionality rather than grammatical aspect. This conclusion rests on the following evidence: d The use of preverbs is subject to severe lexical restrictions: καταπίνειν to drink up, κατεσθίειν to eat up, κατατιθέναι to put down, or κατακαίειν to burn down are possible, but not *κατατρέπειν to turn down, or *κατασαλπίζειν *to trumpet down. d The meaning of compound verbs is idiosyncratic and unpredictable: διαπράττειν means to work through, but διαπίνειν means to drink by turns. The meaning of grammatical aspect is much more predictable and lexical restrictions are fairly uncommon. 4.2 It is true that prefixes with a culminative meaning seem to be incompatible with stative verbs: neither ἀποικεῖν, nor κατοικεῖν mean to inhabit completely, ἀπεῖναι does not mean *to be completely, and there are no
7 250 Julián Méndez Dosuna *καταδουλεύειν to be a slave completely, or *καταβασιλεύειν to be a king completely. But prefixes of this type combine regularly with all verbal stems, including the perfect, as exemplified by the following examples: 9 ἤσθιον δὲ τοὺς παγούρους (they used to eat the crabs; Ar. Eq. 606) 10 τῶν κηρίων ὅσοι ἔφαγον τῶν στρατιωτῶν πάντες ἄφρονές τε ἐγίνοντο (the soldiers who ate of the honey-combs all lost their minds gradually; Xen. An ) 11 οἱ μὲν ὀλίγον ἐδηδοκότες σφόδρα μεθύουσιν ἐῴκεσαν (Those who had eaten a little looked like extremely drunk people; X. An ) 12 μόνος κατήσθιεν τὸν Σικελικόν ([The dog] has been eating up the Sicilian [cheese] all by himself; Ar. Vesp ) 13 τὸν σησαμοῦνθ ὃν κατέφαγες, τοῦτον χεσεῖν ποήσω (As for the sesame-cake you have eaten up, I ll make you shit it; Ar. Thesm. 570) 14 τροφαλίδα τυροῦ Σικελικὴν κατεδήδοκεν ([The dog] has eaten up a fresh Sicilian cheese; Ar. Vesp. 838) The alleged redundancy between culminative bounders and resultative aspect is fictitious. Culminative bounders mean that something is done completely. This is a far cry from resultative aspect, which, as indicated above, denotes a state resulting from a previous action. It is precisely this action not the state resulting from it that culminative prefixes focus on. Thus, ἔφαγε means that he ate some food (and he may be hungry) and κατέφαγε means he ate up the food (but he may be hungry) since the aorist is not relevant for the present situation. Conversely, ἐδήδοκε means that he has eaten some food (but he is not hungry) and κατεδήδοκε means he has eaten up the food (and he is not hungry) since the action of eating (up) is made relevant to the present situation by virtue of the resultative aspect of the perfect stem. Significantly, no similar restriction applies to ἀπόλλυσθαι to perish, to be killed whose intransitive perfect is consistently ἀπολωλέναι in Attic comedy and prose (as against simple ὄλλυσθαι, ὀλωλέναι in epic, lyric, and tragedy). 15 οὐκ ἀπόλωλεν ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἀλλ ἔστι που σῶς (our man is not dead, but he is safe and sound somewhere; Pl. Phd. 87b) 4.3 The parallel with Slavic-style aspect is not pertinent. In the languages where bounders evolve into aspectual markers, the presence of the bounder typically means [+perfective] while its absence can be interpreted as [-perfective] (Bybee et al. 1994, 87 90). If the parallel were real, we should expect in Greek the prefix to be absent in the present stem: i.e., non-prefixed θνῄσκειν vs. prefixed ἀποθανεῖν, ἀποτεθνάναι. Interestingly enough, in Russian, the prefix u- occurs in perfective umeret to die as well as in imperfective umirat to be dying. The use of the prefix u- (basic spatial meaning away ) has been generalised, so that umirat / umeret no longer contrast with simple *mirat /*meret. 4.4 Finally, the idea that the prefix ἀπο- is dispensed with in the perfect due to its alleged redundancy is contradicted by several facts. As we have seen ( 2, esp. Table II), in the Homeric poems, prefixed gen. sg. pf. part. ἀποτεθνηῶτος and 3pl plpf. ἀποτέθνασαν occur, and in-
