Relative clause - syntax: autonomous relative clause

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μακάριος ὅστις οὐσίᾱν καὶ νοῦν ἔχει

Gelukzalig is al wie eigendom en verstand bezit.

Menandros, Spreuken 340


An autonomous subordinate clause, introduced by a relative word, usually signals a satellite, an argument or a predicate NP (as does a noun). The use of moods and tenses corresponds to that of the temporal and the conditional subordinate clause.

Translation tips

In English an autonomous relative clause is introduced by who (or whom) if the antecedent is animate, which if the antecedent is inanimate.

Syntactic behaviour (with oblique optative)

These subordinate clauses are neither syntactically nor semantically omissable.
The moods and tenses correspond to of the restrictive (= temporal, conditional) subordinate clause:

  • indicative = neutral;
  • subjunctive with ἄν = plausible
  • optative without ἄν = iterative
Example Sentences: 


ἀλλὰ τοῦ μὲν αὐτὸν λέγειν μὴ σαφῶς εἰδείη εἴργεσθαι δεῖ, ὦ παῖ, ἄλλοι δ’ ἐνετοὶ λέγοντες ταὔτ’ ἂν διαπράττοιεν

Je moet je ervan weerhouden zelf te zeggen wat je niet weet, mijn zoon. Nee, als anderen in jouw plaats hetzelfde zeggen, kunnen ze hetzelfde bereiken.



[Ion] ἦ θίγω δῆθ’ ὅς μ’ ἔφυσας; – [Xouthos] πιθόμενός γε τῷ θεῷ. – [Ion] χαῖρέ μοι, πάτερ

[Ion] Ga ik werkelijk jou omhelzen die mij verwekt hebt? – [Xouthos] Als je op de god vertrouwt. – [Ion] Gegroet, vader!



οὐδεὶς γὰρ οὕτω ἀνόητός ἐστι ὅστις πόλεμον πρὸ εἰρήνης αἱρέεται· ἐν μὲν γὰρ τῇ οἱ παῖδες τοὺς πατέρας θάπτουσι, ἐν δὲ τῷ οἱ πατέρες τοὺς παῖδας

Niemand is zo dwaas dat hij oorlog boven vrede verkiest; want in vredestijd begraven de kinderen hun vaders, maar in oorlogstijd de vaders hun kinderen.