Temporal clause in the subjunctive with ἄν: plausible event

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ἀεὶ καλὸς πλοῦς ἔσθ’, ὅταν φεύγῃς κακά

Wegvaren is altijd goed, wanneer je onheil ontvlucht.


A temporal clause in the subjunctive with ἄν, introduced by a temporal conjunction, signals a plausible event.

Lexical usage

Most conjunctions are connected to ἄν by krasis:

  • ἐπεί becomes ἐπεάν, ἐπήν, ἐπάν
  • ἐπειδή becomes ἐπειδάν
  • ὅτε becomes ὅταν

Syntactic behaviour (with oblique optative)

A temporal state of affairs can be plausible for two reasons:

  • because circumstances indicate that the state of affairs will take place (one-off);
  • because the state of affairs is of such a kind that it takes place repeatedly (repeatable).


The use of the tenses is as follows:

  • ἐπήν, ὅταν etc. + aorist subjunctive = anteriority (‘after’);
  • ἐπήν, ὅταν etc. + present subjunctive = simultaneity (‘while’, ‘as long as’).
Example Sentences: 


μή μοι τότε γ’ ἔλθῃς, ὅταν ἐγὼ πράττω κακῶς

Do not only come and visit when I am faring badly.



ὅταν δὲ καταβῶ, δειπνήσω καὶ ἀμφιέσομαι καὶ καθευδήσω ὥσπερ οἱ ἄλλοι ἄνθρωποι

When I dismount, I shall dine and get dressed and sleep like other people.



ἐφοβεῖτο γὰρ μὴ οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι σφᾶς, ὁπότε σαφῶς ἀκούσειαν, οὐκέτι ἀφῶσιν

Hij was immers bang dat de Lakedaimoniërs hen, eens ze hem duidelijk zouden begrepen hebben, niet meer zouden laten gaan.



τὸ δ᾽ ἐντελὲς κάλλος, οἶμαι, τοῦτό ἐστιν, ὁπόταν εἰς τὸ αὐτὸ συνδράμῃ ψυχῆς ἀρετὴ καὶ εὐμορφία σώματος

De volmaakte schoonheid – zo meen ik – wordt verwezenlijkt, wanneer de deugd van de ziel en de welgevormdheid van het lichaam op hetzelfde punt samenkomen.