PURA. Purism In Antiquity: Theories Of Language in Greek Atticist Lexica and their Legacy

Lexicographic entries

αὐτοσχεδιάζειν, ἥκειν, λαμβάνειν
(Phryn. PS 3.11–6, Moer. λ 1)

A. Main sources

(1) Phryn. PS 3.11–6: αὐτοσχεδιάζειν σύ, ἥκειν σύ· ἀντὶ τοῦ αὐτοσχεδίαζε σύ καὶ ἧκε σύ. Ἀττικὸν τὸ σχῆμα, ἀπαρέμφατον ἀντὶ προστακτικοῦ. Ὅμηρος· ‘αὐτοῦ ἐρυκακέειν’, καὶ ὧδ’· ‘ἐπαϊ̃ξαι μεμνημένος ἵππων, | ἐκ δ’ ἐλάσαι Τρώων μετ’ ἐϋκνημίδας Ἀχαιούς’. ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐρύκακε καὶ ἐπάϊξον καὶ ἔλασον.

< σὺ δὲ … > αὐτοῦ ἐρυκακέειν de Borries from Hom. Il. 5.261 | καὶ ὧδ’ ἐπαϊ̃ξαι cod. : Αἰνείαο δ’ ἐπαϊ̃ξαι Bekker from Hom. Il. 5.263 | ἐκ δ’ ἐλάσαι Bekker : ἐκ δ’ ἐλάσ’ ἐς cod.

αὐτοσχεδιάζειν σύ, ἥκειν σύ: Instead of ‘improvise!’ (i.e. αὐτοσχεδίαζε) and ‘come!’ (i.e. ἧκε). It is an Attic construction, [which consists in the use of] the infinitive instead of the imperative. Homer [says]: ‘Hold (i.e. ἐρυκακέειν) here’ (Il. 5.262 = C.4) and thus ‘Remembering this, rush (i.e. ἐπαϊ̃ξαι) at the horses, drive (i.e. ἐλάσαι) them away from the Trojans amidst the well-greaved Achaeans’ (Il. 5.263–4 = C.4), instead of ‘hold (i.e. ἐρύκακε)!’ and ‘rush (i.e. ἐπάϊξον)!’ and ‘drive (i.e. ἔλασον)!’.

(2) Moer. λ 1: λαμβάνειν ἀπαρεμφάτως οἱ Ἀττικοί ἀντὶ τοῦ λαμβανέτω, ὡς Ἀριστοφάνης Ὄρνισιν· ‘ἐάν τις ἀποκτείνῃ τύραννον, τιμὰς λαμβάνειν’· τὸ δὲ λαμβανέτω Ἕλληνες.

Attic-speakers [use] the infinitive λαμβάνειν instead of λαμβανέτω, like Aristophanes in Birds: ‘If one kills a tyrant, let him receive a reward’ (1074–5 = C.9). Greek-speakers [use] λαμβανέτω.

(3) [Hdn.] Fig. 6: παρὰ δὲ ἐγκλίσεις ἄριστον σχῆμα δείκνυται κατὰ τὴν τῶν ἀπαρεμφάτων ἀντὶ προστακτικῶν παράληψιν, οἷον· ‘μή τι διατρίβειν τὸν ἐμὸν χόλον, ἀλλά μ’ ἐᾶσαι’. τὸ γὰρ τῆς προστάξεως σκληρὸν μετριώτερον ἐμφαίνεται διὰ τῶν ἀπαρεμφάτων ἀντὶ τῶν προστακτικῶν παραληφθέντων. τίθεται δὲ καὶ ὁριστικὰ ἀνθ’ ὑποτακτικῶν πολλάκις […]. ταῦτα ἀμφότερα σχήματα ἡ ἀστειοτάτη τῶν διαλέκτων Ἀτθὶς εἰς αὑτὴν ἀναδέδεκται […].

Regarding the mood of a verb, an excellent construction is shown with the use of the infinitive instead of the imperative, like ‘Do not withhold my rage, but leave me’ (Hom. Il. 4.42 = C.3). The harshness of the command is presented in a milder form with the infinitives that are used instead of the imperatives. The indicative too is often used instead of the subjunctive […]. Attic, the most elegant of all dialects, admits of both these constructions.

(4) Schol. (ex.) Hom. Il. 2.10c: ἀγορευέμεν· Ἀττικῶς· ‘φάσκειν Μυκήνας’. (T)

ἀγορευέμεν: In the Attic way [like]: ‘Say Mycenae’ (Soph. El. 9 = C.8).

(5) Schol. Aristid. 3.314 Lenz–Behr [= 45.212 Dindorf]: τὸ δὲ μένειν ἀντὶ τοῦ μὴ μένε ἀπαρέμφατον ἀντὶ προστακτικοῦ· Ἀττικὸν δὲ τὸ ἔθος.

μένειν instead of μὴ μένε is [the use of] the infinitive instead of the imperative. It is an Attic usage.

(6) Eust. in Il. 1.239.17–9: καὶ ὅρα ὅτι τὸ καθάπτεσθαι καὶ ἀντὶ προστακτικοῦ τοῦ καθάπτου εἶπεν, ὅπερ ἐστὶ σχῆμα ἐλλειπτικὸν Ἰωνικὸν ἢ καὶ Ἀττικόν, ὡς προγέγραπται.

