Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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Second Form of Conditions: PRESENT AND PAST UNREAL CONDITIONS 2302

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.


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.


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 if you were (now) doing this, you would be doing well , or if you had been doing this, you would have been doing well.

The implied opposite is a present (ἀλλ' ου' ποιεῖς but you are not doing this) or an imperfect (ἀλλ' οὐκ ἐποίεις but you were not doing this).

The imperfect of past time emphasizes the continuance of the action.

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The aorist refers to a simple occurrence in the past.

εἰ ταῦτα ἐποίησας, καλῶς ἂν ἐποίησας if you had done this, you would have done well.

The implied opposite is an aorist (ἀλλ' οὐκ ἐποίησας but you did not do this).


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 if you had finished doing this (now or on any past occasion), you would have done well.

The implied opposite is a perfect (ἀλλ' ου' πεποίηκας but you have not done this) or a pluperfect (ἀλλ' οὐκ ἐπεποιήκης but you had not done this).

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.


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.


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.


Same Tenses in Protasis and Apodosis.—a. Imperfect of present time: ταῦτα δὲ οὐκ ἂν ἐδύναντο ποιεῖν, εἰ μὴ καὶ διαίτῃ μετρίᾳ ἐχρῶντο but they would not be able to do this, if they were not also following a temperate diet X. C. 1.2.16.

b. Imperfect of past time: οὐκ ἂν οὖν νήσων . . . ἐκράτει, εἰ μή τι καὶ ναυτικὸν εἶχεν accordingly he would not have ruled over islands, if he had not possessed also some naval force T. 1.9. Present and past combined: εἰ μὴ τότ' ἐπόνουν, νῦν ἂν οὐκ εὐφραινόμην if I had not toiled then, I should not be rejoicing now Philemon 153.

c. Aorist of past time: οὐκ ἂν ἐποίησεν Ἀγασία_ς ταῦτα, εἰ μὴ ἐγὼ αὐτὸν ἐκέλευσα Agasias would not have done this, if I had not ordered him X. A. 6.6.15.


Different Tenses in Protasis and Apodosis.—a. Imperfect and Aorist: εἰ μὲν πρόσθεν ἠπιστάμην, οὐδ' ἂν συνηκολούθησά σοι if I had known this before, I would not even have accompanied you X. A. 7.7.11.

N.—With an imperfect of present time in the protasis, εἶπον ἄν, ἀπεκρι_νάμην ἄν and like verbs, denote an act in present time (I should at once say). Thus, εἰ μὴ πατὴρ ἦσθ', εἶπον ἄν σ' οὐκ εὖ φρονεῖν if thou wert not my father, I would say (would have said) thou wast unwise S. Ant. 755. Often in Plato, as εἰ μὲν

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οὖν σύ με ἠρώτα_ς τι τῶν νῦν δή, εἶπον ἄν κτλ. if now you were asking me any one of the questions with which we are now dealing, I should say etc., P. Euth. 12d, cp. P. G. 514d, X. A. 7.6.23.

b. Imperfect and Pluperfect: καὶ τἄλλ' ἂν ἅπαντ' ἀκολούθως τούτοις ἐπέπρα_κτο, εἴ τις ἐπείθετό μοι and everything else would have been effected consistently with what I have said, if my advice had been followed D. 19.173.

c. Aorist and Imperfect: εἰ μὴ ὑ_μεῖς ἤλθετε, ἐπορευόμεθα ἂν ἐπὶ βασιλέα_ if you had not come, we should now be marching against the king X. A. 2.1.4.

d. Aorist and Pluperfect: εἰ ἐγὼ πάλαι ἐπεχείρησα πρά_ττειν τὰ πολι_τικὰ πρά_γματα, πάλαι ἂν ἀπολώλη if I had long ago essayed to meddle with politics, I should long ago have perished P. A. 31d, εἰ μία ψῆφος μετέπεσεν, ὑπερώριστ' ἄν if one vote had been transferred to the other side, he would have been transported across theborders (and now be in exile) Aes. 3.252.

e. Pluperfect and Imperfect: ἡ πόλις ἐλάμβανεν ἂν δίκην, εἴ τι ἠδίκητο the State would inflict punishment, if it had been wronged Ant. 6.10.

f. Pluperfect and Aorist: οὐκ ἂν παρέμεινα, εἰ ἐλελύμην I should not have stayed, if I had been free Ant. 5.13.


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 and here Aeneas had perished, if Aphrodite had not quickly observed him E 311.


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 (X. M. 3.5.8), or we have a simple condition with a potential optative ( cross2300 e), as in And. 1.57, L. 6.39, I. 4.102. In εἰ μὲν τοίνυν τοῦτ' ἐπεχείρουν λέγειν . . . , οὐκ ἔσθ' ὅστις οὐκ ἂν εἰκότως ἐπιτι_μήσειέ μοι if now I were attempting to say this, there would be no one who would not censure me with good reason (D. 18.206) the implied conclusion is οὐκ ἂν ἦν ὅστις κτλ.

a. The optative in protasis and apodosis occur in E. Med. 568 (present unreal). Hdt. uses the potential optative occasionally (e.g. 7. cross214) where English uses a past expression.

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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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