Verbs and Predicates in Ancient Greece

  • Lucio Melazzo Univeristy of Palermo
Keywords: Aristotle, Stoics, Verb, Predicate, Diathesis


The author starts by reading an excerpt by Symplicius of Cilicia where
it is said that Aristotle spoke of the category action established as mere action
and taken as a genus. This category was connected with dispositions of the
mind corresponding to verbs. Equally there existed mere affection too. It is
precisely the verbs that could convey either action or affection, and the two
categories action and affection were drawn from the active and passive verbs.
These verbs, however, are not the same as those called upright and overturned
by the Stoics. While Aristotle took mere action and mere affection into account,
the Stoics were interested in predicates, and predicates definitely correspond
to some linguistic reality bearing some relation to something real. The
excerpt by Simplicius is then compared with two scholia commenting on Dionysius
Thrax’s notion of diathesis. The author concludes his argument with
an entirely reasonable interpretation on Dionysius Thrax’s definition of verb.