And notice that the poet uses the form καθάπτεσθαι also instead of the imperative καθάπτου (re. Il. 1.582 = C.2), which is an elliptic, Ionic or also Attic, construction, as written above.

(7) Eust. in Od. 1.68.26: σύνηθες δὲ πολλαχοῦ τοῖς ποιηταῖς ὥσπερ καὶ τοῖς πεζολεκτοῦσιν Ἀττικοῖς χρῆσθαι τοῖς ἀπαρεμφάτοις ἀντὶ προστακτικῶν.

In many cases it is common for poets, like for Attic prose-writers as well, to use the infinitives instead of the imperatives (re. Hom. Od. 1.374 = C.5).

(8) Tz. Ex. A. 97–609, no. 92: στυφελίξαι· ταράξαι· Ἀττικῶς τὸ ἀπαρέμφατον ἀντὶ προστακτικοῦ […].

στυφελίξαι: Meaning ‘agitate’. [This is the use of the] infinitive instead of the imperative in the Attic manner. (re. Hom. Il. 1.580–1 = C.1).

(9) Schol. (Tz.) Hes. Op. 450bis Gaisford: τότε δὴ χόρταζε. τὸ ἀπαρέμφατον ἀντὶ προστακτικοῦ, Ἀττικῶς.

Meaning τότε δὴ χόρταζε. [This is the use of the] infinitive instead of the imperative in the Attic manner. (re. Op. 452 = C.6)

(10) Schol. rec. Thuc. 1.123.1 Hude (= ICB 876 = DBBE no. 31268): ψιλόν τις ἐξώρθωσεν ἐνθαδὶ βλέπεις, | χρεὼν τὸ λοιπὸν καὶ τὸ θαρσοῦντες τόδε | θαρσοῦντας εἰπεῖν, ὡς γελῶν Τζέτζης λέγει· | ἀλλ’ οὐδαμῶς, ἄνθρωπε· μηδαμῶς ξέε· | οὕτω γάρ, οἶδ<α>, Ἀττικοῦ τρόπου λόγος, | θαρσοῦντες ἰέναι ἀντὶ τοῦ ἴτε γράφειν […].

Someone has corrected here, you see, the epsilon, being then necessary also to say this θαρσοῦντες as θαρσοῦντας, like Tzetzes says in laughter. But not at all, man, do not scrape it: for I know it is a way of speaking in the Attic fashion to write θαρσοῦντες ἰέναι instead of ἴτε. (re. Thuc. 1.123.1 = C.10)

B. Other erudite sources

(1) Lesb.Gramm. De figuris 15A: Ἰωνικὸν καὶ Δώριον ὁμοῦ, εἰλημμένον ἀπὸ τῶν κατὰ Σικελίαν Δωριέων. γίνεται δὲ παραλαμβανομένου ἀπαρεμφάτου ῥήματος ἀντὶ προστακτικοῦ ἐν ταῖς τοιαύταις συντάξεσιν· ὅταν λέγῃ τις ‘δός μοι τὸ βιβλίον’, αὐτὸ ‘δοῦναι’ φάσκει […].

(This schema, i.e. the infinitive in place of the imperative) is at the same time Ionic and Doric, originating from the Doric people of Sicily. It happens using a verb in the infinitive instead of an imperative in constructions of this kind. When one says: ‘Give (i.e. δός) me the book!’, this construction has ‘Give (i.e. δοῦναι)!’.

(2) Lesb.Gramm. De figuris 17B: Ἰωνικὸν καὶ Δώριόν ἐστι τὸ ἀντὶ προστακτικῶν ἀπαρέμφατα ἔχειν· φασὶ γὰρ ‘δοῦναι τὸ βιβλίον’ ἀντὶ τοῦ ‘δός’ […].

It is Ionic and Doric to have the infinitives instead of the imperatives. For they say: ‘Give the book!’, meaning ‘Give!’.

(3) Apoll.Dysc. Synt. 3.63 (= GG 2,2.329.1–8): οἶμαι δὲ καὶ τὸ Ὁμηρικὸν ἔθος, ἐκστὰν τῆς προστακτικῆς συντάξεως, δεόντως ἀνθυπαλλάξαι τὴν ἀπαρέμφατον ἔγκλισιν, οὖσαν γενικήν, εἰς ἣν καὶ ἐδείχθη ἅπαντα τὰ ἰδικὰ μεταλαμβανόμενα. οὕτως γὰρ ἔχει καὶ ἡ ἐπισταλτικὴ σύνταξις, Τρύφων Θέωνι χαίρειν, τοῦτο διαφέρουσα τῆς Ὁμηρικῆς συνηθείας, καθὸ ἡ μὲν ἐπὶ τὸ προστακτικὸν φύσει καταφέρεται, καὶ οἷόν τέ ἐστιν ἐπ’ αὐτῆς τὰ προστακτικὰ παραλαμβάνειν, προσῆπται μέντοι τῷ δοθέντι σχήματι τοῦ λόγου· οὐ μὴν ἔτι τὸ ἐν τῇ ἐπισταλτικῇ συντάξει ἠδύνατο τοιοῦτον παραδέξασθαι.

