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685.Μή, with Infinitive.) The negative particle of the infinitive in indirect discourse is regularly οὐ, which is retained from the direct form (667, 5). But, after certain verbs which belong to the intermediate class between those which take the infinitive in indirect discourse and those which do not (see 136), the infinitive regularly takes μή for its negative. Such are verbs of hoping, promising, and swearing; with those signifying to agree or consent (ὁμολογῶ), to trust (πιστεύω), to be persuaded (πέπεισμαι), to testify (μαρτυρῶ).1 The infinitive occasionally has μή even after the verbs which most regularly take the infinitive with οὐ in indirect discourse, as φημί, λέγω, νομίζω, ἡγοῦμαι, etc. E.g. Χρῆν ὀμόσαι μὴ ἑκόντα ἐλθεῖν, “he had to swear that he did not come intentionally.” HDT. ii. 179; so i. 165. “Ὄμνυσιν μὴ πώποτ᾽ ἀμείνον᾽ ἔπη μηδέν᾽ ἀκοῦσαι,” “he swears that nobody ever heard better verses.” AR. Vesp. 1047. Ὤμνυε μηδὲν εἰρηκέναι. DEM. xxi. 119. Ὅταν ἐλπίσωσιν οὗτοι μὴ ἄλλως τὸν νέον καθέξειν. PLAT. Rep. 572E. Οὐδεμίαν ὑμέων ἔχω ἐλπίδα μὴ οὐ δώσειν ὑμέας δίκην. HDT. vi. 11. (For μὴ οὐ see 815, HDT. 2.) Μαιάδος υἱὸς ὑποσχόμενος κατένευσε μή ποτ᾽ ἀποκλέψειν ὅσ᾽ Ἑκηβόλος ἐκτεάτισται. Hymn. Merc. 521; so μή τινα ἔσεσθαι. Ibid. 525.

Ὡμολογήσαμεν μήποτ᾽ ἂν αὐτὴν ἐναντία ᾁδειν. PLAT. Phaed. 94 C. Μεμαρτυρήκασιν οἱ πρότερον ἐργαζόμενοι μὴ εἶναι σηκὸν ἐν τῷ χωρίῳ. LYS. vii. 11.So DEM. xlv. 15. Σωκράτη γε ἐγὼ ἐγγυῶμαι μὴ ἐπιλήσεσθαι. PLAT. Prot. 336D. Πιστεύω μὴ ψεύσειν με ταύτας τὰς ἀγαθὰς ἐλπιδας. XEN. Cyr. i. 5, 13. Πέπεισμαι ἐγὼ μηδένα ἀδικεῖν ἀνθρώπων. PLAT. Ap. 37 A: so 37B.

Φαίην δ᾽ ἂν ἔγωγε μηδενὶ μηδεμίαν εἶναι παίδευσιν παρὰ τοῦ μὴ ἀρέσκοντος. XEN. Mem. i. 2, 39. So PLAT. Theaet. 155A. Πάντες ἐροῦσι τὸ λοιπὸν μηδὲν εἶναι κερδαλεώτερον ἀρετῆς. XEN. Cyr. vii. 1, 18. Ἐνόμισε δὲ μὴ ἂν γενέσθαι ποτὲ πιστὸν ἄνθρωπον. Ib. vii. 5, Ib. 59. Καὶ ἄρτι ἔλεγον μηδένα ἐθέλειν ἑκόντα ἄρχειν. PLAT. Rep. 346E. Τίς ἂν θεῶν μὲν παῖδας ἡγοῖτο εἶναι, θεοὺς δὲ μή; Ap. 27 D. Προὔλεγον μὴ ἂν γίγνεσθαι πόλεμον (i.e. οὐκ ἂν γίγνοιτο πόλεμος). THUC. i. 139.See also THUC. v. 49, THUC. vi. 102, quoted in 683.

The examples in the last paragraph are opposed to the regular usage of the language, which would demand οὐ in all of them. We must suppose that the use of μή with the infinitive was so fixed, before the infinitive began to be used in indirect discourse, that μή always seemed natural, even after οὐ had become the regular form after verbs of saying, thinking, etc. We sometimes find strange uses of μή. In THUC. i. 118, ὄντες μὲν καὶ πρὸ τοῦ μὴ ταχεῖς ἰέναι ἐς τοὺς πολέμους, having even before this been not hasty to go into wars, it may be difficult to find a better explanation of the anomalous μή than the perhaps heretical one, that τοῦ μὴ ταχεῖς ἰέναι had a more natural sound than τοῦ οὐ ταχεῖς ἰέναι, although neither τοῦ nor the negative has anything to do with the infinitive. So some people say between you and I, merely because you and me sounds vulgar.

1 See Liddell and Scott, ed. 7, under μή, B. 5, C; also Gildersleeve in Jour. Phil. i. p. 51.

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hide References (3 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (3):
    • William Watson Goodwin, Commentary on Demosthenes: On the Crown, 221
    • William Watson Goodwin, Commentary on Demosthenes: On the Crown, 251
    • E.C. Marchant, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, 1.118
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