previous next



FUTURE CONDITIONS

2321. Future conditions set forth suppositions the fulfilment of which is still undecided. There are two main forms of future conditions:

More Vivid Future conditions.

Less Vivid Future conditions.

A variety of the first class is the Emotional Future (2328).

Future conditions may be particular or general (2293, 2294).

2322. The difference between the More Vivid Future and the Less Vivid Future, like the difference between if I (shall) do this and if I should do this, depends on the mental attitude of the speaker. With the Vivid Future the speaker sets forth a thought as prominent and distinct in his mind; and for any one or more of various reasons. Thus, he may (and generally does) regard the conclusion as more likely to be realized; but even an impossible (2322 c) or dreaded result may be expressed by this form if the speaker chooses to picture the result vividly and distinctly. The More Vivid Future is thus used whenever the speaker clearly desires to be graphic, impressive, emphatic, and to anticipate a future result with the distinctness of the present.

The Less Vivid Future deals with suppositions less distinctly conceived and of less immediate concern to the speaker, mere assumed or imaginary cases. This is a favourite construction in Greek, and is often used in stating suppositions that are merely possible and often impossible; but the form of the condition itself does not imply an expectation of the speaker that the conclusion may possibly be realized. The difference between the two forms, therefore, is not an inherent difference between probable realization in the one case and possible realization in the other. The same thought may often be expressed in either form without any essential difference in meaning. The only difference is, therefore, often that of temperament, tone, or style.

a. ἐά_ν with the subjunctive and εἰ with the optative are rarely used in successive sentences. In most such cases the difference lies merely in the degree of distinctness and emphasis of the expression used; but where the speaker wishes to show that the conclusion is expected or desired, he uses ἐά_ν with the subjunctive rather than the other form. Thus, εἰ οὖν ἴδοιεν καὶ νῲ καθάπερ τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐν μεσημβρίᾳ μὴ διαλεγομένους, ἀλλὰ νυστάζοντας καὶ κηλουμένους ὑφ᾽ αὑτῶν δι᾽ ἀ_ργία_<*> τῆς διανοία_ς, δικαίως ἂν καταγελῷεν: . . . ἐὰ_ν δ᾽ ὁρῶσι διαλεγομένους . . ., τάχ᾽ ἂν δοῖεν ἀγασθέντες if now they should see that we, like the many, are not conversing at noon-day but slumbering and charmed by them because of the indolence of our thoughts, they would rightly laugh at us; but if they see us conversing, they will, perhaps, out of admiration make us gifts P. Phae. 259a.

b. Cases of both forms in successive sentences are I 135, Hdt. 8.21, 9. 48; P. Cr. 51d, Ph. 105 b, Phae. 259 a, Pr. 330 c-331 a, D. 4.11, 18. 147-148. In D. 18.178 both the desired and the undesired alternative have ἐά_ν with the subjunctive.

c. Impossibilities may be expressed by ἐά_ν with the subjunctive. Thus, τί οὖν, ἂ_ν εἴπωσιν οἱ νόμοι; what, then, if the laws say? P. Cr. 50c; cp. P. Eu. 299b, R. 610 a, 612 b (opt. in 359 c, 360 b), Ar. Aves 1642, E. Or. 1593, Phoen. 1216. Cp. 2329 a.

Third Form of Conditions: MORE VIVID FUTURE CONDITIONS

2323. More vivid future conditions have in the protasis ἐά_ν (ἤν, ἄ_ν) with the subjunctive; in the apodosis, the future indicative or any other form referring to future time.

ἐὰ_ν ταῦτα ποιῇς (ποιήσῃς), καλῶς ποιήσεις if you do this, you will do well.

2324. This form of condition corresponds to the use of shall and will in conditional sentences in older English (“if ye shall ask . . . I will do it”: St. John). Modern English substitutes the present for the more exact future in ordinary future conditions of this class; and often uses shall in the protasis with an emotional force. The English present subjunctive, although somewhat rarely used in the modern language, corresponds more nearly to the Greek subjunctive (“if she be there, he shall not need”: Beaumont and Fletcher).—Since if you do this may be expressed in Greek by ἐὰ_ν ταῦτα ποιῇς or εἰ ταῦτα ποιήσεις (2328), and by εἰ ταῦτα ποιεῖς (2298), the difference in meaning is made clear only by the apodosis. The form ἐὰ_ν ταῦτα ποιῇς in vivid future conditions must be distinguished from the same form in present general conditions (if ever you do this, 2337). ἐὰ_ν ταῦτά σοι δοκῇ, ποίει may be particular or general: if (or if ever) this seems good to you, do it.