The Homeric practice of using the infinitive form by hypallage for the imperative construction, I think, is also explained by its generality, the fact that all special (moods) can be transformed into infinitives. The same is true of the use in the epistolary construction – ‘Tryphon to Theon, to rejoice’ – although it differs from the Homeric usage in that while the latter (i.e. Homer’s use) naturally resembles the imperative pattern and can always be replaced by an imperative, but it belongs to the class of figures that are conceded to poetic practice, the former, the epistolary construction, cannot be so replaced. (Transl. Householder 1981, 179.)

(4) Anon. De barbarismo et soloecismo [10] 275.26–7: κατὰ ἔγκλισιν ὡς ὅταν θέλῃς εἰπεῖν προστακτικῶς ‘γράφε’, καὶ εἴπῃς ἀπαρεμφάτως ‘γράφειν’.

(It is a barbarism) regarding the mood, when you want to say in the imperative ‘Write!’ and you say in the infinitive ‘Write!’.

C. Loci classici, other relevant texts

(1) Hom. Il. 1.580–1:
εἴ περ γάρ κ ἐθέλῃσιν Ὀλύμπιος ἀστεροπητὴς
ἐξ ἑδέων στυφελίξαι.

For what if the Olympian lord of the lightning wanted to dash us from our seats.

(2) Hom. Il. 1.582:
ἀλλὰ σὺ τὸν ἐπέεσσι καθάπτεσθαι μαλακοῖσιν.

But accost him with gentle words.

(3) Hom. Il. 4.42:
μή τι διατρίβειν τὸν ἐμὸν χόλον, ἀλλά μ’ ἐᾶσαι.

Do not slow down my anger, but leave me.

(4) Hom. Il. 5.261–4:
                        σὺ δὲ τούσδε μὲν ὠκέας ἵππους
αὐτοῦ ἐρυκακέειν ἐξ ἄντυγος ἡνία τείνας,
Αἰνείαο δ’ ἐπαΐξαι μεμνημένος ἵππων,
ἐκ δ’ ἐλάσαι Τρώων μετ’ ἐϋκνήμιδας Ἀχαιούς.

Hold here these swift horses stretching the reins from the rail of the chariot, but remembering this, rush at the horses, drive them away from the Trojans amidst the well-greaved Achaeans.

(5) Hom. Od. 1.374:
ἐξιέναι μεγάρων· ἄλλας δ’ ἀλεγύνετε δαῖτας.

Depart from these halls. Prepare other feasts.

(6) Hes. Op. 452:
δὴ τότε χορτάζειν ἕλικας βόας ἔνδον ἐόντας.

At this time feed the oxen with curved horns which are inside.

(7) Oracle no. 95.8–9 in Parke–Wormell 1956:
μηδὲ σύ γ’ ἱπποσύνην τε μένειν καὶ πεζὸν ἰόντα
πολλὸν ἀπ’ ἠπείρου στρατὸν ἥσυχος, ἀλλ’ ὑποχωρεῖν. (cf. Hdt. 7.141.3–4)

Do not wait quietly the cavalry and the large army of footmen coming from the land, but withdraw.

(8) Soph. El. 9:
φάσκειν Μυκήνας τὰς πολυχρύσους ὁρᾶν.

Say that you see Mycenae rich in gold.

(9) Ar. Av. 1074–5:
                                        ἤν τε τῶν τυράννων τίς τινα
τῶν τεθνηκότων ἀποκτείνῃ, τάλαντον λαμβάνειν

If one kills one of the dead tyrants, let him receive a talent.

(10) Thuc. 1.123.1: περὶ δὲ τῶν ἔπειτα μελλόντων τοῖς παροῦσι βοηθοῦντας χρὴ ἐπιταλαιπωρεῖν […] καὶ μὴ μεταβάλλειν τὸ ἔθος […] ἀλλὰ θαρσοῦντας ἰέναι κατὰ πολλὰ ἐς τὸν πόλεμον.

But regarding what will happen, it is necessary to endure any hardship providing support in the present circumstances […] and not change our ways […] but with courage, to go forcefully into war.

(11) LXX Ge. 19.9: εἶπαν δέ· ‘ἀπόστα ἐκεῖ. εἷς ἦλθες παροικεῖν· μὴ καὶ κρίσιν κρίνειν; νῦν οὖν σὲ κακώσομεν μᾶλλον ἢ ἐκείνους’.

They said: ‘Stand back there. You have come alone to live here, not also to pass judgement? Now, then, we will harm you rather than those people’.

(12) Paus. 4.21.10: σὺ δὲ σώζειν μὲν ὡς δυνάμεως ἥκεις Μεσσηνίους, σώζειν δὲ καὶ σαυτόν.

But do save the Messenians with what power you come, save yourself too.

(13) Plu. Sol. 5.2: ‘οὐκοῦν’ φάναι τὸν Ἀνάχαρσιν ‘αὐτὸς ὢν οἴκοι σὺ ποίησαι φιλίαν καὶ ξενίαν πρὸς ἡμᾶς’.

‘Well then’, said Anacharsis, ‘Since you are at home, do make a pact of friendship and hospitality towards us’.

(14) Luc. Anach. 17: καὶ ὅπως μὴ καθάπερ νόμοις προσέξεις οἷς ἂν λέγω πρὸς σέ, ὡς ἐξ ἅπαντος πιστεύειν αὐτοῖς, ἀλλ’ ἔνθα ἄν σοι μὴ ὀρθῶς τι λέγεσθαι δοκῇ, ἀντιλέγειν εὐθὺς καὶ διευθύνειν τὸν λόγον.

