BMCR 2008.09.51

Index of Verb Forms in Thucydides

, Index of verb forms in Thucydides. Master and use copy. Digital master created according to Benchmark for Faithful Digital Reproductions of Monographs and Serials, Version 1. Digital Library Federation, December 2002.. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2008. 1 online resource (xiv, 242 pages). ISBN 9789047423461. $109.00.

[A table of contents is listed at the end of the review.]

With the present volume Peter Stork concludes after twenty years the sturdy task of providing indices of verb forms in the three major Greek historiographers from the classical period whose work survives.1 This final installment of Stork’s trilogy is most welcome, as a new index to Thucydides has been long overdue. Von Essen’s complete index used the obsolete numbering system of, and was based on, Bekker’s outdated edition, which made it particularly cumbersome to use (although Hude’s still very serviceable editio maior helpfully prints Bekker’s numbering in the margin).2 It is a pleasure to see von Essen’s old book replaced, at least where verbal forms are concerned, by a more easy to use volume. In this review I shall first say something about the target audience and the usefulness of the book and then discuss Stork’s presentation of the material, comment on his choice to take the Oxford Classical Text of Stuart Jones (as corrected by J. E. Powell) as the basis for his work, and assess the work’s accuracy. On all counts but one (his choice for the οξτ Stork has compiled a useful index.

The present work will be a valuable research tool for a limited number of scholars, notably linguists interested in morphological, lexicographical and semantic aspects of the verbal system of Classical Greek, as well as literary scholars with an interest in the narrative structure of Thucydides’ text; the latter, it may be stressed, cannot ignore the information that is to be gleaned from verbal forms. It is useful, for example, to have all the, much discussed, imperfect forms of τελευτάω assembled in one place, and even more useful to be able to see at a single glance that they far outrank the aorist indicative forms of that verb in Thucydides. Equally interesting is the fact that it turns out that Thucydides’ characters more often meet their deaths in the imperfect ( ἀπώλλυντο, six times) than in the aorist ( ἀπώλετο, twice; ἀπώλοντο, only once), a fact which calls for further investigation: is iterativity at stake as the preponderance of plurals would suggest, or should we look more carefully at the recently studied ‘narrative modes’ in Thucydides’ battle scenes?3 For literary scholars, the present index could have been more useful if Stork had put an asterisk with every form that occurs in direct speech, something which is done in Powell’s Lexicon to Herodotus and was adopted by Stork in his index to that author. In the present book, only verb forms from quotations like epigrams are put between square brackets.

Indices afford the possibility to observe facts like the ones just mentioned at a single glance and this makes them no less relevant today than they were before advanced electronic resources like the newly installed, and by no means perfect, lemmatized search engine on the TLG Online became available. There are two other advantages of a printed index over an electronic search engine. The first is that a good index aims to present the material in a digested form by structuring the entries in a useful way, something of which to date no electronic tool is capable. The second is that information about the constitution of the text can easily be taken into account, while in the case of electronic resources it is often impossible even to be certain of the edition one is using, and a critical apparatus is never provided.

Concerning the former point, Stork has acquitted himself well. The principles according to which each entry is structured are clearly explained in the Preface (pp. VIII-IX), and a brief report on them may suffice here. The main thing to note is that the divisions made in each entry are hierarchically structured as follows: 1. Aspect/tense; 2. Voice; 3. Mood (including infinitives and participles); 4. Person; 5. Number; 6. In the case of participles, also case (following the Anglo-Saxon system of putting the accusative right after the nominative) and gender. Morphologically speaking, Stork’s divisions make sense, as he works from the inside out, as it were. Evidently, they also mean more work for someone who wants to find, say, all second person forms of a given verb than for someone who is interested in all the perfect stem forms of a verb. However, the exceptional clarity of the lay-out, courtesy of Brill, should ensure that no user should have problems with finding what (s)he needs.

Within each of the divisions mentioned above, a fixed order of categories is maintained, e.g. singular, plural, dual in the number category. The user should familiarize him/herself thoroughly with this system, because only in the case where the fixed order fails to exactly determine a form, do abbreviations make clear with what form we are dealing. This means that many forms which are morphologically ambiguous are often disambiguated only by the order in which they are presented. For example, a user can only find out that 1.28.3 εἴων is a third person plural rather than a first person singular, because the preceding form is the third person εἴα. A less Spartan use of abbreviations would have made the book bigger, no doubt, but perhaps also slightly more user-friendly.

Helpful additional information is also provided: at the beginning of each entry the total number of occurrences of the verb in question is given, and at the end of the entry of simple verbs cross-references to their compounds attested in Thucydides are found. I should add that Stork rightly takes an inclusive view of what counts as a verb, so that he includes, for example, ἔνι (under ἔνειμι) and all the forms of χρή. Moreover, in an appendix of about half a page, all verbal adjectives are listed. The only omission, if one could call it that, are the deverbative adverbs, so that 2.39.1 ἀνειμένως, 6.90.3 ὁμολογουμένως and the several occurrences of εἰκότως are excluded. In Stork’s index to Herodotus, such forms were included in an appendix.

