Appendix:Ancient Greek dialectal declension

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The declension of Ancient Greek nouns often differed between dialects. While Wiktionary gives declension in the Attic dialect by default, it is often useful to know how a word was inflected in dialects other than Attic.

The dialects[edit]

  • West Greek
    • Northwest Greek
      • Phocian
        • Delphian
      • Locrian
      • Elean
    • Doric
      • Laconian
      • Heraclean
      • Messenian (sparsely attested)
      • Megarian
      • Corinthian
        • Corcyraean
      • Argolic
      • Rhodian
      • Coan (and Calymnian)
      • Theran (and Melian)
      • Cretan
  • East Greek
    • Attic-Ionic
      • Attic
      • Ionic
        • Euboean
    • Arcado-Cyprian
      • Arcadian
      • Cyprian
    • Aeolic
      • Lesbian
      • Boeotian
      • Thessalian
  • Note that here "Lesbian" is used to refer to Lesbian Aeolic, the dialect used by the poets Sappho and Alcaeus. While this dialect is often referred to as simply "Aeolic", the term "Aeolic" can also be used to refer to Lesbian as well as the closely related dialects of Thessalian and Boeotian, and so the term "Lesbian" is used to avoid confusion.

Dialectal inflection tables provided by Wiktionary are often based on conjecture. For example, very few forms of the dual or vocative are attested anywhere, and so they are simply supplied in tables as in Attic in most cases. Additionally, quirks peculiar to a single city, or rare alternate spellings, are omitted in tables for the sake of brevity. "In all other dialects" below should be read as "in all other dialects in which the form is attested" in many cases. For the most part, spellings are given c. 400 BC, and normalized to the polytonic Ionic alphabet.

First declension[edit]

Regular sound change caused the theme vowel, originally *ᾱ, to change to η in Ionic, and sometimes in Attic. Specifically, appears in Attic after ε,ι,ρ, except when ρ was originally followed by , as in κόρη (originally *κόρϝᾱ, and this form is in fact attested in an Arcadian inscription.)

The diphthong αι was spelled αι or αε in the earliest Boeotian inscriptions (the latter being especially common in the city of Tanagra), but became a long open monophthong, and with the introduction of the Ionic alphabet it was regularly spelled η.

  • Nominative singular: -ᾱ or in Attic; in Ionic; -ᾱ in all other dialects.
  • Genitive singular: -ᾱς or -ης in Attic; -ης in Ionic; -ᾱς in all other dialects. In the Arcadian city of Tegea, -ᾱυ appears, but early inscriptions show -ᾱυ alongside -ᾱς, and the article always has τᾶς.
  • Dative singular: -ᾳ or -ῃ in Attic (but see below); -ῃ in Ionic. -αι in Boeotian (but also spelled -αε, -η; see above), and so probably Arcadian, Elean, etc. as well—see below regarding the second declension dative singular. -ᾱ in Lesbian and Thessalian. -ᾳ in all other dialects.
    Attic -ῃ was often shortened to -ει. This pronunciation rose in frequency during the fourth century BC, and was the most common spelling during the third and second, but -ῃ ultimately survived and restored due to analogy.
    Several dialects drop the final iota. In Attic the sound ceased to be pronounced in the second century BC, and thus the final was frequently omitted thereafter. In Lesbian and Thessalian this occurred much earlier, as early as the fifth century BC, and after the fourth century the spellings without are most common. East Ionic has a few examples dating from the sixth century BC, but most inscriptions show . (Note that the iota subscript was never written in classical times, but is rather mediaeval—inscriptions show ΑΙ, ΕΙ/ΗΙ, ΟΙ/ΩΙ, or Α, Ε/Η, Ο/Ω, etc.)
  • Accusative singular: -ᾱν or -ην in Attic; -ην in Ionic; -ᾱν in all other dialects.
  • Genitive and dative dual: Arcadian -αιυν. -αιν must be presumed for most dialects.
  • Nominative plural: -αι in all dialects, but spelled -αε or in Boeotian by regular sound change.
  • Genitive plural: -ων in Attic; -εων or (only after vowels) -ων in Ionic (once -ηων), -ᾱων in Boeotian (but the article is always τᾶν), -ᾱν in all other dialects).
    -ᾱων is the earliest form, and this contracts to -ᾱν in most dialects, but in Attic-Ionic this changes first to -ηων, which then shortens to -εων, and this regularly contracts in Attic to -ων.
  • Dative plural: -αις in Attic (but see below), -ῃσῐ(ν) in Ionic, -αισῐ in Lesbian and rarely elsewhere (but the article is always ταῖς), -αις, -αιρ in Elean (see below under accusative). -αις in all other dialects (spelled -αις, -αες, -ης in Boeotian; see above.)
    Before 420 BC, Attic shows -ᾱσῐ(ν) or -ησῐ(ν); occasionally -ᾳσῐ(ν) or -ῃσῐ(ν). But after 420 BC -αις.
  • Accusative plural: -ᾰς in Cretan, Arcadian (and so probably Cyprian), Thessalian, Theran. -ᾰς beside -ᾱς in Coan. -ᾰνς beside -ᾰς in Cretan. -ᾰνς in Argolic. -αις in Lesbian. -ᾰς, -αις, or -αιρ in Elean (see below). -ᾱς in all other dialects. This mirrors the development seen in the second declension accusative plural (see below.)
    Early Elean shows -ᾰς alongside -αις. Later Elean consistently shows -αι-, but the final has become by regular sound change.
    -νσ- became -σ- before a consonant in proethnic Greek, and the earliest Cretan inscriptions in fact show τὸς/τὰς before a consonant and τὸνς/τὰνς before a vowel.