And be careful not to regard the things I say to you as though they were laws, so that you would have to trust them at all times, but when something seems ill-founded to you, do contradict me immediately and correct the reasoning.

(15) Luc. Pseudol. 16: φέρε δὴ καὶ ὑπὲρ τούτου πρὸς σὲ ἀπολογήσομαι τὰ εἰκότα, σὺ δὲ προσέχειν τὸν νοῦν, εἰ μὴ πάνυ ὀλίγον σοι μέλει τοῦ μηδὲν εἰδέναι.

Come now, also regarding this matter I shall reply to you what seems appropriate, but do concentrate, unless you care very little indeed about knowing nothing.

(16) Luc. Rh.Pr. 10: σὺ δὲ μήτε πείθεσθαι μήτε προσέχειν αὐτῷ, μή σε ἐκτραχηλίσῃ που παραλαβὼν ἢ τὸ τελευταῖον προγηρᾶσαι τοῖς πόνοις παρασκευάσῃ.

But do not believe nor listen to him, being afraid that he may break your neck if he seizes you or that in the end, he will make you become prematurely old with his exercises.

(17) Arr. An. 5.27.7: σὺ δὲ νῦν μὴ ἄγειν ἄκοντας.

But now, do not lead troops who are unwilling.

(18) Luc. Lex. 3: ἀλλ’ εἰσιὼν ταῦτά τε καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ἡδύνειν καὶ τὴν κάρδοπον σμῆν, ὡς θριδακίνας μάττοιτε ἡμῖν.

But you go in: season these and all the other things and cleanse the kneading-trough, so that you may knead some lettuce-loaf for us.

(19) Arr. Cyn. 20.4: ἀλλ’ ἄρχοντα χρὴ ἐπιτετάχθαι τῇ θήρᾳ, καὶ οὗτος συνδυαζέτω τὰς κύνας, καὶ ταττέτω ὡς εἰ ταύτῃ πηδήσειεν, σὺ καὶ σὺ ἐπιλύειν, ἄλλος δὲ μὴ λυέτω· εἰ δὲ ταύτῃ αὖ, σὺ καὶ σύ.

But it is necessary to put one in command of the hunt, and this must pair up the dogs and set that if they jump here, you and you must set them loose, but another should not, while if they jump here, you and you (must set them loose).

(20) App. Hann. 200: ἔστι γάρ μοι φίλος ὁ στρατηγὸς ἐκείνου τοῦ στρατοῦ· σὺ δ’ ὑπομένειν μοι δεῦρο καὶ τὰ ἔνδον ἐπιτηρεῖν.

The general of that army is a friend of mine. You must wait for me here and keep in sight what happens inside the town.

(21) S.E. P. 1.204: προφέρονται δέ τινες καὶ οὕτω τὴν φωνήν ‘παντὶ λόγῳ λόγον ἴσον ἀντικεῖσθαι’ […]. ἵνα ὁ μὲν λόγος αὐτοῖς ᾖ πρὸς τὸν σκεπτικόν, χρῶνται δὲ ἀπαρεμφάτῳ ἀντὶ προστακτικοῦ, τῷ ἀντικεῖσθαι ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀντιτιθῶμεν.

Some say also formulate the maxim like this: ‘To every argument an equal argument must be opposed’ […]. For the saying to be addressed to the sceptic, they use the infinitive in place of the imperative, ἀντικεῖσθαι instead of ἀντιτιθῶμεν.

(22) Hld. 4.18.3: ‘ἐγὼ μὲν ἐπὶ τὰ ἑξῆς τῆς πράξεως ἄπειμι’, ἔφην, ‘ὑμεῖς δέ με κατὰ χώραν περιμένειν τοῦ μή τισιν ὀφθῆναι πλείστην ὅσην φροντίδα ἔχοντες’.

‘I am going to take care of the rest of this affair’, I said, ‘You wait for me around here, taking as much care as you can not to be seen by anybody’.

(23) Arethas Scripta minora 1.286.10–3: ἀλλὰ γὰρ σκοπεῖν, ἀξιάγαστε, ὡς οὐχ ἡ τοῦ πάθους ὁμοιότης κοινωνοὺς ἀναδείκνυσι καὶ τοὺς πάσχοντας τοῖς πρὸς οὓς ἀναφέρειν ὑμῖν ἡ σπουδὴ τὸν βέλτιστον Στέφανον.

But look, oh admirable, that the similarity of suffering does not show as fellows those who suffer like those whom you make efforts to bring the excellent Stephanus.

D. General commentary

Phrynichus (A.1) informs the aspiring sophist about the Attic construction that uses the infinitive in place of the imperative to express a command (on the verbal forms he uses to exemplify this usage, see F.1). This is also Moeris’ view (A.2), who ascribes the use of the imperative to the Ἕλληνες (see F.2). Ancient sources clearly equate the jussive infinitive with the imperative, without delimiting the syntactical or pragmatic uses of either construction. Note that Apollonius Dyscolus (B.3) also considers the jussive infinitive a pure and simple case of substituting the imperative with the infinitive, whereas the infinitive used in greeting formulas presupposes the ellipsis of the governing verb (on this passage, see further Lallot 1997, 194 n. 151).

