Scribo wrote:I would vaguely utilise the following:
I agree that's the basic idea but different languages seem to work out the details a little differently. And one thing I've noticed is that the Ancient Greek imperfect is much more widely used than the corresponding tense in Modern Greek or French. And in fact, I did find some examples that might be relevant from Demosthenes, and all of these have the imperfect in the dependent clause:
23.187 παρῆν ὅτε τούτων ἠξιοῦτο
40.59 μαρτυρεῖ δὲ νυνὶ μόνος Κρίτωνι παρεῖναι, ὅτε παρ’ ἐμοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐωνεῖτο
59.32 Φίλαγρος Μελιτεὺς μαρτυρεῖ παρεῖναι ἐν Κορίνθῳ, ὅτε Φρυνίων ὁ Δημοχάρους ἀδελφὸς κατετίθει εἴκοσι μνᾶς
But in each case, this could simply be a "normal" use of the imperfect and could be translated by, say, the English progressive, but they might be better translated otherwise, and I'm not sure.
NateD26 wrote:If the context alone dictates whether an aorist action in a dependent clause is anterior, contemporaneous*, or subsequent to that of the main verb, then there's no reason why ἔγραφεν ἐπιστολὴν ὅτε ἦλθον wouldn't be translated as "she was writing a letter when I arrived", if it fits within the context.
I agree in general, but I suspect a role is also played by the conjunction used which is why I wonder if there's a difference here between ἐπεί (always anterior?) and ὅτε. With that example you have μέχρι, which can't be read any other way. If I saw an example like mine I would translate it that way but I don't know if that's really the way it would've been said.
This is only a partial answer to your question, but it may help to think about how these types of clauses function in narratives. The reason why it's hard to find examples like "she was watching TV when the phone rang" is because Greek normally prefers a different construction: if "she was watching TV" gives the setting, and "the phone rang" is the main new event," then Greek will normally express the setting as a participle: θεωμένης αὐτῆς τὸ δρᾶμα, ἀφίκετο ἄγγελος (with necessary vocabulary changes
I had thought of using a Katharevousa-like ἑώρα τηλεόρασιν ὅτε ἐκτύπησε τὸ τηλέφωνον but that basically sounds ridiculous. Anyway, I realize now that my English example was ambiguous, as I meant it the other way, that the new information is "she was watching TV". So even with the participle construction I'm not sure whether it would be ἀφικομένου ἀγγέλλου ἐθεώρει τὸ δρᾶμα or ἀφικνουμένου ... or neither for that matter and there may have been an entirely different way to get this across.
But to be honest, I've been searching English translations and going backwards. Here are some more examples I just found
Dem. 48.5: καὶ ἦν πρεσβύτερος ὅτε ἐτελεύτα
Lys. 11. 2: φαίνομαι οὖν δωδεκαέτης ὤν, ὅτε ὁ πατὴρ ὑπὸ τῶν τριάκοντα ἀπέθνῃσκεν
where even more so than in the examples above I would be tempted to translate ἐτελεύτα as just "died" and ἀπέθνῃσκεν as just "was killed" and not something more "imperfect-like".