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

Next SubSect


ἄν may be omitted in the apodosis of an unreal condition when the apodosis consists of an imperfect indicative denoting unfulfilled obligation, possibility, or propriety. Such are the impersonal expressions ἔδει, χρῆν, ἐξῆν, εἰκὸς ἦν, καλὸν ἦν, etc., with the infinitive, the action of which is (usually) not realized.

-- 521 --

εἰ ταῦτα ἐποίει, ἔδει (ἐξῆν) αἰτιᾶσθαι αὐτόν if he were doing this (as he is not), one ought to (might) blame him.

εἰ ταῦτα ἐποίησε, ἔδει (ἐξῆν) αἰτιά_σασθαι (or αἰτιᾶσθαι) αὐτόν if he had done this (as he did not), one ought to (might) have blamed him.

a. Here ἔδει and ἐξῆν are auxiliaries and the emphasis falls on the infinitive. The impersonal verb has the effect of a modifying adverb denoting obligation, possibility, or propriety: thus ἔδει αἰτιᾶσθαι αὐτόν is virtually equivalent to δικαίως ἂν ᾐτιᾶτο, and εἰκὸς ἦν αἰτιά_σασθαι αὐτόν to εἰκότως ἂν ᾐτιά_θη he would properly have been blamed.

b. ἔδει, χρῆν, etc., may be used in simple sentences ( cross1774 ff.) without any protasis either expressed or implied. But a protasis may often be supplied in thought.


The present infinitive generally expresses what would necessarily, possibly, or properly be done now. The aorist, and sometimes the present, infinitive expresses what would necessarily, possibly, or properly have been done in the past.

a. Present infinitive of present time: χρῆν δήπου, εἴτε τινὲς αὐτῶν πρεσβύτεροι γενόμενοι ἔγνωσαν ὅτι νέοις οὖσιν αὐτοῖς ἐγὼ κακὸν πώποτέ τι ξυνεβούλευσα, νυ_νὶ_ αὐτοὺς ἀναβαίνοντας ἐμοῦ κατηγορεῖν if some of them on growing older had perceived that I ever gave them any bad counsel when they were young, they ought of course now to rise up in person and accuse me P. A. 33d.

b. Present infinitive of past time: εἴ τινα (προῖκα) ἐδίδου, εἰκὸς ἦν καὶ τὴν δοθεῖσαν ὑπὸ τῶν παραγενέσθαι φασκόντων μαρτυρεῖσθαι if he had given any dowry, that which was actually delivered would naturally have been attested by those who claimed to have been present Is. 3.28.

c. Aorist infinitive of past time: εἰ ἐβούλετο δίκαιος εἶναι περὶ τοὺς παῖδας, ἐξῆν αὐτῷ . . . μισθῶσαι τὸν οἶκον if he had wished to be just in regard to the children, he might properly have let the house L. 32.23.


With the same impersonal expressions, ἄν is regularly used when the obligation, possibility, or propriety, and not the action of the verb dependent on ἔδει, etc., is denied. Here the main force of the apodosis falls on the necessity, possibility, or propriety of the act.

εἰ ταῦτα ἐποίει, ἔδει (ἐξῆν) ἂν αἰτιᾶσθαι αὐτόν if he were doing this (as he is not), it would be necessary (possible) to blame him; but, as the case now stands, it is not necessary (possible). Thus, εἰ μὲν ἠπιστάμεθα σαφῶς ὅτι ἥξει πλοῖα . . . ἄγων ἱκανά, οὐδὲν ἂν ἔδει ὧν μέλλω λέγειν if we knew for certain that he would return with a sufficient number of vessels, there would be no need to say what I am going to say (but there is need) X. A. 5.1.10, ταῦτα εἰ μὲν δι' ἀσθένειαν ἐπάσχομεν, στέργειν ἂν ἦν ἀνάγκη τὴν τύχην if we had suffered this because of our weakness, we should have (necessity would compel us) to rest content with our lot L. 33.4.


With ἄν, it is implied that the obligation does (or did) not exist; without ἄν, it is implied that the action of the dependent infinitive is (or was)

-- 522 --

not realized. Thus the first sentence in 2315, without ἄν, would mean: if he were doing this (as he is not), one ought to blame him; but, as the case now stands, one does not blame him.


ἐβουλόμην, or ἐβουλόμην ἄν, with the infinitive may stand in the apodosis. Cp. cross1782, cross1789.


ἄν is regularly omitted in an apodosis formed by the imperfect of μέλλω and the infinitive (usually future) to denote an unfulfilled past intention or expectation (cp. the Lat. future participle with eram or fui). Cp. cross1895 a, cross1960.

ἦ μάλα δὴ Ἀγαμέμνονος . . . φθί_σεσθαι κακὸν οἶτον ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν ἔμελλον, εἰ μὴ . . . ἔειπες in sooth I was like to have perished in my halls by the evil fate of Agamemnon, hadst thou not spoken ν 383 (periturus eram, nisi dixisses).


ἄν may be omitted with the aorist of κινδυ_νεύω run a risk when the emphasis falls on the dependent infinitive.

εἰ μὴ δρόμῳ μόλις ἐξεφύγομεν εἰς Δελφούς, ἐκινδυ_νεύσαμεν ἀπολέσθαι if we had not escaped with difficulty to Delphi by taking to our heels, we ran the risk of perishing ( = we should probably have perished: ἂν ἀπωλόμεθα) Aes. 3.123. Contrast εἰ μέντοι τότε πλείους συνελέγησαν, ἐκινδύ_νευσεν ἂν διαφθαρῆναι πολὺ τοῦ στρατεύματος if they had mustered in larger force at this time, a large part of the troops would have been in danger of being destroyed X. A. 4.1.11.


Some expressions containing a secondary tense of the indicative without ἄν, and not followed by a dependent infinitive, are virtually equivalent to the apodosis of an unreal condition.

τούτῳ δ' ει' μὴ ὡμολόγουν ἃ οὗτος ἐβούλετο, οὐδεμιᾷ ζημίᾳ ἔνοχος ἦν but if they had not acknowledged to him what he wished, he would have been (lit. was) liable to no penalty L. 7.37.

a. Imperfects (not impersonal) without ἄν are often emended, as ᾐσχυ_νόμην μέντοι (some editors μέντἄν), εἰ ὑπὸ πολεμίου γε ὄντος ἐξηπατήθην I should, however, be ashamed, if I had been deceived by any one who was an enemy X. A. 7.6.21. Cp. “Tybalt's death was woe enough, if it had ended there” (Shakesp.). Cases like 1895 a do not belong here.

Previous SubSect

Next SubSect

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