Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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Object clauses after verbs of fear and caution take the subjunctive after primary tenses, the optative (or subjunctive, cross2226) after secondary tenses.

φοβοῦμαι μὴ γένηται I fear it may happen.

φοβοῦμαι μὴ οὐ γένηται I fear it may not happen.

ἐφοβούμην μὴ γένξιτο (or γένηται) I feared it might happen.

ἐφοβούμην μὴ οὐ γένοιτο (regularly γένηται) I feared it might not happen.

δέδοικα μὴ . . . ἐπιλαθώμεθα τῆς οἴκαδε ὁδοῦ I am afraid lest we may forget the way home X. A. 3.2.25, φοβεῖται μὴ . . . τὰ ἔσχατα πάθῃ he is afraid lest he suffer the severest punishment X. C. 3.1.22, φροντίζω μὴ κράτιστον ᾖ μοι σι_γᾶν I am thinking that it may prove ( cross2228) best for me to be silent X. M. 4.2.39, ἔδεισαν οἱ Ελληνες μὴ προσάγοιεν πρὸς τὸ κέρας καὶ . . . αὐτοὺς κατακόψειαν the Greeks were seized with fear lest they might advance against their flank and cut them down X. A. 1.10.9, δέδιμεν μὴ οὐ βέβαιοι ἦτε we fear you are not to be depended on T. 3.57, οὐ τοῦτο δέδοικα, μὴ οὐκ ἔχω ὅ τι δῶ ἑκάστῳ τῶν φίλων . . . ἀλλὰ μὴ οὐκ ἔχω ἱκανοὺς οἷς δῶ I am afraid not that I may not have enough (lit. anything) to give to each of my friends, but that I may not have enough friends on whom to bestow my gifts X. A. 1.7.7.

a. The aorist is very common after μή. After secondary tenses Hom. usually has the optative.

b. μὴ οὐ with the optative is rare and suspicious (X. A. 3.5.3).


After secondary tenses, the subjunctive presents the fear vividly, i.e. as it was conceived by the subject. Cp. cross2197.

ἐφοβοῦντο μή τι πάθῃ they feared lest she might (may) meet with some accident X. S. 2. 11, ἐφοβήθησαν μὴ καὶ ἐπὶ σφῖς ὁ στρατὸς χωρήσῃ they became fearful that the army might (may) advance against themselves too T. 2.101. So when the fear extends up to the present time: ἐφοβήθην . . . καὶ νῦν τεθορύβημαι μή τινες ὑ_μῶν ἀγνοήσωσί με I was struck with fear and even now I am in a state of agitation lest some of you may disregard me Aes. 2.4. The vivid use of subjunctive is common in the historians, especially Thucydides.


The optative after a primary tense is rare and suspected (I 245, Hdt. 7.103, S. Aj. 279).


The subjunctive and optative after μή (or ὅπως μή) may denote what may prove to be an object of fear (future ascertainment).

δέδοικα μὴ ἄριστον ᾖ I am afraid lest it prove to be best S. Ant. 1114, ἔδεισαν μὴ λύττα τις . . . ἡμῖν ἐμπεπτώκοι they feared lest some madness might prove to

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have fallen upon us X. A. 5.7.26. The aorist subjunctive refers to the past in δείδοικα . . . μή σε παρείπῃ I fear it may prove that she beguiled thee A 555; cp. K 99, ν 216, ω 491 (after ὁρῶ).


The future is rare with verbs of fearing after μή.

φοβοῦμαι δὲ μή τινας ἡδονὰ_ς ἡδοναῖς εὑρήσομεν ἐναντία_ς and I apprehend that we shall find some pleasures opposite to other pleasures P. Phil. 13a. So with verbs of caution: ὅρα_ μὴ πολλῶν ἑκάστῳ ἡμῶν χειρῶν δεήσει see to it lest each one of us may have need of many hands X. C. 4.1.18.

a. The future optative seems not to occur except in X. H. 6.4.27, X. M. 1.2.7, P. Euth. 15d.


ὅπως μή with the subjunctive or optative is sometimes used instead of μή after verbs of fear and caution to imply fear that something will happen.

οὐ φοβεῖ . . . ὅπως μὴ ἀνόσιον πρᾶγμα τυγχάνῃς πρά_ττων; are you not afraid that you may chance to be doing an unholy deed? P. Euth. 4e, ἡδέως γ' ἄν (θρέψαιμι τὸν ἄνδρα), εἰ μὴ φοβοίμην ὅπως μὴ ἐπ' αὐτόν με τράποιτο I should gladly keep the man if I did not fear lest he might turn against me X. M. 2.9.3; see also cross2220 b.


ὅπως μή with the future indicative (as after verbs of effort) is sometimes used instead of μή with the subjunctive.

δέδοικα ὅπως μὴ . . . ἀνάγκη γενήσεται (v. l. γένηται) I fear lest a necessity may arise D. 9.75. The future optative occurs once (I. 17.22). On μή or ὅπως μή with verbs of caution, see cross2220 a.


The potential optative with ἄν is rarely used after μή.

δεδιότες μὴ καταλυθείη ἂν (Mss. καταλυθείησαν) ὁ δῆμος fearful lest the people should be put down L. 13.51. The potential use is most evident when an optative occurs in the protasis: εἰ δέ τινες φοβοῦνται μὴ ματαία_ ἂν γένοιτο αὕτη ἡ κατασκευή, εἰ πόλεμος ἐγερθείη, ἐννοησάτω ὅτι κτλ. if some are afraid that this condition of things may prove vain, if war should arise, let them (him) consider that, etc. X. Vect. 4.41.

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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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