Ancient Greek Grammar
The Grammar of Homeric Epic

Nouns and Adjectives

For the purposes of reading Greek on this website, where word translations are immediately available, the most basic requirement is to be able to recognize whether a noun is the subject or the object of a verb, and to identify any adjectives belonging with it.

The first word of the Iliad, μηνιν ("wrath"), is the subject of the poem but the object of the verb αϜειδε ("sing!"). This is immediately apparent in the Greek, because the ending of the word has been given the object form. If it were the subject of a verb, it would end in -ς.

μηνις = SUBJECT NOUN (singular)

μηνιν = DIRECT OBJECT (singular)

Adjectives change their endings the same way. The reason we know that the adjective ουλομενην at the beginning of the next line modifies μηνιν in the first line is because it, too, has the object ending.

In addition, we know that it modifies a feminine singular noun, because it has the feminine singular object ending. Since μηνιν is a feminine singular noun, the connection between the two words is doubly clear. The poet has made it triply clear by giving both of them the same emphatic position at the start of the line.

 

MASCULINE ADJECTIVES

φιλος ("beloved" ) = SUBJECT CASE (masculine singular)

φιλον = OBJECT CASE (masculine singular)

φιλοι = SUBJECT CASE (masculine plural)

φιλους = OBJECT CASE (masculine plural)

 

FEMININE ADJECTIVES

φιλη = SUBJECT CASE (feminine singular)

φιλην = OBJECT CASE (feminine singular)

φιλαι = SUBJECT CASE (feminine plural)

φιλᾱς = OBJECT CASE (feminine plural)

 

NEUTER ADJECTIVES

φιλον = SUBJECT CASE (neuter singular) AND ALSO OBJECT CASE

φιλα = SUBJECT CASE (neuter plural) AND ALSO OBJECT CASE

 

A large number of nouns and adjectives use the endings given above. But many, such as αναξ ("king"), use different endings. Browse the following list to get a general sense of how they work. It's not difficult.

 

NOUNS following different declension schemes in Homeric Greek

 

αιχμητής ("brave spear-wielding warrior") = SUBJECT (singular, masculine)

αιχμητήν = DIRECT OBJECT (singular)

αιχμηταί = SUBJECT (plural)

αιχμητάς = DIRECT OBJECT (plural)

 

αναξ ("lord and king") = SUBJECT (singular, masculine)

ανακτα = DIRECT OBJECT (singular)

ανακτες = SUBJECT (plural)

ανακτας = DIRECT OBJECT (plural)

 

παις ("child") = SUBJECT (singular, masculine OR feminine)

παιδα = DIRECT OBJECT (singular)

παιδες = SUBJECT (plural)

παιδας = DIRECT OBJECT (plural)

 

γερων ("old man") = SUBJECT (singular, masculine)

γεροντα = DIRECT OBJECT (singular)

γεροντες = SUBJECT (plural)

γεροντας = DIRECT OBJECT(plural)

 

κηρῡξ ("herald") = SUBJECT (singular, masculine)

κηρῡκα = DIRECT OBJECT (singular)

κηρῡκες = SUBJECT (plural)

κηρῡκας = DIRECT OBJECT (plural)

 

ανήρ ("man") = SUBJECT (singular, masculine)

ανδρα OR ανέρα = DIRECT OBJECT (singular)

ανδρες OR ανέρες = SUBJECT (plural)

ανδρας OR ανέρας = DIRECT OBJECT (plural)

 

πολις ("city") = SUBJECT (singular, feminine)

πολιν = DIRECT OBJECT (singular)

πολιες OR ποληες = SUBJECT (plural)

πολιας OR ποληας OR πολῑς = DIRECT OBJECT (plural)

 

Ϝεπος ("word") = SUBJECT (singular, neuter) AND ALSO DIRECT OBJECT

Ϝεπεα = SUBJECT (plural) AND ALSO DIRECT OBJECT

 

ADJECTIVES following different declension schemes in Homeric Greek

 

πτεροεις (m.), πτεροεσσα (f.), πτεροεν (n.) ("winged") = SUBJECT (singular)

πτεροεντα (m.), πτεροεσσαν (f.), πτεροεν (n.) = DIRECT OBJECT (singular)

πτεροεντες (m.), πτεροεσσαι (f.), πτεροεντα (n.) = SUBJECT (plural)

πτεροεντας (m.), πτεροεσσᾱς (f.), πτεροεντα (n.) = DIRECT OBJECT (plural)

 

πᾱς (m.), πᾱσα (f.), πᾱν (n.) ("every, the entire") = SUBJECT (singular)

παντα (m.), πᾱσαν (f.), πᾱν = DIRECT OBJECT (singular)

παντες (m.), πᾱσαι (f.), παντα (n.) ("all") = SUBJECT (plural)

παντας (m.), πᾱσᾱς (f.), παντα (n.) = DIRECT OBJECT (plural)

 

πολύς (m.), πολλή (f.), πολύ (n.) ("much") = SUBJECT (singular)

πολύν (m.), πολλήν (f.), πολύ (n.) = DIRECT OBJECT (singular)

πολέες (m.), πολλαί (f.), πολέα (n.) ("many") = SUBJECT (plural)

πολέας (m.), πολλάς (f.), πολέα (n.) = DIRECT OBJECT (plural)