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2441. πρίν in Attic prose takes the indicative of a definite past action when the verb of the principal clause is negative or implies a negative, rarely when it is affirmative.

““οὔτε τότε Κύ_ρῳ ἰέναι ἤθελε πρὶν γυνὴ αὐτὸν ἔπεισεnor was he willing then to enter into relations with Cyrus until his wife persuaded himX. A. 1.2.26, ““οὐ πρότερον ἐπαύσαντο πρὶν τόν τε πατέρ᾽ ἐκ τοῦ στρατοπέδου μετεπέμψαντο καὶ τῶν φίλων αὐτοῦ τοὺς μὲν ἀπέκτειναν, τοὺς δ᾽ ἐκ τῆς πόλεως ἐξέβαλονthey did not stop until they sent for his father from the camp, put some of his friends to death and expelled others from the cityI. 16.8, ““οὐ πρόσθεν ἐπαύσαντο πρὶν ἐξεπολιόρκησαν τὸν Ὄλουρονthey did not cease from hostilities until they had captured Olurus by siegeX. H. 7.4.18, οὐδ᾽ ὣς . . . ἠξίωσαν νεώτερόν τι ποιεῖν ἐς αὐτόν . . . πρίν γε δὴ . . . ἀνὴρ Ἀργίλιος μηνυ_τὴς γίγνεται (historical present = aorist) not even under these circumstances did they think it right to take any severe measures against him, until finally a man of Argilus turned informer T. 1.132.

a. The tense in the πρίν clause is usually the aorist (the tense of negation, 2439, and of prior action); rarely the imperfect (of contemporaneous, overlapping action), as D. 9.61. The historical present is also used as an equivalent of the aorist. The principal clause usually has a secondary tense of the indicative. πρίν with the indicative is not common until Herodotus and the Attic writers.

b. The verb of the principal clause may be virtually negative, as τοὺς . . . Ἀθηναίους λανθάνουσι πρὶν δὴ τῇ Δήλῳ ἔσχον they escaped the notice of the Athenians (i.e. οὐχ ὁρῶνται) until they reached Delos T. 3.29. Cp. T. 3.104, X. A. 2.5.33. Observe that οὐ παύομαι (2441) is not regarded as virtually affirmative.

c. The verb of the principal clause is affirmative in prose only in T. 7.39, 7. 71, Aes. 1.64. In all of these cases the leading verb is an imperfect, which emphasizes the continuation of the action up to the point of time expressed by the πρίν clause.

d. The use in Herodotus is the same as in Attic prose. Homer has the indicative (after affirmative or negative clauses) only with πρίν γ᾽ ὅτε until. In the drama πρίν with the indicative is rare. Euripides uses it only after affirmative clauses. When πρίν is = ἕως it often takes δή.

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  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 3.2.4
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