previous next

369.Present and Past Tenses of Indicative with μή.) Verbs of fearing may refer to present or past objects. (See 308.) Μή can therefore be used with the present and past tenses of the indicative after these verbs.

1. Μή with the present indicative expresses a fear that something is now going on. E.g.

Δέδοικα μὴ πληγῶν δέει,” “I am afraid that you need blows.” AR. Nub. 493. Ὁρῶμεν μὴ Νικίας οἴεταί τι λέγειν, “let us be cautious lest Nicias is thinking that he says something.” PLAT. Lach. 196 C. (Here οἴηται would have meant lest Nicias may think, in the future.) Ὅρα μὴ ἐκεῖνον κωλύει. Id. Charm. 163A. Φοβεῖσθε μὴ δυσκολώτερόν τι νῦν διάκειμαι ἐν τῷ πρόσθεν βίῳ, you are afraid that I am now in a more peevish state of mind than I used to be in (where the subjunctive would have been future, lest I may hereafter be). Plat. Phaed. 84E. Ἐπίσχες, ὡς ἄν προὐξερευνήσω στίβον, μή τις πολιτῶν ἐν τρίβῳ φαντάζεται, κἀμοὶ μὲν ἔλθῃ φαῦλος ὡς δούλῳ ψόγος. EUR. Phoen. 92. (Here μὴ φαντάζεται means lest any one is now to be seen; and μὴ ἔλθῃ, lest any report may come hereafter.) Ἀλλ᾽ εἰσόμεσθα μή τι καὶ κατάσχετον κρυφῇ καλύπτει καρδίᾳ θυμουμένη, δόμους παραστείχοντες. SOPH. Ant. 1253. (The idea is, we shall learn the result of our anxiety lest she is concealing, etc.1) Κἀμαυτῆς πέρι θέλω πυθέσθαι, μὴ ᾿πὶ τοῖς πάλαι κακοῖς προσκείμενόν τι πῆμα σὴν δάκνει φρένα, and I wish to inquire about myself, (in fear) lest, etc. EUR. Her. 481. Ἄναξ, ἐμοί τοι, μή τι καὶ θεήλατον τοὔργον τόδ̓, ξύννοια βουλεύει πάλαι. SOPH. Ant. 278. (The idea is, my mind has long been deliberating in anxiety lest this is the work of the Gods, ἐστίν being understood after μή.2) Ὅρα, φυλάσσου, μή τις ἐν στίβῳ βροτῶν (sc. ἐστιν). I. T. EUR. 67.

2. Μή with the perfect indicative expresses a fear that something has already happened. The difference between this and the perfect subjunctive is often very slight, the latter expressing rather a fear that something may hereafter prove to have happened (103). E.g. Νῦν δὲ φοβούμεθα μὴ ἀμφοτέρων ἅμα ἡμαρτήκαμεν, “but now we fear that we have missed both at once.” THUC. iii. 53. (The perfect subjunctive here would mean lest it may hereafter prove that we have missed.) Δέδοικα μὴ λελήθαμεν (τὴν εἰρήνην) ἐπὶ πολλῷ ἄγοντες, “I fear that we have been unconsciously enjoying peace borrowed at high interest.” DEM. xix. 99. Φοβοῦμαι μὴ λόγοις τισὶ ψευδέσιν ἐντετυχήκαμεν. PLAT. Lys. 218 D

3. Μή can be used with the imperfect or the aorist indicative, to express fear that something happened in past time.

1 In this passage and the following, if anywhere, it would seem necessary to admit the interrogative force often ascribed to μή. But here, as elsewhere, it is plain that the dependent clause with μή expresses the object of an apprehension. To establish μή as an interrogative, meaning whether, μή should not only follow a verb like οἶδα, but also be followed by a clause expressing no object of apprehension, like εἰσόμεσθα μὴ οἱ φίλοι ζῶσιν, we shall learn whether our friends are now living; but no such example can be found in classic Greek. The use of εἰ, whether, after verbs of fearing (376) shows how the Greeks expressed an indirect question in such cases.

2 That this is the correct explanation, and that we need not emend the passage so as to read τοὔργον τόδ᾽ , ξύννοια βουλεύει πάλαι, is suggested by the scholion: σύννοια μοι βουλεύεται καὶ οἴεται μὴ καὶ θεήλατόν ἐστι τὸ πρᾶγμα. So perhaps we should read φοβεῖσθαι μή τι δαιμόνιον τὰ πράγματα ἐλαύνει (vulg. ἐλαύνῃ) in DEM. ix. 54 (with Cod. A). But the subjunctive in both passages might be explained on the principle of 92.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: