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584. Ὥστε is properly a relative particle of comparison, meaning as. Its correlative so may be expressed in a demonstrative like οὕτως, or implied; as οὕτως ἐστὶ δεινὸς ὥστε σε πεῖσαι, he is so skilful as to persuade you, or πόλις τετείχισται ὥστε ἱκανὴ εἶναι σῴζειν τοὺς ἐνοικοῦντας, the city is walled so as to be able to keep its inhabitants safe. (See τοιούτους καὶ οὕτω τρέφειν κύνας ὥστε ἐπιχειρῆσαι, PLAT. Rep. 416 A; and compare τοιοῦτος οἷος with the infinitive in 759.) These expressions in Greek state no more than he has the skill to persuade you and the city has walls enough to be able, etc.; the further ideas that he does persuade and the city is able are inferences, which are strongly suggested and generally felt when the expressions are used, but they do not lie in the words. When the Greek wishes to express these facts definitely and not to leave them to inference, it uses the indicative with ὥστε; as οὕτως ἐστὶ δεινὸς ὥστε σε πείθει, he is so skilful that he persuades you, or πόλις τετείχισται ὥστε ἱκανή ἐστιν. But here the use of a finite verb compels the writer to make his expression more definite than it was before; for, whereas ὥστε πεῖσαι and ὥστε ἱκανὴ εἶναι meant only (soas to persuade and (so) as to be able, without limiting the expressions to past, present, or future time, he cannot use a tense of the indicative without fixing its time, that is, without making a definite statement. So long as the infinitive has no subject and can be translated by our simple infinitive (as above), we can generally express its force without putting into our translation more than we find in the Greek; the formal distinction between so skilful as to persuade and so skilful that he persuades being apparent even when we mean substantially the same by both. When the clause with ὥστε is negative, a marked distinction appears in Greek to show the different point of view taken in the two expressions, and we have ὥστε μὴ πεῖσαι and ὥστε οὐ πείθει. This is of course lost in English with our single negative. But when the infinitive has a subject, it must be translated by a finite verb in some definite tense, number, and person, that is, by a statement and not by a mere expression of tendency, although the force of the infinitive in Greek is the same as before. Thus we generally translate σχολάζεις, ὥστε θαυμάζειν ἐμέ ( EUR. Hec. 730), you delay, so that I am astonished, as if it were ὥστε θαυμάζω ἐγώ, simply because we cannot use our infinitive with a subject expressed. If, however, we substitute an equivalent form which avoids this difficulty, like so as to astonish me, we see that there is really no such definite character in ὥστε θαυμάζειν ἐμέ as we impose upon it, and that it no more expresses a statement than ὥστε σε πεῖσαι (above) does. The same difficulty of translating the Greek infinitive with its subject has done much to obscure the force of the tenses of the articular infinitive and of the infinitive with ἄν. (See also 603.)

In many uses of the infinitive with ὥστε it is not even inferred that the result towards which the infinitive expresses a tendency is actually reached. Thus, in clauses with ὥστε expressing a purpose or a condition, and where the infinitive is generally used without ὥστε, we cannot substitute the indicative for the infinitive (see the examples under 587, 2 and 3, and 588).1

1 Shilleto (in the Appendix to his edition of Demosthenes de Falsa Legatione) thus illustrates the distinction between ὥστε οὐκ ἐβούλετο and ὥστε μὴ βούλεσθαι. “The difference seems simply to be this: οὕτως ἄφρων ἧν ὥστε οὐκ ἐβούλετο, he was so foolish that he did not wish (expressive of the real result or consequence); οὕτως ἄφρων ἦν ὥστε μὴ βούλεσθαι, he was so foolish as not to wish (expressive of the natural consequence). . . . Now it is obvious that an energetic speaker, wishing to express that the result (was not only of a nature to follow, but) actually did follow, would employ the indicative: whereas in ordinary and unimpassioned language the infinitive would imply all that was necessary, the natural consequence supposing the real.

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    • William Watson Goodwin, Commentary on Demosthenes: On the Crown, 18
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