Occurrences of the jussive infinitive are regularly pointed out in the erudite literature on HomerHomeric scholarship (material going back to Aristarchus has been collected and discussed in Matthaios 1999, 106 and 360–3), though with some oscillation. For instance, Zenodotus was accused by Aristarchus of failing to understand the jussive imperative as a Homeric usage, suggesting instead that jussive infinitives should be emended into other forms (see schol. [Ariston.] Hom. Il. 3.459 [A] [= Aristarch. fr. 72 Matthaios] and schol. [Ariston.] Hom. Il. 5.263a [A], schol. [Ariston.] Hom. Od. 7.222 [HP]; see also Schironi 2018, 197). A number of erudite sources share Phrynichus’ view that the jussive infinitive is an Attic construction. Note that Eustathius also considers the infinitive of wish an Atticism in Homer (see Eust. in Il. 1.378.13–6 re. Il. 2.412–3, in Il. 1.380.18–20 re. Il. 2.412–13, in Il. 2.438.1–4 re. Il. 7.179–80, in Od. 1.277.30–2 re. Od. 7.311–4, in Od. 2.150.7–9 re. Od. 17.354; a discussion is found in Hedberg 1935, 144–5).

It is possible that Atticist lexicography might have influenced non-Atticist sources sharing the view that the jussive infinitive was an Attic construction. For a start, after quoting an example of a jussive infinitive in Homer, and while attesting that the Attic dialect too admits of the jussive infinitive, pseudo-Herodianus (Fig. 6) calls Attic ‘the most elegant Greek dialect’ (ἡ ἀστειοτάτη τῶν διαλέκτων Ἀτθίς). Secondly, bearing in mind the many occurrences of jussive infinitives in tragic poetry and in Aristophanes, this construction may have gradually been identified as typically Attic (tragic and comic occurrences are often explicitly signalled by the scholia, see schol. vet. Aesch. Sept. 75d Smith, schol. Eur. Ph. 845 Dindorf, schol. vet. Soph. Ant. 1142 Papageorgius, schol. rec. [Plan.] Soph. OT 462 Longo, schol. vet. Ar. Plut. 322 [VEΘBarbAld], schol. rec. Ar. Ra. 133b [Mt]). Direct evidence is schol. (ex.) Hom. Il. 2.10c (T), where the jussive infinitive is labelled as Ἀττικῶς and compared to a passage of Sophocles. Further, one may also notice a tendency in ancient erudition towards considering all independent infinitives Attic constructions, like for instance Moer. τ 5Moer. τ 5 τήμερον εἶναι Ἀττικοί, ὡς Νεφέλαις […]· τὸ σήμερον ἔχον Ἕλληνες (‘Attic-speakers say τήμερον εἶναι, like in Clouds […]. Greek-speakers say σήμερον ἔχον’). Finally, the connection between occurrences of the jussive infinitive in Homer and Attic authors should probably also be seen in light of the ancient view that Ionic was a form of Old Attic and that Homer wrote in a form of Old AtticHomer (see Str. 8.1.2Str. 8.1.2 and Choerob. in Theod. GG 4,2.86.16–24;Choerob. in Theod. GG 4,2.86.16–24 further sources and discussion in Hedberg 1935, 7–9 and Schironi 2018, 605–11). Ancient scholarshipHomeric scholarship may then have found it quite easy to posit a linguistic continuum from Homer to Attic.

Other sources approach the jussive infinitive from a different angle. Lesbonax (B.1, B.2) deemed the jussive infinitive to be Ionic (and Doric). The notion that it is an Ionic feature is not entirely unanticipated and can likely be explained by way of its pervasive presence in Homer (later Byzantine sources that consider the jussive infinitive an Ionic feature are collected by Hedberg 1935, 146). However, Lesbonax does not provide evidence regarding the Doric hypothesis, nor is it clear where he derived this doctrine from (see Blank 1988, 140–3 on Lesbonax’s sources and the often unexpected pieces of information he supplies for less-than-well documented Greek dialects). The fact that Lesbonax does not mention the jussive infinitive in connection with the Attic dialect is not surprising, given his general lack of interest in Atticism (see Blank 1988, 144–5). The view expressed in the anonymous treatise Περὶ βαρβαρισμοῦ καὶ σολοικισμοῦ (B.4) – that the jussive infinitive is a solecism – should not be taken as a criticism against it, but rather as an indication that this construction is an exception from the point of view of analogy. Additionally, to regard the jussive infinitive as a solecism is in no way incompatible with its qualification as an Atticism, all the more so since the Attic dialect was regarded in antiquity as typically full of syntactic oddities (see Lesb.Gramm. De figuris 13B σημείωσαι δὲ ὅτι τὸ σολοικίζειν ἀττικίζειν ἐστίν ‘Take note that using solecisms is Atticising’; further parallels in Hedberg 1935, 21–2 and Blank 1988, 197 ad loc.).

