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621. Πρίν was originally a comparative adverb (= πρότερον and πάρος), formed from πρό and meaning before. It appears in the usual adverbial relations; as πρίν μοι ὑπέσχετο, he once promised me; πρὶν ὤν, having been of old; ἐν τῷ πρὶν χρόνῳ, in the former time; and it once takes the genitive like a preposition in PIND. Py. iv. 43, πρὶν ὥρας, before its time. With the infinitive it originally expressed a simple temporal relation, πρὶν ἐλθεῖν being the equivalent of the later πρὸ τοῦ ἐλθεῖν, before going. With the finite moods πρίν always expresses a limit of time and means until, like ἕως, having become a conjunction, not losing, however, its original meaning of before. From this original comparative meaning, πρίν has a negative force, implying that something does or does not happen before (i.e. in the absence of) another event; so that οὔπω or μήπω with a temporal participle may generally be substituted for πρίν and the infinitive. Thus, in ναῖε δὲ Πήδαιον πρὶν ἐλθεῖν υἷας Ἀχαιῶν, Il. xiii. 172, for πρὶν ἐλθεῖν, before they came, we could substitute οὔπω ἐλθόντων, etc. So πρὶν ἄν with the subjunctive is often interchangeable with ἢν μή, and always implies it; thus μὴ ἀπέλθῃς πρὶν ἂν ἀκούσῃς, do not depart until you hear, implies ἢν μὴ ἀκούσῃς, without hearing. One result of this negative character of πρίν is its strong affinity for the aorist, the tense which denotes simple occurrence. (See Jour. Phil. ii. pp. 466 ff.)

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