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The Spatial Meaning of διά with the Accusative in Homeric Greek

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Abstract The semantic difference between spatial usages of διά with the accusative and with the genitive in Homeric Greek is not clearly described in reference works. The available literature leaves readers the feeling that there is wide overlap between the two cases, possibly to be explained through metrical factors. This paper is an attempt to shed light on the issue, through a careful scrutiny of all passages in which the preposition occurs. It turns out that, if the analysis is extended to a large enough context, semantic motivations for the occurrence of either case can be detected, which lead to a distinction between the genitive on the one hand, and the non-directional and directional accusative on the other. While the genitive occurs in passages in which a unidirectional path or a simple location are indicated, the non-directional accusative indicates multidirectional path or multiple location. Finally, the directional accusative indicates that an entity is crossed over. The semantic description makes use of concepts and terminology common in cognitive grammar.

Affiliations: 1: Università di Pavia, Dipartimento di Linguistica Teorica e Applicata Strada Nuova 65, 27100 Pavia Italy


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