I'm talking about the third plural form of medium/passive perfect, in Ancient Greek.

My grammar explains that some very simple verb like παιδεύω may be inflected that way :

1S πεπαίδευ-μαι  > πεπαίδευμαι
2S πεπαίδευ-σαι  > πεπαίδευσαι
3S πεπαίδευ-ται  > πεπαίδευται
1P πεπαιδεύ-μεθα > πεπαιδεύμεθα
2P πεπαίδευ-σθε  > πεπαίδευσθε
3P πεπαίδευ-νται > πεπαίδευνται
2D πεπαίδευ-σθον > πεπαίδευσθον
3D πεπαίδευ-σθον > πεπαίδευσθον

Things become more interessant for radicals with an occlusive like βλέπω :

1S βεβλεπ-μαι > βέβλεμμαι
2S βεβλεπ-σαι > βέβλεψαι    
3S βεβλεπ-ται > βέβλεπται
1P βεβλεπ-μεθα> βεβλέμμεθα
2P βεβλεπ-σθε > βέβλεφθε
3P βεβλεπ-νται> ?
2D βεβλεπ-σθον> βέβλεφθον
3D βεβλεπ-σθον> βέβλεφθον

I know the rules explaining all these forms but the 3P. Obviously, as stated here, the hypothetical 3P form would be difficult to pronounce and was replaced by "βεβλεμμένοι εἰσί". But what was this hypothetical form ? What are the phonetic laws applying here to -πντ- ?

addendum : I find here (p. 5) the interessant form λελειφαται, alas without any reference.

addendum #2 : τετρίφαται in Herodot 2.93

1 Answer 1


It would be βεβλέπαται. The [n] between consonants would be syllabic, and syllabic [n] went to [a] in Greek. This is the origin of the -αται 3pl. ending in the forms you mention, and also of 3pl. -ατο in the pluperfect. In some verbs these endings were retained, especially outside of Attic (e.g. Homer or Herodotus); but in Attic, these forms were replaced by periphrases. (Although there are Attic examples of -αται: e.g. Thucydides has τετάχαται, ἐτετάχατο.) Presumably this happened because -αται/-ατο don't look much like 3pl. endings, since they don't have a nasal.

  • Thank you for all the details, it was a very interesting answer. May I ask you the following questions ? (1) Is the first α in αται a long vowel ? (2) How can you be sure that the π isn't replaced by a β or by a φ as in τετρίφαται (Herodot.2.93). Thank you very much !
    – suizokukan
    May 5, 2014 at 7:30
  • 1
    The α is short (because it comes from a syllabic nasal, which would have been 'short', i.e. one mora). For question (2), yes, it's possible that the actual form would be βεβλέφαται (this change is always to aspirates, so not βεβλέβαται), but if so, this would not be due to regular sound change, but to an additional analogical change. It's not quite certain what the origin of the aspirate in forms like τετρίφαται is: possibly it comes from forms like 2pl. τέτριφθε and inf. τετρίφθαι (where it's regular, -πσθ- ⟩ φθ).
    – TKR
    May 5, 2014 at 16:55
  • Thank you so much for sharing these informations, they're precious to me.
    – suizokukan
    May 5, 2014 at 18:54

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