Book Nav

326. Future Indicative. The following points have to be noticed.

  1. Homer not infrequently uses κεν with the future, the effect being (as with the subjunctive) to indicate a limitation or condition.

    Il. 1.139 ὁ δέ κεν κεχολώσεται
                  and he (if I dο sο) will be angry

    Il. 1.522 ἀλλὰ σὺ μὲν νῦν αὖτις ἀπόστιχε μή τι νοήσῃ
                  Ἥρη· ἐμοὶ δέ κε ταῦτα μελήσεται
                  (tο me, as my part)

    Il. 4.176 καί κέ τις ὧδ’ ἐρέει
                in such case men will say

    This use of κεν is chiefly found after δέ, as Il. 1.139, 6.260, 8.419, 14.267, etc., and in relative clauses, as Il. 12.226, 17.241, 22.70; Od. 5.35, 8.318, 16.438; perhaps with ὅτε

    Il. 20.335 ὅτε κεν συμβλήσεαι

    unless we read συμβλήεαι as 2nd aorist subjunctive (Dindorf, Thes. Ling. Gr. s. v. βάλλω). Cp. the use of κεν with the subjunctive, § 275.b.

    The future with ἄν is very rare; see Il. 9.167, 22.66.

  2. The use of the future with the force of a gentle imperative has been ascribed to Homer, but without sufficient ground. Where it appears to take the place of an imperative it will be found in reality to express the indifference of the speaker.

    Il. 6.70 ἀλλʼ ἄνδρας κτείνωμεν· ἔπειτα δὲ καὶ τὰ ἕκηλοι
                νεκροὺς ἂμ πεδίον συλήσετε τεθνηῶτας
                then you can (if you like) strip the dead of their arms

    Il. 20.137 ἡμεῖς μὲν καθεζώμεσθα . . .
                    πόλεμος δʼ ἄνδρεσσι μελήσει
                    (we will leave war to men)

    The forms οἴσετε and ἄξετε, which are sometimes given as instances of this use, do not belong to the future, but are imperatives of an aorist (§ 41).

  3. The future is occasionally found in final clauses with nearly the force of the subjunctive; viz. with the conjunctions ὅπως in

    Od. 1.57 θέλγει ὅπως Ἰθάκης ἐπιλήσεται
                  charms sο that he may forget Ithaca

    also in Il. 1.344 (if with Thiersch we read ὅππως μαχέονται Ἀχαιοί for the anomalous μαχέοιντο), and with ὄφρα.

    Il. 8.110 Τρωσὶν ἐφʼ ἱπποδάμοις ἰθύνομεν, ὄφρα καὶ Ἕκτωρ
                  εἴσεται κτλ.

    So Il. 16.242, Od. 4.163, 17.5.

    So with μή, Il. 20.301 μή πως καὶ Κρονίδης κεχολώσεται, and Od. 24.544.

    The future with κεν in relative clauses sometimes appears to express end.

    Il. 1.174 πάρ' ἔμοιγε καὶ ἄλλοι οἵ κέ με τιμήσουσι

    Cp. 2.229, 23.675, Od. 8.318, 16.438. So without κεν in Il. 24.154, Od. 14.333. In all these places, however, as in the corresponding uses of the subjunctive (§ 282), and optative (§ 304), it is difficult to say how far the notion of end is distinctly expressed, in other words, how far the future action is subordinated to that of the main verb.

  4. The use of the future in object clauses (common in Attic after verbs of striving, etc.) may perhaps be seen in Il. 12.59 μενοίνεον εἰ τελέουσι, also Od. 5.24, 13.376.

    It is sometimes impossible to decide whether a form is a future or an aorist subjunctive.

    Od. 1.269 σὲ δὲ φράζεσθαι ἄνωγα ὅππως κε
                     μνηστῆρας ἀπώσεαι

    where the verb may be a future, as in the places now quoted, or a subjunctive, according to the commoner Homeric construction. So in Il. 10.44 and 282; 17.144.

    The use of the future in final clauses is probably later than that of the subjunctive. In general, as we have seen, the subjunctive is akin to the imperative, and therefore expresses the speaker's purpose directly, by its own force; whereas the future indicative properly expresses sequence. Thus θέλγει ὡς λάθηται literally means "charms so that he shall forget," θέλγει ὅπως λήσεται "charms so that he will forget." The same conclusion seems to follow from the rule that ὅπως and ὄφρα may be used with a future, but not ὡς οr ἵvα (Goodwin, § 324). For ὡς in the manner that fits a direct purpose better than ὅπωs in some such manner that, or ὄφpα till the time that. It would seem probable, then, that in final clauses the future is a less emphatic and positive expression of end. Thus when Achilles prays (Il. 16.242), "embolden him so that Hector will know," the future conveys a shade of indifference, as though Hectorʼs knowledge were the natural consequence rather than the direct object. And so in

    Il. 1.175 οἵ κέ με τιμήσουσι
                  who will (I presume) honor me

  5. In clauses with εἰ the future is chiefly used of events regarded as necessary, or as determined by some power independent of the speaker.

    Il. 14.61 ἡμεῖς δὲ φραζώμεθʼ ὅπως ἔσται τάδε ἔργα,
                  εἴ τι νόος ῥέξει
                  (if wit is to be of any avail)

    Il. 17. 418 εἰ τοῦτον Τρώεσσι μεθήσομεν
                     (if we are going to, etc.)

    So Il. 1.61 and 294, 5.350, 12.248-249, 13.375, 15.162, 24.57; Od. 2.115.

    We may compare the conditional relative clause

    Il. 23.753 ὄρνυσθʼ οἳ καὶ τούτου ἀέθλου πειρήσεσθε
                    rise, you that will make trial of this contest

    And with κεν

    Il. 15.213-5 αἴ κεν ἄνευ ἐμέθεν . . .
                       πεφιδήσεται κτλ.

    So Il. 2.258, 5.212, 17.588; Od. 15.524.

Suggested Citation

D.B. Monro, A Grammar of the Homeric Dialect. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7.