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ου᾽ μή

2754. οὐ μή, and the compounds of each, are used in emphatic negative predictions and prohibitions.

a. οὐ μή marks strong personal interest on the part of the speaker. In its original use it may have belonged to colloquial speech and as such we find it in comedy; but in tragedy it is often used in stately language. οὐ μή is rare in the orators.

2755. (I) In negative predictions to denote a strong denial.

a. With the (first or second) aorist subjunctive, less often with the present subjunctive (1804). Thus, ““ἢν νι_κήσωμεν, οὐ μή ποτε ὑ_μῖν Πελοποννήσιοι ἐσβάλωσιν ἐς τὴν χώρα_νif we are victorious, the Peloponnesians will never invade your territoryT. 4.95, ““οὐδεὶς μηκέτι μείνῃ τῶν πολεμίωνnot one of the enemy will stand his ground any longerX. A. 4.8.13, οὔτι μὴ φύγητε you shall not escape (a threat) E. Hec. 1039, ““οὐ μή σοι δύνωνται ἀντέχειν οἱ πολέμιοιyour enemies will not be able to withstand youX. Hi. 11.15.

b. With the future indicative (first and third person). Thus, ““οὔ σοι μὴ μεθέψομαί ποτεnever will I follow theeS. El. 1052, οὐ μὴ δυνήσεται Κῦρος εὑρεῖν Cyrus will not be able to find X. C. 8.1.5. In indirect discourse, the future optative or infinitive; as ““ἐθέσπισεν . . . ὡς οὐ μή ποτε πέρσοιενhe prophesied that they never would destroyS. Ph. 611, ““εἶπεν . . . οὐ μή ποτε εὖ πρά_ξειν πόλινhe declared that the city would never prosperE. Phoen. 1590.

2756. (II) In strong prohibitions (cp. 1919).

a. With the future indicative (second person singular). Thus, ““οὐ μὴ καταβήσειdon't come downAr. Vesp. 397.

b. With the aorist subjunctive rarely (1800 N.). Thus ““οὐ μὴ ληρήσῃςdon't talk twaddleAr. Nub. 367. Many editors change the aorist subjunctive to the future indicative.

2757. There are two cases in which οὐ μή is not used in conjunction, but where each negative has its own verb.

a. A positive command in the future indicative (second person) may be joined by ἀλλά or δέ to a prohibition introduced by οὐ μή. Thus, ““οὐ μὴ λαλήσεις ἀλλ᾽ ἀκολουθήσεις ἐμοίdon't prattle but follow meAr. Nub. 505, ““οὐ μὴ δυσμενὴς ἔσει τοῖς φίλοις, παύσει δὲ θυ_μοῦdo not be angry with thy friends, but cease thy wrathE. Med. 1151. (In E. Bacch. 343 δέ with the future is followed by μηδέ with the future.) In such sentences the force of οὐ continues into the ἀλλά or δέ clause. Such sentences are generally printed as questions.

b. A positive command with οὐ and the future indicative (second person) may be followed by the future in a prohibition introduced by μηδέ or καὶ μή. Here the clause with οὐ has the form of a question expecting the answer yes, while the whole sentence has the form of a question expecting the answer no. Thus, οὐ σῖγ᾽ ἀνέξει μηδὲ δειλία_ν ἀρεῖ; wilt thou not keep silence and not win for thyself the reputation of cowardice? ( = keep silence and do not get the reputation of being a coward) S. Aj. 75, οὐκοῦν καλεῖς αὐτὸν καὶ μὴ ἀφήσεις; will you not call him and (will you not) send him away? ( = call him and don't send him away) P. S. 175a. Here οὐ is to be taken also with the following clause. Some scholars make the question in the second clause independent of οὐ.

2758. The origin of the use of οὐ μή is obscure and disputed. See Kvičala Zeitschrift für österreichische Gymnasien 1856, p. 755; Goodwin Moods and Tenses 389; Gildersleeve American Journal of Philology 3. 202, 23. 137; Jebb on Sophocles Ajax 75 (appendix); Chambers Classical Review 10. 150, 11. 109; Wharton o.c. 10. 239; Whitelaw o.c. 10. 239, 16. 277; Sonnenschein o.c. 16. 165; Kühner-Gerth Grammatik der griechischen Sprache 2. § 514. 8.

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