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Comparative Adjectives in Herodian

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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.

Affiliations: 1: University of Oxford, Wolfson CollegeOxford ox2


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