Masculine[edit]

  • Nominative singular: -ᾱς or -ης in Attic; -ης in Ionic; -ᾱς in all other dialects. A few forms in -ᾱ also appear, several in Boeotian, and a few others in Northwest Greece.
  • Genitive singular: -ου in Attic; -εω or (only after vowels) in Ionic (once -ηο), -ᾱο in Boeotian, -ᾱ in all other dialects.
    -ᾱο is the earliest form, and this contracts to -ᾱ in most dialects, but in Ionic this changes first to -ηο, which then undergoes quantitative metathesis to -εω.
    Attic -ου is derived from the second declension.
    -ᾱϝο is seen in two metrical inscriptions from Corcyra and Gela. This form is artificial, and in imitation of Epic—the ϝ is not etymological, and the form -ᾱ is already attested in other inscriptions from the same area.
    The genitive -ᾱς, from the feminine, is found in scattered examples in Megarian, and in various parts of Northwest Greece.
    Proper names in Attic-Ionic often use the genitive -ους/-εος, borrowed from -εσ- stems.

Table of forms[edit]

The dual is omitted due to lack of evidence.


  Att. Ion. Arc.-Cypr. Lesb. Thess. Boeot. General
West
Greek
Elean Coan Ther. Cret.
Nominative singular -ᾱ/-η
Genitive singular -ᾱς/-ης -ης -ᾱς
Dative singular -ᾳ/-ῃ -ῃ -αι? -ᾱ -ᾳ -αι? -ᾳ
Accusative singular -ᾱν/-ην -ην -ᾱν
Nominative plural -αι -αι
Genitive plural -ων -(ε)ων -ᾱν -ᾱων -ᾱν
Dative plural -αις -ῃσῐ(ν) -αις -αισῐ -αις -ης -αις
Accusative plural -ᾱς -ᾰς -αις -ᾰς -ᾱς -ᾰς/-αις/-αιρ -ᾰς/-ᾱς -ᾰς -ᾰ(ν)ς

Second declension[edit]

The diphthong οι was spelled οι or οε in the earliest Boeotian inscriptions (the latter being especially common in the city of Tanagra). It became a long front monophthong in the third century, and from 250 BC onwards was increasingly spelled with υ. By the end of the century it was uniformly so spelled. In some late inscriptions of Lebadea and Chaeronea ει is also found.

