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Title: The expression of the agent with passive verbs in Ancient Greek
Author: George, C. H.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2002
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Whereas English has only one means of expressing the agent of a passive verb, the preposition by, Ancient Greek had several ways to mark this grammatical relation. In short, this dissertation is an examination of the conditions that favoured the use of one agent marker over another. In Homer, the use of the agent with the passive voice is extremely rare. As a result, little may be determined for certain regarding the reasons why one agent marker is preferred to another in a particular passage. By the time of Herodotus, however, this construction has become more frequent, and, both in Herodotus and in the Classical Attic prose writers, two main conditioning factors may be seen at work. First, the syntax of the verb may affect the expression of the agent: perfect passive verbs and, to a lesser extent, participles may be associated with agent markers other than the standard hupo. Second, the semantics of the verb also play a role: verbs of sending often construe with para with the genitive, verbs of thinking with para with the dative. These factors, however, do not account for non-standard agent expression in tragedy, where it is even more common than in prose. Here it was largely conditioned by the constraints of iambic trimeter: prepositions like ek and pros with the genitive are used as convenient alternatives to the metrically awkward hupo. After the classical period, hupo gradually gives way to para with the genitive as the standard agent marker. Although apo becomes the agent marker in Modern Greek, its sporadic use in agent expressions through the twelfth century AD should be ascribed to the influence of the corresponding Hebrew construction on Judaeo-Christian literature, not to the supposition that apo had already become the main agent marker in the vernacular.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available