The Optative with εἰ

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311. Optative with εἰ: Conditional Protasis. The clause with εἷ expresses a supposition, made in order to lead up to the clause which expresses the expected consequence.

Od. 1.163 εἰ κεῖνόν γʼ Ἰθάκηνδε ἰδοίατο νοστήσαντα,
                πάντες κʼ ἀρησαίατʼ ἐλαφρότεροι πόδας εἶναι κτλ.

Il. 7.129 τοὺς νῦν εἰ πτώσσοντας ὑφʼ Ἕκτορι πάντας ἀκούσαι,
              πολλά κεν ἀθανάτοισι φίλας ἀνὰ χεῖρας ἀείραι

The clause with εἰ may follow the other.

Il. 22.20 ἦ σʼ ἂν τισαίμην, εἴ μοι δύναμίς γε παρείη

The apodosis is generally given by the optative with κεν, as in the examples quoted; but we may have the subjunctive with κεν, the future, or the present. In such cases there is some change of tone between protasis and apodosis

Il. 11.386 εἰ μὲν δὴ ἀντίβιον σὺν τεύχεσι πειρηθείης,
               οὐκ ἄν τοι χραίσμῃσι κτλ.

where the subjunctive is more peremptory than the optative; cp. Od. 17.539 and (future) Il. 10.222. So with the εἰ clause following the other.

Il. 9.388 κούρην δʼ οὐ γαμέω, οὐδʼ εἰ ἐρίζοι
              I shall not wed the maiden (and would
              not) eνen if she rivaled, etc.

Cp. Il. 2.488, Od. 17.539. The instances of the optative following a present are nearly all in the Odyssey.

Od. 1.414 οὔτʼ οὖν ἀγγελίῃ ἔτι πείθομαι εἴ ποθεν ἔλθοι

Also 7.52, 14.56. In these cases the present has the force of a general statement (see Goodwin, §§ 409-501). So when the verb is understood.

Il. 9.318 ἴση μοῖρα μένοντι καὶ εἰ μάλα τις πολεμίζοι

Od. 8.138 οὐ γὰρ ἔγωγέ τί φημι κακώτερον ἄλλο θαλάσσης
                ἄνδρα γε συγχεῦαι, εἰ καὶ μάλα καρτερὸς εἴη
                nο matter if he is very strong (= even if he should be)

The combination ὡς εἰ (or ὡς εἴ τε) expresses supposition for the purpose of comparison; the principal clause being in a past tense.

Il. 2.780 οἱ δʼ ἄρʼ ἴσαν ὡς εἴ τε πυρὶ χθὼν πᾶσα νέμοιτο

Cp. Il. 11.467, 22.410; Od. 9.314, 10.416, 420, 17.366).

Or else negative.

Il. 11.389 οὐκ ἀλέγω ὡς εἴ με γυνὴ βάλοι ἢ πάϊς ἄφρων

The use of εἰ with the optative in the iterative sense (if ever, whenever), which is common in later Greek, is not Homeric; the only passage which might be quoted as an example is

Il. 24.768 ἀλλ εἴ τίς με καὶ ἄλλος ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν ἐνίπτοι . . .
                   ἀλλὰ σὺ τόν γʼ ἐπέεσσι παραιφάμενος κατέρυκες.

312. Optative with εἰ: Wish. The conditional protasis, when used without an apodosis, becomes a form of expressing wish.

Il. 15.569 Ἀντίλοχʼ, οὔ τις σεῖο νεώτερος ἄλλος Ἀχαιῶν,
                οὔτε ποσὶν θάσσων οὔτʼ ἄλκιμος ὡς σὺ μάχεσθαι·
                εἴ τινά που Τρώων ἐξάλμενος ἄνδρα βάλοισθα.

So Il. 10.111, 16.559, 24.74. More frequently a wish is introduced by εἰ γάρ or αἲ γάρ.

αἲ γάρ, Ζεῦ τε πάτερ καὶ Ἀθηναίη καὶ Ἄπολλον, κτλ.

Such a wish is sometimes used as a form of asseveration

Il. 18.464 αἲ γάρ μιν θανάτοιο δυσηχέος ὧδε δυναίμην
                νόσφιν ἀποκρύψαι, ὅτε μιν μόρος αἰνὸς ἱκάνοι,
                ὥς οἱ τεύχεα καλὰ παρέσσεται

i.e. fair arms shall be his as surely as I wish I could save him from death; so Il. 8.538, Od. 9.523 and ironically

Od. 21.402 αἱ γὰρ δὴ τοσσοῦτον ὀνήσιος ἀντιάσειεν,
                  ὡς οὖτός ποτε τοῦτο δυνήσεται ἐντανύσασθαι.

Here also we must place the wishes expressed by εἴθε or αἴθε, which have generally the character of hopeless regret, as εἴθʼ ὢς ἡβώοιμι κτλ. It may be noted that in the Odyssey wish is not expressed by εἰ except in the combinations εἰ γάρ and εἴθε.

A wish is often followed by a clause expressing an expected consequence of its fulfillment.

Il. 2.371 αἲ γάρ, Ζεῦ τε πάτερ . . .
              τῷ κε τάχʼ ἠμύσειε πόλις Πριάμοιο ἄνακτος.

Od. 7.331 Ζεῦ πάτερ, αἴθʼ ὅσα εἰπὲ τελευτήσειεν ἅπαντα
                Ἀλκίνοος· τοῦ μέν κεν ἐπὶ ζείδωρον ἄρουραν
               ἄσβεστον κλέος εἴη.

So we should probably punctuate

Il. 13.485 εἰ γὰρ ὁμηλικίη γε γενοίμεθα τῷδʼ ἐπὶ θυμῷ·
                   αἶψά κεν ἠὲ φέροιτο μέγα κράτος ἠὲ φεροίμην.

Or we may take αἶψά κεν κτλ. closely with the preceding line, and then it becomes the apodosis to a conditional clause. Other examples of this ambiguity are given in § 318.

313. Optative with εἰ κεν: Conditional Protasis. This is a comparatively rare form; it can generally be explained in accordance with the other uses of κεν.

Il. 5.273 εἰ τούτω κε λάβοιμεν ἀροίμεθά κε κλέος ἐσθλόν
              if (as I propose) we take them, wε should, etc.
              (But perhaps we should read τούτω γε.)

Il. 9.141 εἰ δέ κεν Ἄργὸς ἱκοίμεθ’ Ἀχαιϊκόν κτλ.
              if (as a further step) we reach Argos, etc.

Il. 23.591                                ἵππον δέ τοι αὐτὸς
               δώσω, τὴν ἀρόμην· εἰ καί νύ κεν οἴκοθεν ἄλλο
               μεῖζον ἐπαιτήσειας, ἄφαρ κέ τοι αὐτίκα δοῦναι
               βουλοίμην
               if (after that) γοu demand more, etc.

Od. 2.76 εἴ χʼ ὑμεῖς γε φάγοιτε, τάχʼ ἄν ποτε καὶ τίσις εἴη
              if (as I say is better, see v.74) you devour, then, etc.

See also Il. 2.123, 8.196 and 205, 13.288, 23.592; Od. 2.246, 12.345, 13.389, 19.590. And with the clause with εἰ following the other

Il. 6.49 τῶν κέν τοι χαρίσαιτο πατὴρ ἀπερείσιʼ ἄποινα,
            εἴ κεν ἐμὲ ζαωὸν πεπύθοιτʼ ἐπὶ νηυσὶν Ἀχαιῶν.

So Il. 1.60, 10.381; cp. Od. 7.315, 8.353, and the use of οὐδʼ εἴ κεν not even in case, Il. 9.445, 19.322, 22.220.

There is one instance of the optative with εἰ . . . ἄν.

Il. 2.597 εἴ περ ἂν αὐταὶ Μοῦσαι ἀείδοιεν.

314. Optative with εἰ: Final and Object Clauses. These are generally found after a past tense in the principal clause.

Il. 2.97 κήρυκες βοόωντες ἐρήτυον, εἴ ποτʼ ἀϋτῆς
            σχοίατʼ, ἀκούσειαν δὲ κτλ.
            (in view that they should, etc.)

Od. 4.317 ἤλυθον, εἰ τινά μοι κληηδόνα πατρὸς ἐνίσποις
                I have cοme in case you may tell me some, etc.

With verbs of seeing, trying, desiring, etc. the clause with εἰ has the character of an object clause.

Il. 4.88 Πάνδαρον ἀντίθεον διζημένη εἴ που ἐφεύροι
            seeking in the hope of finding (= seeking to find).

So Il. 12.333, Od. 13.415, 22.381.

With verbs of telling, knowing, seeing, thinking, etc., this idiom is almost confined to the Odyssey.

Od. 1.115 ὀσσόμενος πατέρʼ ἐσθλὸν ἐνὶ φρεσίν, εἴ ποθεν ἐλθὼν
                μνηστήρων τῶν μὲν σκέδασιν κατὰ δώματα θείη

i.e. with the thought in his heart, whether his father would come and scatter the suitors; cp. 5.439, 9.317 and 421, 18.375.

Od. 12.112 εἰ δʼ ἄγε δή μοι τοῦτο, θεά, νημερτὲς ἐνίσπες
                 εἴ πως τὴν ὀλοὴν μὲν ὑπεκπροφύγοιμι Χάρυβδιν
                 tell me as to the hope that I may escape, etc.

In a few places an object clause of this kind follows a present tense.

Od. 2.350                                       ὃν σὺ φυλάσσεις
               κεῖνον ὀϊόμενον τὸν κάμμορον εἴ ποθεν ἔλθοι

Od. 14.119 Ζεὺς . . . οἶδε . . . εἴ κέ μιν ἀγγείλαιμι ἰδών

Od. 20.224 ἀλλʼ ἔτι τὸν δύστηνον ὀΐομαι εἴ ποθεν . . . θείη.

So in the only example of the kind found in the Iliad.

Il. 11.792 τίς δʼ οἶδ’ εἴ κέν οἱ σὺν δαίμονι θυμὸν ὀρίναις;

The pure optative is used in all the places quoted, except the two in which εἰ κεν folοws οἶδε (Il. 11.792, Od. 14. 119). In these the structure is the same as in the corresponding independent clauses (§ 300). That is to say, the phrase τίς οἶδεν εἰ is treated as a mere 'perhaps' (Lat. nescio an).

An optative in a final clause depending upon a subjunctive is perhaps to be found in Od. 5.471 εἰ δέ κεν . . . καταδράθω εἴ με μεθείη (so all MSS.; μεθήη Bekk.). Cp. § 293.