  • Nominative singular: -ος in all dialects.
  • Genitive singular: -οι in Thessalian. -ων or in Cyprian (usually -ων in nouns, but the article is always τῶ). in Arcadian, Boeotian, Elean, Laconian, Heraclean, Cretan. -ου in all other dialects.
    The original form -οιο is preserved in Epic, and so this occasionally occurs in poetic inscriptions of various dialects. Thessalian -οι is derived from it by apocope. Occasionally -οιο is found in Thessalian prose. All other dialects have contraction of -οο.
    For the division between and -ου, see Appendix:Ancient Greek contraction.
  • Dative singular: -οι in Arcadian, Boeotian (spelled -οι, -οε, -υ, -ει; see above), and Elean. in Lesbian. -ου in Thessalian. -ῳ in all other dialects.
    The form -οι also appears in late inscriptions from various parts of Northen Greece (Delphi, Aetolia, Acarnania, Epirus, Cierium in Thessaly, Euboea). This form appears to not be a shortening (except possibly in Euboea), but rather derived from the original Proto-Indo-European locative. This form may be present in the older (before the introduction of the Ionic alphabet) inscriptions of other dialects, as the length of Ο is ambiguous.
    Thessalian has ου for all cases of original ω. (For the lack of final iota, see also above under the first declension dative singular.)
  • Accusative singular: -ον in all dialects.
  • Genitive and dative dual: Elean -οιοις, -οιοιρ. Arcadian -οιυν. Most dialects in which the form is attested have -οιν.
  • Nominative plural: -οι in all dialects, but spelled -οι, -οε, -υ, -ει in Boeotian by regular sound change (see above.)
  • Genitive plural: -ουν in Thessalian by regular sound change; -ων in all other dialects.
  • Dative plural: -οισῐ(ν) in early Attic and Ionic, as well as Lesbian (but the article is always τοῖς). -οιρ in Elean. -οις, -υς, -εις in Boeotian (see above.)
    Ionic -οισῐ(ν) survives somewhat longer than Attic, but some early examples of -οις are also seen, especially in West Ionic.
  • Accusative plural: -ος in Cretan, Arcadian (and so probably Cyprian), Thessalian, Theran. -ος beside -ους in Coan. -ονς beside -ος in Cretan. -ονς in Argolic. -οις in Lesbian. -ος or -οιρ in Elean (see below). -ως in Boeotian, Laconian, Heraclean; -ους in all other dialects. This mirrors the development seen in the first declension accusative plural (see above.)
    Early Elean shows -ος. The intermediate form -οις is not attested in the second declension. Later Elean consistently shows -οιρ.
    -νσ- became -σ- before a consonant in proethnic Greek, and the earliest Cretan inscriptions in fact show τὸς/τὰς before a consonant and τὸνς/τὰνς before a vowel.
    For the division between and -ου, see Appendix:Ancient Greek contraction (the process is not contraction but compensatory lengthening; however, the division mirrors that of contraction.)

Table of forms[edit]

The dual is omitted due to lack of evidence.


  Att. Ion. Arc. Cypr. Lesb. Thess. Boeot. General
West
Greek
Elean Lac./Heracl. Coan Ther. Cret.
Nominative singular -ος
Genitive singular ου -ω(ν) -οι -ου -ου
Dative singular -ῳ -οι -ου -οι -ῳ -οι -ῳ
Accusative singular -ον
Nominative plural -οι
Genitive plural -ων -ουν -ων
Dative plural -οις -οισῐ(ν) -οις -οισῐ -οις
Accusative plural -ους -ος -οις -ος -ως -ους -ος/-οις/-οιρ -ως -ος/-ους -ος -ο(ν)ς

Third declension[edit]

Consonant stems[edit]

