Re: Ei + future ind. vs. subjunctive

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Feb 15 1997 - 20:28:06 EST

At 4:18 PM -0600 2/15/97, kdlitwak wrote:
>This afternoon I encounterd the phrase
>Write History 58). This uses ei an plus the future mid. (dep.)
>indicative for a potential situation that might happen at some point
>(POTE). I could be wrong on this, but I would expect NT Greek to use
>ean plus the subjunctive for this. Is this a real difference between
>classical and NT Greek, in using ei plus the future vs. ean plus the
>subjunctive for possible conditions, or is my sample size too small?

Since I'm not at the office I can't check the text readily, Ken, but I
suspect that you have not transcribed it altogether accurately; I'm
guessing that the above should read: HN DE POTE KAI LOGOUS POIOUNTA TINA
DEHSHi EISAGEN--that the HN is the contracted EAN which is itself a
contraction of EI AN and that EPOUNTA which certainly looks like a masc.
acc. ptc. is probably POIOUNTA (because LOGOUS POIEIN is a common enough
phrase). IF that's what the text is meant to be, THEN:

I'd say hat DEHSHi is and can only be an aorist subjunctive of the
impersonal verb DEI. I'm assuming that the clause means, "Should there be
need to introduce someone delivering a speech ... " or the like.

If I've read this correctly, then it would appear that you've misconstrued
DEHSHi to be DEHSEI--the aorist subjunctive for the future indicative. It's
not a stupid mistake, although it IS a mistake, since the future indicative
derives historically from the short-vowel aorist subjunctive and will
generally show the same sigmatic stem. HOWEVER, you must realize that
you'll NEVER have an AN with a future tense; it is used only with a
subjunctive in a conditional clause or with an imperfect or aorist
indicative in the result clause of a counterfactual condition. With a
future indicative you will find an EI--but never a combination of EI + AN.

Finally, the construction in this Lucian passage is identical in form with
the construction normally used in Koine (and although Lucian writes in the
second century A.D., I won't call this Koine because he is very careful to
write classical Attic rather than the Koine which he despises). EAN (POTE)
+ Pres/Aor subjunctive in a conditional clause indicates a Present General
condition: If/when ever such and such a contingency occurs, (then such and
such a result follows). It could just as well be a more-vivid future, in
which case the result would be a future indicative or the equivalent. These
constructions don't differ between Classical Attic and Koine--although the
Past general in Classical Attic would involve an Optative in the
conditional clause, whereas Koine just uses a past indicative in the
conditional clause.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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