8 To die in Ancient Greek: Οn the meaning of ἀπο- in ἀποθνῄσκειν 251 stances of pf. κατατεθνάναι are common. This is unexpected, since the supposedly original culminative meaning of the prefixes should have been perceived more intensively at an earlier historical stage. Schwyzer & Debrunner (1950, 269) try to explain away these embarrassing data by arguing that, in these cases, the meaning of ἀπο- and καταis intensifying rather than culminative: they consider Hom. κατατεθνήκασι to be equivalent to Fr. ils sont morts et bien morts they are dead and well dead. But this is playing with words, since well dead amounts to completely dead. Moreover, the perfect by itself presupposes a complete death. Unlike ModGk. μισοπεθαμένος half-dead, a compound *ἡμιτεθνεώς was impossible in Ancient Greek. Significantly, we have already seen that compound καθεύδειν, καθῆσθαι, καθίζειν, ἀνοίγειν, and ἀμφιέννυμι ousted simple εὕδειν, ἧσθαι, ἵζειν, οἴγειν, ἕννυμι. This happened notwithstanding the fact that a downward movement (κατα-) is entirely predictable for the actions of taking a sitting position (καθῆσθαι, καθίζειν) or a lying position for sleep (καθεύδειν). Similarly, an upward movement (ἀνα-) was often necessary for opening (ἀνοίγειν) any door closed with a bar or a bolt (μοχλός) and cloaks were usually put on both sides (ἀμφι-) of the body (ἀμφιέννυμι). Thus, redundant compounds were favoured over simple verbs. In fact, it is highly dubious that language users are bothered by redundancy. For instance, in Ancient Greek, the article was optional with proper names (ὁ Σωκράτης) and was mandatory with demonstratives (ὅδε ὁ ἀνήρ), in spite of its being redundant. 5 Since the traditional explanation is unsatisfactory, let us now address our problem from a different point of view. Admittedly, the original and basic meaning of ἀπο- was spatial separation and departure (Eng. away, off ): ἀπεῖναι to be away, ἀπιέναι to go away, ἀποδημεῖν to be away from home, to be abroad, ἀποπέμπειν to send off, ἀποτέμνειν to cut off, ἀποτειχίζειν to wall off, etc. In my opinion, this was also the sense of ἀπο- in ἀποθνῄσκειν.10 Arguably, in many cultures, death involves the ideas of departure from life, separation of the soul from the body, and the absence of the dead. To go away, to be missing, and to be absent are common euphemisms (see Theodoropoulou in this volume) for to die, to be dead in all languages (Botne 2003, 243): Eng. to pass away, to pass on, to be dead and gone, Sp. pasar a mejor vida to proceed to a better life, ModGk. αποβιώνω to depart from life, έφυγε νέος από τη ζωή he left this life still young. Note also that this is the original meaning of the prefix u- in aforementioned Russ. umirat /umeret. Needless to say, similar expressions were used in Ancient Greek. In fact, Greeks imagined death in terms of a journey to Hades: 10. Hypothetically, one could contend that the idea of completion is present in τελευτᾶν to finish another common euphemism for to die. But this refers not to the process of dying, but to the end of life: cf. ἐμοὶ μὲν τοῦ βίου τὸ τέλος ἤδη πάρεστιν (The end of my life is already close; X. Cyr ). 16 εἰ δέ κε τεθνηῶτος ἀκούσῃς μηδ ἔτ ἐόντος (if you hear that [your father] is dead and does not exist any more; Od ) 17 Tὰ μὲν ὀστᾶ προτίθενται τῶν ἀπογενομένων πρότριτα (They lay out the bones of the departed for the three days before [the funeral]; Thuc ) 18 Ἀπολιπών μ ἀποίχεται ([Agathon] has gone and left me; Ar. Ran. 83) 19 ᾤχετο δ εἰς Ἀΐδαο (and [Hector] departed unto Hades; Il ) 20 ψυχαὶ δ Ἄϊδος δὲ κατῆλθον (their souls have gone down to Hades; Il )
9 252 Julián Méndez Dosuna 21 ἐπειδὰν πίω τὸ φάρμακον, οἰχήσομαι ἀπιὼν εἰς μακάρων δή τινας εὐδαιμονίας (when I drink the poison, I ll start off and leave for certain states of happiness which belong to the blessed; Pl. Phd. 115d) At this point, it is worthwhile to look at some data from English and German. The basic meaning of the prepositions Eng. out, off, away, Ger. aus is departure, exit, and disappearance. Like in Greek, these prepositions can be used as time bounders and have a secondary culminative reading: cf. Eng. to burn away, to burn off to destroy something by burning, Ger. auskochen to cook thoroughly. All these prepositions can be combined with the verbs to die and sterben to die, but, interestingly, none of the resultant verbs allows for a typically culminative reading: i.e., to die completely, to expire. Eng. to die away is to become weaker (e.g., a sound), until it ceases, to die off means to die one by one, both Eng. to die out and Ger. austerben mean to disappear (families, animals, etc.). Coming back to Gk ἀποθνῄσκειν, the original semantic nuance may still be perceptible in the relevant passages of the Homeric poems. When describing his own death at Clitemnestra s hands, the ghost of Agamemnon is probably thinking of his departure for the netherworld: 22 αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ ποτί γαίῃ χεῖρας ἀείρων / βάλλον ἀποθνῄσκων περὶ φασγάνῳ. ἡ δὲ κυνῶπις / νοσφίσατ οὐδὲ μοι ἔτλη, ἰόντι περ εἰς Ἀΐδαο, / χερσὶ κατ ὀφθαλμοὺς ἑλέειν (I alternatively lifted my hands and dropped them to the ground while I was dying and departing, pierced by the sword, but she, the shameless bitch, turned away, and even though I was going to Hades, did not deign to close my eyes with her hands; Od ) A sense of departure is not impossible in the description of Eurytus death: 23 αὐτὰρ ὁ παιδὶ / κάλλιπ ἀποθνῄσκων ἐν δώμασιν ὑψηλοῖσι (in turn he passed down [the bow] to his son when he was dying and departing [for Hades] in his lofty palace; Od ) Likewise, Hecabe may be hinting at the absence of his dead son (in fact, Hector s corpse is away from Troy in possession of Achilles):11 24 τί νυ βείομαι αἰνὰ παθοῦσα / σεῦ ἀποτεθνηῶτος; (why shall I live on in my sore anguish, now that you are dead and gone?; Il ) The advocates of a culminative meaning for ἀπο- cite the plpf. ἀποτέθνασαν in the episode of Helios cows in the Odyssey as the most compelling piece of evidence of a culminative or intensifying meaning: 25 οὐδέ τι μῆχος / εὑρέμεναι δυνάμεσθα. βόες δ ἀποτέθνασαν ἤδη (but we could find no remedy the cows were already dead; Od ) Of course, one cannot exclude the possibility that Homer may have wanted to stress that the cows were completely dead regardless of the fact that their skins crawled and the pieces of meat bellowed upon the spits. But the culminative sense if real may be no more than a pragmatic implica- 11. This idea was suggested by Eustathius in his Commentary on the Iliad (ad. loc.): the prefix ἀπο- is either superfluous or expresses the departure of dying people (ἐνταῦθα δὲ ἡ ἀπο [δηλοῖ] τὸν μακρυσμὸν τῶν θνῃσκόντων).
10 To die in Ancient Greek: Οn the meaning of ἀπο- in ἀποθνῄσκειν 253 ture of the idea of departure: The cows were dead (τέθνασαν) and their spirit (θυμός, ψυχή) had already left them (ἀπο-): cf. τὸν δ ἔλιπε ψυχή (his soul left him; Il , Od ), λίπε δ ὀστέα θυμός (life left his bones; Il , , etc.). Incidentally, Chantraine (1953, 93) was wrong in attributing the value of completion (Fr. réalisation) to ἀπο- in ἀποπαύεσθαι, ἀπολήγειν to leave off, to stop from doing something. Arguably, cessation of an activity can be conceived of in terms of separation: cf. Eng. to cease from, to desist from, to stop somebody from doing something. This is also evident in the construction of simple παύεσθαι, λήγειν to cease, to stop, with an ablatival genitive: 26 ἐπεὶ παύσαντο πόνου (When they ceased from their labours; Il ) 27 λῆγ ἔριδος (Cease from strife; Il ). Similarly, there is every reason to doubt that κατα- in καταθνῄσκειν had a meaning of intensity (Schwyzer & Debrunner 1950, 268 9), aboutissement du procès (Chantraine 1953, 112) or intensidad y precisión (Adrados 1992, 448). Interestingly, in Homer, out of the twenty occurrences of the perfect participle κατατεθνηώς, twelve apply to corpses (νεκρός, νέκυς):12 28 αὐτός τ ἀμφὶ νέκυι κατατεθνηῶτι μάχωμαι (let me battle for the dead corpse; Il ) 29 ἔνθα δὲ πολλαὶ / ψυχαὶ ἐλεύσονται νεκύων κατατεθνηώτων (then many souls of dead corpses will come forth; Od ) 30 πρῶτα μὲν οὖν νέκυας φόρεον κατατεθνηῶτας (so, first they carried away the dead corpses, one after another; Od ) But why should Homer be so interested in stressing that corpses are completely dead? A dead corpse is already redundant enough. Such a nuance would be especially unsuitable in the Nekyia (nine occurrences) where the souls (ψυχαί) of the dead retain a certain amount of vitality: they are dead, but not completely dead. On the other hand, the sense completely mortal for the verbal adjective καταθνητός would be fairly strange.13 Once again, the use of κατα- in καταθνῄσκειν can be explained on the basis of its original directional value. It expresses not completion, but the natural downward collapse of a corpse, which is no longer able to resist the force of gravity.14 The verb is frequently used in battle scenes. Καταθνῄσκειν means only to fall dead, and, like its quasi-synonym καταπίπτειν to fall (down), is frequently used in the context of battles: 12. Simple τεθνηώς is combined with νεκρός (νέκυς) only three times. 13. But cf. Kirk 1990, 172: In [καταθνητῶν ἀνθρώπων, Il ] κατα- may be felt to emphasize Glaukos special liability to death. 14. Eustathius (ad. Il ) suggests that κατα- if not redundant might refer to the Netherworld (ἡ κατα πρόθεσις τὸν κάτω ἐν Ἅιδου τόπον δηλοῖ), which is clearly impossible. 31 κάτθανε καὶ Πάτροκλος, ὅ περ σέο πολλὸν ἀμείνων (Patroclus, who was much better than you, also fell dead; Il ) 32 Tὸν δὲ καταθνῄσκων προσέφη κορυθαίολος Ἕκτωρ (When falling dead Hector of the flashing helmet spoke to him; Il ) 33 ὃ δ ὕπτιος ἐν κονίῃσι / κάππεσεν / θυμὸν ἀποπνείων (and he fell down backwards into the dust and gasped out his life; Il ) 34 ὃ δ ἄρα πρηνὴς ἐπὶ γαίῃ / κάππεσεν, ἀμφὶ δέ μιν θάνατος χύτο (and he fell down headlong upon the earth and death was shed around him; Il )
11 254 Julián Méndez Dosuna Incidentally, for similar reasons, pace Adrados (1992, 448), κατακτείνειν does not express that the action of killing someone is carried out thoroughly. The meaning is simply to bring someone down by slaying him :15 35 Ἀνδρὸς μὲν τόδε σῆμα πάλαι κατατεθνηῶτος, ὅν ποτ ἀριστεύοντα κατέκτανε φαίδιμος Ἕκτωρ (This is the tomb of a man who fell dead in older days, whom once in the midst of his prowess glorious Hector knocked down; Il ). In short, the evidence for a culminative value in ἀποθνῄσκειν and καταθνῄσκειν, allegedly meaning to die completely, is inconclusive, at best. The general impression is that ἀπο- off and more clearly κατα- downwards largely retain their original directional meanings. 6 Coming back to Attic τεθνάναι, we have already seen that a culminative meaning, supposedly redundant with the resultative aspect of the perfect-stem, cannot justify the absence of the prefix. Conversely, it is easy to understand why the idea of departure, absence was felt to be contradictory with the resultative meaning of the perfect, which often implied the physical presence of the corpse or the remains of the dead (Botne s 2003 Stage D), as can be seen in the following examples: 36 ἔλεγεν ὅτι οἴοιτο τεθνεῶτας πολλοὺς εὑρήσειν ([Seuthes] explained that he had supposed that he should find many of them dead; Xen. An ) 37 τοὺς δὲ τεθνηκότας θάπτειν ἐφῆκε τοῖς προσήκουσι (as for the dead, he allowed their relatives to bury them; Xen. Cyr ) 38 Καὶ ἐπειδὴ ἀπεφέρετο ἐκ τοῦ δεσμωτηρίου τεθνεώς (When he was being brought away dead from the prison ; Lys ) 39 τῶν τεθνεώτων τὰ ὀστᾶ ἀνελόντες ἐξέβαλον (after digging them up, they threw out the bones of the dead; Thuc ) In daily life, the incongruity of ἀπό- and pf. τεθνάναι (implying presence) must have been most conspicuous. Greek funerary rites prescribed that the corpses of dead persons should be shrouded and set out on a bier (προτιθέναι) at the entrance of the house for a whole day before the burial. In such a context, the idea of absence conveyed by ἀπο- was inconvenient for a corpse, which was still present and visible.16 7 Ἀποθνῄσκειν and τεθνάναι formed a not very cohesive paradigm. They bore a relationship of weak suppletion to each other, which did not greatly differ from that of, e.g., med.-pass. τίθεσθαι to lay oneself, to be laid and its perfect, κεῖσθαι to lie. Suppletive paradigms for to die and to be dead seem to be common in the languages of the world (Botne 2003, 272 3). 8 To conclude, the lack of the prefix ἀπο- in the perfect of ἀποθνῄσκειν cannot be attributed to a semantic affinity between the supposedly culminative meaning of the prefix and the resultative meaning of the meaning of the perfect-stem. Quite on the contrary, the prefix retained its spatial value of departure, absence, which was incompatible with the meaning of the perfect. 15. For the meaning of ἐκ- in ἐκτείνω, cf. English dysphemisms like to bump off, to do away with, to knock off, Sp. quitar a alguien de en medio lit. to take someone out of the middle. 16. Cf. the Spanish expression estar de cuerpo presente to be present in body alone, i.e., to lie dead (said of a corpse before burial).