Part forty of a tour through Greek inflectional morphology to help get students thinking more systematically about the word forms they see (and maybe teach a bit of general linguistics along the way).

In the classical Attic dialect we find the following aorist active forms for δίδωμι and τίθημι:

INF δοῦναι θεῖναι
1SG ἔδωκα ἔθηκα
2SG ἔδωκας ἔθηκας
3SG ἔδωκε(ν) ἔθηκε(ν)
1PL ἔδομεν ἔθεμεν
2PL ἔδοτε ἔθετε
3PL ἔδοσαν ἔθεσαν

Looking at this vertically, we might split the constant part from the distinguisher as follows:

INF δ-οῦναι θ-εῖναι
1SG ἔ-δ-ωκα ἔ-θ-ηκα
2SG ἔ-δ-ωκας ἔ-θ-ηκας
3SG ἔ-δ-ωκε(ν) ἔ-θ-ηκε(ν)
1PL ἔ-δ-ομεν ἔ-θ-εμεν
2PL ἔ-δ-οτε ἔ-θ-ετε
3PL ἔ-δ-οσαν ἔ-θ-εσαν

but looking horizontally, we might split it this way:

INF δοῦ-ναι θεῖ-ναι
1SG ἔ-δω-κα ἔ-θη-κα
2SG ἔ-δω-κας ἔ-θη-κας
3SG ἔ-δω-κε(ν) ἔ-θη-κε(ν)
1PL ἔ-δο-μεν ἔ-θε-μεν
2PL ἔ-δο-τε ἔ-θε-τε
3PL ἔ-δο-σαν ἔ-θε-σαν

It looks like the singular forms share δω or θη and the plural forms share δο or θε.

The plurals seem to be inflecting like root aorists with δο and θε as the root. The infinitives are consistent with this too (with an -εναι ending).

However, the singular forms with the lengthened grade vowel seem to inflect with the alpha like we saw with the sigmatic aorists except we have kappa not a sigma.

And so we have:

singular lengthened grade (δω/θη) κ alphathematic endings -α -ας -ε
plural full grade (δο/θε)   root endings -μεν -τε -σαν
infinitive   full grade (δο/θε)   root ending -εναι

These will sometimes be referred to as kappa aorists even though the kappa is only found in the singular and the forms are otherwise consistent with root aorists.

In the SBLGNT and other Hellenistic period Greek, we find these forms, though:

INF δοῦναι θεῖναι
1SG ἔδωκα ἔθηκα
2SG ἔδωκας ἔθηκας
3SG ἔδωκε(ν) ἔθηκε(ν)
1PL ἐδώκαμεν ἐθήκαμεν
2PL ἐδώκατε ἐθήκατε
3PL ἔδωκαν ἔθηκαν

although in Luke 1.2 we find the older ἔδοσαν not ἔδωκαν.

The infinitives and singulars have stayed the same, but the plurals have changed to be consistent with the singulars. They have the lengthened vowel grade, the kappa, and the alphathematic endings.

singular lengthened grade (δω/θη) κ alphathematic endings -α -ας -ε
plural lengthened grade (δω/θη) κ alphathematic endings -αμεν -ατε -αν
infinitive   full grade (δο/θε)   root ending -εναι

This is an example of paradigm levelling within the active indicatives. The contrast in number between singular and plural was being indicated not only by the personal ending but (redundantly) by the vowel grade, the existence/absence of the kappa and the existence/absence of the alpha theme vowel.

Redundancy is not a bad thing—it improves comprehensibility in the face of noise—but it is still easy to see how this sort of levelling might happen. A speaker might internalise from other verbs that if the aorist active 2SG is Χς, the 2PL is Χτε. This pattern works for root aorists, it works for thematic aorists, and it works for sigmatic aorists. Following that, a speaker familiar with ἔδωκα-ς might naturally produce ἐδώκα-τε. It would be obvious to listeners what was meant, even if the form ἔδοτε was the “correct” one. Over time, ἐδώκατε might be accepted and eventually dominate. A similar thing presumably happened with all the plural forms.

We’re almost done with an initial tour of the indicative aorist actives with just a couple more paradigms to look at before we switch to the middles.