Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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NEGATIVE SENTENCES 2688

The simple negative particles are οὐ and μή. οὐ is the negative of fact and statement, and contradicts or denies; μή is the negative of the will and thought, and rejects or deprecates. The difference between the simple negatives holds true also of their compounds οὔτε μήτε, οὐδέ μηδέ, οὐδείς μηδείς, etc.

a. τὰ οὐκ ὄντα is that which does not exist independently of any opinion of the writer: τὰ οὐκ ὄντα λογοποιεῖν to fabricate what does not actually exist And. 3.35. τὰ μὴ ὄντα is that which is regarded as not existing, that which is dependent on the opinion of the writer, the whole sum of things that are outside of actual knowledge: τὰ μὴ ἐόντα οὔτε ὁρᾶται οὔτε γι_νώσκεται that which does not exist is neither seen nor known Hippocrates, de arte § 2; cp. τὸ μὴ ὄν P. R. 478b.

b. The rarer οὐχί (οὐ-χί) denies with greater emphasis than οὐ. The form μηκέτι no longer is due to the analogy of οὐκ-έτι.

2689

μή as the negative of will and thought is used in various expressions involving emotion, as commands, prohibitions, wishes, hopes, prayers, petitions, promises, oaths, asseverations, and the like; in expressions marking condition, purpose, effort, apprehension, cautious assertion, surmise, and fear; in setting forth ideality, mere conceptions, abstractions as opposed to reality or to definite facts; in marking ideas as general and typical; when a person or thing is to be characterized as conceived of rather than real.—μή is used not merely when the above notions are apparent but also when they are latent. Greek often conceives of a situation as marked by feeling where English regards it as one of fact; and hence uses μή where we should expect οὐ.

a. μή corresponds to the Sanskrit prohibitive particle mā´, which in the Rig Veda is used with the independent indicative of an augmentless aorist or imper

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fect which has the force of the subjunctive; rarely with the optative. In later Sanskrit mā´ was used with the subjunctive, optative, and imperative.

b. μή was originally used only in independent clauses; but later was employed in subordinate clauses, and with dependent infinitives and participles. On the origin of μή as a conjunction, see cross2222. In Homer μή is used especially with the subjunctive, optative, and imperative (i.e. in commands and wishes); rarely with the indicative (in μὴ ὤφελλον, in oaths, in questions, after verbs of fearing referring to a past event); with the infinitive when used for the imperative after a verb of saying, etc. when the infinitive expresses a command or a wish, and when a dependent infinitive is used in an oath; with the participle only in connection with a command (Ξ 48) or a wish (δ 684).

c. In later Greek (Polybius, Lucian, Dio Chrysostomus, etc.) μή has encroached on οὐ, generally by extension of usages occurring rarely in the classical language. Thus Lucian has μή after causal ὡς, ὅτι, διότι, ἐπεί; in relative clauses (sometimes οὐδέν ἐστιν ὅτι μή); with participles of cause (even ἅτε μή) or of concession; with participles without the article following an adjective; with the infinitive after verbs of saying and thinking. ὅτι μή appears in indirect discourse (complete or partial) where the classical language would use the infinitive or ὅτι with the optative or ὡς with the participle; so after verbs of saying and thinking, after verbs of emotion, and even after verbs of knowing.

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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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