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Genitive: agent as satellite

Syntactical Level

ἐξέπνευσεν Ἀγαμέμνων βίον | πληγεὶς θυγατρὸς τῆς ἐμῆς ὑπὲρ κάρα

‘Agamemnon blew out his breath of life, beaten on the head by my daughter.’ (Eur. Orest. 496-497)

The genitive signals an agent as a satellite with verbal adjectives and passive participles.


This usage is limited to the homeric epic and tragedies of Sophocles and Euripides. However, most of the relevant passages are controversial, and are explained in other ways as well. See Moorhouse (1982: 75-76).


According to Moorhouse (1982) there is no convincing proof of such a genitive. He refers to Schwyzer 119, who does defend the usage but shows that the Sophoclean passages can also be otherwise explained. Moreover he rejects the two examples from Euripides on text-critical grounds (i.e. the passages are disputed).

Example Sentences: 

ἅπαντα γάρ σοι τἀμὰ νουθετήματα

κείνης διδακτά, κοὐδὲν ἐκ σαυτῆς λέγεις

For all your warnings to me have been taught by her, and you do not speak a word of your own accord. [provisional translation]