Here's a poem from Anacreon's Odes:


Φιλῶ γέροντα τερπνόν,
Φιλῶ νέον χορευτήν.
Γέρων δ᾽ ὅταν χορεύῃ
Τρίχας γέρων μὲν ἐστιν,
Τὰς δὲ φρένας νεάζει.

From what I've found, τρίχας is the accusative plural of θρίξ (hair). But I don't know how this fits in the penultimate verse.

If I understand correctly, the last three verses should mean "when the old man dances, although [...], he renews the soul".

But I really don't know what role the accusative τρίχας is playing.

What am I missing?

  • I hope you don't mind that I've replaced your graphic of the verses with actual text. You can always roll back my edit if you want.
    – cnread
    Mar 12, 2021 at 20:40
  • 2
    cnread gave you the right answer, but this is not Anacreon. It actually comes from the Anacreontea, a Hellenistic- or Roman-era poem which eyes Anacreon but is not actually by him. If you have access to it, the Loeb (Greek Lyric ed. by Campbell) is a great place to start.
    – cmw
    Mar 12, 2021 at 20:41
  • @C.M.Weimer, in the book where I've found this (an Ancient Greek Method for beginners), it reads "ἐκ τῶν Ανακρέοντος ᾠδῶν", that's why I said it's from Anacreon's Odes. Are you absolutely sure it's not Anacreon?
    – rmdmc89
    Mar 13, 2021 at 21:52
  • @rmdmc89 Slight typo on my part, should have said "set of poems", as it's a collection, but you can find information on it on Wikipedia if you don't have access to a library. It's numbered 39 in Campbell or under heading 54 in the Stephanus edition. Due to some Google Books brokenness, you'll have to scroll down to page 120 before it gets confused and starts over at 1, then go to "page" 54 from there.
    – cmw
    Mar 13, 2021 at 23:15

2 Answers 2


Accusative of respect: 'He's old/an old man with respect to his hair(s)' – i.e., his hair is that of an old man.

Draconis has alluded to this in the other answer, but it's worth making explicit that τὰς φρένας in the last line is the same sort of accusative (whatever name one calls it by): 'He's young in respect to his mind/heart' – i.e., he's young at heart. (Note that the verb νεάζω doesn't mean 'to renew' but 'to be young/new': it's intransitive.)

For the sake of completeness, here are the relevant bits from Smyth, Greek grammar:

1600. To verbs denoting a state, and to adjectives, an accusative may be added to denote a thing in respect to which the verb or adjective is limited.

a. The accusative usually expresses a local relation or the instrument. The word restricted by the accusative usually denots like or similar to, good or better, bad or worse, a physical or a mental quality, or an emotion.

1601. The accusative of respect is employed

a. Of parts of the body: ὁ ἄνθρωπος τὸν δάκτυλον ἀλγεῖ the man has a pain in his finger P. R. 462 d, τυφλὸς τά τ' ὦτα τόν τε νοῦν τά τ' ὄμματ' εἶ blind art thou in ears, and mind, and eyes S. O. T. 371, πόδας ὠκὺς Ἀχιλλεύς Hom.


1602. Very rarely after substantives: χεῖρας αἰχμητής a warrior valiant with (thy) arm π 242, νεανίαι τὰς ὄψεις youths by their appearance L. 10.29.

(Although γέρων is usually a noun, it can also be used as an adjective. In any case, τρίχας γέρων is covered by either §1600 or §1602.)

  • Also called accusativus respectus.
    – Cerberus
    Mar 13, 2021 at 1:33

To add on a bit to cnread's (completely valid) answer: this is a form that's also called the "accusative of body parts" or the "Greek accusative" (since it wasn't common in Latin until Greek-influenced writers started imitating it—even though Greek has a whole bunch of other accusative constructions).

It usually specifies a body part that the rest of the sentence applies to: in this case, he's specifically old in his τρίχας, as opposed to his φρένας.

  • Fascinating, we even have a question about the Latin form (without any examples sadly). Mar 13, 2021 at 10:30

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