The Best of the Achaeans
Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry
Revised Edition
Gregory Nagy

Copyright © 1980, 1997 The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved. First edition 1979. Revised edition 1999. This document may be used, with this notice included, for noncommercial purposes within a subscribed institution. No copies of this work may be distributed electronically outside of the subscribed institution, in whole or in part, without written permission from the JHU Press.

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On the Forms krataió- and Akhaió-

§1. Our point of departure is the verse-final form krataiis/Krataiin in Odyssey xi 597/xii 124.[1] The conventional explanation, that we have here an id-stem feminine built from the adjective krataio-, is plagued with difficulties on the formal and functional levels.[2] I cite in particular the verse-final â-stem feminine krataiê.[3] Where an id-stem feminine adjective is formed from an o-stem adjective, we do not expect the parallel inheritance of an â-stem feminine. The clearest example of this restriction is Homeric feminine thoûris (never *thoúrê) compared to masculine/neuter thoûr-os/-on.[4] Even in the two most obvious archaic instances where the id-stem becomes a substantive, the corresponding o-stem adjective retains a two-gender system. Thus: hêmeris 'cultivated vine' compared to hêmer-os/-on 'tame' and nukteris 'bat' compared to nukter-os/-on 'nocturnal'.[5] In fact, the author of an exhaustive monograph on the family of id-stems in Greek allows the inclusion of krataiis into this family only on condition that it be considered anomalous: in the face of the attested verse-final feminine krataiê, he treats krataiis as a likely case of "Augenblicksbildung."[6] What with such difficulties in explaining krataiis as an id-stem, I offer an alternative morphological explanation, however tentative, that is in accord with the contextual interpretation of Odyssey xi 597/xii 124. I propose that in both attestations, krataiis is a bahuvrîhi adjective originally shaped *kratai-uis 'whose force has kratos'.[7]

§2. The immediate problem with this explanation is the short i in the reconstructed compound element *ui-.[1] The radical form *uî- 'force' survives in Homeric diction as a simplex noun with long î: nominative îs (XI 668, etc.), accusative în' (three attestations, all prevocalic: hence probably în),[2] instrumental î-phi (I 38, etc.). There is also a cognate noun in Latin, again with long î: nominative uîs, ablative , and plural nominative/accusative uîrês. The question, then, is whether *ui- can be the variant of *uî- in the posited formation of a bahuvrîhi compound *kratai-uis.[3] There seems to be comparative evidence from Indic, where nouns ending with radical or even suffixal î (nominative singular -îs) have variants with i (nominative singular -is) in the second element of bahuvrîhi compounds.[4] As for Greek, nouns other than îs that end with radical î are practically nonexistent.[5] On the other hand, nouns ending with suffixal î (nominative singular -îs) are well attested, although the î is regularly extended by -d- or -n- when followed by a vowel in the ending. Hence the genitive of knêm-îs is knêm-îdos, not *knêm-íos; likewise, the genitive of akt-îs is akt-înos, not *akt-íos. In this category too, however, there are definite traces of i coexisting with î. Consider knâmides (Alcaeus fr. 357.5LP), stamînessi (Odyssey v 252), klâîdes (Pindar P.9.39; compare klâîdas at P.8.4), etc.[6]

§3. I pursue the hypothesis further by positing besides *kratai-ui- an extended feminine bahuvrîhi formation with suffix *~-'ia-/-ia-, of the type kûdi-aneira (from *kûdi-áner-ia).[1] Such a formation may be the actual ancestor of the attested Homeric feminine krataiê, under the following two conditions:

  1. the suffix *~-'ia-/-ia- was leveled to *-ia-
  2. an original combination *-ui-ie{an,2,10}- survived as *-uia-.
In the case of the second condition, we may note that there are solid parallels for the loss of * without trace in the second member of compound formations. Consider Greek neo-gn-o- (from *-gn-ó-), Indic á-bhv-a- (from *-bhu-o-), etc.[2] As for the first condition, there is a clear Homeric example of *-ia- leveled from *~-'ia-/-ia-: the feminine hetairê 'companion' results from the leveling of *hétaira/ hetaírês/etc. (from *hétaria/hetariâs/etc.).[3] Accordingly, I offer the reconstruction *krataiuia for Homeric krataiê.

