ὁσάκις ἂν

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ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by bedwere » Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:28 am

I'd change the optative εἴη into subjunctive ᾖ at p. 116 of the Griechisches Comenianisches Vestibulum to have

καὶ τῷ καλλύντρῳ ἐκκοροῦμεν, ὁσάκις ἂν χρεία ᾖ.

Am i right? Thanks!

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Aetos » Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:04 pm

Hi Bedwere,
This isn't so much an answer as another question:
For an indefinite temporal clause, the subjunctive plus ἄν would be used, so χρεία ᾖ.
On the other hand, do you suppose he considers "as often as it is necessary"(so oft wie es nötig ist) as requiring the potential optative? Note that the German clause is in the present indicative.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Hylander » Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:19 pm

I don't see it as potential optative, and I think present subjunctive is right--an indefinite clause in the present.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by bedwere » Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:53 pm

Thank you, gentlemen!

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by jeidsath » Wed Dec 05, 2018 4:47 pm

Looking at Smyth 2477 on the optative mood in comparative clauses, what exactly is the distinction being made between "a." potential optative, and "b." less vivid future condition?
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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Aetos » Wed Dec 05, 2018 5:34 pm

I think the difference is in how the optative is used:
the potential optative is an independent use of the optative, whereas its use in a future less vivid conditional statement is a dependent use of the optative.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Hylander » Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:00 pm

The apodosis of a “future less vivid” condition is essentially a “potential” optative. No difference. These are just pigeonholes that are sometimes useful in analyzing Greek syntax.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by mwh » Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:47 pm

I'm with Hylander on this. As I put it more widely in the pinned Conditionals thread, “A main clause is not affected at all by whether or not there’s an if-clause with it.”

As for bedwere’s original query, the subjunctive is certainly what you’d expect (and that’s what you’d naturally use to translate “so oft wie es nötig ist”—ist not wäre). I don’t think the optative is really tenable. It could not well be defended by appeal to Smyth 2406 (επιχειρεῖ, ἡνικ’ αν ημεις μη δυναιμεθα …).

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Aetos » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:50 pm

There's no question that the subjunctive seems more appropriate; I'm just mystified that he used the optative in the first place and it's clear that he intended it, as he references the use of the optative in his vocabulary list for that section. Perhaps I'm nitpicking, but for me the conundrum continues...

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by RandyGibbons » Thu Dec 06, 2018 2:50 pm

καὶ τῷ καλλύντρῳ ἐκκοροῦμεν, ὁσάκις ἂν χρεία εἴη.
καὶ τῷ καλλύντρῳ ἐκκοροῦμεν, ὁσάκις ἂν χρεία ᾖ.

It's not obvious to me why one is more "appropriate" than the other. It seems to me these just differ in emphasis. And we brush these clothes with a brush, as many times as the need might arise (opt.) / as many times as the need shall arise (subj.).

It's been an awfully long time since I've banged my head against a wall trying to understand the dizzying permutations (combinations? - my math is rusty too) of the optative with and without ἄν, in independent vs. dependent clauses, in Attic vs. non-Attic usage, etc. So could you all please help me understand, is the author's use of the optative "illegal" (per some grammar you can cite)? merely unstylish? ...?

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Aetos » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:00 pm

Hi Randy,
To be honest, I don't know whether the use of the optative here is invalid; I think both statements are fine. The problem is with the "Übersetzung", the German translation: The Greek was provided by a Professor Schneider, the translation was provided by the author, Herr Damm. To match the Greek with the German, one would expect the subjunctive, as mwh pointed out.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by bedwere » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:19 pm

In turn, Professor Schneider must have translated from Comenius's Latin:


Atque scōpulā ēverrimus,
Quotiēs opus est.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Hylander » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:47 pm

Optative is not correct here. See Smyth 2567:
2567. Present general conditional relative clauses have ἄν with the subjunctive. The main clause has the present indicative or an equivalent.

νέος δ᾽ ἀπόλλυθ᾽ ὅντιν᾽ (= εἴ τινα) ἂν φιλῇ θεός ‘he dieth young, whome'er a god doth love’ Stob. Flor. 120.13, οὓς (= εἴ τινας) ἂν ὁοᾷ φιλοκινδύ_νως ἔχοντας πρὸς τοὺς πολεμίους, τι_μᾷ whomever he sees zealous of danger in the face of the enemy, these he honours X. H. 6.1.6, ““γαμοῦσί τε ὁπόθεν ἂν βούλωνται, ἐκδιδόωσί τε εἰς οὓς ἂν ἐθέλωσι” they both get a wife from whatever family they please and give their daughters in marriage to whomsoever they choose” P. R. 613d, ““πατρὶς γάρ ἐστι πᾶσ᾽ ἵν᾽ ἂν πρά_ττῃ τις εὖ” for every land is a man's own country wheresoever he fares well” Ar. Plut. 1151.
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... 99.04.0007

Contrast Smyth 2568:
2568. Past general conditional relative clauses have the optative. The main clause has the imperfect or an equivalent.

