The Subjunctive after Secondary Tenses

Book Nav


298. The rule in Homer is that the subjunctive is not used in a subordinate clause to express a past purpose, condition, etc. It may be used however

  1. when the governing Verb is a a gnomic aorist.

    Il. 1.218 ὅς κε θεοῖς ἐπιπείθηται μάλα τʼ ἔκλυον αὐτοῦ.

    Od. 20. 85 ὁ γάρ τʼ ἐπέλησεν ἀπάντων ἐσθλῶν ἠδὲ κακῶν, ἐπεὶ ἂρ βλέφαρʼ ἀμφικαλύψῃ.

    Or an Aor. used to express a general denial, as-

    Od. 10. 327 οὐδὲ γὰρ οὐδέ τις ἄλλος ἀνὴρ τάδε φάρμακʼ ἀνέτλη, ὅς κε πίῃ κτλ. (cp. Od. 12. 66)

    Or in a simile, as

    Il. 4. 486 ἐξέταμʼ, ὄφρα ἴτυν κάμψῃ κτλ.

  2. if the action expressed by the Subordinate Clause is still future at the tiune of speaking.

    il. 5. 127 ἀχλὺν δʼ οὔ τοι ἀπʼ ὀφθαλμῶν ἕλον ἦ πρὶν ἐπῆεν, ὄφρʼ εὗ γιγνώσκῃς ἠμὲν θεὸν ἠδὲ καὶ ἄνδρα
    I have taken away the mist—that you may know, etc.

    Il. 7. 394 καὶ δὲ τόδʼ ἠνώγει εἰπεῖν ἔπος, αἴ κʼ ἐθέλητε κτλ.

    Il. 18. 189 μήτηρ δʼ οὔ με φίλη πρίν γʼ εἴα θωρήσσεσθαι πρίν γʼ αὐτὴν . . . ἴδωμαι
    (before I shall see her, etc.)

    Od. 11.434 οἴ τε κατʼ αἶσχος ἔχευε καὶ ἐσσομένῃσιν ὀπίσσω θηλυτέρῃσι γυναιξί, καὶ ᾖ κʼ εὐεργὸς ἔῃσι.

    So ll. 9. 99, 20. 125, 24.781. In these places the governing Verb is generally to be translated by the English Perfect with have (cp. 73)

    The real exceptions to this rule are not numerous, and may be due ism several cases to alteration of the text through the influence of the later usage. The reading is uncertain (e.g.) in-

    Od. 14. 327 τὸν δʼ ἐς Δωδώνην φάτο βήμεναι ὄφρα θεοῖο (= 19.296) ἐκ δρυὸς ὑψικόμοιο Διὸς βουλὴν ἐπακούσῃ

    where the subjunctive was read by Aristarchus, the optative ἐπακούσαι by Aristophanes and Herodian. Again in-

    Od. 10. 65 ἦ μέν σʼ ἐνδυκέως ἀπεπέμπομεν, ὄφρʼ ἂν ἵκηαι

    the best MSS. have ἵκηαι, but others have ὄφρʼ ἂν ἵκοιο and ὄφρʼ ἀφίκοιο. See also Il. 15.23; Od. 15.300, 22.98: and cp-

    Il. 5.567 μή τι πάθοι, μέγα δέ σφας ἀποσφήλειε

    Il. 15.598 ἐμβάλοι . . . Θέτιδος δʼ ἐξαίσιον ἀρὴν πᾶσαν ἐπικρήνειε.

    In these places the MSS. generally have πάθῃ, ἐμβάλῃ: but the Opt. in the clause folowing has led the editors to adopt πάθοι, ἐμβάλοι.

    Other places where the Sub. is contrary to the rule now laid dοwn are Il. 13.649, 14.165, 16.650 (see La R.), 19.354, 24.586; Od. 9.102, 10.24, 16.369, 17.60, 22.467. In all the Opt. may be substituted without affecting the meter; and when we consider the number of places vwhere the MSS. vary between Subj. and Opt. forms, we can hardly doubt that it would generally be right to make the change.

    The Homeric rule is οbserved by Plato (see Riddell, Dig. 55 90, 91), but not by Attic writers in general.