Page:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition, v. 11.djvu/143

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development.]
131
GREECE

way of a fuller development. In Latin, however, we must assume a very extensive replacing of earlier formations by those of later origin ; for of many inflexions which are shown to have been Greece-Italic by the coincidence of Greek and Sanskrit, there are few if any traces to be found in Latin. The following principles of verbal flexion, the chief stages of whose development we have noticed above, had been established in the parent language :— 1. Stems were inflected by the use of suffixes denoting the three persons of the three numbers singular, dual, and plural. 2. Themes variously expanded were used instead of roots for stems, e.g., bhara-ti by the side of as-ti. Greek and Latin agree essen tially in the methods used for forming present themes. 3. Middle or reflexive inflexions were developed by the side of those of the active voice. In Latin this system appears to have lost its significance by the gradual wear and tear of inflexions, and to have been replaced by one based on a wholly different principle. 4. A distinction grew up between primary inflexions, used for present and future tenses, and secondary inflexions, used for past tenses, where the increased length given to the word by the use of the augment caused the lightening of the termina tion, usually by the loss of the final vowel. 5. To form the conjunctive and optative moods a, and ja (i) were added to the tense-stems before inflexion. 6. A past tense was formed by the use of the augment and the secondary terminations. This became differentiated afterwards in Greek into (1) past imperfect, (2) simple aorist, according as the theme was or was not used without modification for the present tense. In Latin this tense was as a rule dropped in favour of the compounded past imperfect or perfect, but Ourtius has discovered some traces of it still in use. 7. A compound aorist was formed by the help of the verbal root as. This is also replaced in Latin by a tense of later creation the perfect ; but its occurrence in Sanskrit establishes it as Grseco-Italic. 8. A future was formed by the combination of the roots as and ja. Of this, again, there are but slight traces in Latin, the ordinary future being either a later compound with the root bhu, or an optative in origin ; but the agreement of Sanskrit and Greek establishes it for this period. 9. Participles or verbal adjectives were formed by the use of the suffixes ant, vant for the active and mana (meno), ta for the reflexive respectively. 10. The dative or (possibly) locative case of a neuter verbal sub stantive was used as an infinitive. It is certain that Latin in all cases adopted a substantive with the suffix as (giving -asai ere], while Greek in some instances employed one with the suffix man or an (giving -fj.fi/ai, -fvat, and perhaps in the accusative form fttv); it is not clear whether the more common Greek termination -eiv is closely connected with the Latin -ere (Ae / 7eu = Ae7e(<r)ej =legese legere) as Curtius is inclined to think, or is of distinct origin. The researches of Curtius on the Grasco-Italic vowel- system enable us to determine with some confidence the phonetic character assumed by these inflexions. We may give as the common possession, not bharami, &c., but bheromi, bhcresi, bhereti, bheromes, bheretes, bheronti ; not akvos, &c., but ekvos, ekvom, ekvod, eJcvois, ekvoi, ekvdi, ekve, &c.

It was at this stage of inflexional development, and with a stock of roots and words which can still be ascertained with some approach to completeness, that the Greek language started on its separate career and commenced its independ ent history. The shape which it has assumed when it first becomes known to us from literary and epigraphic records is due to the action of its characteristic laws, some purely phonetic, and some due rather to the intellectual tendencies of those who used it. Of the phonetic laws four are especially distinctive : 1. Loss of Spirants. This is most extensive and important in its results : / (y) has entirely disappeared from the written lan guage, and its existence is only to be detected from isolated traces in Homer, and perhaps in some inscriptions where / is probably used to denote it; v (w) in the form of f is found on some of the older inscriptions, and its introduction into the text of Homer is often required by the metre ; but it is unknown to the ordinary written language ; s remains when final, and when in immediate contact with mutes, and also when it has assimilated to itself another consonant ; but before vowels it passes into the rough breathing, and between vowels it is as a rule entirely dropped. Instances of the effect of this loss of the spirants abound ; as an example we may take the primitive navasja, which becomes vtfoajo, veoio, veoo, and so veov. 2. Softening of the Gutturals by Labialism. It has been calculated that not less than one-sixth of the roots originally containing k or g present TT or ft in Greek. Hence the reduplicated past tense (1st sing.) from vak, "speak," a/cavakam, in Greek be comes ffefe-rrov, the Homeric eeiirov, Attic elirov. 3. Lightening of the Endings. Greek allows no consonants to end a word except s, v, and p, and shows a marked preference for vowel endings. Hence we often find one or more consonants dropped at the end. This gives a liquid flow to the language in which it has few rivals. 4. Eich Development of the Vowel System. In this again Greek is almost unrivalled. "While Latin shared with it the original splitting of the a, by its tendency to the loss of the diphthongs this language soon impaired the variety and expressiveness of its vocalisation, while Greek retained the full range undimin- ished. This was an advantage not merely for the euphony of the language, it added greatly to its expressiveness. Curtius has shown by many examples (Comparative Philology and Clas sical Scholarship, p. 33^.) how easily distinctions in meaning were given by this variety of vowels, which are expressed far more clumsily in other languages. We may notice here also the wide influences of zetacism. This is not limited to Greek, as Schleicher showed in the essay which first set forth its importance properly ; but it is more operative in Greek than in any language owing to the more complete disappearance of they, which coalesces with some other consonant, usually a d, original, modified, or parasitic, to produce it. Thus sad-ja-mai became fc/xai, varg-ja-mi, peo>, &c.

While these laws act naturally, and, so to say, mechani- cally, we must ascribe to the intellectual character of the Greeks another marked feature of this language, the enor- mous development given to their verbal system. Six fonns wholly new tenses were created after the separation from the Italian stock, the future perfect, the compound plu perfect, two passive aorists, and two future passives. Be sides, the whole system was worked out with wonderful completeness ; so that while an ordinary Latin verb has 143 possible inflexions, a corresponding Greek verb has no less than 507. In some instances we can see the creative pro cess still at work, as, e.g., in the case of the perfects in -κα, which are all but unknown to Homer,

The Historic Stage of Greek.1

The legend of the sons of Hellen, as we find it in Apollo- Divisio dorus, is of course entirely destitute of historical authority, of the but it serves as an indication of what the Greeks felt to be Greek a natural division of their race ; and from this point of view race it is largely confirmed by language. The story runs that Hellen left his kingdom to ^Eolus his eldest son, while he sent forth Dorus and Xuthus, the father of Ion, to make con quests in different lands. We see from this that the vEolic dialect was regarded as the oldest representative of Hellenic speech, that the Dorian came next to it, and that the Ionian, out of which the Attic subsequently sprung, was regarded as belonging properly to a later period. On the whole this view is not misleading ; but it requires some qualification. In the first place this division is more satis factory for literature than for history ; the names vEolic, Doric, Ionic, and Attic cover well enough the written lite rature of Greece, but are hardly comprehensive enough for all the spoken dialects. These were literally innumerable, we are told that the tiny island of Peparethus had three clearly distinct, and they shaded off one into another by

1 In dealing with this part of the subject no attempt has been made to record the ordinary forms of inflexion as given in grammars, a knowledge of which is assumed. For the Greek alphabet reference may be made to the article Alphabet, vol. i., especially pp. 609-610. Much which is closely connected with the history of the language finds its place more properly under the head of Literature.