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2636. Questions are either direct (independent) or indirect (dependent). Thus, τίς ἔλεξε ταῦτα; who said this? ἐρωτῶ ὅστις ἔλεξε ταῦτα I ask who said this.

2637. Questions may have the assertive form with the interrogation expressed simply by the tone of the voice, or may be introduced by an interrogative pronoun, adjective, adverb, or particle.

a. A question gains in animation and has its emphatic part clearly marked if the interrogative word is placed late in the sentence. Thus, ἡδέα δὲ καλεῖς οὐ τὰ ἡδονῆς μετέχοντα; you call pleasant, do you not, that which participates in pleasure? P. Pr. 351d, τὸ πεινῆν ἔλεγες πότερον ἡδὺ ἀνια_ρὸν εἶναι; did you say that to be hungry was pleasant or painful? P. G. 496c.

2638. Yes and No Questions (or sentence-questions) are asked by the verb (whether a given thing is or is done). Such questions are commonly introduced by an interrogative particle. Pronoun-questions (or word-questions) are asked by an interrogative pronoun, adjective, or adverb (who, what, where, when, how).

a. A sentence-question may follow a word-question; as τί δοκοῦσιν ὑ_μῖν, ἄνδρες; ἆρά γε ὁμοίως ὑ_μῖν περὶ τῶν ἀδικούντων γιγνώσκειν κτλ.; what do you think of your ancestors, gentlemen of the jury? Do they seem to entertain the same sentiments with yourselves about wrong-doers? Lyc. 119.

2639. Deliberative Questions ask what is to be done or what was to be done. Questions asking what is to be done in the present or future are expressed by the deliberative subjunctive (negative μή, 1805), by δεῖ or χρή and the infinitive, by the verbal in -τέον with ἐστί (1808) or by the deliberative future (1916). Questions asking what was to be done are expressed by χρῆν (ἐχρῆν) or ἔδει with the infinitive, or by the verbal in -τέον with ἦν. In direct questions the optative is not used to denote what was to be done.

2640. Rhetorical Questions are questions asked for effect and not for information, since the speaker knows the answer in advance and either does not wait for, or himself gives, the answer. Thus, ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ ἔστι ταῦτα: πόθεν; but this is not so. How can it be? D. 18.47, ““τί οὖν αἴτιον εἶναι ὑπολαμβάνω; ἐγὼ ὑ_μῖν ἐρῶwhat then do I regard as the explanation? I will tell youP. A. 40b. Such questions are often introduced by μή (2651 b). Other examples 2638 a, 2641.

a. Rhetorical questions awaken attention and express various shades of emotion; and are often used in passing to a new subject. Such questions are very rare in Lysias, somewhat frequent in Plato, common in Isaeus, highly developed in Demosthenes. The rhetorical question is much more favoured in Greek than in English.


2641. Any form of statement (2153) may be used as a direct question. The interrogative meaning may be indicated only by the context, or it may be expressed by placing an emphatic word first or by the use of certain particles (2650, 2651).

ἐγὼ οὔ φημι; I say no? P. G. 446e, οὐ γὰρ ἀπεκρι_νάμην ὅτι εἴη καλλίστη; for did I not answer that it was the noblest art? 448 e, Ἕλληνες ὄντες βαρβάροις δουλεύσομεν; shall we, who are Greeks, be subject to barbarians? E. fr. 719, ἡγούμεθά τι τὸν θάνατον εἶναι; do we regard death as anything? P. Ph. 64c. Cp. 1831, 1832.

2642. Questions which cannot be answered by yes or no are introduced by interrogative pronouns, adjectives or adverbs (340, 346), usually without any interrogative particle, and may have any form of the simple sentence.

τί οὖν κελεύω ποιῆσαι; what then do I urge you to do? X. A. 1.4.14, πόσον . . . ἄπεστιν ἐνθένδε τὸ στράτευμα; how far distant from here is the army? X. C. 6.3.10, πῶς εἶπας; what (lit. how) did you say? P. G. 447d, τί ἂν αὐτῷ εἶπες; what would you have said to him? P. R. 337c.

