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730. There are many passages in Homer in which it is open to doubt whether the poet intended to express a wish with some form of εἰ, followed by a potential optative in a new sentence, or to form a complete conditional sentence. Such are—

Εἰ γὰρ ἐπ᾽ ἀρῇσιν τέλος ἡμετέρῃσι γένοιτο: οὐκ ἄν τις τούτων γε ἐύθρονον Ἠῶ ἵκοιτο. Od. xvii. 496. Αἲ γὰρ τοῦτο, ξεῖνε, ἔπος τετελεσμένον εἴη: τῷ κε τάχα γνοίης φιλότητά τε πολλά τε δῶρα ἐξ ἐμεῦ. Od. xv. 536.

If we keep the colon after γένοιτο in the former passage, we may translate, O that fulfilment may be granted our prayers: not one of these would (then) see the fair-throned Dawn. With a comma after γένοιτο, we may translate, if fulfilment should be granted our prayers, not one of these would see the fair-throned Dawn. So in the second passage we may translate, according to the punctuation, O that this word may be accomplished: then would you quickly be made aware of kindness and many gifts from me;—or if this word should be accomplished, you would then quickly be made aware, etc. These are probably rightly punctuated above, especially the second; and the wish is on the verge of independent existence, being almost ready to dispense with the apodosis. The half-independent half-dependent nature of such clauses is best seen in a case like the following, where εἰ ἐθέλοι is first stated as an independent wish, and is afterwards repeated as the protasis of a regular apodosis:—

Εἰ γάρ σ᾽ ὣς ἐθέλοι φιλέειν γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη ὡς τότ᾽ Ὀδύσσῆος περικήδετο κυδαλίμοιο δήμῳ ἔνι Τρώων, ὅθι πάσχομεν ἄλγἐ Ἀχαιοί: . . . εἴ σ᾽ οὕτως ἐθέλοι φιλέειν κήδοιτό τε θυμῷ, τῷ κέν τις κείνων γε καὶ ἐκλελάθοιτο γάμοιο. Od. iii. 217.

The meaning is, if only Athena would love you as she then loved Ulysses; . . . if (I say) she would thus love you, then would many a one (of the suitors) cease to think of marriage. Here, instead of leaving a simple apodosis like the καλῶς ἂν ἔχοι of Aristarchus to be mentally supplied, or to be felt without being actually supplied, the protasis is repeated (as if by afterthought) and a more precise form of conclusion is then actually expressed.

Such examples as the first two are sometimes adduced as evidence that εἰ with the optative in protasis was originally a form of wish, to which an apodosis was afterwards appended. For a discussion of this view, see Appendix I.

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