a. The name subjunctive is due to the belief of the ancient grammarians that the mood was always subordinate. Thus, εἴπω
The independent subjunctive refers to future time. It has three main uses: (1) the voluntative, expressing the will of the speaker. This is akin to the imperative. (2) The deliberative. This is possibly a form of the voluntative. (3) The anticipatory (or futural). This anticipates an action as an immediate future possibility. Whether the anticipatory is a form of the voluntative is uncertain (cp.
Hortatory Subjunctive.—The hortatory subjunctive (present or aorist) is used to express a request or a proposal (negative μή).
a. Usually in the first person plural: νῦν ἴωμεν καὶ ἀκούσωμεν τοῦ ἀνδρός
b. Less frequently in the first person singular, which is usually preceded (in affirmative sentences) by φέρε (δή), in Hom. by ἄγε (δή):
φέρε δὴ περὶ τοῦ ψηφίσματος εἴπω
The first person singular in negative exhortations (rare and poetic) may convey a warning or a threat: μή σε, γέρον, κοίλῃσιν παρὰ νηυσὶ κιχείω
The hortatory use of the subjunctive compensates for the absence of an imperative of the first person.1800
Prohibitive Subjunctive.—The subjunctive (in the second and third persons of the aorist) is often used to express prohibitions (negative μή).
a. Usually in the second person:
b. Less commonly in the third person, which usually represents the second:
ὑπολάβῃ δὲ μηδείς
c. The third person of the present subjunctive is rare: μὴ τοίνυν τις οἴηται ( = μὴ οἰώμεθα) let not any one think P. L. 861 E.
N.—οὐ μή with the subjunctive of the second person in the dramatic poets occasionally expresses a strong prohibition:
οὐ μὴ ληρήσῃς
Doubtful Assertion.—The present subjunctive with μή may express a doubtful assertion, with μὴ οὐ a doubtful negation. The idea of apprehension or anxiety (real or assumed) is due to the situation. A touch of irony often marks this use, which is chiefly Platonic. With μή (of what may be true): μὴ ἀγροικότερον ᾖ τὸ ἀληθὲς εἰπεῖν
ἀλλὰ μὴ οὐχ οὕτως ἔχῃ
μὴ οὐκ ᾖ διδακτὸν ἀρετή
In Hom. μή with the independent subjunctive is used to indicate fear and warning, or to suggest danger: μή τι χολωσάμενος ῥέξῃ κακὸν υἷας Ἀχαιῶν
ὅπως μή is occasionally so used with the aorist subjunctive, and with an idea of command: ὅπως μὴ φήσῃ τις
From the use in 1801 is probably developed the construction of οὐ μή
with the aorist (less often the present) subjunctive to denote an emphatic denial; as
οὐ μὴ παύσωμαι φιλοσοφῶν
οὐκέτι μὴ δύνηται βασιλεὺς ἡμᾶς καταλαβεῖν
Deliberative Subjunctive.—The deliberative subjunctive (present or aorist) is used in questions when the speaker asks what he is to do or say (negative μή).
a. Usually in the first person: εἴπωμεν ἢ σι_γῶμεν;
b. The (rare) second person is used in repeating a question: A. τί σοι πιθώμεθα; B. ὅ τι πίθησθε; A. In what shall we take your advice? B.
c. The third person is generally used to represent the first person; commonly with τὶς, as τί τις εἶναι τοῦτο φῇ; how shall anyone say this is so? ( = τί φῶμεν;)
N.—The subjunctive question does not refer to a future fact, but to what is, under the present circumstances, advantageous or proper to do or say.1806
βούλει, βούλεσθε (poet. θέλεις, θέλετε)
The deliberative subjunctive may be replaced by a periphrasis with δεῖ or χρή and the infinitive, or by the verbal adjective in -τέον ἐστί. Thus, ἡμεῖς δὲ προσμένωμεν; ἢ τί χρὴ ποιεῖν;
a. For the deliberative future see cross1916.1808
Deliberation in the past may be expressed by ἔδει, χρῆν (ἐχρῆν), ἔμελλον with the infinitive, and by -τέον (verbal adj.) ἦν.1809
The Negative in Questions.—The use of μή (not οὐ) in questions is due to the fact that the construction of 1805 is simply the interrogative form of the hortatory subjunctive: φῶμεν
Anticipatory Subjunctive (Homeric Subjunctive).—In Homer the subjunctive is often closely akin to the future indicative, and refers by anticipation to a future event (negative οὐ): οὐ γάρ πω τοίους ἴδον ἀ_νέρας, οὐδὲ ἴδωμαι
καί νύ τις ὧδ' εἴπῃσι
The subjunctive is used in τί πάθω; what will become of me; what am I to do? (lit.
The subjunctive without ἄν is also used in dependent clauses of purpose ( cross2196), after
Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].