Third person singular, passive diathesis: impersonality

In the third personal singular the (medio)passive form can indicate that the subject is unknown. This mainly occurs

  • with λέγεται (and a few other verbs);

  • with verbal adjectives in -τέος;

  • in the perfect indicative.

Lexical usage

A few examples: λέγεται ‘it is said’, δέδοκται ‘it has been decided’, ἐρρήθη ‘it was said’, but also ἠρίστηται ‘breakfast was taken’, μυθολογεῖται ‘legend has it’ of ἴσχετο ‘it was ceased’. Most of these verbs are also intransitive in the active diathesis.

Syntactic behaviour

When the agent is known, it takes the dative (of the agent) or the genitive preceded by παρά. Modifiers or agreeing constituents with an unexpressed agent may also stand in de accusative.
In the perfect tense the impersonal construction with a dative of the agent is more common than the active construction (e.g. πέπρᾱκταί μοι 'it is done by me' rather than πέπρᾱγα or πέπρᾱχα 'I have done it').

Historical background

The impersonal (medio)passive occurs much less frequently in Greek than in Latin, where it is a very common construction.

Other information

The impersonal construction is much less common in Greek than in Latin.
More verbs:
κατακριθῇ (ἄν) ‘a sentence will be passed’, προστίμηται ‘an addition punishment is imposed’

Example Sentences: 


ἠρίστηται δ’ ἐξαρκούντως

An ample breakfast is consumed.