A School Grammar of Attic Greek

Thomas Dwight Goodell


Εἰ with the Optative

651. Εἰ with the optative (without ἄν) presents the supposition as more remote in thought (616 b)—

  1. As a mere possibility, generally future, sometimes present or general (Possible Condition),
  2. As part of a past situation which occurred repeatedly (Past Repeated Condition),
  3. As the thought of another person or an earlier time (Quoted Condition); the future optative in such a condition always represents a future indicative of the original form:

    Oὐκ ἂν θαυμάζοιμι εἱ οἱ πολέμιοι ἡμῖν ἐπακολουθοῖεν.
    I should not be surprised if the enemy should follow us.
    Xen. Anabasis 3.2.35


    λῡπουμένοις ὀχληρός, εἰ μόλοι, ξένος.
    A guest annoys the sorrowing, if he come.
    Eur. Alcestis 540


    καὶ τοῦτό γέ μοι δοκεῖ καλὸν εἶναι, εἴ τις οἷός τʼ εἴη παιδεύειν ἀνθρώπους.
    This too seems to me a fine thing, if one be really able to educate people.
    Plato Apology 19e


    Εἰ δή ποτε πορεύοιτο καὶ πλεῖστοι μέλλοιεν ὄψεσθαι, προσκαλῶν τοὺς φίλους ἐσπουδαιολογεῖτο.
    If ever he was on the march and many would see it, he would call his friends and talk seriously with them.
    Xen. Anabasis 1.9.28


    τῶν πολλῶν εἴ τις αἴσθοιτο, ἐσγᾱ.
    If any of the popular party perceived it, he said nothing.
    Demosthenes 9.61


    Ἐβουλήθησαν Ἐλευσῖνα ἐξιδιώσασθαι, ὥστε εἶναι σφίσι καταφυγὴν εἰ δεήσειε.
    They wished to make Eleusis their own, so as to have it as a refuge in case of need.
    Xen. Hellenica 2.4.8


    γνοὺς ὁ Κριτίᾱς ὅτι εἰ ἐπιτρέψοι τῇ βουλῇ διαψηφίζεσθαι περὶ αὐτοῦ ἀναφεύξοιτο
    Kritias, recognizing that, if he should allow the council to decide about him by a vote, he would escape (direct, εἰ ἐπιτρέψω)
    Xen. Hellenica 2.3.50


a. Rarely εἰ with the optative expresses an unreal condition, as in Homer.

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