Aspect and imperatives data: The perfect imperative is frustrating

How do you account for the difference between the following?

καὶ διεγερθεὶς ἐπετίμησεν τῷ ἀνέμῳ καὶ εἶπεν τῇ θαλάσσῃ· Σιώπα, πεφίμωσο. καὶ ἐκόπασεν ὁ ἄνεμος, καὶ ἐγένετο γαλήνη μεγάλη
And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: “Be quiet, be silent, and the wind abated and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39).

καὶ ἐπετίμησεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγων· Φιμώθητι καὶ ἔξελθε ἐξ αὐτοῦ
And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him (Mark 1:25).

There are only a handful of verbs that appear as perfect imperatives that then also appear in the imperative with imperfective or perfective verb. Another is παιδεύω, but with that one, the perfect imperative is a middle:

βασιλεὺς ὢν ἄρχειν ἀλλὰ μὴ ἄρχεσθαι πεπαίδευσο
As king, it is to govern rather rather than to be governed that you must learn (Philo, Migration 8).

There’s only one other middle imperative with this verb that can provide even a remotely useful contrast:

Ὑμεῖς οὖν, οἱ τὴν καταβολὴν τῆς στάσεως ποιήσαντες, ὑποτάγητε τοῖς πρεσβυτέροις καὶ παιδεύθητε εἰς μετάνοιαν
Therefore you, who laid the foundation of the revolt, submit to the presbyters and undergo discipline for [the goal/purpose of ] repentance (I Clement 57.1).

This example isn’t very good either because of the distinct semantics here (learn vs. be disciplined). They’re not really comparable. That doesn’t leave much for comparative analysis. That means understanding the function perfect imperative needs to come from elsewhere. Most other instances of lexemes that appear in the perfect imperative as well as the imperfective or perfective involve a mismatch of voice and that creates a whole other set of issues.

2 thoughts on “Aspect and imperatives data: The perfect imperative is frustrating

  1. Cranfield comments on Mark 4.39 πεφίμωσο: “The perfect imperative passive (which is rarer) is more emphatic than the aorist used in 1:25: so ‘be silent and remain so.'”

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