2643. An interrogative pronoun or adverb often depends on a participle and not on the main verb of the sentence. Thus, τί οὖν ποιήσαντος κατεχειροτονήσατε τοῦ Εὐάνδρου; for what act then did you condemn Evander? D. 21.176, (Ὀλύνθιοι) οἳ τί πεποιηκότος αὐτοῖς Φιλίππου πῶς αὐτῷ χρῶνται; for whom what has Philip done and how do they treat him? 23. 107. Cp. 2147 d. On τί παθών see 2064 a.

2644. A subordinate clause introduced by a conjunction or a relative pronoun may suddenly change into a direct pronoun-question, though the construction of the clause remains unaltered. Thus, ἐπειδὴ περὶ τίνος Ἀθηναῖοι διανοοῦνται βουλεύεσθαι, ἀνίστασαι συμβουλεύων; when the Athenians are intending to deliberate (lit. about what?) do you get up to give them advice? P. Alc. I. 106 c, πόθ᾽ χρὴ πρά_ξετε; ἐπειδὰν τί γένηται; when will you do what you ought to do? in what event? (lit. when what shall have happened?) D. 4.10.

a. Here belong the elliptical phrases ἵνα τί, ὡς τί (scil. γένηται, 946), ὅτι τί (scil. γίγνεται). Thus, ἵνα τί ταῦτα λέγεις; why (lit. that what shall happen?) do you say this? P. A. 26d, ἔτι καὶ τοῦτ᾽ αὐτῷ προσθήσετε; ὅτι τί; will you give him this distinction too in addition? for what reason? D. 23.214.

2645. Two questions may be condensed into one in an interrogative sentence by placing an interrogative between the article and its noun. Thus, ἐγὼ οὖν τὸν ἐκ ποία_ς πόλεως στρατηγὸν προσδοκῶ ταῦτα πρά_ξειν; am I waiting for a general to do this? From what city? X. A. 3.1.14.

2646. Two or more interrogative pronouns, without a connective, may occur in the same sentence (question within a question). Thus, ἀπὸ τούτων τίς τίνος αἴτιός ἐστι γενήσεται φανερόν from this it will become clear who is chargeable with what D. 18.73, ἐπειδάν τίς τινα φιλῇ, πότερος ποτέρου φίλος γίγνεται; whenever one person loves another, which one is the lover of which? P. Lys. 212a.

2647. With a substantive and the article or with a demonstrative pronoun an interrogative pronoun may be used as a predicate adjective. Here the interrogative sentence is equivalent to an interrogative clause with a dependent (relative) clause (cp. 1169).

ποῖον τὸν μῦθον ἔειπες; what is the word that thou hast uttered? A 552 (lit. the word being what? In fuller form = ποῖός ἐστιν μῦθος δ̀ν ἔειπες;), τίς πόθος αὐτοὺς ἵ_κετο; what is this longing that has come upon them? S. Ph. 601, οὗτος δὲ τίς . . . κρατεῖ; who is this man who holds sway? S. O. C. 68, τίνας τούσδ᾽ εἰσορῶ; who are these I see? E. Or. 1347, διὰ σοφία_ν τινὰ τοῦτο τὸ ὄνομα ἔσχηκα. ποία_ν δὴ σοφία_ν ταύτην; thanks to a kind of wisdom I obtained this name. (Thanks to) this wisdom being what? (that is, what is this wisdom?) P. A. 20d.

2648. τίς, τί, ποῖος referring to something mentioned before may take the article; as A. πάσχει δὲ θαυμαστόν. B. τὸ τί; A. A strange thing is happening to him. B. (The) what? Ar. Pax 696, A. νῦν δὴ ἐκεῖνα ἤδη . . . δυνάμεθα κρί_νειν. B. τὰ ποῖα; A. Now at last we are able to decide those matters. B. (The) what matters? P. Phae. 277a.

