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[*] 623. The Attic uses of πρίν with the indicative, subjunctive, and optative, are seen in a primitive stage of development in Homer. The construction of πρίν itself with the indicative was yet unknown; but four cases of πρίν γ᾽ ὅτε with the indicative show a tendency in this direction. Six cases of πρίν (without ἄν or κέ) with the subjunctive and one with the optative (in indirect discourse) mark the beginning of the later usage with these moods. On the other hand, 81 cases of πρίν with the infinitive show the prevailing Homeric construction. Here, as in all periods of the language, when πρίν takes the infinitive, we have simply a statement of fact, that one thing precedes another; in ναῖε δὲ Πήδαιον πρὶν ἐλθεῖν υἷας Ἀχαιῶν, and he dwelt in Pedaeum before the coming of the sons of the Greeks, πρὶν ἐλθεῖν implies no more than πρὸ ἀφίξεως or the later πρὸ τοῦ ἐλθεῖν. Any further idea that may be implied comes from the context, and is not found in the words. This use of πρίν has little analogy in Greek syntax, its nearest parallel being the later use of ὥστε or ὡς with the infinitive. The simplest theory, which best suits the Homeric usage, seems to be that πρίν has a “quasi-prepositional” relation to the infinitive, which is a verbal noun, a relation the same in effect as that of πρό in πρὸ τοῦ ἐλθεῖν in the later Attic construction. (See XEN. Mem. ii. 6, 6 , and DEM. xix. 73.) A similar use of ἀντί with the infinitive in a few cases in Herodotus (see 803) shows a tendency to go further in the same direction.
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