  • Accusative singular: -ᾰ in most dialects, but -ᾰν appears in Cyprian 𐠰𐠛𐠅𐠮𐠣𐠚 (τὸν ἰjατῆραν), 𐠰𐠙𐠯𐠥𐠅𐠭𐠚 (τὸν ἀ(νδριjάν)ταν); in Thessalian κίοναν, in Elean ἀγαλματοφῶραν (if not -φώρᾱν from a nominative -φώρᾱς), and in late inscriptions of various dialects.
  • Nominative plural: -ες in all dialects, but -εν appears in late Cretan due to a complex process of analogy. The spread of Koinê Greek led the first person plural -μες to be replaced by (Attic) -μεν, and thus by analogy the pronoun ἀμές was replaced with ἀμέν. From there the ending -εν spread to other pronouns and eventually to participles.
  • Dative plural: -εσσῐ (as in Epic) in Lesbian, Thessalian, and Boeotian (i.e. the Aeolic dialects), and in early Delphian, East Locrian, once in Elean, and in inscriptions of various Corinthian colonies (Corcyra, Epidamnus, Syracuse.) -ασσῐ in the present participle in Heraclean (ἔντασσῐν, πρασσόντασσῐ, etc.) -οις in Locrian, Elean, and later the Northwest Greek Koinê. -σῐ in all other dialects.
    -εσσῐ is probably formed by analogy from stems in -σ- (for which see below.) -οις is taken from the first declension.
  • Accusative plural: -ες in two Delphian inscriptions, regularly in Elean (-ερ) and Arcado-Cyprian (an Achaean feature), and in very late inscriptions of various dialects (including Attic.) -ᾰνς beside -ᾰς in Cretan. -ᾰς in all other dialects.
    -ες is taken from the nominative, and may have originated in τέτορες, analogized from πέντε. Cretan -ᾰνς is analogized from the first declension.

σ-stems[edit]

The contraction of εα, εο is in most cases Attic only.

  • Genitive singular: From original -εος we have -ιος in Boeotian, Cyprian (in Idalium), Cretan, early Laconian, rarely Heraclean, Argolic, Thessalian, Lesbian by regular sound change; for more details see Appendix:Ancient Greek dialectal phonology. Contracted to -ους in Attic, -ευς in later Ionic, etc.; see Appendix:Ancient Greek contraction.
  • Accusative singular and neuter plural: From original -εᾰ we have -ιᾰ in Boeotian, Cyprian, etc. by regular sound change; see above. Contracted to in Attic, and occasionally other dialects; see Appendix:Ancient Greek contraction.

-κλῆς[edit]

The original form is -κλέϝης, gen. -κλέϝεος, from Proto-Indo-European *-klew-ēs, gen. *-klew-es-os. However, only Cyprian retains -ϝ-. Attic has -κλέης beside -κλῆς; Boeotian -κλέης, -κλεῖος until c. 400 BC; Euboean -κλέης, -κλέω (for , see below) regularly, but all other dialects have -κλῆς, gen. -κλέος.

Proper names[edit]

Proper names such as Σωκράτης often show forms borrowed from the first declension. In Attic-Ionic this was largely due to the frequency of first declension names in -ης (e.g. Ἀπολλωνίδης), but this occurs also in other dialects by analogizing forms in -ᾱς, -ᾱν, etc. with -η-. Hence:

  • Genitive in (analogized for -ᾱ; see above): appears in Lesbian; -ης (for the feminine) may appear in Thessalian Ἱπποκράτεις (but perhaps use of the nominative by mistake), Φερεκράτης (but perhaps to be read -ε(ο)ς.)
  • Dative in -ῃ: appears in Lesbian Καλλίκλῃ.
  • Accusative in -ην: appears in Boeotian (-ειν), Arcadian, and even in appellatives in Lesbian (δαμοτέλην etc.), and Cyprian (ἀτελήν).
  • Vocative in : appears in Arcadian, Delphian Πολυκράτη, in (like Δίκᾰ) in Lesbian μελλιχόμειδε. Boeotian hypocoristics in -ει (Μέννει, Φίλλει, etc.) are best understood as vocatives of this type used as nominatives.