The jussive infinitive is variously attested throughout the history of classical Greek. It is fairly frequent in Homer, Herodotus, and Attic drama, but is comparatively less common in classical and Hellenistic Attic and in the koine (see K–G vol. 2, § 474 and Schwyzer, Debrunner 1950 vol. 2, 380–3; on the prose occurrences see especially Bers 1984, 176–9). The inscriptional evidence shows that the jussive infinitive is common in epigraphic legislative texts (see de la Villa 2018 on Thessalian inscriptions). In imperial times, this construction is attested in literary, and not just Atticist, prose. Schmid (1893, 421–2 and Atticismus vol. 2, 57, Atticismus vol. 4, 618 and n. 41) collects examples from Aelius Aristides and Josephus, but there are many more (for a sample see C.12, C.13, C.14, C.15, C.16, C.17, C.18, C.19, C.20); the jussive infinitive functions either as an element of emphasis in conveying the order (C.12, C.13, C.14, C.15, C.16, C.17), or more specifically in giving instructions for performing a given task (C.18, C.19, C.20; for parallels in classical technical literature see Bers 1984, 171–2). The distribution of the jussive infinitive in post-classical texts using less formal Greek is very uneven. In Septuagint and New Testament Greek it is rarely, if ever, attested. The only possible occurrence in the SeptuagintSeptuagint is LXX Ge. 19.9 (C.11), but the syntax is uncertain (see F.4). Only three examples of the jussive infinitive are known in the New TestamentNew Testament (see Blass, Debrunner 1976, § 389), and not all of them have equal weight. Two (Ep.Rom. 12.15 and Ep.Phil. 3.16) are impersonal statements in which one can easily supply a governing verb (a verbum dicendi or an impersonal verb, like χρή or δεῖ). The third passage is more interesting. The jussive infinitive alternates with the imperative in a way that is also familiar from both classical texts and papyri written in less formal Greek (Ev.Luc. 9.3). A category of post-classical texts in which the jussive infinitive is not unknown are documentary papyri, such as official orders or petitions, which tend to have a more formal register. The jussive infinitive may also occur in private texts, such as letters written in a lower form of koine (examples are collected, categorised, and discussed by Mayser, Gramm. vol. 2,1, 150–1 and 303–5 and Mandilaras 1973, §§ 756–69). Some scholars have concluded that the jussive infinitive must have been an element of popular usage (notably Radermacher 1902, 147), but considering its wide distribution in literary and non-literary texts, a more balanced view is advisable.

The functional use of the jussive infinitive has attracted considerable attention, but scholarship has largely failed to reach a consensus on this topic. Observe that although most scholars agree on the need to separate (at least as far as the origin of these constructions is concerned) the nominative/vocative + jussive infinitive from the accusative + jussive infinitive (see Wackernagel 1926, 266–8 = Wackernagel 2009, 334–6), the two constructions are regularly examined together in scholarship. By far the most up-to-date and wide-ranging discussion available on this topic is the one provided by Denizot (2011, 299–394). Some of the main conclusions she reaches are the following. The jussive infinitive, much like the imperative, is a moderately marked verbal form, to which the notion of modality is largely foreign. As the infinitive indicates a certain idea of verbal action, its imperatival use is hence largely defined by the communicative environment. In this regard, the main difference with the imperative lies with the fact that the jussive infinitive is indifferent to the person; thus, the nominative + jussive infinitive and the accusative + jussive infinitive are different constructions inasmuch as the addressee of the former is the interlocutor, while in the latter case they are not. On a pragmatic level, the consequence is that the jussive infinitive, unlike the imperative, emphasises the circumstances of the process rather than the circumstances in which the communication takes place. However, one should also note that the markedness of either use results from the relative standard of each text: in a text where the jussive infinitive abounds, the imperative lays emphasis on the communication with the interlocutor, while in texts where the imperative is more common, the jussive infinitive is used to highlight the nature of a process of action. Despite Denizot’s seminal study, several fruitful areas of research remain in which the use and function of the jussive infinitive must be examined. I present a selection of the main issues and some general bibliography here, but a detailed treatment clearly falls beyond the scope of the present discussion. (1) Defining the mutual relationship between the jussive infinitive and the imperative, and considering that the two may alternate in the same text or passage (see Allan 2010; de la Villa 2018). (2) Delimiting the syntactical contexts in which the jussive infinitive may be used (Moreschini Quattordio 1970–1971; Bers 1984, 169–75). (3) Identifying the stylistic markedness of this construction (see Bers 1984, 179–81; Willi 2017, 262–4).

E. Byzantine and Modern Greek commentary

A sample investigation of Byzantine texts shows that the use of the jussive infinitive is very scarce among texts written in higher Greek. Only two examples with σκοπεῖν occur in Arethas’ minor writings (C.23, Scripta minora 2.52.20–1; these examples are pointed out by Westerink 1972, 282). Regarding these passages, one can see that in both cases the jussive infinitive σκοπεῖν occurs at the very beginning of a sentence that opens with ἀλλὰ σκοπεῖν γάρ or with just σκοπεῖν γάρ, and is immediately followed by a conjunction, ὡς and εἰ respectively, to introduce the subordinate clause. Such a recurring formula may suggest the jussive infinitive was a construction that Arethas employed with caution and in contexts where it would be unambiguous for the infinitive to have imperatival force. This can be compared with Arethas’ own difficulty at recognising a jussive infinitive in a passage of Lucian (C.14) where the infinitive occurs after a subordinate (see below). In addition to Arethas, I have devoted special attention to the writings of Photius and Michael Psellus, but I have been unable to find other occurrences of the jussive infinitive. This construction is also unrecorded in the available indices to Photius’ epistles and Amphilochia and to Psellus’ Chronographia (see Westerink 1988 and Reinsch 2014). Moreover, note that the jussive infinitive has never been an option in Medieval and early Modern Greek (see CGMEMG vol. 4, 1875–8).

