Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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Optative of Wish.—In independent sentences the optative without ἄν is used to express a wish referring to the future (negative μή): ὦ παῖ, γένοιο πατρὸς εὐτυχέστερος ah, boy, mayest thou prove more fortunate than thy sire S. Aj. 550. From this use is derived the name of the mood (Lat. opto wish).

a. So even in relative sentences: ἐά_ν ποτε, δ μὴ γένοιτο, λάβωσι τὴν πόλιν if ever they capture the city, which Heaven forbid L. 31.14.

b. Under wishes are included execrations and protestations: ἐξολοίμην may I perish Ar. Ach. 324, καί σ' ἐπιδείξω, ἢ μὴ ζῴην, δωροδοκήσαντα and I will prove that you took bribes, or may I not live Ar. Eq. 833.


The optative of wish is often introduced by εἰ γάρ, εἴθε (Hom. αι' γάρ, αἴθε), or by εἰ, ὡς (both poetical): εἰ γὰρ γένοιτο would that it might happen X. C. 6.1.38, ὡς ὄλοιτο may he perish S. El. 126. (ὡς is properly an exclamation: how.)


The optative introduced by εἰ γάρ, etc. is sometimes explained as a protasis with the conclusion omitted: εἴθε φίλος ἡμῖν γένοιο oh, if you would become our friend X. H. 4.1.38. Cp. cross2352 e.


An unattainable wish, referring to the present, may be expressed by the present optative in Homer: εἴθ' ἡβώοιμι would that I were young again H 157.


Unattainable wishes, when they refer to the future, may be expressed by the optative: εἴ μοι γένοιτο φθόλλος ἐν βραχί_οσι would that I had a voice in my arms E. Hec. 836. Wishes represented as hopeless are expressed in the postHomeric language by the past tenses of the indicative ( cross1780) or by ὤφελον ( cross1781).


Hom. often uses the optative with a concessive or permissive force: ἔπειτα δὲ καί τι πάθοιμι after that I may (lit. may I) suffer come what will Φ 274.


Imperative Optative.—The optative may express a command or exhortation with a force nearly akin to the imperative: Χειρίσοφος ἡγοῖτο let Chirisophus lead X. A. 3.2.37.


Potential Optative.—The potential optative, which in Attic regu

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larly takes ἄν ( cross1824), is occasionally found in Homer and later poetry in an earlier form, without that particle: ῥεῖα θεός γ' ἐθέλων καὶ τηλόθεν ἄνδρα σαώσαι easily might a god, if he so willed, bring a man safe even from afar γ 231, θᾶσσον ἢ λέγοι τις quicker than a man could speak E. Hipp. 1186. This construction is suspected in prose.

a. Usually in negative sentences or in questions expecting a negative answer (with οὐ): οὐ μὲν γάρ τι κακώτερον ἄλλο πάθοιμι for I could not (conceivably) suffer anything worse T 321, τεά_ν, Ζεῦ, δύνασιν τίς ἀνδρῶν ὑπερβασία_ κατάσχοι; thy power, oh Zeus, what trespass of man can check? S. Ant. 604.


The optative after οὐκ ἔστιν ὅστις (ὅπως, ὅποι) in the dramatists is probably potential: οὐκ ἔσθ' ὅπως λέξαιμι τὰ ψευδῆ καλά I could not call false tidings fair A. Ag. 620. ἄν is usually employed in this construction.


The optative without ἄν (κέν) is also used elsewhere, as in purpose clauses ( cross2196) and clauses of fearing ( cross2225) after a secondary tense; in the apodosis of conditional sentences ( cross2300 d, cross2326 d, cross2333), in relative sentences ( cross2566, cross2568); and as the representative of the indicative ( cross2615) or subjunctive ( cross2619) in indirect discourse after secondary tenses.

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Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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