Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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οὐ adherescent (or privative) placed before a verb (or other single word) not merely negatives the meaning of the simple verb but gives it an opposite meaning, the two expressing a single negative idea; as οὔ φημι I deny, I refuse (not I say not). οὔ φημι is preferred to φημὶ οὐ as nego is preferred to aio non.


Adherescent οὐ is especially common with verbs of saying or thinking, but occurs also with many verbs of will or desire. In such cases οὐ goes closely with the leading verb, forming a quasi- compound; whereas it belongs in sense to a following infinitive if an infinitive depends on the leading verb. In Latin actual composition has taken place in nego, nescio, nequeo, nolo.

οὐκ ἔφη ἰέναι he refused to go X. A. 1.3.8, οὔ φα_σιν εἶναι ἄλλην ὁδόν they say that there is no other road 4. 1. 21 (cp. φῂς ἢ οὔ; yes or no? P. A. 27d), τίνας δ' οὐκ ᾤετο δεῖν λέγειν; who were those whom he thought ought not to speak? Aes. 1.28, ἃ οὐκ ἐᾶτε ἡμᾶς . . . ποιεῖν what you forbid us to do X. C. 1.3.10, οὐκ ἀξιοῖ . . . φεύγοντα τι_μωρεῖσθαι he said that it was not right to avenge himself on an exile T. 1.136.

a. So with οὔ φημι and οὐ φάσκω deny, refuse ( = ἀπαρνοῦμαι), οὐκ οἴομαι, οὐ νομίζω, οὐ δοκῶ, οὐκ ἐῶ and οὐ κελεύω forbid (veto), οὐκ ἀξιῶ regard as unworthy, do not expect that, refuse, οὐχ ὑπισχνοῦμαι refuse, οὐ προσποιοῦμαι dissimulo, οὐ συμβουλεύω dissuade, advise not to, οὐκ ἐθέλω am unwilling, οὐκ ἐπαινῶ disapprove. This association often persists in participles, as οὐκ ἐῶν, οὐκ ἐθέλων. Homer has οὔ φημι, φημὶ οὐ, and οὔ φημι οὐ.


οὐ with the principal verb may be equivalent in sense to μή with a dependent infinitive; as οὐ συμβουλεύων Ξέρξῃ στρατεύεσθαι ἐπὶ τὴν Ἑλλάδα advising Xerxes not to march against Greece ( = συμβουλεύων μὴ στρατεύεσθαι) Hdt. 7.46.


Analogous to this use with verbs is the use of οὐ with adjectives and adverbs.

οὐκ ὀλίγοι πολλοί, οὐκ ἐλάχιστος μέγιστος, οὐχ ἧττον μᾶλλον, οὐχ ἥκιστα μάλιστα, οὐ καλῶς basely, οὐκ ἀφανής famous, οὐκ εἰκότως unreasonably, οὐ περὶ βραχέων on important matters (cp. cross2690 a), regularly οὐ πάνυ not at all, as οὐ πάνυ χαλεπόν easy.


The origin of adherescent οὐ is to be found partly in the unwillingness of the early language to use the negative particle with the infinitive, partly in the preference for a negative rather than a positive assertion, and to the disinclination to make a strong positive statement (litotes, as in some of the cases of cross2694), and partly in the absence of negative compounds, the development of which in adjectives and participles ( cross2071 a) was in turn restricted by the use of adherescent οὐ.


Adherescent οὐ is often found in a protasis with εἰ and in other constructions where we expect μή.

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εἰ δ' ἀποστῆναι Ἀθηναίων οὐκ ἠθελήσαμεν . . ., οὐκ ἠδικοῦμεν but if we refused to revolt from the Athenians, we were not doing wrong T. 3.55, εἰ οὐκ ἐᾷς if thou forbiddest S. Aj. 1131 ( = εἰ κωλύ_εις), εἰ μὴ Πρόξενον οὐχ ὑπεδέξαντο, ἐσώθησαν ἄν if it had not been that they did not receive Proxenus, they would have been saved D. 19.74, εἰ μὲν οὐ πολλοὶ ἦσαν if they were few L. 13.62 (emended by some to οὖν μή). ἐὰ_ν οὐ is rare, as ἐά_ν τε οὐ φῆτε ἐά_ν τε φῆτε both if you deny it and if you admit it P. A. 25b (cp. L. 13.76, D. 26.24).


But μή often does not yield to οὐ, as ἄ_ντ' ἐγὼ φῶ ἄ_ν τε μὴ φῶ both if I assent and if I do not D. 21.205, οὐκ οἶδ' ὅπως φῶ τοῦτο καὶ μὴ φῶ I know not how I shall say this and not say it E. I. A. 643, ἐὰ_ν μὴ . . . ἐᾶτε D. 16.12, and in many cases where μή goes closely with the following word, as εἰ ἐδίδου κρίσιν καὶ μὴ ἀφῃρεῖτο if he were granting a trial and not taking it away D. 23.91.

