πρίν with the Subjunctive

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297. In general, as we have seen (ἡ 236), πρίν is construed ςwith an nfinitive. f, however, the event is insisted upon as a cοnditiiοn,-the principal Verb being an hm- perative or emphatic F uture,-the Sub. may be used.

Il. 18. 134 ἀλλὰ σὺ μὲν μή πω καταδύσεο μῶλον Ἄρηος πρίν γʼ ἐμὲ δεῦρʼ ἐλθοῦσαν ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ἴδηαι
do not enter the battle before you see me coming hither.

Od. 10. 174 ἅὥ φίλοι, οὐ γὰρ πρὶν καταδυσόμεθʼ ἀχνύμενοί περ εἰς Ἀίδαο δόμους πρὶν μόρσιμον ἥμαρ ἐπέλθῃ.

So Il. 18. 190, 24. 551, 781, Od. 13- 335, 17. 9. The subjunctive is used in these examples without κεν or ἄν, because it is not meant to lay stress on a particular occasion when the condition swill be fulfiled. VWhen such an occasion is contemplated Homer sometimes uses πρίγ γʼ ὅτʼ ἄν before the time when (Od. 2. 374, 4- 477): cp. Il. 16. 62 οὐ πρὶν μηνιθμὸν καταπαυσέμεν, ἀλλʼ ὁπότʼ ἂν κτλ. The use of πρὶν ἄν with the subjunctive is post-Homeric.

It is evident that a conditional Clause ob this kind can only occur after a negative principal Clause. "Do not do this before I come" makes my coming into a condition, and a condition which may or may not be realized: but "do this before I come" is merely a way of fixing the time of doing.

This construction is usually explained from parataxis: thus it is held that in Il. 24- 551

οὐδέ μιν ἀνστήσεις πρὶν καὶ κακὸν ἄλλο πάθῃσθα

stands for-

οὐδέ μιν ἀνστήσεις· πρὶν καὶ κακὸν ἄλλο πάθησθα

you will not rαίse him, sooner shall you suffer passing into "you will not raise him before you suffer." So Storm (p. 26), and Goodwin (5 624). But

  1. this use of the subjunctive in a Principal clause without κεν or ἄἄv, whether as a Future (5 275, b) or as an imperative, is not Homeric, and therefore cannot be used to explain a use vwhich is only beginning in Homer
  2. And the change from you will not raise, you wίll suffer before you dο to you wίll not raise before you suffer is not an easy one: it involves shifting πpίv as an adverb from one clause to another.
  3. Above all it is probable that the new construction of πpίv with the subjunctive was directly modeled on the existing use with the infinitive: that is to say, πρὶν πάθησθα simply took the place of πρὶν παθεῖν when a more definite conditional force was wanted. This is confirmed by the analogy of the later change to the ndic.: thus in Aesch. P. V. 479 πρίν γʼ ἐγῶ σφισιν ἔδεξα is used instead of πρὶν ἐμὲ δεῖξαι because the poet wishes to make the assertion ἔδειξα. So with the transition from the infinitive tο the indicative after ὥστε(Gοοdςwin, 5 585): the finite mood is not a survival of parataxis, but is used vwhen the ninitive is not sufficiently positive.