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13.1  Contracted neuter nouns of the third declension 

 

We have not studied yet the last type of nouns listed in the chart of the third declension stems at 11.3. These are consonantal stems that end in σ.

Their distinctive traits are:

     most of them are neuter nouns: τὸ τέλος (end, goal); τὸ γένος  (clan, generation); τὸ  ἄνθος   (flower).  The few masculine nouns in this group are personal names (with no plural used) such as  Σωκράτης, Σωκράτους.  There is practically only one feminine noun, τριήρης, τριήρους, ἡ.  We study these in lesson 14; here  we concentrate on the neuter nouns. 

     the general stem ends in -ες, but in the neuter nominative it changes to -ος.

     as the case endings were added to their stem, σ came to be flanked by vowels... a dangerous situation for  σ in ancient Greek!  When  σ was dropped, the vowels in contact were contracted.  

     after contraction the Genitive ends in -ους; thus the citation is, e.g.,

 

τέλος, τέλους           γένος, γένους            ἄνθος, ἄνθους

 

Even if one does not know that these are neuter nouns, they cannot be confused with masculines of the second declension, where the citation is, e.g.,  φίλος, φίλου

 

Applying the simplified rules of contraction reviewed and expanded in 13.2, we obtain the following declension for τὸ τέλος

 

 

singular

plural

nom

  τέλος

  τέλεσ-α > τέλε-α > τέλη

gen

  τέλεσ-ος > τέλε-ος > τέλους

  τελέσ-ων > τελέ-ων > τελῶν

dat

  τέλεσ-ι > τέλε-ι > τέλει

  τέλεσ-σι > τέλεσι(ν)

acc

  τέλος

  τέλεσ-α > τέλε-α > τέλη

voc

  τέλος

  τέλεσ-α > τέλε-α > τέλη