I now move to the second point, the information about the constitution of the text. As said above, Stork bases his index exclusively on the OCT by H. Stuart Jones (as corrected by J. E. Powell).4 The sigla of this edition are printed in their entirety in front of the main index, and its critical apparatus for each relevant verb form is copied out in full. When a form printed in the OCT is the result of a conjecture while all manuscripts agree on a different form, the reference is given between square brackets. When the form given is an alternative reading to that of part of the manuscripts, the reference is given between round brackets. The two final sections of the book, entitled Conspectus Codicum and Variae Lectiones, provide lists of all forms falling into these two categories. In this way, Stork aims to give as full an overview as possible of the verbal system as it is attested in Thucydides.

Although this is all very diligently and thoroughly done, Stork’s choice for the OCT unfortunately rather diminishes the value of the whole enterprise. For whereas most students of Thucydides will still use the OCT as their reading text, few would deny the superiority of Alberti’s edition, at least of its critical apparatus (and, for that matter, even Hude’s editio maior would have provided Stork with a fuller apparatus than the OCT).5 The new papyri which have come to light in the past century (Alberti lists 95 of them, Stuart Jones 31) and the work Alberti has done on the recentiores to assess their often apparently considerable value have significantly altered our view of Thucydides’ text. While the nature of Alberti’s apparatus may be such that it is hard to incorporate in its entirety into an index, the adoption of Stuart Jones’ more sparing apparatus is no guarantee that the most essential information is captured. To name just two rather famous examples, users of the index may wish to be informed that 3.95.1 χυστρατεύσειν is no longer just a conjecture of Stahl for the manuscripts’ χυστρατεύειν, but now also attested in a papyrus (POxy 3896 p.c.). Or, again, that 4.48.3 ἅμα πλέοντες is not simply Hudson’s conjecture on the basis of Valla’s (important) Latin translation for the manuscripts ἀναπλέοντες, but also the reading of H2, an authority to which Alberti attaches not inconsiderable importance, but which was dismissed altogether by Stuart Jones. The reading is perhaps not likely to have entered H through emendation. Many more examples could be offered; checking one page of the index (p. 62) against Alberti’s apparatus, I found no less than eleven instances in which it proved to give a more complete or even accurate account of the transmission than the OCT. The conclusion must be that by adopting the text and apparatus of the OCT, Stork has produced a brand-new index that is in part already outdated, and his full report on Stuart Jones’ text does not mean that serious students can refrain from constantly checking forms found in the index against Alberti’s text and apparatus.

As far as I have been able to assess, Stork is a careful compiler. I have checked a randomly chosen section of five consecutive pages (pp. 62-6; around 600 forms), and found no mistakes in spelling or the references. A curious error occurs in the Table of Contents, where the Index Codicum is announced as Index Codicorum.

In conclusion, a good index of verb forms should look like the present book, both where the lay-out and the structure of the entries are concerned. A better index of the verb forms in Thucydides should probably have been based on Alberti’s edition, rather than on the OCT. However, what is done, is done, and what remains is certainly enough to be useful.

Table of Contents: Preface
Conspectus Siglorum
Index of Verb Forms
Verbal Adjective
Consensus Codicorum [sic]
Variae Lectiones


1. The earlier indices are: Index of Verb-Forms in Herodotus on the Basis of Powell’s Lexicon. Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1987; Index of Verb Forms in Xenophon. Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 2003 (= Alpha-Omega, Reihe A, Band CC.6: Xenophontis Operum Concordantiae, Volumen Sextum. Supplementum).

2. Von Essen, M. H. N. (1887), Index Thucydideus Ex Bekkeri Editione Stereotypa. Berlin: Weidmann. Hude, C. (1913-25), Thucydidis Historiae. Editio Maior. 2nd Ed. 2 Voll. Leipzig: Teubner.

3. For two recent contributions to the study of narrative modes in Thucydides and the importance of the tense/aspect of verbal forms in this respect, see Bakker, E. J. (1997), ‘Verbal Aspect and Mimetic Description in Thucydides’, in: E. J. Bakker, Grammar as Interpretation: Greek Literature in its Linguistic Context. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 1997: 7-54 (BMCR 1998.10.03); and Allan, R. J. (2007), ‘Sense and Sentence Complexity. Sentence Structure, Sentence Connection, and Tense-aspect as Indicators of Narrative Mode in Thucydides’ Histories‘, in: R. J. Allan and M. Buijs, The Language of Literature: Linguistic Approaches to Classical Texts. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2007: 93-121 (BMCR 2008.07.01).

4. Jones, H. S. (1942), Thucydidis Historiae. With an amended and augmented critcical apparatus by J. E. Powell. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

5. Alberti, I. B., Thucydidis Historiae (Scriptores Graeci et Latini Consilio Academiae Lynceorum Editi). 3 Voll. Rome: Libreria dello Stato, 1972-2000. For its importance, see e.g. Hornblower, S. (2002), ‘The Best Available Text of Thucydides’ CR 52: 238-40.