ἀεὶ πρὸς ᾧ (= εἰ πρός τινι) ““εἴη ἔργῳ, τοῦτο ἔπρα_ττεν” whatever work he was engaged in, that he always performed” X. H. 4.8.22, ἔπρα_ττεν ἃ δόξειεν αὐτῷ he always did whatever he pleased D. 18.235, ““πάντας . . . ὅσους λάβοιεν διέφθειρον” they used to destroy as many as they captured” T. 2.67, ““ἐθήρα_ ὅπου περ ἐπιτυγχάνοιεν θηρίοις” he used to hunt wherever they fell in with large game” X. C. 3.3.5, ἀνέκραγον . . . ἱκετεύουσαι πάντας ὅτῳ ἐντυγχάνοιεν μὴ φεύγειν they screamed out, entreating all they met not to flee X. C. 3.3.67.
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... thp%3D2568

οσακις is an indefinite relative adverb -- "as many times as", "whenever", equivalent to οποτε.
Last edited by Hylander on Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by bedwere » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:51 pm

Would the optative without ἄν, a sort of protasis, be acceptable?

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Hylander » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:56 pm

Would the optative without ἄν, a sort of protasis, be acceptable?
With a main verb in the past tense it would be not just acceptable but wholly correct, but not with the main verb in the present tense. See Smyth above.

An indefinite/general relative clause is essentially equivalent to the protasis of an indefinite/general condition.

Whenever it's necessary, we sweep the floor. subj + ἄν, present indicative
If it's ever necessary, we sweep the floor. εαν + subj, present indicative

Whenever it was necessary, we swept the floor. optative without ἄν, imperfect indicative
If it was necessary, we would sweep the floor. ει + optative without ἄν, imperfect indicative
Last edited by Hylander on Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by jeidsath » Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:00 pm

I thought that ὁσάκις made this a comparative clause, and is the reason why I referenced Smyth 2477 above. ὁσάκις/τοσάκις. Discussion of comparative clauses starting in 2462.

That said, I also did a TLG search, and ὁσάκις ἄν with the optative only occurs in some very late sources.
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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Hylander » Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:21 pm

It's not ὁσάκις/τοσάκις. It's not a numerical comparison. ὁσάκις here is simply equivalent to οποτε. A numerical comparison -- a focus on the actual number of times rather than just the repetitive action -- would require the correlative τοσάκις.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by mwh » Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:41 pm

As I suggested, I think the only way one could possibly make a case for opt.+αν here is by comparing επιχειρεῖ, ἡνικ’ αν ημεις μη δυναιμεθα … (Smyth 2406), and that is not really comparable. So it’s untenable (illegal, invalid, incorrect, wrong, ...).

Plain opt. would be fine if εκκορουμεν were a historic present, but (a) it’s evidently not, and (b) that too would mean changing the given text.

So it’s a slip. Nothing unusual about that.

As to οσακις, of course it’s not exactly equivalent to οποτε. It’s “as many times as,” “as often as.” But the difference is minimal; the construction’s the same—just as it would be if it were a conditional clause.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by RandyGibbons » Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:50 pm

(Note: I thought I already posted this, so apologies if I end up duplicating myself.)

Aetos, Bedwere - I'm not swayed by Comenius' Latin and Herr Damm's German, since with these things the different languages can be highly idiomatic, but

Hylander - I am persuaded by what you and Smyth have to say, in particular as you make me focus on what kind of clause it is. Thanks.

(msw - Is it a "slip"? I guess we'll never know who Professor Schneider's Smyth was, in 1731?)

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by mwh » Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:58 pm

msw - Is it a "slip"?
If this is addressed to me: Yes it is, though it may not have been recognized as such in 1731, any more than it was by you and Aetos in 2018. Even Germans have been known to make mistakes.


