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2623. Past Tenses in Indirect Discourse.—The following rules govern past tenses in indirect discourse.

a. The potential indicative with ἄν, the indicative in a condition denoting unreality with ἄν or without ἄν (as ἐχρῆν, ἔδει, etc.), always remain unchanged in order to prevent confusion with the optative of the direct form.

““ἀπελογοῦντο ὡς οὐκ ἄν ποτε οὕτω μῶροι ἦσαν . . . εἰ ᾔδεσανthey pleaded that they never would have been so foolish, if they had knownX. H. 5.4.22 ( = οὐκ ἂν ἦμεν, εἰ ᾖσμεν), (ἔλεγεν) ““ὅτι κρεῖττον ἦν αὐτῷ τότε ἀποθανεῖνhe said that it would have been better for him to die thenL. 10.25 ( = κρεῖττον ἦν μοι).

b. The imperfect and pluperfect in simple sentences usually remain unchanged after secondary tenses to prevent ambiguity; but when there is no doubt that a past tense stood in the direct form, the imperfect passes into the present optative, the pluperfect into the perfect optative. In subordinate clauses both tenses are retained unaltered.

““ἤκουσεν ὅτι πολλάκις πρὸς τὸν Ἰνδὸν οἱ Χαλδαῖοι ἐπορεύοντοhe heard that the Chaldaeans often went to the Indian kingX. C. 3.2.27, εἶχε γὰρ λέγειν καὶ ὅτι μόνοι τῶν Ἑλλήνων βασιλεῖ συνεμάχοντο ἐν Πλαταιαῖς, καὶ ὅτι ὕστερον οὐδεπώποτε στρατεύσαιντο (cp. c) ““ἐπὶ βασιλέα_for he was able to say both that alone of the Greeks they had fought on the side of the king at Plataea and that later they had never at any time taken the field against the kingX. H. 7.1.34 ( = συνεμαχόμεθα, ἐστρατευσάμεθα), τὰ πεπρα_γμένα διηγοῦντο, ὅτι αὐτοὶ μὲν . . . πλέοιεν, τὴν δὲ ἀναίρεσιν τῶν ναυα_γῶν προστάξαιεν they related what had occurred to the effect that they were themselves sailing against the enemy and that they had given orāers for the rescue of the men on the wrecks X. H. 1.7.5 ( = ἐπλέομεν, προσετάξαμεν).

N.—The change to the optative is not made when the time of the action of imperfect (and pluperfect) is earlier than that of a coőrdinated verb in the same quoted sentence; as ἔλεγέν τ᾽ ὡς φιλαθήναιος ἦν καὶ τἀ_ν Σάμῳ πρῶτος κατείποι he said that he both had been a lover of Athens and that (afterwards) he was the first to tell what had happened at Samos Ar. Vesp. 282.

c. The aorist indicative without ἄν in a simple sentence or in a principal clause may be changed to the aorist optative after a secondary tense; but in subordinate clauses (except those denoting cause, N. 3) it remains unchanged to avoid ambiguity with the aorist optative, which usually represents the aorist subjunctive.

““ἀπεκρι_νάμην αὐτῷ ὅτι . . . οὐ λάβοιμιI answered him that I did not takeD. 50.36 ( = οὐκ ἔλαβον), ““τοῖς ἰδίοις χρήσεσθαι ἔφη, πατὴρ αὐτῷ ἔδωκενhe said that he would use his own money that his father had given himX. H. 1.5.3 ( = χρήσομαι, ἔδωκεν).

N. 1.—The retention of the aorist indicative is here the essential point of difference between subordinate clauses and principal clauses or simple sentences.

N. 2.—In a subordinate clause the time of the aorist usually expresses an action prior to that of the leading verb.

N. 3.—In causal clauses with ὅτι or ὡς a dependent aorist indicative may become aorist optative; as εἶχε γὰρ λέγειν . . . ὡς Λακεδαιμόνιοι διὰ τοῦτο πολεμήσειαν αὐτοῖς, ὅτι οὐκ ἐθελήσαιεν μετ᾽ Ἀ_γησιλά_ου ἐλθεῖν ἐπ᾽ αὐτόν for he was able to say that the Lacedaemonians had gone to war with them (the Thebans) for the reason that they (the Thebans) had not been willing to attack him (the Persian king) in company with Agesilaus X. H. 7.1.34 (direct ἐπολέμησαν ἡμῖν, ὅτι οὐκ ἠθελήσαμεν). Rarely in temporal clauses with ἐπεί (X. C. 5.3.26).

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  • Cross-references to this page (1):
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 3.2.2
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