Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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Temporal clauses are introduced by conjunctions or relative expressions having the force of conjunctions

A. Denoting time usually the same as that of the principal verb:

ὅτε, ὁπότε, ἡνίκα, ὁπηνίκα when; ὁσάκις as often as; ἕως, μέχρι (rarely ἄχρι), ὅσον χρόνον so long as; ἕως, ἐν ᾧ (rarely ἐν ὅσῳ and ἔστε) while.

N. 1.—ἕως means so long as in reference to actions that are coëxtensive; while, in reference to actions not coëxtensive.

N. 2.—ἡνίκα, ὁπηνίκα have the force of what time, at the moment when, when, (rarely while), and are more precise than ὅτε.

N. 3.—Poetic or Ionic are εὖτε (= ὅτε) when, ἦμος (only with the indicative) when, ὅπως when (ὅκως in Hdt. of antecedent action), ὄφρα so long as. Hom. has εἷος (i.e. ἧος) or εἵως for ἕως.

N. 4.—ἔστε is used (rarely) in lyric, Sophocles, Euripides, Herodotus, Xenophon.

B. Denoting time usually prior to that of the principal verb:

ἐπεί, ἐπειδή after, after that (less exactly when); ἐπεὶ πρῶτον, ὡς (or ἐπεὶ) τάχιστα, ἐπειδὴ τάχιστα (rarely ὅπως τάχιστα) as soon as; ἐξ οὗ (rarely ἐξ ὧν), ἐξ ὅτου, ἀφ' οὗ since, ever since; ὡς when, as soon as, since.

N.—ἐπείτε after is very common in Herodotus.

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C. Denoting time subsequent to that of the principal verb:

ἕως, ἔστε, μέχρι, μέχρι οὗ (rarely ἄχρι), ἄχρι οὗ until: followed by a finite verb.

πρίν, πρότερον ἤ before, until: followed by a finite verb or by an infinitive.

N.—Homer has also ὄφρα (also final), εἰς ὅτε (κε), εἰς ὅ (κε). Herodotus has ἐς ὅ, ἕως οὗ, ἐς οὗ until. ὁππότε with the optative in Homer after a past tense of a verb of waiting or expecting means for the time when (H cross414). ἔστε (first in Hesiod) is rare in lyric, tragedy, Herodotus, and Plato, very common in Xenophon.—μέχρι is avoided by the orators.—μέχρι and ἄχρι take the articular infinitive in Demosthenes.—τέως for ἕως is rare ( cross2171).


Demonstrative adverbs in the principal clause often correspond to the relative conjunctions, as ὅτε . . . τότε, ἐν ᾧ . . . ἐντούτῳ, ἕως . . . τέως (μέχρι τούτου). So also ἐπεὶ . . . τότε, ὡς (ὅτε) . . . ἐνταῦθα, etc.


Some temporal conjunctions also denote cause:

ὅτε, ὁπότε, ἐπεί, εὖτε (poet.), ἐπειδή since, whereas, ὡς because. ὡς means also as, as to, rarely, in prose, in order that. ἕως in Homer has in part become a final conjunction ( cross2419); for the Attic use, see cross2420.


A temporal sentence and a conditional sentence may occur in close conjunction without marked difference of signification.

ὅταν δὲ νοσήσωσιν, ὑγιεῖς γενόμενοι σῴζονται· ἐά_ν τέ τις ἄλλη συμφορὰ_ καταλαμβάνῃ αὐτούς, τὰ ἐναντία ἐπιγιγνόμενα ὀνίνησιν whenever they fall ill, they are saved by regaining their health; and if ever any other calamity overtakes them, the reversal to prosperity that follows is to their benefit Ant. 2. β. 1.


A temporal conjunction is often used in Greek where English employs a conditional or a concessive conjunction.

οὐκ ἂν ἔγωγε Κρονί_ονος ἆσσον ἱκοίμην, . . . ὅτε μὴ αὐτός γε κελεύοι I would not draw nearer to Cronus' son unless (lit. when not) he should himself bid me Ξ 248.


The time denoted by a temporal clause is not always solely contemporaneous, antecedent, or subsequent to that of the principal clause, but may overlap with the time of the principal clause (before and at the same time, at the same time and after, until and after).

ἐπεὶ δὲ ἠσθένει Δα_ρεῖος καὶ ὑπώπτευε τελευτὴν τοῦ βίου, ἐβούλετο τὼ παῖδε παρεῖναι when Darius was ill and suspected that his life was coming to an end, he wished his two sons to be with him X. A. 1.1.1 (here the situation set forth by ἠσθένει and ὑπώπτευε occurred both before and after the time indicated in ἐβούλετο), τοιαῦτα ἐποίει ἕως διεδίδου πάντα ἃ ἔλαβε κρέα_ he kept doing thus until he saw that (and so long as) he was distributing all the meat he had received X. C. 1.3.7 (the imperfect is rare with ἕως or πρίν until), ὁ δ' ἔν τε τῷ παρόντι πρὸς τὰ μηνύ_ματα ἀπελογεῖτο καὶ ἑτοῖμος ἦν πρὶν ἐκπλεῖν κρί_νεσθαι he both defended himself then and there against the charges and offered to be tried before he sailed T. 6.29.

a. Conjunctions of antecedent action usually take the aorist, rarely the imperfect except when that tense represents overlapping action, as in T. 5.72. 3. Cp. T. 1.13. 5 with 1. 5. 1.

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b. A verb of aoristic action is used: in the temporal clause when complete priority, in the main clause when complete subsequence, is to be clearly marked.


Clauses introduced by relative adverbs (or conjunctions) of time, have, in general, the same constructions as clauses introduced by relative pronouns ( cross340, cross2493 ff.) and by relative adverbs of place and manner. Temporal clauses are treated separately for the sake of clearness.

a. Temporal clauses introduced by a word meaning until differ from ordinary conditional relatives in some respects, as in the use of the optative in implied indirect discourse ( cross2408, cross2420); and in the frequency of the absence of ἄν ( cross2402).

b. Strictly ὅτε, ἔνθα, ὡς, etc., are subordinating conjunctions when the clause introduced by them fixes the time, place, or manner of the main clause; but are relative adverbs when they serve only to define the antecedent and introduce a clause merely supplementary to the main clause.


Temporal clauses are either definite or indefinite.


A temporal clause is definite when the action occurs at a definite point of time (negative οὐ, except when the special construction requires μή). Definite temporal clauses usually refer to the present or to the past.


A temporal clause is indefinite when the action (1) occurs in the indefinite future, (2) recurs an indefinite number of times, (3) continues for an indefinite period. The same clause may have more than one of these meanings. (3) is rare. The negative is μή. Indefinite temporal clauses refer either to the future or to general present or past time.


The same temporal conjunction may refer either to definite or to indefinite time; sometimes with a difference of meaning.


When the time is definite, the indicative is used; when indefinite, the subjunctive with ἄν, the optative, or (rarely) the indicative.

Temporal conjunctions with the subjunctive take ἄν. (For exceptions, see cross2402, cross2412, 2444 b.) ἄν is not used with the optative except when the optative is potential, 2406, 2421 (cp. cross2452).

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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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