I'm having trouble getting all the Homeric pronouns under my belt for purposes of reading comprehension. Just for grins, I wrote a little script that goes through the Project Perseus treebank for Homer and makes a list of every word tagged as a pronoun, and I get a total of 209 of them. That's a lot. Even if I restrict my attention to the personal pronouns, there can be as many as five different words for one person-number-case, e.g., σεῖο, σέθεν, σέω, σεῦ, σευ. Pharr just lists them all in a big table. Dickinson College has a variation of Pharr online.

Normally in languages that have these kinds of inflection systems, I would just learn the paradigm by chanting it, and then gradually ingrain it into my memory through speaking, listening, and reading until it became natural. In Homer, I keep running into a form like σέθεν and having to look it up, because it wasn't the form that I initially familiarized myself with.

Do we know, or are there reasonable conjectures as to, what were the complete paradigms for personal pronouns in the Aeolic and Ionian dialects? I'm thinking that it might make sense to learn these as two separate rhythmic chants. The historical-linguistic stuff seems somewhat controversial (Nagy 2011), but it doesn't really matter too much to me whether a particular historical-linguistic claim is true or false, as long as it gives me a mental framework for gaining fluency.

In cases where we have as many as five pronouns for one purpose, we clearly can't explain that as being the result of Nagy's "Aeolic default," where the Ionic form replaced the Aeolic one except when it was metrically impossible. Why so many in these cases?

2 Answers 2


As this article suggests, Aeolian forms have sometimes been maintained where the metric would have admitted the substitution of an ionism. I advise you to read it because you will find a list of Aeolian and Ionic pronouns in Homer. On the use of personal pronouns replacing animate or inanimate objects in Homer I advise you to read also this article.

You can find a detailed analysis of the Homeric pronominal forms in P. Chantraine, Grammaire homérique. Tome I, Phonétique et morphologie, Paris 1948, pp. 263-281; more generally, you will find a list of all pronouns in the various dialect forms in C.D. Buck, The Greek Dialects, Chicago 1955, pp. 97-98.

For convenience, I insert the pronoun tables present in the volume of Chantraine.

Singular: enter image description here

Dual: enter image description here

Plural: enter image description here

Third plural: enter image description here

  • Thanks, that's very helpful. I got my wife, the French professor, to explain what tonique and atone mean in this context, and she explained what it meant in French, which I'm familiar enough with to get the idea (dites moi versus me dire, pour moi, etc.). Is this what we would refer to in an English-language grammar of Greek as emphatic versus non-emphatic? Oddly, I can't seem to find any discussion of this in Pharr, 4th ed, at #1028ff. From modern Greek a long time ago, I vaguely remember constructions like κι εμάς. In ancient Greek is this just about emphasis (not syntax too, as in French)?
    – user3597
    Jul 26, 2021 at 23:06
  • I'm glad my answer was helpful. "Tonique" in this context means that it has its own accent, while "atone" means without an accent of its own (which is to say that it is "anaphorique" = enclitic, that is, it relies on the previous word to be pronounced)
    – qwertxyz
    Jul 26, 2021 at 23:19
  • 1
    possibly relevant: Helma Dik, On Unemphatic 'Emphatic' Pronouns in Greek, sci-hub.se/10.2307/4433482
    – user3597
    Jul 27, 2021 at 0:51

Putting together the info from qwertxyz's answer, Pharr, and pp. 97-98 of Buck (which is on Library Genesis), here's what I was able to work out for the most common forms that would go into a chant for memorization.


N: ἐγώ σύ εἷο / ἡμεῖς ὑμεῖς --

G: ἐμεῖο σεῖο εἷο / ἡμείων ὑμείων σφείων

D: ἐμοί σοί ἑοί / ἡμῖν ὑμῖν σφίσι

A: ἐμέ σέ ἑέ / ἡμέας ὑμέας σφέας

Aeolic differs in the plural forms, 1st and 2nd, NDA, where it has ἄμμ- and ὔμμ-; and in the singular genitive, where it has -εθεν.

The unemphatic forms are:

G: μευ σεο+σευ ἑο+ἑυ / σφεων

D: μοι τοι ὁι / σφισι

A: με σε ἑ+μιν / σφεας

Of the many alternative forms, quite a few are contractions of the Ionic genitive forms, in which ειο -> εο or ευ, and ειων -> εων. There are also third-person accusative contractions ἑέ -> ἓ and σφέας -> σφάς.

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