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624. The Homeric language was generally contented with the simple πρίν and the infinitive, even when it was implied that the clause with πρίν set a limit to the action (or negation) of the leading clause, i.e. when πρίν could be expressed by until. So in Il. xxi. 100, πρὶν Πάτροκλον ἐπισπεῖν αἴσιμον ἦμαρ, τόφρα τί μοι πεφιδέσθαι φίλτερον ἦεν Τρώων, i.e. until the death of Patroclus I preferred to spare the Trojans (which he will no longer do); and xix. 312, οὐδέ τι θυμῷ τέρπετο πρὶν πολέμου στόμα δύμεναι, i.e. he felt no pleasure until he entered the battle; in both cases the Attic Greek might have used πρίν with the indicative. So also when the clause with πρίν is future and conditional; as in Il. xix. 423, οὐ λήξω πρὶν Τρῶας ἄδην ἐλάσαι πολέμοιο, I will not stop until I have given the Trojans enough of war. It was in cases like the last, where the mere temporal πρὶν ἐλάσαι expresses the future condition very imperfectly, that the need of a more exact form was first felt. The need existed only after negative sentences, as here only could such a future condition be expressed by πρίν consistently with its original meaning before. I shall not cease fighting until (before) I see the end of the war contains a future condition (= ἢν μή) which πρίν can properly express; but the equivalent affirmative, I shall go on fighting until I see the end of the war, could not be expressed by πρίν, as we cannot substitute before for until, but it would require ἕως, which is until with no sense of before. The forms of parataxis suggested a simple and natural way of meeting this want, through the adverbial use of πρίν. In a sentence like οὐδέ μιν ἀνστήσεις: πρὶν καὶ κακὸν ἄλλο πάθῃσθα, nor will you recall him to life:—sooner than this will you suffer some new affliction, Il. xxiv. 551, we have only to remove the colon and make πρίν a conjunction to obtain the regular construction of πρίν with the subjunctive, nor will you recall him to life before (until) you suffer some new affliction. This result could not have been attained with an affirmative leading clause; for while οὐ τοῦτο ποιήσω: πρίν με κελεύσῃς, I shall not do this:—you shall command me first, gives the meaning I shall not do this before you command me, the paratactic affirmative, τοῦτο ποιήσω: πρίν με κελεύσῃς, would give only you will command me before I do this. I shall do this before you command me would be τοῦτο ποιήσω πρίν σε κελεῦσαι, which is not the result of any form of parataxis. The six cases of πρίν with the subjunctive in Homer are all without ἄν or κέ, and all follow negatives. The primitive character and the rarity of this construction seem to show that we are nearer the original parataxis here than in any other form; while the change of the subjunctive to the optative after a past tense in Il. xxi. 580 (see 639) shows that the dependence of the clause with πρίν is thoroughly established (cf. 307). An attempt to arrive at the same result in a more awkward way appears in two cases of πρίν γ᾽ ὅτ᾽ ἄν with the subjunctive in the Odyssey (641), where πρίν introduces the subjunctive with ὅτ᾽ ἄν very much as it introduces the infinitive.

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