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Allen and Greenough? New Latin Grammar

Future Condition

516. Future Conditions may be more vivid or less vivid.

  1. In a more vivid future condition the protasis makes a distinct supposition of a future case, the apodosis expressing what will be the logical result.
  2. In a less vivid future condition, the supposition is less distinct, the apodosis expressing what would be the result in the case supposed.

a. In the more vivid future condition the Future Indicative is used in both protasis and apodosis:—

    sānābimur, sī volēmus (Tusc. 3.13), we shall be healed if we wish.

    quod sī legere aut audīre volētis, ... reperiētis (Cat. M. 20), if you will [shall wish to] read or hear, you will find.

Note— In English the protasis is usually expressed by the Present Indicative, rarely by the Future with SHALL. Often in Latin the Present Indicative is found in the protasis of a condition of this kind (cf. § 468):—

    sī vincimus, omnia nōbīs tūta erunt; sīn metū cesserimus, eadem illa advorsa fīent (Sall. Cat. 58), if we conquer, all things will be safe for us; but if we yield through fear, those same things will become hostile.

    sī pereō, hominum manibus perlisse iuvābit (Aen. 3.606), if I perish, it will be pleasant to have perished at the hands of men.

b. In the less vivid future condition the Present Subjunctive is used in both protasis and apodosis:—

    haec sī tēcum patria loquātur, nōnne impetrāre dēbeat (Cat. 1.19), if your country should thus speak with you, ought she not to prevail?

    quod sī quis deus mihi largiātur , ... valdē recūsem (Cat. M. 83), but if some god were to grant me this, I should stoutly refuse.

Note— The Present Subjunctive sometimes stands in protasis with the Future (or the Present) Indicative in apodosis from a change in the point of view:— 1

    sī dīligenter attendāmus, intellegēmus (Inv. 2.44), if we attend (should attend) carefully, we shall understand.

    nisi hōc dīcat, “iūre fēcī,” nōn habet dēfēnsiōnem (id. 1.18), unless he should say this, “I acted justifiably,” he has no defence.

c. If the conditional act is regarded as completed before that of the apodosis begins, the Future Perfect is substituted for the Future Indicative in protasis, and the Perfect Subjunctive for the Present Subjunctive:—

    sīn cum potuerō nōn vēnerō, tum erit inimīcus (Att. 9.2 A.2), but if I do not come when I can , he will be unfriendly.

    sī ā corōnā relictus sim, nōn queam dīcere (Brut. 192), if I should be deserted by the circle of listeners, I should not be able to speak.

Note— The Future Perfect is often used in the apodosis of a future condition: as,—vehementer mihi grātum fēceris, sī hunc adulēscentem hūmānitāte tuā comprehenderis (Fam. 13.15), you will do (will have done) me a great favor, if you receive this young man with your usual courtesy.

d. Any form denoting or implying future time may stand in the apodosis of a future condition. So the Imperative, the participles in -dus and -rus, and verbs of necessity, possibility, and the like:—

    alius fīnis cōnstituendus est, sī prius quid maximē reprehendere Scīpiō solitus sit dīxerō (Lael. 59), another limit must be set, if I first state what Scipio was wont most to find fault with.

    sī mē praecēperit fātum, vōs mandāsse mementō (Q. C. 9.6.26), if fate cuts me off too soon, do you remember that I ordered this.

    nisi oculīs vīderitis īnsidiās Milōnī ā Clōdiō factās, nec dēprecātūrī sumus nec postulātūrī (Mil. 6), unless you see with your own eyes the plots laid against Milo by Clodius , I shall neither beg nor demand , etc.

    nōn possum istum accūsāre, sī cupiam (Verr. 4.87), I cannot accuse him, if I should (so) desire

e. Rarely the Perfect Indicative is used in apodosis with a Present or even a Future (or Future Perfect) in protasis, to represent the conclusion rhetorically as already accomplished:

    sī hōc bene fīxum in animō est, vīcistis (Liv. 21.44), if this is well fixed in your minds, you have conquered. [For you will have conquered. ]

    sī eundem [animum] habueritis, vīcimus (id. 21.43), if you shall have kept the same spirit, we have conquered.

f. A future condition is frequently thrown back into past time, without implying that it is contrary to fact (§ 517). In such cases the Imperfect or Pluperfect Subjunctive may be used:—

    nōn poterat, nisi dēcertāre vellet (B. C. 3.44), he was not able, unless he wished to fight.

    tumulus appāruit, ... lūce palam īrētur hostis praeventūrus erat (Liv. 22.24), a hill appeared ... if they should go openly by daylight, the enemy would prevent. [The first two appear like Indirect Discourse, but are not. An observer describing the situation in the first example as present would say nōn potest nisi velit (see d), and no indirect discourse would be thought of.]

    Caesar sī peteret, ... nōn quicquam prōficeret (Hor. S. 1.3.4), if even Cæsar were to ask, he would gain nothing. [Here the construction is not contrary to fact, but is simply sī petat, nōn prōficiat, thrown into past time.]

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Notes
1
It often depends entirely upon the view of the writer at the moment, and not upon the nature of the condition, whether it shall be stated vividly or not; as in the proverbial “If the sky falls, we shall catch larks” the impossible condition is ironically put in the vivid form, to illustrate the absurdity of some other supposed condition stated by some one else.