2649. τίς, ποῖος as adjective pronouns, and πῶς etc., when followed by οὐ, have the force of an affirmative assertion. Thus, ποίους λόγους οὐκ ἀνηλώσαμεν; what arguments did we not expend? I. 8.67 ( = πάντας), τί κακὸν οὐχί; πᾶν κακόν in 2147 d.


2650. and ἆρα introduce questions asking merely for information and imply nothing as to the answer expected (neither yes nor no).

τέθνηκεν Οἰδίπου πατήρ; is Oedipus' father really dead? S. O. T. 943, λέγω (delib. subj.); shall I tell you? X. C. 8.4.10, καὶ οἴκοι τῶν πλουσίων ἦσθα; were you really one of the rich men when you were at home? 8. 3. 36.

ἆρ᾽ εἰμὶ μάντις; am I a prophet? S. Ant. 1212, ἆρ᾽ Ὀδυσσέως κλύω; can it be that I am listening to Odysseus? S. Ph. 976, ἆρα ἐθελήσειεν ἂν ἡμῖν διαλεχθῆναι; will he really be willing to talk with us? P. G. 447b.

a. ἆρα is from ¨ ἄρα. is chiefly poetic. Homer uses , not ἆρα. Both particles denote interest on the part of the questioner (often = really? surely?).

2651. οὐ, ἆρ᾽ ου᾽, οὐκοῦν expect the answer yes (nonne), μή, ἆρα μή, μῶν ( = μὴ οὖν) expect the answer no (num).

a. οὐχ οὕτως ἔλεγες; did you not say so? P. R. 334b (i.e. ‘I think you did, did you not?’), ἆρ᾽ οὐχ ὕβρις τάδε; is not this insolence? S. O. C. 883, οὐκοῦν . . . εὖ σοι δοκοῦσι βουλεύεσθαι; do they not then seem to you to plan well? X. C. 7.1.8. οὐκοῦν οὐ expects the answer no.

b. μή τι νεώτερον ἀγγέλλεις; no bad news, I hope? P. Pr. 310b, ἆρα μὴ αἰσχυνθῶμεν; surely we are not ashamed, are we? (or can it be that we should be ashamed?) X. O. 4.4, μὴ ἀποκρί_νωμαι; am I not to answer? P. R. 337b, μῶν τί σε ἀδικεῖ; surely he has not wronged you, has he? (or can it be that, etc.) P. Pr. 310d. μῶν οὐ expects the answer yes.

c. μῶν is confined to Attic. Since the fact of its composition was lost, we find μῶν οὖν (A. Ch. 177) and μῶν μή (P. Lys. 208e).

d. οὐ after μή or ἆρα μή belongs to a single word, not to the sentence (P. Men. 89c, Lys. 213 d). On μή or μὴ οὐ with the subjunctive in half-questions, see 1801.

e. ἆρα placed before οὐ or μή gives greater distinctness to the question. οὐ questions ask concerning facts; μή questions imply uncertainty or even apprehension, but sometimes are asked merely for effect.

f. οὔ που; οὔ τί που; οὐ δή; οὐ δή που mean surely it is not so? Here the negative belongs to the sentence.

2652. ἄλλο τι ; is it anything else than? and ἄλλο τι; is it not? are used as direct interrogatives. Thus, ἄλλο τι οὐδὲν κωλύ_ει παρεῖναι; there's nothing to hinder our passing, is there? (lit. is there anything else the case than this that nothing prevents, etc.) X. A. 4.7.5, ἄλλο τι φιλεῖται ὑπὸ θεῶν; is it not loved by the gods? P. Euth. 10d. Cp. τί γὰρ ἄλλο κινδυ_νεύσεις ἐπιδεῖξαι κτλ.; for what other risk will you run than that of showing, etc.? ( = for what else will you do than that you will very likely show?) X. M. 2.3.17.

2653. εἶτα and ἔπειτα (more emphatic κᾆτα, κἄ_πειτα) introduce questions expressing surprise, indignation, irony, etc.; and often indicate a contrast between what a person has or has not done and what is or was to be expected of him. Thus, εἶτα πῶς οὐκ εὐθὺς ἐπήγειράς με; then why did you not rouse me at once? P. Cr. 43b.

