Participle: agreeing argument with an auxiliary


ψευδόμενος οὐδεὶς λανθάνει πολὺν χρόνον

Niemand blijft een lange tijd liegen zonder betrapt te worden.

Menandros, Spreuken 547

The participle signals an argument agreeing with the subject or the object of auxiliaries expressing the manner in which the state of affairs takes place.

Lexical usage

Some auxiliaries:

  • δῆλός εἰμί ‘to be clear, appear to’ → ‘apparently’;
  • λανθάνω (+ acc.) ‘to be hidden’ → ‘unnoticed, secretly’;
  • οἴχομαι ‘to be gone’ → ‘gone, away’;
  • τυγχάνω (in tragedy also κυρέω) ‘to happen to be’ → ‘perchance, just then, in fact’;
  • φαίνομαι (often with perfect participle) ‘to appear’ → ‘apparently, evidently’ (with inf. 'to seem’);
  • φθάνω (+ acc.; with aorist participle) ‘to come first’ → ‘in front, earlier, faster’.
  • Translation tips

    The auxiliaries are usually better translated as adverbials than as main verbs. This means that you can translate φθάνω ποιῶν as 'I was the first to act' or ‘I acted first’. If the auxiliary is accompanied by an object it is usually translated as the main verb: τοὺς ἄλλους φθάνω ποιῶν ‘I acted before the others’.
    In practice some auxiliaries (especially ὑπάρχω) act as colourful alternatives to εἰμί. In this case they may be omitted in translation.

    Syntactic behaviour

    The participle is always simultaneous to the auxiliary, whichever aspect stem it contains. Furthermore both verbs are usually formed from the same aspect stem. Because the aorist stem cannot express anteriority in these cases, the term aoristus identitatis is sometimes used.

    Historical background

    These auxiliaries are very popular in classical Greek, but in Koine Greek they have almost completely disappeared.

Example Sentences: 

πῶς εἶπας; ἀλλ’ ἦ χοὖτος οἴχεται θανών;

Wat zeg je? Is ook hij dood en vergaan?

[ἡ ψῡχὴ] ἀθάνατος φαίνεται οὖσα

[De geest] lijkt duidelijk onsterfelijk te zijn.

καὶ ἐσπίπτοντες ἔς τε χαράδρας ἀνεκβάτους καὶ χωρία ὧν οὐκ ἦσαν ἔμπειροι διεφθείροντο· καὶ γὰρ ὁ ἡγεμὼν αὐτοῖς τῶν ὁδῶν Χρόμων ὁ Μεσσήνιος ἐτύγχανε τεθνηκώς

En toen ze ondoorwaadbare bergstromen en plekken aantroffen, waarmee ze niet vertrouwd waren, gingen ze ten onder. Want ook hun gids, de Messeniër Chromon, was toevallig omgekomen.

ἔφθησαν πολλῷ οἱ Σκύθαι τοὺς Πέρσας ἐπὶ τὴν γέφυραν ἀπικόμενοι

De Scythen bereikten de brug lang voor de Perzen.

ὦ φίλτατ᾽ ἀνδρῶν προσπόλων, ὥς μοι σαφῆ | σημεῖα φαίνεις ἐσθλὸς εἰς ἡμᾶς γεγώς

Most friendly servant, how clearly you show us that you want all the best for us!