οὐ AFTER εἰ (ἐά_ν) 2698

οὐ is sometimes found in clauses introduced by εἰ (ἐά_ν).

a. When οὐ is adherescent ( cross2696).

b. When there is an emphatic assertion of fact or probability, as where a direct statement is quoted. Thus, εἰ δὲ οὐδὲν ἡμάρτηταί μοι if (as I have shown) no error has been committed by me And. 1.33, εἰ, ὡς νῦν φήσει, οὐ παρεσκεύαστο if, as he will presently assert, he had not made preparations D. 54.29. Cp. X. A. 1.7.18, quoted in 2790.

c. When εἰ (ἐά_ν) is used instead of ὅτι that (because) after verbs of emotion ( cross2247). Thus, μὴ θαυμάσῃς εἰ πολλὰ τῶν εἰρημένων οὐ πρέπει σοι do not be surprised if much of what has been said does not apply to you I. 1.44. Here μή is possible.

d. When εἰ (ἐά_ν) approaches the idea of ἐπεί since (cp. cross2246, cross2298 b). So εἰ τούσδε . . . οὐ στέργει πατήρ if (since) their father has ceased to love these children E. Med. 88 (often explained as οὐ adherescent). Here μή is possible.

e. When a single εἰ introduces a bimembered protasis as a whole, the μέν clause and the δέ clause of that protasis may have οὐ. Such bimembered protases often depend on a preceding apodosis introduced by αἰσχρόν, ἄτοπον, δεινόν, θαυμαστόν ἐστι (ἂν εἴη) and like expressions of emotion (c). Thus, εἶτ' οὐκ αἰσχρόν . . . εἰ τὸ μὲν Ἀργείων πλῆθος οὐκ ἐφοβήθη τὴν Λακεδαιμονίων ἀρχὴν . . ., ὑ_μεῖς δὲ ὄντες Ἀθηναῖοι βάρβαρον ἄνθρωπον φοβήσεσθε; is it not then disgraceful, if it is true that whereas the Argive commons did not fear the empire of the Lacedaemonians, you, who are Athenians, are going to be afraid of a barbarian? D. 15.23, αἰσχρὸν γάρ, εἰ πατὴρ μὲν ἐξεῖλεν Φρύγας, ὃ δ' ἄνδρ' ἕν' ου' δυνήσεται κτανεῖν for it is disgraceful that, whereas the father destroyed the Phrygians, the other (the son) is not going to be able to destroy one foe E. El. 336, δεινὸν ἂν εἴη, εἰ οἱ μὲν ἐκείνων ξύμμαχοι ἐπὶ δουλείᾳ τῇ αὑτῶν (χρήματα) φέροντες οὐκ ἀπεροῦσιν, ἡμεῖς δὲ ἐπὶ τῷ . . . αὐτοὶ σῴζεσθαι οὐκ ἄρα δαπανήσομεν it would be strange if, whereas their allies will not fail to pay tribute for their own enslavement, we on the other hand will not expend it for the purpose of saving ourselves T. 1.121.

N. 1.—The second member of such protases has οὐ if the verb stands in the indicative, but μή (in classical Greek) if the verb is in the optative. In Aes. 2.157 οὐ κατάσχοιμι is due to indirect discourse.

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N. 2.—In such sentences εἰ may (1) have a conditional force in both clauses, as L. 30.16, 31. 24; (2) have a conditional force in the second member, but the force of ἐπεί in the first member, as L. 20.36, Is. 14.52; (3) have the force of ἐπεί in the first member, and that of ὅτι in the second member, as D. 8.55, Aes. 3.242; (4) have the force of ὅτι in both members, as T. 1.35, 1. 121, X. C. 7.5.84.

f. A bimembered clause introduced by εἰ may contain a negative clause with οὐ directly opposed to a positive clause; as εἰ δὲ τῷ μέν, τοῖς δ' οὔ D. 23.123.

g. εἰ whether in simple and alternative indirect questions takes either οὐ or μή ( cross2676 c, e).


Homer has εἰ and the indicative with οὐ ( cross12 times) when the subordinate clause precedes the main clause; but usually εἰ μή, when the subordinate clause follows. Thus, εἰ δέ μοι οὐ τείσουσι βοῶν ἐπιεικἔ ἀμοιβήν, δύ_σομαι εἰς Ἀίδα_ο but if they will not pay a fitting compensation for the cattle, I will go down to Hades μ 382, ἔνθα κεν Ἀργείοισιν ὑπέρμορα νόστος ἐτύχθη, εἰ μὴ Ἀθηναίην Ἥρη πρὸς μῦθον ἔειπεν then in that case the return of the Argives had been accomplished against fate, if Hera had not spoken a word to Athena B 155.

a. The Homeric εἰ οὐ with the indicative has been explained either as a retention of the original use, μή with that mood being an extension through the analogy of the subjunctive and optative; or because οὐ went with the predicate, whereas μή was closely attached to εἰ.


Homer has εἰ οὐ (adherescent) with the subjunctive in εἰ δ' ἂν . . . οὐκ ἐθέλωσιν Γ 289, εἰ δέ κ' . . . οὐκ εἰῶσιν Υ 139.


Herodotus has a few cases of εἰ οὐ with the indicative, as 6. 9; ἢν οὐ with the subjunctive is doubtful (6. cross133).

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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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