John W. wrote:
In V.6.3 we find the following:
Βρασίδας δὲ πυνθανόμενος ταῦτα ἀντεκάθητο καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπὶ τῷ Κερδυλίῳ: ἔστι δὲ τὸ χωρίον τοῦτο Ἀργιλίων ἐπὶ μετεώρου πέραν τοῦ ποταμοῦ, οὐ πολὺ ἀπέχον τῆς Ἀμφιπόλεως, καὶ κατεφαίνετο πάντα αὐτόθεν, ὥστε οὐκ ἂν ἔλαθεν αὐτὸν ὁρμώμενος ὁ Κλέων τῷ στρατῷ ...
I have rendered this as follows:
'On learning this Brasidas for his part took up an opposing position on Cerdylium: this place belongs to the Argilians, being on high ground beyond the river, not far from Amphipolis, and everything was visible from there, so that Cleon would not escape his notice if he set out with his army ...'
My question is simply this: why do we have ἂν plus the aorist indicative ἔλαθεν here? What sort of a conditional (or potential?) clause is this? Why is it not optative, since it seems to be looking forwards rather than being a past condition? Or is it in fact past, and is it my translation that is at fault - should it be '... so that Cleon would not have escaped his notice if setting out with his army ...'?
I will try to answer your questions. My habit is to refer to Mastronarde, Sidgwick, and Smyth in that order. Let me know which of those you have at your disposal. Sidgwick's book, the one on prose composition, has a number of insightful observations about Thucydides' syntactic tendencies.
I think that in the first instance it is an actual result construction (Mast. p. 187). I don't know how else to explain the ὥστε, since it is not used with final/purpose clauses. And while a natural result construction might seem more, ehm, natural, that would require an infinitive. In the second instance, I think it is a past potential indicative (Mast. p. 274). This can be deployed in both independent and dependent settings to indicate a possibility or probability in the past. And it requires the ἂν.
So Thucydides is saying that Brasidas took up that position with the result that Cleon probably would be noticed.
The only thing that makes it seem slippery is that the ὥστε is pointing at a result that is still somewhat indeterminate, ie the situation that actually occurred where Cleon was likely to be noticed, not the later result of his actually being noticed. But it is only our language for describing the Greek grammar ("actual results", etc.) that makes this reading seem like hair splitting.
But we work with indeterminate results in English in much the same way: "When he got the money, he went to Vegas, so that he would likely lose all of it." We can say that and not even know how it actually turned out in the end. But that doesn't change the fact that "so that he would likely lose all of it" is still an actual result of his getting the money and going to Vegas. Perhaps better English syntax would be "so it seemed he would lose it all".
(My guess is Thucydides was narrating along and had already put down the ὥστε indicating an actual result, but then for the sake of greater accuracy wanted to indicate the small possibility that Cleon could have gone unnoticed, perhaps by going at night, or perhaps because of some bit of topography, and so inserted the ἂν. Further evidence for this can perhaps be found at 5.7.1 where Thucydides talks of Brasidas expectations, perhaps indicating the realization that 5.6.3 would have been better phrased with a purpose clause than an actual result clause. But this is perhaps putting too fine a spin on things and isn't necessary for my points above and so I leave it parenthetical.)
John W. wrote:
The other query arises from V.7.4:
ἐλθών τε καὶ καθίσας ἐπὶ λόφου καρτεροῦ πρὸ τῆς Ἀμφιπόλεως τὸν στρατὸν αὐτὸς ἐθεᾶτο τὸ λιμνῶδες τοῦ Στρυμόνος καὶ τὴν θέσιν τῆς πόλεως ἐπὶ τῇ Θρᾴκῃ ὡς ἔχοι.
My translation here is:
'Having arrived and stationed his army on a steep hill in front of Amphipolis, he himself viewed the marshy area of the Strymon and how the city was positioned adjacent to Thrace.'
Here, curiously, my query is in the opposite direction: why is ἔχοι optative rather than indicative? Is it because it is effectively an indirect question, with the indicative turning into the optative?
I wouldn't say it is because it is an indirect question. According to the sequence of tenses, both indirect statements and indirect questions can have their verbs changed to optative after verbs in secondary tenses. And that is all that seems to be happening here.
As an aside, this is an example of characteristically Thucydidean prolepsis, the subject of the verb ἔχοι, ie τὴν θέσιν, coming out of the dependent clause to become the object of the main verb ἐθεᾶτο and changing case from nom. to acc.
Please, keep "basic" questions coming. Nothing helps me more than seeing how you folks reason through sentences. Let me know what you think. If you would like Smyth numbers, I don't mind at all digging them up. Even if it takes me the better part of an afternoon!