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[*] 401. It is perhaps the most natural view of the various conditional expressions, εἰ, εἴ κε, εἰ ἄν, etc. to suppose that at some early stage the Greek had two perfectly analogous forms in future conditions, one with two subjunctives, and one with two optatives, e.g. εἰ δῷ τοῦτο, ἕλωμαι and εἰ δοίη τοῦτο, ἑλοίμην. The particle κέ would then begin to be allowed in both of these conditions and conclusions, giving to each more distinctly its force as a protasis or an apodosis.1 It would thus be allowed to say εἴ κε δῷ τοῦτο, ἕλωμαί κε and εἴ κε δοίη τοῦτο, ἑλοίμην κε, both of which forms actually occur in Homer. Gradually the tendencies of the language restricted the use of κέ more and more to the subjunctive in protasis and the optative in apodosis, although for a time the usage was not strict. This state of transition appears in Homer, who preserves even a case of an otherwise extinct use of εἴ κε with the aorist indicative. Shortly before this stage, however, a new tendency was making itself felt, to distinguish the present general condition from the particular in form, the way being already marked out by the conditional relative sentence. As this new expression was to be distinguished from both the really present condition εἰ βούλεται and the future εἴ κε βούληται, the half-way form εἰ βούληται (which had nearly given place to εἴ κε βούληται in future conditions) came into use in the sense if he ever wishes.2 This would soon develop a corresponding form for use after past tenses, εἰ βούλοιτο, if he ever wished, of which we see only the first step in Homer, Hom. Il. xxiv. 768. (See 468.) It would hardly be possible to keep the two uses of εἰ with the subjunctive distinct in form, and in time the form with κέ (or ἄν) was established in both (381). But we see this process too in transition in Homer, where εἴ κε or some form of εἰ ἄν is used in all future conditions except nine, and has intruded itself into five of the nineteen general conditions. We must suppose a corresponding process in regard to κέ or ἄν in conditional relative clauses to have gone on before the Homeric period, with more complete results.3 In Attic Greek, except in a few poetic passages, the usage is firmly established by which the subjunctive in protasis requires ἄν in both particular and general conditions.
1 As I do not profess to have any distinct theory of the origin or the original meaning of either κέ or ἄν, I have not attempted to define their force, except so far as they emphasise what we see by usage may be implied by the sentence without their aid.
2 Monro ( Gr. Hom. p. 263) thinks “the primary use of ἄν or κέν is to show that the speaker is thinking of particular instances or occasions.” If this is so, we should expect these particles to be first used in future conditions, while the later general conditions would first take the simple εἰ, as is here supposed.
3 See Jour. Phil. iii. pp. 441, 442, where Gildersleeve refers to the use of εἰ, ὅτε, etc. with the optative in oratio obliqua, representing ἐάν, ὅταν, etc. with the subjunctive in the direct form, as evidence of an old use of εἰ, ὅτε, etc. with the subjunctive.
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