44 The Perfect System: Part III

2007.01.1515

Fragment of a Panathenaic Amphora with an inscribed pedestal for a figure. 3rd c. B.C. Athenian Agora Excavations.


The Pluperfect

Greek tenses differ in what is called ASPECT. The PERFECT TENSE states that an action is completed now. The PLUPERFECT TENSE reflects the same aspect as the PERFECT, though for an action that was completed in the past. For example:

  • I have arrived. Perfect: the speaker has now arrived.
  • I had arrived. Pluperfect: the speaker arrived some time in the past.

Since the PERFECT and PLUPERFECT TENSES reflect the same aspect in Greek, they both are formed from the PERFECT STEM (S 1852b). As we previously learned, the PERFECT TENSE is a PRIMARY tense. The PLUPERFECT, however, is a SECONDARY tense, and so must be inflected with an augment and secondary endings.

 


Pluperfect Active

Like all indicative past tenses in Greek, the pluperfect adds an AUGMENT. To mark the ACTIVE voice, a –κ– is added to the PERFECT STEM. As a result, the pattern to form the PLUPERFECT ACTIVE STEM is as follows:

  • augment + perfect stem + –κ

To this stem are added a variation of SECONDARY personal endings. These endings most closely resemble athematic (-μι) verbs.

 

η = I (1st sg)

εμεν = we (1st pl)

ης = you (2nd sg)

ετε = y’all (2nd pl)

ει = (s)he, it (3rd sg)

εσαν = they (3rd pl)

 

The Pluperfect Indicative Active of λύω (S 383; GPH p. 91)

ἐλελύκη

ἐλελύκεμεν

ἐλελύκης

ἐλελύκετε

ἐλελύκει

ἐλελύκεσαν

 

As we previously noted in our discussion of PERFECT STEMS, if the –κ– marker is added to a stem that ends in a LABIAL (π, β, φ), PALATAL (κ, γ, χ), and most stems ending in a LIQUID (λ, ρ), the –κ– merges or, more often, simply drops out to ease pronunciation (S 561-573).

  • δεικδεδεικ– (perfect stem)
    • ἐδεδεικκδεδειχ– (pluperfect active stem)
  • γραφγεγραφ– (perfect stem)
    • ἐγεγραφ– (pluperfect active stem)
  • ἀρχἠρχ– (perfect stem)
    • ἠρχ– (pluperfect active stem)

 

The Pluperfect Indicative Active of γράφω, γράψω, ἔγραψα, γέγραφα, γέγραμμαι, ἐγράφην

ἐγεγράφη

ἐγεγράφεμεν

ἐγεγράφης

ἐγεγράφετε

ἐγεγράφει

ἐγεγράφεσαν

 


Pluperfect Middle

To form the PLUPERFECT MIDDLE voice, standard secondary endings are added directly to the pluperfect stem:

μην = I (1st sg)

μεθα = we (1st pl)

σο = you (2nd sg)

σθε = y’all (2nd pl)

το = (s)he, it (3rd sg)

 –ντο = they (3rd pl)

 

The Pluperfect Indicative Middle of λύω (S 383; GPH p. 91)

ἐλελύμην

ἐλελύμεθα

ἐλέλυσο

ἐλέλυσθε

ἐλέλυτο

 ἐλέλυντο

 

If the PLUPERFECT STEM ends in a CONSONANT, the same sounds changes that we studied last lesson are the result.

 

Pluperfect Indicative Middle of γράφω, γράψω, ἔγραψα, γέγραφα, γέγραμμαι, ἐγράφην (stem: γραφ-) (S 406; GPH p. 97)

ἐγεγράμμην

ἐγεγράμμεθα

ἐγέγραψο

ἐγέγραφθε

ἐγέγραπτο

γεγραμμένοι ἦσαν  

 

Pluperfect Indicative Middle of πείθω, πείσω, ἔπεισα, πέπεικα, πέπεισμαι, ἐπείσθην (stem: πειθ-) (S 406)

ἐπεπείσμην

ἐπεπείσμεθα

ἐπέπεισο

ἐπέπεισθε

ἐπέπειστο

πεπεισμένοι ἦσαν

 

The Pluperfect Indicative Middle of δείκνυμι, δείξω, ἔδειξα, δέδειχα, δέδειγμαι, ἐδείχθην (stem: δεικ-) (S 406; GPH p. 97)

ἐδεδείγμην

ἐδεδείγμεθα

ἐδέδειξο

ἐδέδειχθε

ἐδέδεικτο

δεδειγμένοι ἦσαν

 

Pluperfect Indicative Middle of φαίνω, φανῶ, ἔφηνα, πέφηνα, πέφασμαι, ἐφάνην (stem: φαν-) (S 407)

ἐπέφασμαι

ἐπεφάσμεθα

ἐπεφασμένος εἶ

ἐπέφανθε

ἐπέφανται

πεφασμένοι ἦσαν

 


Periphrastic Construction

As with the perfect middle, Greeks prefer to have a PERIPHRASTIC construction for the PLUPERFECT MIDDLE 3rd person plural of consonant stems. Also like the perfect, the periphrastic consists of a PERFECT PARTICIPLE along with a form of εἰμί. In the pluperfect, however, the form of εἰμί is IMPERFECT. Context usually lets you know whether the voice is intended to be MIDDLE or PASSIVE.

