In present and past unreal conditions the protasis implies that the supposition cannot or could not be realized because contrary to a known fact. The apodosis states what would be or would have been the result if the condition were or had been realized.2303
The protasis has ει' with the imperfect, aorist, or pluperfect indicative; the apodosis has ἄν with these past tenses. The protasis and apodosis may have different tenses. Unreal conditions are either particular or general.2304
The imperfect refers to present time or (sometimes) to a continued or habitual past act or state. The imperfect may be conative.
εἰ ταῦτα ἐποίεις, καλῶς ἂν ἐποίεις
The implied opposite is a present (ἀλλ' ου' ποιεῖς
The imperfect of past time emphasizes the continuance of the action.
The aorist refers to a simple occurrence in the past.
εἰ ταῦτα ἐποίησας, καλῶς ἂν ἐποίησας
The implied opposite is an aorist (ἀλλ' οὐκ ἐποίησας
The (rare) pluperfect refers to an act completed in past or present time or to the state following on such completion.
εἰ ταῦτα ἐπεποιήκης, καλῶς ἂν ἐπεποιήκης
The implied opposite is a perfect (ἀλλ' ου' πεποίηκας
a. The pluperfect is used only when stress is laid on the completion of the act or on the continuance of the result of the act, and generally refers to present time. In reference to past time, the aorist is generally used instead of the pluperfect.2307
In reference to past time, the imperfect or aorist is used according as either tense would be used in an affirmative sentence not conditional. The pluperfect is commonly used when the perfect would have been used of present time.2308
In the form of the protasis and the apodosis of unreal conditions there is nothing that denotes unreality, but, in the combination, the unreality of the protasis is always, and that of the apodosis generally, implied. The past tenses of the indicative are used in unreal conditions referring to present time, because the speaker's thought goes back to the past, when the realization of the condition was still possible, though at the time of speaking that realization is impossible.2309
Same Tenses in Protasis and Apodosis.—a. Imperfect of present time:
ταῦτα δὲ οὐκ ἂν ἐδύναντο ποιεῖν, εἰ μὴ καὶ διαίτῃ μετρίᾳ ἐχρῶντο
b. Imperfect of past time:
οὐκ ἂν οὖν νήσων . . . ἐκράτει, εἰ μή τι καὶ ναυτικὸν εἶχεν
c. Aorist of past time:
οὐκ ἂν ἐποίησεν Ἀγασία_ς ταῦτα, εἰ μὴ ἐγὼ αὐτὸν ἐκέλευσα
Different Tenses in Protasis and Apodosis.—a. Imperfect and Aorist: εἰ μὲν πρόσθεν ἠπιστάμην, οὐδ' ἂν συνηκολούθησά σοι
N.—With an imperfect of present time in the protasis, εἶπον ἄν, ἀπεκρι_νάμην ἄν and like verbs, denote an act in present time (
οὖν σύ με ἠρώτα_ς τι τῶν νῦν δή, εἶπον ἄν κτλ.
b. Imperfect and Pluperfect:
καὶ τἄλλ' ἂν ἅπαντ' ἀκολούθως τούτοις ἐπέπρα_κτο, εἴ τις ἐπείθετό μοι
c. Aorist and Imperfect: εἰ μὴ ὑ_μεῖς ἤλθετε, ἐπορευόμεθα ἂν ἐπὶ βασιλέα_
d. Aorist and Pluperfect: εἰ ἐγὼ πάλαι ἐπεχείρησα πρά_ττειν τὰ πολι_τικὰ πρά_γματα, πάλαι ἂν ἀπολώλη
e. Pluperfect and Imperfect:
ἡ πόλις ἐλάμβανεν ἂν δίκην, εἴ τι ἠδίκητο
f. Pluperfect and Aorist: οὐκ ἂν παρέμεινα, εἰ ἐλελύμην
Homeric Constructions.—In Homer the imperfect in unreal conditions refers only to past time. The apodosis may have κέ or ἄν with the optative.
a. The present unreal condition with εἰ with the optative in the protasis and ἄν with the optative in the apodosis (in form like a less vivid future condition in Attic) is very rare (Ψ 274). In B 80, Ω 220 we have a combination of a past protasis (imperfect or aorist indicative) with present apodosis (with κέν and the optative).
b. Past unreal conditions have, in the protasis, the imperfect or aorist indicative; in the apodosis, either the imperfect or aorist indicative with ἄν or κέ or the aorist or present optative with κέ. Thus, καί νύ κεν ἔνθ' ἀπόλοιτο . . . Αἰνεία_ς, εἰ μὴ ἄρ' ὀξὺ νόησε . . . Ἀφροδί_τη
Unreal conditions with ἄν and the optative in apodosis (cp. cross2311) in Attic are rare and some are suspected. Either the common reading is at fault (
a. The optative in protasis and apodosis occur in
Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].