Comparative Adjectives in Herodian

in Mnemosyne
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This work examines how the grammarian Herodian (2nd Century) treated the so-called τρίτος τύπος of comparative adjectives. This class includes βράσσων, πάσσων, γλύσσων, βάσσων, µάσσων, ϑάσσων and ἐλάσσων, whose root vowels are δίχρονος, i.e. their length is not indicated in the orthography. Nor is their length ascertainable from metrical evidence. Herodianic doctrine regarding these vowel lengths is investigated and shown to conflict with modern etymologies in some instances. The question arises whether we should trust Herodian or the etymologies.

These contradictions are best resolved by reviving, in modified form, Wackernagel’s idea that Herodian reports specifically Attic root vowel lengths in exactly the instances where a suitable Attic form existed; Attic comparatives often differ from those in other dialects due to well-established vowel lengthening processes. But Herodian’s citation of forms with non-Attic -σσ- rather than -ττ- is unexpected and suggests a more fundamental explanation: Herodian’s account of these formations is probably based on the relevant Koine forms, where these existed. This conclusion may offer insights into the sources of Herodian’s linguistic judgements more generally.

Comparative Adjectives in Herodian

in Mnemosyne



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See Hunger 197852-53. Doubts about the authenticity of the purported text of Draco were raised from a very early stage; even in the preface to Hermannʼs 1812 edition striking correspondences with the work of Laskaris were noticed. That this text is assembled from other grammatical works was shown by Lehrs (1857 402-415) and some of the material that Lehrs was unable to attribute has since been identified see Cohn 1888 134 and footnote 1. The creator of this work has been identified as the scribe of pseudo-Philemon (see Pulch 1882 183-184 and Cohn 1888 134-135) and manuscript C of pseudo-Arcadiusʼs epitome of Herodianʼs Περὶ καϑολικῆς προσῳδίας (see Pulch apud Galland 1882a 14 corroborated by Omont apud Cohn 1888 141) on the basis of a comparison of scribal hands. He is believed to be Jakob Diassorinos who worked in the royal library at Fontainebleau during the reign of Henry II of France in the mid-16th cent. see Gamillscheg and Harlfinger 1981 89-90 and 1989 85-86 and Cohn 1888 133-143.


Here we follow Schmidt’s (1860) edition rather than Lentz (1867-1870) who reconstructs the text at this point based on the epitome with supplements from other similar passages in the περὶ διχρόνων. Since any potential differences between similar passages are of interest such reconstructions are not helpful in this context.


See above and also see Galland 1883298 on the Herodianic origins of this material.


See Lamberterie 1990156-163.


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