To sum up. Opt.+αν here is highly anomalous. I can find no parallel to it, or nothing closer than the quote I gave from Smyth 2406. It betrays an inadequate grasp of ancient Greek.

bedwere proposes to normalize it by changing it to the subjunctive. That’s what it ought to have been all along.
Last edited by mwh on Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by RandyGibbons » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:17 pm

Mine wasn't a slip, it was an un-Germanic confession of ignorance! (Even though I'm half German according to my dna.)

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by mwh » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:20 pm

To sum up (again). Opt.+αν here is highly anomalous. I can find no parallel to it, or nothing closer than the quote I gave from Smyth 2406. It betrays an inadequate grasp of ancient Greek.

bedwere proposes to normalize it by changing the optative to the subjunctive. That’s what it ought to have been all along.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Aetos » Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:39 pm

I'm shocked that a German educator could make a mistake! Seriously though, in his forward, he refers to eight other teachers that he submitted the book to for their opinion. None of them caught this. It was enough to make me spend some serious time in Smyth (not a bad thing, of course)!

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Hylander » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:01 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my impression is that Greek syntax (as well as other aspects of Greek grammar and lexicography and Latin grammar, too) was placed on a much sounder footing over the course of the 19th century by many specialized studies that took a minutely detailed, and laborious, look at usage and compiled large numbers of examples from ancient Greek literature. These studies were conducted largely by German scholars -- the "scientific" approach of the German university system favored this kind of intensive work -- and the results were compiled in the big German grammars such as those of Kühner and his successors.

The English-language grammars of Smyth and Goodwin and Gildersleeve are based on this work by 19th century German scholars, significantly shorn of the wealth of examples found in the 19th-20th century large-scale German grammars.

So while many scholars in preceding centuries had a very good command of Greek, it wasn't until the 19th century that the rules could be formulated reliably and with precision, supported by a large body of examples. It's not surprising, therefore, that earlier scholarship could go astray from time to time even in an area like this where rules can be formulated very precisely.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by jeidsath » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:12 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my impression is that Greek syntax (as well as other aspects of Greek grammar and lexicography and Latin grammar, too) was placed on a much sounder footing over the course of the 19th century by many specialized studies that took a minutely detailed, and laborious, look at usage and compiled large numbers of examples from ancient Greek literature.
I hate to spoil mwh's summation, and may do some thread surgery if someone can figure out a way that makes sense. But one of the enjoyable things to me about the ωστε article by Evans, in the other thread, was the picture that he drew of this increase in knowledge.
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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Aetos » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:19 pm

Hylander, mwh:
I just want to thank you for your participation in this thread. I always learn something every time you guys post and very much appreciate your time and patience.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Hylander » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:54 pm

Joel, I added my post after mwh's summation because I thought it would be a good idea to alert readers of this thread to the possibility that 18th century textbooks may not be entirely reliable as to the fine points of Greek grammar. I think that's what mwh was alluding to when he wrote that "it may not have been recognized as [a slip] in 1731,"

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by mwh » Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:41 pm

Yes. Case in point: it wasn’t till 1802 that Porson’s law was discovered! Before that scholars had been happily perpetrating multitudes of verses a single one of which would have had an ancient Greek audience on its feet hissing and yelling and hurling things.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by RandyGibbons » Fri Dec 07, 2018 11:42 am

Hylander, your capsule history of classical philology is as I understand it too. Another example: In browsing my grammars as part of participating in this thread, I was reading the entry for the potential optative in Kühner-Gerth. Kühner-Gerth is a good example, in some ways the culmination, of the 19th century German philology you're talking about. Their discussion (see "Bei den Attikern wird der potentiale Optativ ohne ἄν mit Recht beanstandet. In den Handschriften findet er sich z. B." and the examples that follow) tells me two things: (1) With respect to the role of ἄν with the optative et similiter, the manuscripts are not always reliable - it's easy to imagine why this would be; and (2) By the nineteenth century, the German editors were confident enough in their accumulated knowledge to emend accordingly.

It's a sad chapter in German history that prior to this, poor benighted Professor Schneider misled an entire generation of German youth who went around talking about brushing their clothes in incorrect Greek. But it's a happy chapter in the era of Textkit Enlightenment that Bedwere caught this and as a result we will not make the same mistake. Go Bedwere!

EDIT: Bedwere, I'm looking at other new posts on Textkit. I didn't realize you've now made it your mission to go about correcting German professors! Bravo!

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by Hylander » Fri Dec 07, 2018 3:07 pm

Yes, Bedwere's emendation is palmary.

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Re: ὁσάκις ἂν

Post by bedwere » Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:29 pm

Thank you all, although you are much too generous in praise!

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