2325. The present subjunctive views an act as continuing (not completed); the aorist subjunctive as simply occurring (completed). Neither tense has any time of itself. The aorist subjunctive may mark the action of the protasis as completed before the action of the principal clause (cp. the Lat. future perfect). Ingressive aorists (1924) retain their force in the subjunctive.

2326. The apodosis of the more vivid future condition is the future indicative or any other form of the simple sentence that refers to future time.

a. Future Indicative: ““ἐὰ_ν ζητῇς καλῶς, εὑρήσειςif you seek well, you shall findP. G. 503d, ““ἐὰ_ν δ᾽ ἔχωμεν χρήμαθ᾽, ἕξομεν φίλουςif we have money, we shall have friendsMen. Sent. 165, ““χάριν γε εἴσομαι, ἐὰ_ν ἀκούητεI shall be grateful, if you listenP. Pr. 310a, ἂ_ν αὐτῷ διδῷς ἀργύριον καὶ πείθῃς αὐτόν, ποιήσει καὶ σὲ σοφόν if you give him money and persuade him, he will make you too wise 310 d, ““ἢν γὰρ τοῦτο λάβωμεν, οὐ δυνήσονται μένεινfor if we take this, they will not be able to remainX. A. 3.4.41, ἐὰ_ν κύκλου ἐπὶ τῆς περιφερεία_ς ληφθῇ δύο τυχόντα σημεῖα, ἐπὶ τὰ σημεῖα ἐπιζευγνυμένη εὐθεῖα ἐντὸς πεσεῖται τ<*> κύκλου if any two points be taken in the circumference of a circle, the straight line which joins them shall fall within the circle Euclid 3. 2.

b. Primary Tenses of the indicative other than the future. Present (1879): ““ἢν θάνῃς σύ, παῖς ὅδ᾽ ἐκφεύγει μόρονif thou art slain, yon boy escapes deathE. And. 381, δίδωσ᾽ ἑκὼν κτείνειν ἑαυτόν, ἢν τάδε ψευσθῇ λέγων freely he offers himself to death, if he lies in speaking thus (δίδωσι = he says that he is ready) S. Phil. 1342. Aorist: see 1934, and cp. εἰ μέν κ᾽ αὖθι μένων Τρώων πόλιν ἀμφιμάχωμαι, ὤλετο μέν μοι νόστος if I tarry here and wage war about the city of the Trojans, my return home is lost for me I 413. Perfect: see 1950. Cp. “if I shall have an answer no directlier, I am gone”: Beaumont and Fletcher.

c. Subjunctive of exhortation, prohibition, or deliberation, and with μή (μὴ οὐ) of doubtful assertion (1801). Thus, μηδ᾽ ἄ_ν τι ὠνῶμαι, ἔφη, ἢν πωλῇ νεώτερος τριά_κοντα ἐτῶν, ἔρωμαι, ὁπόσου πωλεῖ; even if I am buying something, said he, am I not to askwhat do you sell it for?if the seller is under thirty years of age? X. M. 1.2.36, κἂ_ν φαινώμεθα ἄδικα αὐτὰ ἐργαζόμενοι, μὴ οὐ δέῃ ὑπολογίζεσθαι κτλ. and if we appear to do this unjustly, I rather think it may not be necessary to take notice, etc. P. Cr. 48d.

d. Optative of wish, or potential optative with ἄν (‘something may happen’ instead of ‘something will happen’). Thus, ἤν σε τοῦ λοιποῦ ποτ᾽ ἀφέλωμαι χρόνου, . . . ““κάκιστ᾽ ἀπολοίμηνif ever in the future I take them away from you, may I perish most vilely!Ar. Ran. 586, ἐὰ_ν κατὰ μέρος φυλάττωμεν . . ., ἧττον ἂν δύναιντο ἡμᾶς θηρᾶν οἱ πολέμιοι if we keep guard by turns, the enemy will (would) be less able to harry us X. A. 5.1.9. See also 2356 a.

e. Imperative, or infinitive for the imperative (2013): ““ἢν πόλεμον αἱρῆσθε, μηκέτι ἥκετε δεῦρο ἄνευ ὅπλωνif you choose war, do not come here again without your armsX. C. 3.2.13, ““σὺ δ᾽, ἄ_ν τι ἔχῃς βέλτι_όν ποθεν λαβεῖν, πειρᾶσθαι καὶ ἐμοὶ μεταδιδόναιbut if you can find anything better from any quarter, try to communicate it to me tooP. Crat. 426b.

2327. Homeric Constructions.—a. εἰ alone without κέ or ἄν with the subjunctive with no appreciable difference from εἴ κε (ἄν): εἴ περ γάρ σε κατακτάνῃ, οὔ σ᾽ . . . κλαύσομαι for if he slay thee, I shall not bewail thee X 86. This construction occurs in lyric and dramatic poetry, and in Hdt., as δυστάλαινα τἄ_ρ᾽ ἐγώ, εἴ σου στερηθῶ wretched indeed shall I be, if I am deprived of thee S. O. C. 1443. In Attic prose it is very rare and suspected (T. 6.21).

b. Subjunctive with κέ in both protasis and apodosis (the anticipatory subjunctive, 1810): εἰ δέ κε μὴ δώῃσιν, ἐγὼ δέ κεν αὐτὸς ἕλωμαι and if he do not give her up, then will I seize her myself A 324.

c. εἴ (αἴ) κε with the future in protasis (rare): σοὶ . . . ὄνειδος ἔσσεται, εἴ κ᾽ Ἀχιλῆος . . . ἑταῖρον . . . κύνες ἑλκήσουσιν it will be a reproach unto thee, if the dogs drag the companion of Achilles P 557. Some read here the subjunctive.

2328. Emotional Future Conditions.—When the protasis expresses strong feeling, the future indicative with εἰ is commonly used instead of ἐά_ν with the subjunctive, and may often be rendered by hall. The protasis commonly suggests something undesired, or feared, or intended independently of the speaker's will; the apodosis commonly conveys a threat, a warning, or an earnest appeal to the feelings. The apodosis is generally expressed by the future indicative, but other forms of 2326 are possible.

““εἰ ταῦτα λέξεις, ἐχθαρεῖ μὲν ἐξ ἐμοῦif thou speakest thus, thou wilt be hated by meS. Ant. 93, εἰ μὴ καθέξεις γλῶσσαν, ἔσται σοι κακά if you won't hold your tongue, there's trouble in store for you E. frag. 5, ““ἀποκτενεῖς γάρ, εἴ με γῆς ἔξω βαλεῖςfor thou wilt slay me if thou shalt thrust me out of the landE. Phoen. 1621, ““εἰ ὧδε στρατευσόμεθα, οὐ δυνησόμεθα μάχεσθαιif we keep the field thus, we shall not be able to fightX. C. 6.1.13, ἀ_θλιώτατος ἂν γενοίμην (potential optative), ““εἰ φυγὰς ἀδίκως καταστήσομαιI should become most wretched, were I to be driven unjustly into exileL. 7.41.

a. When εἰ with the future indicative is directly contrasted with ἐά_ν with the subjunctive, the former usually presents the unfavourable, the latter the favourable, alternative. Thus,

ἢν μὲν γὰρ ἐθέλωμεν ἀποθνῄσκειν ὑπὲρ τῶν δικαίων, εὐδοκιμήσομεν . . ., εἰ δὲ φοβησόμεθα τοὺς κινδύ_νους, εἰς πολλὰ_ς ταραχὰ_ς καταστήσομεν ἡμᾶς αὐτούς if we are (shall be) willing to die for the sake of justice, we shall gain renown; but if we are going to fear dangers, we shall bring ourselves into great confusion I. 6.107. Cp. X. C. 4.1.15, Ar. Nub. 586-591, L. 27.7, I. 12.237, 15. 130, 17. 9, D. 8.17, 18. 176, 27. 20-22. Both constructions are rarely used in successive clauses with out any essential difference (X. Ap. 6). ἐά_ν with the subjunctive, when used in threats or warnings, is a milder form of statement than εἰ with the future (Hdt. 1.71). An unfavourable alternative may thus be expressed by ἐά_ν with the subjunctive (A 135-137, Hdt. 3.36, Aes. 3.254).

b. εἰ with the future indicative may have a modal force like that of δεῖ or μέλλω (am to, must) with the infinitive: βαρεῖα (κήρ), εἰ τέκνον δαΐξω hard is fate, if I must slay my child A. Ag. 208. The future of present intention (2301) is different.

Fourth Form of Conditions: LESS VIVID FUTURE CONDITIONS

2329. Less vivid future conditions (should . . . would conditions) have in the protasis εἰ with the optative, in the apodosis ἄν with the optative.

εἰ ταῦτα ποιοίης, καλῶς ἂν ποιοίης or εἰ ταῦτα ποιήσειας, καλῶς ἂν ποιήσειας if you should do this, you would do well.

““εἴης φορητὸς οὐκ ἄν, εἰ πρά_σσοις καλῶςthou wouldst be unendurable shouldst thou be prosperousA. Pr. 979, εἰ δ᾽ ἀναγκαῖον εἴη ἀδικεῖν ἀδικεῖσθαι, ἑλοίμην ἂν μᾶλλον ἀδικεῖσθαι ἀδικεῖν but if it should be necessary to do wrong or be wronged, I should prefer to be wronged than to do wrong P. G. 469c, ““δεινὰ ἂν εἴην εἰργασμένος, . . . εἰ λίποιμι τὴν τάξινI should be in the state of having committed a dreadful deed, if I were to desert my postP. A. 28d.

a. Anything physically impossible may be represented as supposable, hence this construction may be used of what is contrary to fact. Thus, ““φαίη δ᾽ ἂν θανοῦσά γ᾽ ει᾽ φωνὴν λάβοιthe dead would speak if gifted with a voiceS. El. 548. Cp. A. Ag. 37, P. Pr. 361a, Eu. 299 d, and see 2311 a, 2322 c.

2330. Conditional sentences of this class arose partly from optatives of wish (1814, 1815), partly from potential optatives (1824). Cp. εἴθ᾽ ὧς ἡβώοιμι . . . τῷ κε τάχ᾽ ἀντήσειε μάχης . . . Ἕκτωρ would that I were thus young . . . in that case Hector would soon find his combat H 157; see also ξ 193.

2331. The present optative views an action as continuing (not completed); the aorist optative, as simply occurring (completed). (The future optative is never used except to represent a future indicative in indirect discourse.) The perfect (rare) denotes completion with resulting state. In Hdt. 7.214 it is used vaguely of the past: εἰδείη μὲν γὰρ ἂν . . . ταύτην τὴν ἀτ ραπὸν Ὀνήτης, εἰ τῇ χώρᾳ πολλὰ ὡμι_ληκὼς εἴη for Onetes might know of this path . . . if he had been well acquainted with the country.

2332. English would is equivocal, being used either in the translation of ἄν with the optative or of ἄν with the past indicative (2302). Thus, cp. εἴ τίς σε ἤρετο . . ., τί ἂν ἀπεκρἰ_νω; if any one had asked you . . ., what would you have replied? with εἰ οὖν τις ἡμᾶς . . . ἔροιτο . . ., τί ἂν αὐτῷ ἀποκρι_ναίμεθα; if then some one should (were to) ask us . . ., what would (should) we reply to him? P. Pr. 311b, d. If I were may be used to translate both εἰ with the optative and εἰ with the past indicative. English shows examples of were in the protasis followed by would, shall, will, is (was, etc.). Were occurs also in apodosis (“should he be roused out of sleep to-night, it were not well”: Shelley).

2333. The apodosis has the optative without ἄν in wishes.

““εἰ μὲν συμβουλεύοιμι βέλτιστά μοι δοκεῖ, πολλά μοι καὶ ἀγαθὰ γένοιτοif I should give the advice that seems best to me, may many blessings fall to my lotX. A. 5.6.4.

On the optative with εἰ followed by other forms of the apodosis, see 2359.

2334. Homeric Constructions.—a. In the protasis, εἴ κε (εἰ ἄν) with the optative with the same force as εἰ alone. This use is exclusively Homeric. Thus, οὐ μὲν γάρ τι κακώτερον ἄλλο πάθοιμι, οὐδ᾽ εἴ κεν τοῦ πατρὸς ἀποφθιμένοιο πυθοίμην for I could not suffer anything worse, not even if I should learn of my father's death T 321. On εἰ ἄν in Attic, see 2353.

b. In the apodosis, a primary tense of the indicative: the present (η 52), the future (I 388), the future with κέ (μ 345: but this may be the aorist subjunctive).

c. In the apodosis, the hortatory subjunctive (Ψ 893), the subjunctive with ἄν or κέ (Λ 386).

d. In the apodosis, the optative without ἄν not in a wish, but with the same force as the optative with ἄν. See T 321 in a.

e. For κέ with the optative in the apodosis where we should expect, in Homeric and Attic Greek, a past indicative with ἄν (κέ) in an unreal condition, see 2311 b.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: