Since unaugmented forms are ancient verbal forms (found by example in Homer), older than the augmented ones, and since vowels contraction is still a "work in progress" at homeric times and will be generalized later, I would like to know if "unaugmented contract verbal forms" like the imperfect τίμων (instead of ἐτίμων) are attested in Ancient Greek literature.

As long as I know, Chantraine's grammar doesn't give any detail about them.

NB : I changed my title and removed the word "aorist" from it. I want to focus on the imperfect.

  • 1
    Very interesting question. I don't think I've ever seen such forms, for what that's worth. Just as a note, it isn't really that contraction is generalized after Homer so much as that contraction occurred to different extents in different dialects. Ionic was a particularly non-contracting dialect (even in the 5C, see Herodotus), and Homer's language is mostly based on Ionic, hence his lack of contractions.
    – TKR
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 21:45

4 Answers 4


The phaenomenon exists in the Ionic dialect. If you study Herodian's works, you will find most dialectal variations in grammar. Particularly, to answer your question, I can recall at least this one example (there are more) that does not take the ἐ- augmentation: the Ionic form φάμεν, instead of ἔφαμεν.

If Eustathius Phil. is quite right, then the phaenomenon is more general and conceptual, i.e. the augmentation is absent from both Imperfect and Aorist; this would cover, for sure, the contracted verbs. See this excerpt of his:

῞Οτι οἱ ῎Ιωνες τὰς μὲν χρονικὰς αὐξήσεις τῶν παρῳχημένων κατασπῶσι συνάρχεσθαι τοῖς ἐνεστῶσι ποιοῦντες αὐτούς, ὡς προείρηται. οἷον ἀγαπῶ ἀγάπων, ὀρύσσω ὄρυσσον. ὡσαύτως καὶ τὰς διὰ τοῦ ε αὐξήσεις καθελόντες τὴν αὐτὴν ἀρχὴν περιποιοῦνται τοῖς ἐνεστῶσι καὶ τοῖς παρῳχημένοις, τοῦ τύπτω τὸν παρατατικὸν τύπτον λέγοντες καὶ τὸν ἀόριστον τύψα.

My translation (following a bit the original word-order):

= Because the Ionians the tense augmentations of the past do in a way, that they begin like the present , as said before. I.e. ἀγαπῶ ἀγάπων, ὀρύσσω ὄρυσσον. Likewise for the augmentations with ε, following the same principle they form both the present and past , saying the imperfect of τύπτω as τύπτον and the Aorist τύψα.

Well, this implies that if Ionians do so, they might have been using also contracted verb forms sometimes, which is quite contrary to the vast uncontracted forms. Yet the correctness of this has to be cross-checked.

Herodian says that this is an Ionian poetic form/preference in order to preserve the verse's metre. But his examples don't happen to include a contract verb, but rather verbs that begin with the 3 changing vowels, i.e. α, ε, ο. Those are ἄκουεν instead of ἤκουεν, ἔλαυνεν instead of ἤλαυνεν and ὀνόμαζεν instead of ὠνόμαζεν. It sounds - at least to me - that contract verbs beginning with those would do the same. Hope this helped a bit.

  • But that's not a contract verb, so it doesn't seem to be relevant to the OP's question.
    – TKR
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 3:31
  • But this idea is to be approached by a more general rule. Have a look at my updated response. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 12:45

It is not correct to say that the unaugmented forms are older than the augmented ones. From a historical point of view the Greek unaugmented imperfect continues the Indo-European present injunctive, and the unaugmented aorist continues the IE aorist injunctive. Early in the history of Greek the injunctive merged in function with the past tenses of the indicative (imperfect and aorist indicative); the injunctive forms thus became redundant and dropped out of use.


The place to look is Herodotus. The only unaugmented, contracted imperfects forms I see there are ἑσσοῦντο, ἑσσοῦτο 'defeat'; Herodotus did not contract normally.


Most forms in Homer are uncontracted; contraction is -as far as I know- a specific Attic-Ionic feature (Asiatic Ionic does have contraction occasionally as well in specific cases, but the resulting sounds are somewhat different from the Attic ones) that has come about later than the necessity for marking past tenses with the augment.

So, you are likely to find a form like τίμαον in Homer, but τίμων (iso ἐτίμαον/ἐτίμων) you will not encounter.

  • Thank you for your answer. I understand the way you analyse my question but I beg to differ on the way you jump to the conclusion. Homeric verbal forms are so various and belong to such a large gap of time that I would not be surprised if, e.g. in a late passage, such strange forms had been invented.
    – suizokukan
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 21:46
  • It's not true that contraction is a specifically Attic-Ionic feature: Doric and Aeolic dialects have contractions too, though the details differ.
    – TKR
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 2:40

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