The Optative

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83. The optative stem is formed from the tense stem by the suffix ιη or ι, as διδο-ίη-ν, τύχο-ι-το.

  1. Athematic tenses (except the aorist in -σᾰ) take ιη before light endings, ι before heavy endings.

    εἴη-ν (for ἐσ-ιη-ν)
    θε-ίη-ν
    δο-ίη
    κιχε-ίη
    τεθνα-ίη-ς
    δαμε-ίη

    but plural

    φα-ῖ-μεν
    δια-κοσμηθε-ῖ-μεν
    ἐπι-θε-ῖ-τε

    The 3rd plural ends in -ιεν, as ε-ἶεν, δαμε-ῖεν, δο-ῖεν: once -ιη-σαν, viz. στα- ίησαν (Il. 17.733).

    The ι is lost in δύη (Od. 9.377, 18.348, 20.286, for δυ-ίη), ἐκ-δῦμεν, λελῦτο (Od. 18.238 La Roche), δαινῦτο (Il. 24.665), δαινύ-ατο (Od. 18.248), φθῖτο, ἀπο-φθίμην (for φθι-ι-το, ἀπο- φθι-ι-μην).

  2. In thematic tenses the scheme of endings is:
    Middle
    Sing. Dual Plur.
    1. -οιμι -οίμην -οιμεν -οίμεθα
    2. -οις -οιο -οιτον -οισθον -οιτε -οισθε
    3. -οι -οιτο -οίτην -οίσθην -οιεν -οίᾰτο
  3. The aorist in -σᾰ forms the optative in two ways:

    In -σειᾰ the (so-called) Aeolic Optative.
    In -σαι-μι with endings as in the thematic tenses, putting α for ο throughout.

    The scheme of the Homeric forms is:

    Sing Plur.
    1. -αιμι -αιμεν
    2. -ειᾰς
    rarely -αις
    -αιτε
    3. -ειε(ν)
    sometimes -αἱ
    -ειᾰν
    (-αιεν Il. 24.38) 

    The middle endings are of the second kind, -αίμην, -αιο, -αιτο, etc.

    The perfect forms the optative from the weak stem, as τετλα-ίη, τεθνα-ίη-ς, ἑστα-ίη. The optative of οἶδα is formed (like the pluperfect, see § 68.2) from an aorist ἐ-ϝείδε-σα (εἰδείη-ν for ϝειδεσ-ιη-ν).

    The instances of the perfect optative with thematic -οι-μι, -οι-ς, etc., are doubtful. βεβλήκοι is the reading of Aristarchus in Il. 8.270, where the best MSS. have βεβλήκει. In Il. 21.609 γνώμεναι ὅς τε πεφεύγοι ὅς τʼ ἔθανʼ κτλ., the reading πεφεύγει is given by one good MS. (D.), and evidently agrees better with ἔθανε. βεβρώθοις (Il. 4.35) points to a form βέβρωθα, of which however there is no other evidence. ἱλήκοι (H. Apoll. 165) may be perfect or present.

    Irregular forms:

    Thematic ἔοι-ς, ἔοι (Il. 9.142, 284), ἴοι (Il. 14.21), δίοι-το (Od. 17.317). Homer has also ἰε-ίη (Il. 19.209), to be compared with εἰδείη, δεδιείη.

    The so-called "Aeolic" optative of contracted verbs (-ῳη-ν, οιη-ν) appears in φιλοίη (Od. 4.692) and φοροίη (Od. 9.320).

    In Il. 14.241 most authorities give ἐπισχοίης as an optative (τῷ κεν ἐπισχοίης λιπαροὺς πόδας εἰλαπινάζων). Three of the chief MSS. (A, B, C,) have ἐπίσχοιες, and this was quoted by Herodian, apparently as the only reading known to him (see Ludwich, A. H. T. i. 374). The Syr. palimpsest has ἐπίσχοιας. All three forms are anomalous; ἐπισχοίης finds a parallel in ἀγαγοίην (Sappho) and one or two other forms, but can hardly be Homeric.

    The forms σόῳς (Il. 9.681), σόῳ (Il. 9.424) are so written by modern editors. Most MSS. have σόῃs, σόῃ. In the former place we learn that Aristarchus doubted between σαῷς and σοῷς (or σόῳς, for the accent here is conjectural). The ancient grammarians apparently took both forms as optative (which suits the sense, § 304.a). Some wrote σαῷς, σαῷ (or σοῷs, σοῷ), deriving them directly from σαόω; others σόῳς, σόῳ, from σώω or σόω, It is not difficult to restore the uncontracted σαόοις, σαόοι, or, if the subjunctive is preferred, σαόῃς, σαόῃ (so Nauck).

    For the 3rd plural in -οιε-ν Bekker finds one instance of -οι-ν, viz. in Od. 20.382, where the common text has:

    τοὺς ξείνους ἐν νηῒ πολυκλήϊδι βαλόντες
    ἐς Σικέλους πέμψαμεν ὅθεν κέ τοι ἄξιον ἄλφοι

    for which he would read ἄλφοιν. The 1st singular in -οι-ν (instead of the anomalous -οι-μι) was not unknown in Attic (Bekker, H. B. p. 111 ff) .1 

    παρα-φθα-ίη-σι (Il. 10. 346), with primary instead of secondary ending, is perhaps a pseudo-archaic form, made on the analogy of the subjunctives in -ῃσι.

  • 1. It must not be supposed, however, that the 1st singular and the 3rd plural in -οιν are primitive forms. The termination -οιν was originally impossible in Greek (as -em and -om are in Sanskrit); we should expect -οιᾰ, -οιᾰν (Sanskrit -eyam, -eyus). Hence -οι-μι probably made its way into Greek in place of *-οιᾰ, as -σαι-μι in the aorist in place of -σειᾰ (see Brugmann, in Curt. Stud. ix. 313). The 3rd plural form ἀποτίνοιᾱν is found in the Eleian dialect.