Possibly as a consequence of the jussive infinitive dying out, this construction attracted the interest of Byzantine readers of classical texts. In continuity with earlier scholarship, they regarded the jussive infinitive as an Atticism (see A.6, A.7, A.8, A.9, A.10; on Α.1, see Luzzatto 1999, 46–58); Arethas on Lucian: schol. Luc. Rh.Pr. 10 [= 178.8–16 Rabe] and Russo 2012, 53; Maximus Planudes on Sophocles: schol. rec. [Plan.] Soph. OT 462 Longo; Tzetzes on Homer and Hesiod: Tz. Ex. A. 97–609, no. 80 [re. Il. 1.323], schol. [Tzetzes] Hes. Op. 381sex.52–5 re. Op. 383–4, schol. [Tzetzes] Hes. Op. 502quin re. Op. 504–5). Despite this clear level of interest, the jussive infinitive was not always easy to identify correctly; for instance, the syntactic interpretation put forward by Arethas in schol. Luc. Anach. 17 (168.25–169.11 Rabe) evidently overlooks the presence of a jussive infinitive (see Russo 2012, 161), while Tzetzes’ interpretation (A.8) of στυφελίξαι in Hom. Il. 1.581 (C.1) as a jussive infinitive is most likely incorrect (see F.3).

F. Commentary on individual texts and occurrences

(1)    Phryn. PS 3.11–6 (A.1)

Phrynichus’ use of αὐτοσχεδιάζειν to exemplify the jussive infinitive attracts some consideration. Not only is the other form used by Phrynichus a common verb such as ἥκω, but the same is also true of λαμβάνειν in Moeris (A.2), δίδωμι in Lesbonax (B.1, B.2), and γράφω in pseudo-Herodianus (B.4). Why, then, did Phrynichus choose such a specific and comparatively uncommon verb like αὐτοσχεδιάζω? To begin with, this form might provide a tacit Atticist instruction, that is, a reminder that one should use αὐτοσχεδιάζω rather than σχεδιάζω (see Moer. α 95Moer. α 95 αὐτοσχεδιάζειν Ἀττικοί· σχεδιάζειν Ἕλληνες). Secondly, it is also possible that since improvisation was an important aspect of ancient rhetorical training, the use of αὐτοσχεδιάζω is less of a surprise in a scholarly work such as the PS, which is explicitly connected with sophistic and rhetorical education. Although αὐτοσχεδιάζω is a less common choice of word compared to ἥκω, λαμβάνω, γράφω, and δίδωμι, this may not have been the case in the context of a rhetorically focused work such as the PS. Finally, one might also ask whether Phrynichus had the passage of a classical author in mind where αὐτοσχεδιάζειν was used as a jussive infinitive. None of the known occurrences of αὐτοσχεδιάζειν in authors whose language is approved of by Phrynichus would prove a suitable candidate (Thuc. 1.138.4, Isoc. 15.41, X. HG 5.2.32, Pl. Cra. 413d 4, Men. 235c 9 and 235d 2, [D.] 61.43), unless one assumes that Phrynichus misunderstood the syntax. The only vaguely possible case would be [D.] 61.43 σοὶ δὲ προσήκει τούτων μὲν καταφρονεῖν, σαυτοῦ δ’ ἐπιμέλειαν ἔχειν· οὐ γὰρ αὐτοσχεδιάζειν, ἀλλ’ ἐπίστασθαί σε δεῖ περὶ τῶν μεγίστων (‘The proper thing for you is to disregard these people and take good care of yourself. For it is necessary for you not to improvise, but rather to be knowledgeable about the most important things’; αὐτοσχεδιάζειν obviously depends on δεῖ), but one would naturally have expected the negation to be μή rather than οὐ in order for the inattentive reader to misunderstand αὐτοσχεδιάζειν as a jussive infinitive (one may compare [Aesch.] Pr. 712 οἷς μὴ πελάζειν ‘Do not get close to them’).

(2)    Moer. λ 1 (A.2)

This gloss offers a striking example of the fact that, in Moeris’ lexicon, the opposition between Ἀττικοί and Ἕλληνες cannot always represent an opposition between Attic and koine (or more generally post-classical) Greek. In this specific case, it seems more fruitful that we take the attribution of the jussive infinitive to the Ἀττικοί as an indication that it is a marked construction, and thus an Atticising feature, in contrast to the unmarked use of the imperative, which is generic Greek and thus attributed to the Ἕλληνες. To quote just one parallel example of the opposition between marked (Ἀττικοί) and unmarked (Ἕλληνες) usages, one may compare Moer. α 99Moer. α 99 αὐτοβοεί Ἀττικοί, ὡς Θουκυδίδης ἐν αʹ (2.81.4)· παραχρῆμα Ἕλληνες (see also Ael.Dion. α 196).

(3)    Tz. Exeg. in Il. A. 97–609, no. 92 (A.8, re. C.1)

Tzetzes is probably wrong in taking στυφελίξαι in Hom. Il. 1.581 (C.1) as a jussive infinitive (see Leaf 1900–1902 vol. 1, 43–4: ‘It is not necessary to supply any apodosis after εἴ περ γάρ κ ἐθέληισιν: it is a supposition made interjectionally, “only suppose he should will to drive us away!”. Bentley’s στυφελίξει, to supply the apodosis, is far weaker’). Tzetzes is likely to have been misled in this interpretation by the jussive infinitive in the next line (C.2).

