Thrasymachus Chapter IV

 a)ndrw~n ga\r e)pifanw~n pa~sa gh~ ta/foj*

 For all the earth is the tomb of famous men.


You have learned that the Greek adjective agrees with its noun in case, number, and gender. The ending may look like that of the noun, but it doesn't have to, since it could be of a different declension.

Before we return to Greek, respond to the following with reference to the English language:

1) If you see three trees that are all tall, but of different heights, how do you indicate that tree A is, for instance, 6 feet tall, tree B 7 feet, and tree C 8 feet? In other words, how do you indicate their relative heights?

2) Do the same thing for three beautiful children.

3) Do the same thing for three good Greek grades.

4) Formulate a rule for how to form the comparative and superlative degrees in English and for how to indicate comparison.



Reread lines 4 through 16 on page 14 of Thrasymachus. Then answer the following:

See Thrasymachus pages 17 and 196-7 for comparison of adjectives and adverbs. Note especially the variation in forms for some very common adjectives and adverbs.



IV, A. Write out translations of lines 8 and 15 on page 14 of Thrasymachus. (Do you see any potential problems with that "little word" h! ?)

IV, B. Translate the following: sofo\j Sofoklh~j, sofw/teroj d' Eu)ripi/dhj, a)ndrw~n de pa/ntwn Swkra/thj sofw/tatoj.

IV, C. Identify the following forms. For each adjective, supply an appropriate Greek noun in the same gender, number, and case.

 1. ka/kistoi 5. deinote/roij
 2. plousiw/tatai 6.  kalli/onaj
 3. filta/tou 7. kalli/sthn
 4. deino/tata 8. a!riston

IV, D. Translate the following sentences and follow the directions in the parentheses:

1. h( gunh/ e)sti sofw/tera h@ o( a)nh/r. (Change gunh/ and a)nh/r to the opposite numbers and make all other necessary changes. Change the expression of comparison to the other form.

2. h( gunh/ e)sti kalh/. (Express the idea that she is more beautiful than the child, and then that she is the most beautiful in the house).

3. ti/j e)sti sofw/teroj tw~n qew~n tw~n e)n ou)ranw~|; (Change the subject to the opposite number and make all other necessary changes. Change the comparative to the superlative and retranslate).

IV, E. Write three simple sentences in Greek, one each illustrating the different ways of indicating comparison and a third with a superlative adjective or adverb.

Answer Key


Look at the following sentences:

o( a!nqrwpoj dida/skei to\n paida/.

o( a!nqrwpoj dida/sketai to\n paida/.


h( gunh\ lu/ei to\n i#ppon.

h( gunh\ lu/etai to\n i#ppon.

The first pair of sentences can be translated the same and the same is true for the second pair. As you know, dida/skei and lu/ei are Present Active Indicatives. They are verbs that express continuous present action with the subject acting.

There are two "voices" of the verb in English, ACTIVE and PASSIVE. In the active voice the subject acts, while in the passive voice the subject is acted upon:

 ACTIVE: Hermes leads Thrasymachus to the underworld.

 PASSIVE: Thrasymachus is led to the underworld by Hermes.

Greek verbs, however, can be expressed in three voices, not just two. In the MIDDLE VOICE the subject acts in its own interest. Thus dida/sketai implies that the man is teaching his child, or teaching a child for his own purposes. The woman who is the subject of lu/etai may be untying her own horse. Use of the middle voice implies another level of understanding of the idea that the verb is expressing.

You may need a broader context to know just what is being suggested by the middle voice verb. You can usually make sense of it in English, however, by translating the verb as if it were in the active voice. (Note that the middle voice, like the active, may take a direct object).

Thus the Middle voice in Greek allows a level of subtlety that we do not usually express in English. When the subject is personally involved in the action, the verb may be expressed in the middle voice.



The forms of middle voice verbs are easy to recognize, with one exception: the -esai of the second person singular is often changed, with the result that the form doesn't follow the pattern of the other middle endings. See the paradigm on page 16 of Thrasymachus. You will need to learn this set of endings:

 -mai  -meqa
 -sai (-h|)  -sqe
 -tai  -ntai

To form the middle indicative, add the “primary middle-passive endings” to the “continuous action stem” (the first principal part).

These endings are sometimes called middle-passive because they may also be used to express the passive voice.

Contract verbs will show contracted vowels before these endings.

The meanings of some verbs are so closely linked with the concept of the middle voice that they appear only in the middle. Their dictionary entries, like ma/xomai, have the middle-passive ending.



IV, F. Identify the following verb forms with middle voice endings and change them to the opposite number:

 1. dhlou~ntai  4. pemph~|
 2. timw~meqa  5. pe/mpetai
 3. dida/skontai  6. dida/skou

IV,G. Translate the following sentences and respond to the questions or directions that follow.

1. o( tou~ qeou~ ku/wn e)ri/zei meta\ tou~ paidi/ou. (Change the verb to the middle voice. What is the difference in meaning, if any?)

2. oi( filo/sofoi dida/skousin a!nqrwpon peri\ tw~n qew~n. (Change the verb to the middle voice.)

3. h yuxh oikeitai en tw| swmati. (Add the accents and breathing marks.)

4. o( a!nac o(ra~| to\ tou~ qeou~ dw~ron. (Change the verb to the middle form. Make the subject plural and rewrite both active and middle verb forms.)

5. filei~tai gunai/kaj kai\ a!ndraj h( qea\ Afrodi/th. (Change the subject to the direct object and the direct object to the subject. Make any other necessary changes.)

Answer Key


Red figure Athena by the Berlin Painter, Ciba Collection

h( /(Hra

 h( Afrodi/th

 h( Aqh/na

 o( Zeu/j kai\ o( Ganumh/dhj


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