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Prepositions with the dative: cause


οὐ μετρίως ἐπὶ τούτοις ἀγανακτῶ καὶ πίμπραμαι.

‘This enraged and infuriated me not a little.’ (Luc. Jud. Voc. )

The preposition ἐπί with the dative signals a cause.

Lexical usage

Less frequent are ἀμφί (in poetry), ἐν and περί.

Historical background

In the Greek of Bible translations ἐν ‘because of’ is more common under influence of Hebrew. Hebrew uses בְּ /bə/ for ‘with’ (instrument) or ‘through’ (cause) as well as for ‘in’ (place).


The preposition περί with the dative mainly expresses cause (according to Luraghi reference) with verbs of ‘fearing’ or of ‘fighting’, while the preposition ἐπί often occurs with verbs of (positive or negative) emotion.

Example Sentences: 

σὺ δὲ τούσδ’ ἐφ’ οἷσπερ τοῖς λόγοις ξυνέλεξ’ ἐγὼ

φράσον, δίδαξον

And you, tell these (birds) the reasons for which I have summoned them together. ֍

[Εὐκλείδης] ἐπικαλουμένου τινὸς τὸν θάνατον ἐπὶ τέκνων ἀπωλείᾳ ἔφη· “τί αὐτὸν καλεῖς, ἄνθρωπε, ὃν κἂν μὴ καλέσῃς ἥξει;”

When someone wished for death after he had lost his children, Euripides said, Man, why do you call upon yourself that which will come even if you do not call for it?

πέπλον δ᾿ ἐπέρρηξ᾿ ἐπὶ συμφορᾷ κακοῦ.

I have torn my robe because of that awful incident.

ἡ δ᾿ ἀμφὶ τάρβει τῷδ᾿ ἐπῴμωξεν πάθει

At this incident she cried out with fear.

σέβομαι δ᾿ ἀντία λέξαι

σέθεν ἀρχαίῳ περὶ τάρβει.

Because of my old fear I am reluctant to speak in front of you.