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conjunction with the moods of the main clause: causal clauses


πέποιθ᾿, ἐπεί τἂν οὐ μακρὰν ἔζων ἐγώ.

‘I believe it! For otherwise I would not have stayed alive for long.’ (Soph. El. 323)

A finite subordinate clause introduced by one of the conjunctions below signals a cause as a satellite. The most common conjunctions are ὅτι, διότι, ὡς ‘because’, ἐπεί ‘since’, ἐπειδή ‘seeing that’, ὅτε, ὁπότε ‘since’.

Lexical usage

Most causal conjunctions can also be used with a different meaning. This formal correspondence illustrates the narrow relationship between the semantic role of cause and other roles such as source, time, goal or condition:

  • [temporal] ὅτε, ὁπότε, ὁπηνίκα, ἐπεί, ἐπειδή, ἐπείπερ, εὖτε (poetic and Ionic) 'now, considering that';
  • [conditional] εἰ, ἐφ’ ᾧ, ἀνθ’ ὧν 'if, since';
  • [comparative] ὡς (informal from the end of the 5th century), ὥς τε (twice in the Odyssey), ὅπως 'because, since';
  • [place] ὅπου 'since, as';
  • [source] ὅθεν 'since, as'.

Other conjunctions are also used in object clauses: ὅτι (or ὁτιή in Aristophanes), διότι, διόπερ 'because'. Moreover, the conjunction ὅ 'because' is a relative pronoun.
Finally, there are a few conjunctions which are exclusively causal: οὕνεκα of ὁθούνεκα (poetic), εἵνεκεν (Ionic) 'because'.

Syntactic usage (not possible optativus obliquus)

Usually a causal clause takes the indicative, because the cause of a state of affairs or an action usually exists in reality. This does not exclude the expression of possible causes (in the optative with ἄν – often with the force of a modest opinion) or counterfactual causes (in the secondary indicative with ἄν).
The oblique optative is possible. When the main clause contains an optative mood attraction can occur.


Causal clauses are often anticipated in the main clause by διὰ ταῦτα / διὰ τοῦτο ‘for this reason’, τοῦδ’ ἕνεκα ‘for this reason’. A causative clause can also sometimes be used independently as the answer to a question introduced by τί; ‘why?’


The most common conjunctions are ὡς, ἐπεί (with the derivation ἐπειδή and the Ionic variant ἐπείτε), ὅτι and to a lesser extent ὅτε (Rijksbaron 1976: 24).

Example Sentences: 

οὐ γὰρ ἡλικίαν ἔχει

παρὰ σοὶ καθεύδειν τηλικοῦτος ὤν, ἐπεὶ

μήτηρ ἂν αὐτῷ μᾶλλον εἴης ἢ γυνή

[Θαλῆς] οὐδὲν ἔφη τὸν θάνατον διαφέρειν τοῦ ζῆν· “σὺ οὖν,” ἔφη τις, “διὰ τί οὐκ ἀποθνήσκεις;” “ὅτι,” εἶπεν, “οὐδὲν διαφέρει

Thales said that there was no difference between death and life. Someone asked: Why don't you die then? and Thales said: Because it makes no difference.

Ἀγοράτου δὲ ἀπεψηφίσαντο, διότι ἐδόκει προθύμως τούτους ἀπολλύναι

To Agoratus they spoke freely, because he seemed enthusiastic about their demise. ֍

διὰ τοῦτο κρίνεται, ὅτι ταῦτα πράξας παρὰ τοὺς νόμους δημηγορεῖ

That is precisely why he is on trial, the fact that after such behaviour he addresses the assembly in violation of the laws. ֍

ἀλλ᾿ ὅτι τὸ πίνειν εἰς τὸ λαλεῖν προάγεται, τῷ δὲ λαλεῖν ἐμφαίνεται καὶ τὸ ἀπογυμνοῦσθαι πολλὰ τῶν ἄλλως λανθανόντων, παρέχει τινὰ τὸ συμπίνειν κατανόησιν ἀλλήλων.

And because drinking leads to talking and through talking that which is normally secret is exposed and brought to the surface, drinking together can lead to deeper insights into each other. ֍

ἐρᾶτε μητρός, παῖδες, ὡς οὐκ ἔστ’ ἔρως τοιοῦτος ἄλλος ὅστις ἡδίων ἐρᾶν.

Love your mother, children, for there is no other kind of love which is sweeter than this. ֍

ὅτι πένης εἰμί, ἀτιμότερός σοι δοκῶ· καὶ μὴν καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ Ἔρως γυμνός ἐστι.

Because I am poor, you seem to find me less honourable. Yet even Eros himself is naked.