§4. The example of Homeric hetairê is instructive in other respects as well. Like krataiê (9x, Iliad only), it occurs only in verse-final position (hetairê IX 2, hetairên xvii 271).[1] Whereas the feminine hetairê is rare, the corresponding masculine hetaîro- 'companion' is common, with more than 250 Homeric occurrences. Moreover, about one-sixth of these are in verse-medial rather than verse-final position. Similarly, masculine krataio- occurs in verse-medial (XI 119) as well as in verse-final position (XIII 345, xv 242, xviii 382).[2] The masculine/feminine distribution of hetaîros/hetairê in Homeric diction is significant for the present argument because the masculine hetaîros is actually built from the feminine hetairê (which in turn was built from another masculine form, hetaros).[3] In fact, the leveling of feminine *hétaria/hetariâs/etc. to hetairê/hetairês/etc. can be attributed directly to the pressure of the new masculine type hetaîros upon the old feminine type that had given it shape: hetaîr-os requires a new feminine adjunct with stem in -â-, so that hetair-ê displaces *hétaira. Thus we may even argue that verse-final hetairê and verse-final krataiê both conceal an earlier *hétaira and *krátaia respectively.[4]

§5. As a parallel for the accent of krataio-, we may cite the unique Homeric instance of masculine Trôious 'of Trôs' (XXIII 291: metrically shaped --; epithet of hippous 'horses'), apparently built from the feminine visible in Trôiai 'Trojan' (see especially XVI 393: metrically shaped --; epithet of hippoi 'horses).[1] We may contrast the oxytone accentuation of this secondary masculine Trôious with the barytone of primary masculine Trôioi 'of Trôs' (V 222, VIII 106, XXIII 378: metrically shaped -{dn,11r}[[breve]][[breve]]{up,11r}; epithet of hippoi 'horses'). The accentuation of disyllabic feminine Trôiai 'Trojan' and its declension shows clearly that this word was originally built with a stem in *~-'ia-/ -ia-,[2] as I have also argued in the case of krataiê.

§6. My provisional reconstruction of krataiâ from *krataiuia- leads to a parallel explanation of Akhaiâ-: after loss of laryngeals, I posit *Akhaiuia (from *ui-ie{an,2,10}-). Like hetaîro-, krataio-, and Trôio-, the masculine Akhaio- would be a secondary formation built from an older feminine. The distribution of Akhaio- in Homeric diction is also similar to that of hetaîro-: the vast majority of the masculine forms occur in verse-final position, but a distinct minority are verse-medial (again, roughly one-sixth). The two forms even share a distinctive epithet: besides verse-final euknêmîdes Akhaioi 'Achaeans with fair greaves' (36x in Iliad and Odyssey), we find verse-final euknêmî- des hetaîroi 'companions with fair greaves' (5x in Odyssey). Likewise, the distribution of Homeric Akhaiâ- is similar to that of hetairâ-: it is extremely rare and occurs only in verse-final position: euplokamîdes Akhaiai 'Achaean women with fair curls' at ii 119, xix 542. Compare Trôiai euplokamoi 'Trojan women with fair curls' at VI 380, 385.[1]

§7. If indeed *Akhaiuia- is basic to a secondary masculine *Akhaiuió-, the latter's function as an ethnic noun could in turn motivate such feminine derivatives as *Akhaiuíd- 'Achaean' and *Akhaiuíâ.[1] Compare Homeric Dardanid- (XVIII 122, etc.) and Dardaniê (XX 216), motivated by the ethnic noun Dardano- (II 701, etc.).[2] The reconstruction *Akhaiuíd- would account for the Homeric feminine Akhaiid- (I 254, etc.); as for *Akhaiuíâ-, we may find it in the Linear B texts as a-ka-wi-ja-de, if indeed this spelling may be interpreted as *Akhaiuíân-de 'to Achaea'.[3] We also find it as Akhaiiê in Herodotus 5.61 (epithet of Demeter!) and as Akhaiiês in Semonides 23.1W.[4]

§8. I have perhaps taken up too much time in pursuing what must remain merely a formal possibility: that krataio- and Akhaio- are compounds built with *ui-. The main justification for raising this possibility remains the thematic evidence of kratos, akhos, îs, and other forms related to them. I admit, however, that the purely formal evidence could still take us in many other possible directions.[1] For the time being, I will simply close with a few comments on some formal difficulties that remain.


§1n1. See Ch.5§36.

§1n2. See Chantraine II 579 and Risch 1974.144.

§1n3. See Ch.5§30.

§1n4. For a survey of id-stem feminines built from o-stem adjectives: Meier 1975.46-47.

§1n5. See Kastner 1967.100, who infers that the i-stems have here precluded the building of â-stems. In compounds, of course, the preclusion of feminine â-stems by i-stems is a general rule: e.g., haplo-is and haplo-os/-on (see Meier, pp. 47-50).

§1n6. Meier, p. 47.

§1n7. See again Ch.5§36.

§2n1. For the moment, it is necessary to posit a short i simply in order to account for the accentuation of Krataiin at xii 124; on which see Wackernagel 1953 [= 1914] 1167-1168 and Meier 1975.47n110.

§2n2. Chantraine II 469.

§2n3. See also the arguments of Bader 1976 for the coexistence of radical *ui- and *uî- (from *ui-{an,2,10}-), which she posits to explain *ui-ro- (as in Latin uir, Tocharian A wir, Irish fer, Old English wer, etc.) compared to *uî-ro- (as in Indic vîra-, Lithuanian vyô'ras, etc.). Note that the Italic languages seem to attest both *ui-ro- (Latin uir) and *uî-ro- (Umbrian ueiro/uiro; Volscian couehriu from *ko-uîriôd); see Bader, pp. 207-208.

§2n4. See Wackernagel 1905.98-99 and 1930.187; compare also the radical element bhû- which may be either -bhû- or -bh...- as the second element of bahuvrîhi compounds.

§2n5. In Schwyzer's list (I 570-571), we find only two other sure examples: kîs and lîs, neither of which has a definite Indo-European pedigree. {sy,be}

§2n6. See Schwyzer I 465. Consider also nominative singular ornîs (IX 323, XII 218) and ornis (XXIV 219). But here the original stem may have been -i-: cf. orneon from *órneion.

§3n1. For the cognate type of compound feminine in Indic: Wackernagel/Debrunner 1954.388-390.

§3n2. See KuryŒowicz 1968.213. Cf. also Indic feminine -bhv-î- besides -bhû- in compounds (Wackernagel 1930.197 and Wackernagel/Debrunner 1954.387-388).

§3n3. Risch 1974.167; also Chantraine II 380-381.

§4n1. Also verse-final hetairê at H.Herm. 31, 478.

§4n2. Also in verse-medial position at H.Herm. 265, 377.

§4n3. Risch 1974.167; Chantraine II 380-381.

§4n4. There is also an interesting comparison to be made on the level of semantics: whereas krataiê functions exclusively as the epithet of Moîra 'fate' in Homeric diction, hetairê at IX 2 is applied to Phûza, a supernatural personification of phûza 'routing of the enemy'. Phûza is the hetairê of Phobos, personification of phobos 'turning and running out of fear'. The immediate context is that the Trojans are routing the Achaeans (IX 1-2), who are afflicted by penthos (IX 3).

§5n1. Wackernagel 1953 [= 1914] 1176.

§5n2. Ibid.

§6n1. The form euplokamîdes (+ Akhaiai) need not be an ad hoc feminine created on the model of euknêmîdes (+ Akhaioi), pace Risch 1974.144 and Meier 1975.65. Even if it were so, however, it does not follow that the entire combination of euplokamîdes + Akhaiai was created on the model of euknêmîdes + Akhaioi. The two combinations function as a set containing traditional variants, and the possibility remains that the older noun may have attracted the newer epithet.

§7n1. Presumably *-uiid- and *uiíâ- yield *-uid- and *-uíâ-.

§7n2. For this type of derivation: Meier 1975.26-29.

§7n3. See Ch.5§35. For an attempt at establishing a regional distinction in the prehistoric usage of Akhaiid- and Akhaiiâ-, see Aitchison 1964.

§7n4. West reads Akhâiês, which represents an apparent phonological development from Akhaiiês: Schmidt 1968.8n24.

§8n1. Alan Nussbaum and Jochem Schindler have kindly offered me their advice on the available evidence. They are of course not to be held accountable for the views I have expressed.

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Copyright © 1980, 1997 The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved. This document may be used, with this notice included, for noncommercial purposes within a subscribed institution. No copies of this work may be distributed electronically outside of the subscribed institution, in whole or in part, without written permission from the JHU Press.