Suppose I want to be particularly emphatic about a noun: "the Fates themselves must have turned against me!" In Latin, I'd use some form of ipse; in Greek, my first instinct is αὐτός.

But I've also heard that αὐτός means "same" instead of being an intensifier when there's a definite article involved. That's not my goal here.

So if I also need to have a definite article (e.g. because the noun always takes one, like αἱ Μοῖραι "the Fates"), how would I make the noun more emphatic?

  • Also possible is 'gar' (gamma alpha rho postpositive) and 'me:n' (mu eta nu) postpositive particles to emphasise the noun.
    – Hugh
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 11:48
  • @Hugh Good point! How do those differ from autós? That would make a good answer in and of itself.
    – Draconis
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


It depends on the position of αὐτός.

  • When it's in attributive position, it means 'same': ὁ αὐτὸς δοῦλος (also, more rarely, δοῦλος ὁ αὐτός or ὁ δοῦλος ὁ αὐτός), 'the same slave.'

    Example: Antiphon 5.50 ('On the murder of Herodes'):

    ποτέρῳ οὖν εἰκός ἐστι πιστεῦσαι, τῷ διὰ τέλους τὸν αὐτὸν ἀεὶ λόγον λέγοντι, ἢ τῷ τοτὲ μὲν φάσκοντι τοτὲ δ᾽ οὔ;

    Which, then, have we more reason to believe: the witness who firmly adhered to the same statement throughout, or the witness who affirmed a thing at one moment, and denied it at the next?

    (Translation from Perseus)

  • When it's in predicate position, it's an intensifier: ὁ δοῦλος αὐτός or αὐτὸς ὁ δοῦλος, 'the slave himself.'

    It's also an intensifier if it stands alone in the nominative case. In such cases, it's emphasizing the subject pronoun that's understood from the verb ending: αὐτὸς ἔπεσον, 'I myself fell.'

    Example: Thucydides 1.114.3:

    καὶ Ἀθηναῖοι πάλιν ἐς Εὔβοιαν διαβάντες Περικλέους στρατηγοῦντος κατεστρέψαντο πᾶσαν, καὶ τὴν μὲν ἄλλην ὁμολογίᾳ κατεστήσαντο, Ἑστιαιᾶς δὲ ἐξοικίσαντες αὐτοὶ τὴν γῆν ἔσχον.

    The Athenians then crossed over again to Euboea under the command of Pericles, and subdued the whole of the island: all but Histiaea was settled by convention; the Histiaeans they expelled from their homes, and occupied their territory themselves.

    (Translation from Perseus)

  • And, of course, when it stands alone in cases other than the nominative, it's generally just the third person pronoun, 'he'/'she'/'it.' (Though, as Smyth, Greek grammar §1208 points out, it can sometimes emphasize a noun, or a pronoun, that must be supplied from context; and certainly, in both the examples that Smyth provides [Thucydides 4.78.4 and Demosthenes 2.2], the noun/pronoun that must be supplied is quite obvious.)

  • 1
    For OP, autos and ipse are almost the same word, the latter being an emphatic enclitic fused to the third-person pronoun: is-pse. earlier latin even has forms like ea-pse and eam-pse.
    – Anonym
    Commented Aug 31, 2018 at 16:28
  • @Anonym: Nice point. And to take it further, idem is likewise formed from is + dem. So, whereas Greek can use αὐτός as 3rd person pronoun, emphatic '-self'/'-selves,' and 'same,' thanks especially to its definite article, Latin has to differentiate the 3 uses through enclitics/suffixes.
    – cnread
    Commented Sep 1, 2018 at 21:16

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