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negated optative

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negated optative

Postby Bert » Fri Dec 24, 2004 12:48 am

If an optative could be translated by -You may take that-.
How would it be translated if the optative were negated.
-You may not take that- sounds a lot like it should be an imperative.
Can this be a correct translation?
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Re: negated optative

Postby annis » Fri Dec 24, 2004 1:26 am

Bert wrote:If an optative could be translated by -You may take that-.
How would it be translated if the optative were negated.
-You may not take that- sounds a lot like it should be an imperative.
Can this be a correct translation?


I would say no. "You might not take that" I think is closer, or a wish, "may you not take that."

Is there a context for this question?
William S. Annis — http://www.aoidoi.org/http://www.scholiastae.org/
τίς πατέρ' αἰνήσει εἰ μὴ κακοδαίμονες υἱοί;
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Re: negated optative

Postby Bert » Fri Dec 24, 2004 3:25 am

annis wrote:I would say no. "You might not take that" I think is closer, or a wish, "may you not take that."

Is there a context for this question?

Yes there is. Iliad 1:301. I think [face=SPIonic]fe/roij [/face]is optative.
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Postby Paul » Fri Dec 24, 2004 6:17 am

Hi Bert,

I think it depends on how the optative is negatived. The use of [face=SPIonic]ou)k[/face] in Il. 1.301 suggests a potential instead of a wish optative. This is further confirmed by the particle [face=SPIonic]a)/n[/face]. So I would not expect this to translate as a negative wish, e.g., 'may you not...'.

We translate potential optatives with words like 'may, can, could, would, might', etc., because the optative implies some constraint or condition whose future realization is uncertain. Goodwin (Greek Grammar, #1328) observes that this condition can be so general that it applies in all cases. When this occurs the optative with [face=SPIonic]a)/n[/face] is essentially a future. This leads to a translation like "...never would you carry off.." or, using the the future tense, "..you will not carry off..".

(Two paragraphs later Goodwin notes that the potential optative in 2nd person may express "mild command or exhortation". But I don't think this is our case. Achilles is not here expressing a mild command.)

Cordially,

Paul
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Postby Bert » Fri Dec 24, 2004 9:52 pm

Paul wrote: Achilles is not here expressing a mild command.)

So he is more or less making a prediction.
If this was a future indicative with OU, it would have been a certainty, but now it is something like- You are not likely going to take it-?
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Postby Paul » Sat Dec 25, 2004 2:35 am

Bert wrote:So he is more or less making a prediction.
If this was a future indicative with OU, it would have been a certainty, but now it is something like- You are not likely going to take it-?


I suppose you could call it a prediction. Following Goodwin's remarks, I would say that Achilles is expressing his certain intent with regard to the disposition of his belongings, no matter what the attendant conditions (e.g., who or how many come to take his stuff).

I think the difference here between future and optative (often a bit blurry) is chiefly one of will or intent. Achilles is saying that something will not happen, and it won't because he will see that it doesn't.

To draw, albeit hesitantly, from a 'real world' example: when Saddam invaded Kuwait, the first president Bush said, "This will not stand." This remark seems to me of a piece with what Achilles says in line 301.

Cordially,

Paul
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