2654. ἀλλά (ἀλλ᾽ ) introduces a question opposed to an expressed or implied thought of the speaker (especially an objection). Thus, ᾔτουν τί σε καὶ ἐπεί μοι οὐκ ἐδίδους ἔπαιον; ἀλλ᾽ ἀπῄτουν; ἀλλὰ περὶ παιδικῶν μαχόμενος; ἀλλὰ μεθύων ἐπαρῴνησα; did I ask anything of you and strike you when you would not give it to me? Or did I demand anything back? Or was I quarreling about an object of affection? Or was I the worse for liquor and did I treat you with drunken violence? X. A. 5.8.4, ἀλλ᾽ , τὸ λεγόμενον, κατόπιν ἑορτῆς ἥκομεν; but have we arrived, as the proverb says, late for a feast? P. G. 447a. Cp. 2785.

2655. δέ sometimes introduces a suppressed thought, as an objection. Thus, εἰπέ μοι, σὺ δὲ δὴ τί τὴν πόλιν ἡμῖν ἀγαθὸν πεποίηκας; tell me, (but) what good, pray, have you done the State? D. 8.70.


2656. Direct alternative questions are usually introduced by πότερον (πότερα) . . . whether . . . or (Lat. utrum . . . an).

πότερον δέδρα_κεν οὔ; has he done it or not? D. 23.79, πότερόν σέ τις, Αἰσχίνη, τῆς πόλεως ἐχθρὸν ἐμὸν εἶναι φῇ; shall I say, Aeschines, that you are the enemy of the State or mine? 18. 124 (τις φῇ φῶ, 1805 c), πότερα δ᾽ ἡγεῖ . . . ἄμεινον εἶναι σὺν τῷ σῷ ἀγαθῷ τὰ_ς τι_μωρία_ς ποιεῖσθαι σὺν τῇ σῇ ζημίᾳ; do you think that it is better to inflict the proper punishments in your own interest or to your own loss? X. C. 3.1.15.

2657. often stands alone without πότερον (as an without utrum). Thus, ἔλυ_ε τὴν εἰρήνην οὔ; did he break the peace or not? D. 18.71, ἢν χρήματα πολλὰ ἔχῃ, ἐᾷς πλουτεῖν πένητα ποιεῖς; if he has great wealth, do you let him keep on being rich or do you make him poor? X. C. 3.1.12. So when the first question expresses uncertainty on the part of the questioner; as ἀλλὰ τίς σοι διηγεῖτο; αὐτὸς Σωκράτης; but who told you the story? (was it some one else) or was it Socrates himself? P. S. 173a. Cp. 2860.

2658. An alternative question may follow upon a simple direct (or indirect) question. Thus, πόθεν πλεῖθ᾽ ὑγρὰ κέλευθα; τι κατὰ πρῆξιν μαψιδίως ἀλάλησθε; whence do ye sail over the watery ways? Or is it perchance on some enterprise or by way of rash adventure that ye rove? ι 252. Cp. E 85 (cited in 2660).

2659. πότερον (πότερα) may stand alone when the second member of the question is implicit in another sentence. Thus, ἐννοήσατε δὲ κἀ_κεῖνο, τίνα πρόφασιν ἔχοντες ἂν προσιοίμεθα κακί_ονες πρόσθεν γενέσθαι. πότερον ὅτι ἄρχομεν; . . . ἀλλ᾽ ὅτι εὐδαιμονέστεροι δοκοῦμεν νῦν πρότερον εἶναι; and consider this too: what pretence should we have for allowing ourselves to become less deserving than heretofore? Is it because we are rulers? Or is it because we seem to be more prosperous than before? X. C. 7.5.83.

2660. πότερον (πότερα) was originally the neuter of πότερος which of the two? placed in front of a double question and later made a part of the first question. Thus, ἐρωτῶ πότερον φιλεῖ μι_σεῖ σε I ask which of the two (is true): does he love or does he hate you? Cp. Τυ_δεΐδην δ᾽ οὐκ ἂν γνοίης ποτέροισι μετείη, ἠὲ μετὰ Τρώεσσιν ὁμι_λέοι μετ᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς you could not tell on which side Tydides was, whether he consorted with Trojans or with Achaeans E 85, τίνες κατῆρξαν, πότερον Ἕλληνες, μάχης, παῖς ἐμός; who began the battle—was it the Greeks or my son? A. Pers. 351, cp. X. C. 1.3.2.

2661. (ἠὲ) . . . (ἦε), or (ἦε) alone, occurs in Homer, who does not use πότερον. Thus, ῥά τι ἴδμεν ἐνὶ φρεσίν, ἦε καὶ οὐκί; do we know aught in heart, or do we not? δ 632, ψεύσομαι ἔτυμον ἐρέω; shall I speak falsehood or the truth? K 534.

a. All the ancient grammarians attest the accentuation of these particles as given above. Modern editors often adopt other accents. ἠέ and ἦε are derived from ἠ-ϝέ and ἦ-ϝε (whence and ). With this enclitic ϝέ, cp. Lat. -ϝε.


2662. The moods used in direct questions are the same as those used in statements.

a. Indicative (examples in 2642): sometimes in a past tense with ἄν, as πῶς δὲ πάντες ἐζήλουν ἂν τοὺς τυράννους; but why should all men envy despotic rulers? X. Hi. 1.9, εἴ τις ἕνα νόμον . . . ἐξαλείψειεν . . . , ἆρ᾽ οὐκ ἂν ἀπεκτείνατ᾽ αὐτόν; if any one should cancel a single law . . ., would you not have put him to death? Lyc. 66. On τί οὐ or τί οὖν οὐ with the aorist, see 1936.

b. Subjunctive: in deliberative questions (2639). On the anticipatory subjunctive in τί πάθω, see 1811.

c. Optative (potential), as τίς φράσειεν ἄν; who can tell? E. I. T. 577. Without ἄν this optative is rare, as τίς λέγοι; who can tell? A. Ch. 595. Cp. 1821 a.

hide References (57 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (57):
    • Aeschylus, Libation Bearers, 595
    • Aeschylus, Libation Bearers, 177
    • Aeschylus, Persians, 351
    • Demosthenes, On the Chersonese, 70
    • Demosthenes, Philippic 1, 10
    • Demosthenes, On the Crown, 47
    • Demosthenes, On the Crown, 71
    • Demosthenes, On the Crown, 73
    • Demosthenes, Against Midias, 176
    • Demosthenes, Against Aristocrates, 214
    • Demosthenes, Against Aristocrates, 79
    • Euripides, Iphigeneia in Taurus, 577
    • Euripides, Orestes, 1347
    • Homer, Odyssey, 4.632
    • Homer, Odyssey, 9.252
    • Isocrates, On the Peace, 67
    • Plato, Republic, 334b
    • Plato, Republic, 337b
    • Plato, Republic, 337c
    • Plato, Apology, 20d
    • Plato, Apology, 26d
    • Plato, Apology, 40b
    • Plato, Crito, 43b
    • Plato, Phaedo, 64c
    • Plato, Euthyphro, 10d
    • Plato, Symposium, 173a
    • Plato, Phaedrus, 277a
    • Plato, Lysis, 212a
    • Plato, Lysis, 208e
    • Plato, Gorgias, 447d
    • Plato, Meno, 89c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 351d
    • Plato, Gorgias, 447a
    • Plato, Gorgias, 447b
    • Plato, Gorgias, 496c
    • Plato, Protagoras, 310b
    • Plato, Protagoras, 310d
    • Sophocles, Antigone, 1212
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 68
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus, 883
    • Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 943
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 601
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 976
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 1.4.14
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 3.1.14
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 5.8.4
    • Xenophon, Anabasis, 4.7.5
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 1.3.2
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 3.1.12
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 3.1.15
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 6.3.10
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 7.1.8
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 7.5.83
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 8.4.10
    • Xenophon, Memorabilia, 2.3.17
    • Xenophon, Hiero, 1.9
    • Xenophon, Economics, 4.4
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