Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-747cfc64b6-cssqh Total loading time: 0.288 Render date: 2021-06-12T21:56:29.622Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true }

Ἄn With the Future: A Note

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

A. O. Hulton
Sheffield University


The use of with the future indicative (and the corresponding participle and infinitive) is admittedly rare in post-Homeric Greek. In the passages concerned many deny the usage completely and either omit the particle or resort to emendation, or dismiss the construction as a mere ana-colouthon. In an instructive article in the Classical Quarterly, xl (1946), Moorhouse argues in favour of retaining many of the readings, and it is only his interpretation that is in question here. His main thesis is that in Homeric Greek, where the usage is common enough, κ∈ or with the future means either ‘in that case’ (where a condition is stated or implied) or ‘probably’ (where there is no such condition). The latter usage, however, he regards as sometimes assuming a tone of dogmatic certainty (‘ironical meiosis’), and this ‘emphatic future’ came to be the regular and literal meaning of the later idiom, without any irony being involved.

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 1957

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


1 A favourable view of the construction is also held by Raeder (Ein Problem in griechischer Syntax—Die Verbindung der Partikel mit Futurum, Danske Hist.-filol. Medd., 33. 5, Copenhagen: Munskgaard, 1953), whose judgement is based mainly on an examination of the texts independent of a study of meaning.

1 The view taken here is a traditional one, held in different forms by Kühner, Meillet, and Schwyzer, besides Goodwin, Monro, and Chantraine, quoted below. The clearest case of the anaphoric use is in conditional sentences, and this may be regarded as the logically basic application. It is common in Homer, where κ∈ and are found in protasis and in apodosis, with varying idiom, in many kinds of condition and also in the corresponding conditional relative sentences; here the particle belongs strictly to the main clause, and its use in the subordinate clause may well be due to transference of position, as has been recently suggested by Howorth (C.Q., N.S. v (1955), 72–93). though he does not treat fully of the future indicative construction. Similar is the usage, also found in Homer, where there is a reference to some condition stated or implied in an accompanying parallel clause, whatever be its mood and whether the verb to which κ∈ or is itself attached be indicative, subjunctive, or optative. Chantraine (Grammaire Homérique, tome ii, § 332) maintains that the joining of κ∈ and to the subjunctive is ‘ancien et naturel’ and that the future indicative use is due to a natural tense-confusion, but without sufficient argument; at all events, the indicative type must be accepted. Goodwin (Moods and Tenses, § 401) speaks of κ∈ ‘giving to each [clause of a conditional sentence] more distinctly its force as protasis and apodosis’, and Chantraine (op. cit., § 311) translates he particles ‘alors, dans ces conditions’, re-Tiarking that ‘elles soulignent un cas particulier’ (see also §§ 322, 507–8). The reference to a particular case’, also indicated by Monro (Homeric Grammar, 2nd ed., § 362, etc.), must De doubtful—at any rate if general or reurring conditions are thereby meant to be excluded. But the conditional meaning is clear, and still holds in Attic in all the conductions in which av is found—the future Indicative with in main clause (the usage we are chiefly concerned with here) being limply a vestige of a normal Homeric idiom. It is unfortunate that the term ‘modal’ is iometimes applied to these particles (e.g. Chantraine, op. cit., §§ 326, 453, etc., L.S.J., i.v.), since it may too easily be taken to imply some weakening of the force of the rerb, and even their description as ‘potential’ is apt to be likewise misleading. Neither in Homer nor later have they any modal force in this sense at all; and though the particles are often used together with the subjunctive and optative, and often must be, their use and meaning and that of these moods are strictly independent and are to be studied separately. Illustrative of the confusion is the article on in L.S.J., where the future indicative with κ∈ is taken to mean ‘will likely’, and the subjunctive with κ∈ ‘will (emphatic), if…’, though the meaning in the latter case is said to be ‘the same as with the future idicative’.

1 Where is taken in a weaker or narrower, rather than a stronger, sense, irony may conceivably be intended; but whén it is, and if ever it is (M.'s Attic instances include no clear examples, as he himself admits), the meaning of the words themselves, as opposed to their rhetorical nuance, remains un affected.

2 The future optative with is extremely rare. Here it is in Oratio Obliqua and corresponds to an original future indicative with, but in other contexts it should probably be emended to an aorist indicative, optative or—it may be suggested—future indicative (e.g. Lye. 15, Plat. Legg. 719 D). Keith in C.Q. vi (1912), 121—6, wishes to make it expressive of intention or likelihood (‘you would be prepared to, likely to, receive’) and in fact regards it, and not the indicative, as the fons et origo of the participle and infinitive constructions (the indicative construction he rejects altogether). But (a) better attested cases of the optative with are required to establish its validity (K. evidently accepts this usage even in Homer); (b) the meaning of intention, according to the view put forward, is equally possessed by the indicative construction, and the optative has thus not a ‘peculiar sense’; (c) the indicative construction is not a ‘mere anomaly’.

3 Cobet (Variae Lectiones, 2nd ed., pp. 92 ff.), who rejects the construction, thinks like M., that with the future belonged to the plebeius sermo. But the evidence is not conclusive, and rather than being a colloquialism it may well be taken as an archaism with a poetical or dignified nuance.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Ἄn With the Future: A Note
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Ἄn With the Future: A Note
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Ἄn With the Future: A Note
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *