This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
[*] 475. （Ὡς εἰ.) There is a probably unconscious suppression of the verb of the protasis when ὡς εἰ or ὡς εἴ τε is used in comparisons (especially in Homer) with a noun or adjective or with a participle. E.g. Τῶν νέες ὠκεῖαι ὡς εἰ πτερὸν ἠὲ νόημα, their ships are swift as (if） a wing or thought. Od. vii. 36. Ὡς μ᾽ ἀσύφηλον ἔρεξεν Ἀτρεΐδης ὡς εἴ τιν᾽ ἀτίμητον μετανάστην, for the son of Atreus insulted me like (i.e as if he were insulting) some despised wanderer. Il. ix. 648. Ἐπλέομεν Βορέῃ ἀνέμῳ ῥηιδίως ὡς εἴ τε κατὰ ῥόον, we sailed on with the northeast wind easily, as if (we were sailing) down stream. Od. xiv. 253. In all these cases no definite verb was in mind after εἰ, but the addition of εἰ to ὡς shows that a conditional force was felt (at least originally) in addition to the comparison; and this is the only difference between these examples and those with the simple ὡς or ὥς τε, as ἑστήκειν ὥς τίς τε λέων, he stood like a lion.1 In Attic poetry we find μάτηρ ὡσεί τις πιστά, like some faithful mother, SOPH. El. 234; and πτύσας ὡσεί τε δυσμενῆ, spurning her as an enemy, Ant. 653.With Hom. Od. vii. 36 compare Hymn. Py. Ap. 8, “πρὸς Ὄλυμπον ὥστε νόημα εἶσι” , and 270, “ἐπὶ νῆα νόημ᾽ ὣς ἆλτο πέτεσθαι” . Ὀλοφυρόμενοι ὡς εἰ θανατόνδε κιόντα, bewailing him as if going to his death (in full as if they were bewailing him going), for which we say (changing the construction) as if he were going. Il. xxiv. 328.See also Il. xvi. 192, Il. v. 374. Ἀμφὶ δὲ καπνὸς γίγνεται ἐξ αὐτῆς ὡς εἰ πυρὸς αἰθομένοιο, i.e. the smoke rises from it (the fountain) as if (it rose） from a blazing fire. Il. xxii. 150.So Od. xix. 39.What seems like a more natural construction with ὡς εἰ or ὡς εἴ τε is that of the optative with the apodosis suppressed (485). In all these cases there is also a suppression of the verb of the apodosis (see 485). For the participle in such expressions see 867-869.
1 See Lange, Partikel EI, p. 234. Lange is at great pains to show that there is no ellipsis here, or indeed in any cases of εἰ without a verb like εἴ περ ἀνάγκη, if necessary. By “ellipsis” we often mean merely what one language finds it necessary to supply to translate an idiom of another. There are few ellipses of which a speaker is really conscious when he uses them. In this sense, it seems to me that, whenever we use if without a verb, there is at least a suppression (if not an ellipsis) of a verb.
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.