Greek - plural and singular verbs with neuter plural subjects

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Hello,

Here's a small passage from Aristotle:

διαφορὰ δέ τις φαίνεται τῶν τελῶν· τὰ μὲν γάρ εἰσιν ἐνέργειαι, τὰ δὲ παρ᾽ αὐτὰς ἔργα τινά. ὧν δ᾽ εἰσὶ τέλη τινὰ παρὰ τὰς πράξεις, ἐν τούτοις βελτίω πέφυκε τῶν ἐνεργειῶν τὰ ἔργα.

I was wondering why εἰσὶ was plural despite its subject being neuter plural (τέλη), especially since right in the next clause, where the subject is also a neuter plural, we have the "normal" singular πέφυκε. In τὰ μὲν γάρ εἰσιν ἐνέργειαι, though the subject is technically the neuter plural τὰ, I assumed that the plural verb was used by attraction with the feminine pl. ἐνέργειαι.
 

alexios

New Member
I think I've seen this before as well. In case you're still wondering, Smyth 959 says that this rule is not always followed strictly: "A plural verb may be used when stress is laid on the fact that the neuter plural subject is composed of persons or of several parts: τὰ τέλη τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων αὐτὸν ἐξέπεμψαν (Thuc. 4.88)"
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima
Staff member
Thanks. I already somewhat knew, or at least suspected, that, but it's not obvious to me here how τέλη feels more like several individual ends and ἔργα more collective. It's probably just me, no big deal.
 
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