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πρίν with infinitive: posteriority (‘before’)
πρὶν ἀλέκτορα φωνῆσαι τρὶς ἀπαρνήσῃ με.
‘Before the cock has turned three times, you will betray me.’ (
The infinitive, preceded by πρίν ‘before’, signals posteriority as a satellite. The main clause is usually affirmative.
Besides πρίν the following posterior conjunctions also exist: πρὶν ἤ, πάρος (Hom.), πρότερον ἤ and πρόσθεν ἤ ‘earlier than’.
When πρίν is used with the infinitive, only the translation 'before' is possible.
In Homer (who also uses πάρος beside πρίν) the infinitive is the normal construction, whether the main clause is affirmative or negative.
πρότερον or πρόσθεν can anticipate πρίν in the main clause, as can other adverbs, such as πάροιθεν. Attic also has the expression φθάνω ... πρίν. Even compound verbs with the prefix προ- can anticipate πρίν.
In Homer the identical adverb πρίν can serve as a signal word.
πρὶν οὖν τιν᾽ ἀνδρῶν ἐξοδοιπορεῖν στέγης
καὶ πρίν γε τὴν γυναῖκα τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ φανερὰν γενέσθαι κύουσαν ἐβασίλευεν.
Before the pregnancy of his brother's wife became apparent, he ruled as king.
πρὶν λέγειν, ὑμᾶς τοδὶ ἐπερήσομαί τι μικρόν
Before I say it, I will ask you to tell something small.