  • ὁ νόμος γεγραμμένος ἦν.
    • The law had been written down.
    • The participle γεγραμμένος is nominative masculine singular, matching the subject, ὁ νόμος. Since the subject is 3rd pers. sing., so is the imperfect form of εἰμί: ἦν
  • οἱ νόμοι γεγραμμένοι ἦσαν.
    • The laws had been written down.
    • The participle γεγραμμένοι is nominative masculine plural, matching the subject, οἱ νόμοι. Since the subject is 3rd pers. pl., so is the imperfect form of εἰμί: ἦσαν.
  • αἱ γυναῖκες δεδειγμέναι ἦσαν.
    • The women had shown themselves.
    • The participle δεδειγμέναι is nominative feminine plural, matching the subject, αἱ γυναῖκες. Since the subject is 3rd pers. pl., so is the form of εἰμί: ἦσαν.

 


“I Know”

The verb οἶδα know, is common in Greek. As a perfect tense verb, οἶδα literally means I have seen/found out. However, it regularly translates as know in the present tense:

  • you have seen/found out (perfect), so now you know (present)

Because of its relative antiquity, it retains some irregularities in its formation that must be memorized.

 

Perfect Indicative Active of οἶδα know (S 749; GPH p. 166)

οἶδα

ἴσμεν

οἶσθα

ἴστε

οἶδε

 ἴσασι

infinitive: εἰδέναι

2nd singular imperative: ἴσθι

participle: εἰδώς –υῖα –ός

 

The PLUPERFECT literally means had seen/found out, and so regularly means knew (in the sense that what you had seen, you knew and understood).

Pluperfect Indicative Active of οἶδα know (S 749; GPH p. 166)

ᾔδη or ᾔδειν

ᾖσμεν or ᾔδεμεν

ᾔδησθα or ᾔδεις

ᾖστε or ᾔδετε

ᾔδει(ν)

ᾖσαν or ᾔδεσαν

 

The verb stem of οἶδα and ᾔδη (εἰδη) is ἰδ-/ εἰδ-/ οἰδ-. Originally the stem was ϝιδ-/ ϝειδ-/ ϝοιδ– (cf. Latin video). Note that this is also the verb stem of εἶδον I saw (originally ἔϝιδον) (S 431).

 

– τὸ τέλος –

 


Key Terms and Concepts

  • PLUPERFECT TENSE AND ASPECT
  • PLUPERFECT TENSE STEM
  • οἶδα

Exercises

 

1. The pattern to form the PLUPERFECT ACTIVE STEM is:

  • ____________ + ____________ + ____________

2. To form the PLUPERFECT MIDDLE voice:

  • ________________________ directly are added directly to the pluperfect stem

3. To form the PERIPHRASTIC of the pluperfect tense in the MIDDLE or PASSIVE voice, Greek uses:

  • The form of the ________________________ that matches the ____________ and ____________ of the subject.
  • The ____________ tense form of the VERB ____________ that matches the ____________ and ____________ of the subject.

4. Conjugate the PLUPERFECT ACTIVE and MIDDLE of the following verbs.

  • γράφω, γράψω, ἔγραψα, γέγραφα, γέγραμμαι, ἐγράφην
  • θύω, θύσω, ἔθυσα, τέθυκα, τέθυμαι, ἐτύθην
  • παύω, παύσω, ἔπαυσα, πέπαυκα, πέπαυμαι, ἐπαύθην

5. Conjugate the PERFECT and PLUPERFECT ACTIVE of the following verb.

  • οἶδα
  • δίδωμι, δώσω, ἔδωκα, δέδωκα, δέδομαι, ἐδόθην
  • ἵστημι, στήσω, ἔστησα/ἔστην, ἕστηκα, ἕσταμαι, ἐστάθην
  • τίθημι, θήσω, ἔθηκα, τέθηκα, τέθειμαι, ἐτέθην

Readings

Ιεζεκιηλ 2:8-3:9:  AGE Ch. 44a.

Plato Phaedrus 275c-e: AGE Ch. 44b.

 

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The Perfect System: Part III by Wilfred E. Major and Michael Laughy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.