(4)    LXX Gen. 19.9 (C.11)

The text above was established by Weavers (1974, 193) in his edition of Genesis for the Göttinger Septuaginta series. According to his punctuation, κρίνειν in the pericope μὴ καὶ κρίσιν κρίνειν; would be an infinitive of purpose depending on ἦλθες in the previous sentence, exactly like παροικεῖν (‘You have come alone to live here, not to pass judgement too?’). An alternative interpretation, cautiously put forward by Muraoka (2016, 358), would be that if one does not print μὴ καὶ κρίσιν κρίνειν; as a question with a final semi-colon, one could then take μὴ καὶ κρίσιν κρίνειν as an example of a jussive infinitive (‘You have come alone to live here. Do not pass judgement too’).


Allan, R. J. (2010). ‘The infinitivus pro imperativo in Ancient Greek. The Imperatival Infinitive as an Expression of Proper Procedural Action’. Mnemosyne 63, 203–28.

Bers, V. (1984). Greek Poetic Syntax in the Classical Age. New Haven, London.

Blank, D. L. (1988). Lesbonax. Περὶ σχημάτων. Edited with an Introduction. Berlin, New York.

Blass, F.; Debrunner, A. (1976). Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Griechisch. Revised ed. by F. Rehkopf. Göttingen.

Denizot, C. (2011). Donner des ordres en grec ancien. Étude linguistique des formes de l’injonction. Mont-Saint-Aignan.

Hedberg, T. (1935). Eustathios als Attizist. Uppsala.

Householder, F. W. (1981). The Syntax of Apollonius Dyscolus. Translated, and with Commentary. Amsterdam.

Lallot, J. (1997). Apollonius Dyscole. De la construction (Περὶ συντάξεως). Text grec accompagné des notes critiques. Introduction, traduction, notes exégétiques, index. Paris.

Leaf, W. (1900–1902). The Iliad. Edited, with Apparatus Criticus, Prolegomena, Notes, and Appendices. 2 vols. 2nd edition. London.

Luzzatto, M. J. (1999). Tzetzes lettore di Tucidide. Note autografe sul codice Heidelberg Palatino Greco 252. Bari.

Mandilaras, B. G. (1973). The Verb in the Greek Non-Literary Papyri. Athens.

Matthaios, S. (1999). Untersuchungen zur Grammatik Aristarchs. Texte und Interpretation zur Wortartenlehre. Göttingen.

Moreschini Quattordio, A. (1970–1971). ‘L’uso dell’infinito e dell’imperativo in Omero e nella tradizione epigrafica’. SCO 19-20, 347–58.

Muraoka, T. (2016). A Syntax of Septuagint Greek. Leuven, Paris, Bristol CT.

Parke, H. W.; Wormell, D. E. W. (1956). The Delphic Oracle. Vol. 2: The Oracular Responses. Oxford.

Radermacher, L. (1902). ‘Aus dem zweite Bande der Amherst Papyri’. RhM n.F. 57, 137–51.

Reinsch, D. R. (2014). Michaelis Pselli Chronographia. Vol. 2: Textkritischer Kommentar und Indices. Berlin, Boston.

Russo, G. (2012). Contestazione e conservazione. Luciano nell’esegesi di Areta. Berlin, Boston.

Schironi, F. (2018). The Best of the Grammarians. Aristarchus of Samothrace on the Iliad. Ann Arbor.

Schmid, W. (1893). De Flavii Iosephi elocutione observationes criticae. Leipzig.

Schwyzer, E.; Debrunner, A. (1950). Griechische Grammatik. Syntax und syntaktische Stilistik. Munich.

de la Villa, J. (2018). ‘More on Aspect and Modality in Thessalian Official Documents’. Giannakis, G. K.; Crespo, E.; Filos, P. (eds.), Studies in Ancient Greek Dialects. From Central Greece to the Black Sea. Berlin, Boston, 405–28.

Wackernagel, J. (1926). Vorlesungen über Syntax. 2 vols. Basel.

Wackernagel, J. (2009). Lectures on Syntax with Special Reference to Greek, Latin and Germanic. Edited with Notes and Bibliography by D. Langslow. Oxford.

Weavers, J. W. (1974). Septuaginta. Vetus Testamentum Graece. Vol. 1: Genesis. Göttingen.

Westerink, L. G. (1972). Arethae Archiepiscopi Caesariensis scripta minora. Accedunt Nicetae Paphagonis epistulae. Leipzig.

Westerink, L. G. (1988). Photii Patriarchae Constantinopolitani epistulae et Amphilochia. Leipzig.

Willi, A. (2017). ‘Register Variation and Tense/Aspect/Mood Categories in Ancient Greek: Problems and Perspectives’. Bentein, K.; Janse, M.; Soltic, J. (eds.), Variation and Change in Ancient Greek. Tense, Aspect and Modality. Leiden, Boston, 261–86.


Federico Favi, 'αὐτοσχεδιάζειν, ἥκειν, λαμβάνειν (Phryn. PS 3.11–6, Moer. λ 1)', in Olga Tribulato (ed.), Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.30687/DEA/2021/01/002

This article provides a philological and linguistic commentary on the use of the iussive infinitive discussed in the Atticist lexica Phryn. PS 3.11–6 and Moer. λ 1.

HomerHomeric scholarshipIndependent infinitiveJussive infinitive


2022-10-04 19:31:43