ι-stems[edit]

The declension type in -ις, -εως, -ει, etc. is almost exclusively Attic. All other dialects have -ις, -ιος, -ῑ etc. Ionic has πόλεως in early inscriptions of Chios (once) and Thasos, and δυνάμει in one inscription of Teos. All other attestations of this declension type are late and to be attributed to Attic influence. In general the datives -ει and -εσι are the first to be borrowed, followed by the nom. pl. -εις and then the gen. sg. -εως.

  • Nominative singular: -ις in all dialects.
  • Genitive singular: -εως in Attic and rarely in Ionic (see above), -ιος in all other dialects. Koinê, and late inscriptions of various dialects, have -εος, borrowed from υ- and σ-stems.
    -εως derives from -ηος, which is seen in Homer, by quantitative metathesis.
  • Dative singular: -εϊ (-ει) in Attic, -ῑ in all other dialects.
  • Accusative singular: -ιν in all dialects.
  • Nominative plural: -εις in Attic (contracted from -εες), -ιες in all other dialects. Lesbian has πόλῑς in one inscription, which may be use of the accusative as nominative.
  • Genitive plural: -εων in Attic, -ιων in all other dialects.
  • Dative plural: -εσῐ(ν) in Attic, -ισῐ(ν) in all other dialects.
  • Accusative plural: -εις in Attic, evidently borrowed from the nominative. -ινς in Cretan (see above under the first and second declension). -ῑς or rarely -ιας in all other dialects.

Cyprian has gen. sg. Τιμοχάριϝος, dat. sg. πτόλιϝι, with ϝ apparently analogized from υ- and ευ-stems. Euboean proper names are frequently declined as consonant stems in -ις, -ιδος, as in Attic.

υ-stems[edit]

Nearly all inscriptional forms occurring are of the type -υς, -υος, as Attic βότρυς, βότρυος.

ευ-stems[edit]

The original stem is -ηϝ-. Thus:

  • -ηϝ- in Cyprian.
  • -ειϝ- alongside -ει- in Boeotian.
  • -η- in Lesbian.
  • -ει- in Thessalian.
  • -ᾱ- in Elean (see Appendix:Ancient Greek dialectal phonology.)
  • Early Coan has ἱερῆι, Πολιῆι, etc, and once Rhodian Ἰδαμενῆος.

Most dialects, however, shorten the initial vowel (and lose intervocalic -ϝ-), yielding -ε-. Thus:

  • Nominative singular: -ής in Arcadian (and some proper names in -ής are occasionally found elsewhere), εύς in all other dialects.
  • Genitive singular: -έως in Attic with quantitative metathesis, but -έος in all other dialects. This is sometimes contracted to -εῦς (e.g. Megarian ἰαρεῦς), but due to confusion with the nominative this is much less common than in other words.
  • Dative singular: -εϊ (-ει) in all dialects.
  • Accusative singular: -ήν in Arcadian (hιερήν), -έᾱ in Attic-Ionic with quantitative metathesis, but -έᾰ in most other dialects. Delphian and most Doric dialects regularly contract -έᾰ to -ῆ.
  • Nominative plural: -ῆς in early Attic, Coan (τεταρτῆς), Laconian, and Arcadian (Μαντινῆς), either from -έης or -ῆες. -έες appears in Cretan and elsewhere, but most dialects contract to -εῖς. Cyrene (a Theran colony) has nom. and acc. pl. ἱαρές.
  • Genitive plural: -έων in all dialects.
  • Dative plural: -ευσῐ in all dialects (Attic-Ionic -ευσῐ(ν)).
  • Accusative plural: -έᾱς in Attic-Ionic, -έᾰς in most other dialects, but after the fourth century this was largely replaced by Koinê -εῖς.

In Miletus (an Ionic city) and its colonies there is a nom. sg. -ἱέρεως, gen. sg. ἱέρεω; likewise at Ephesus gen. sg. Φλέω.

References[edit]