LESSON XXXVIII: Optative Active. Less Vivid Future Conditions.

The Optative Active

360. The optative is a verbal mood that - like the subjunctive - varies in meaning depending on the context in which it appears. Like the subjunctive, it can appear in conditional sentences and in subordinate clauses that express fear, purpose, or temporality. It also can be used independently to express wishes and future possibility.

In addition to the present, aorist, and perfect, found in the subjunctive (312), the optative has the future and future perfect. For the distinction of time between the present and the aorist, see 313.

361. Learn the conjugation of the optative active of λύω in the present (λύοιμι), the future (λύσοιμι), the aorist (λύσαιμι), and the perfect (λελύκοιμι) tenses.


Present Active Optative of λύω
First Person Singularλύοι-μι
Second Person Singularλύοι-ς
Third Person Singularλύοι
Second Person Dualλύοι-τον
Third Person Dualλῡοί-την
First Person Pluralλύοι-μεν
Second Person Pluralλύοι-τε
Third Person Pluralλύοιε-ν
Future Active Optative of λύω
First Person Singularλύσοι-μι
Second Person Singularλύσοι-ς
Third Person Singularλύσοι
Second Person Dualλύσοι-τον
Third Person Dualλῡσοί-την
First Person Pluralλύσοι-μεν
Second Person Pluralλύσοι-τε
Third Person Pluralλύσοιε-ν
Aorist Active Optative of λύω
First Person Singularλύσαι-μι
Second Person Singularλύσεια-ς, λύσαι-ς
Third Person Singularλύσειε, λύσαι
Third Person Dualλύσαι-τον
First Person Pluralλῡσαί-την
Second Person Pluralλύσαι-μεν
Third Person Pluralλύσαι-τε
Third Person Pluralλύσεια-ν, λύσαιε-ν
Perfect Active Optative of λύω
First Person Singularλελύκοι-μι
Second Person Singularλελύκοι-ς
Third Person Singularλελύκοι
Second Person Dualλελύκοι-τον
Third Person Dualλελυκοί-την
First Person Pluralλελύκοι-μεν
Second Person Pluralλελύκοι-τε
Third Person Pluralλελύκοιε-ν

362. The optative adds the Mood Suffix ι (in the third plural ιε) to the tense stem, as λύο-ι-μι, λύσα-ι-μι. In the perfect the α of the stem λελυκα is changed to ο. The optative uses the endings of the secondary tenses (145), but the first person singular active takes μι. The forms λύειας, λύσειε, λύσειαν, in the aorist, are irregular, but they are in common use instead of λύσαις, λύσαι, λύσαιεν. For the accent of λύοι, λύσοι, λύσαι, see 23.

Less Vivid Future Conditions

364. When a supposed future case is stated in a less distinct and vivid form (as in English, if I should go), the protasis has the optative with εἰ, and the apodosis has the optative with ἄν.

363. For example:

εἰ πράττοι (or πράξειε) τοῦτο, καλῶς ἂν ἔχοι, if he should do this, it would be well.

The protasis is here introduced by εἰ, if, and has the optative; it states a supposed future case less vividly than the subjunctive (317). The apodosis has its verb in the optative with the adverb ἄν.

Grammatical Notes

855. The objective genitive follows many verbal adjectives. These are chiefly kindred (in meaning or derivation) to verbs which take the genitive. Thus, ἔμπειροι γὰρ ἦσαν τῆς χώρᾱς, they were familiar with the country (845), τῆς χώρᾱς ἐγκρατεῖς, masters or rulers of the land (847), κῶμαι μεσταὶ σίτου, villages abounding in supplies (848).

861. The person or thing for whose advantage or disadvantage anything is or is done is put in the dative. This dative is generally introduced in English by for. Thus, ἄλλο στράτευμα Κύρῳ συνελέγετο ἐν Χερρονήσῳ, another force was collected for Cyrus in the Chersonese, ἐμοὶ κακὸν βουλεύεις, you are plotting harm against me. Dative of Advantage or Disadvantage.

866. The dative is used to denote cause, manner, and means or instrument. Thus, φιλίᾳ καὶ εὐνοίᾳ ἐβοήθουν αὐτῷ, they helped him because of their friendship and good will, πορεύονται κύκλῳ, they advance in a circle, αὐτοὺς φοβοῦσι τῇ κραυγῇ, they frighten them by their uproar, diabaqinoysi πλοίοις, they cross in boats, βούλεται ἡμῖν χρῆσθαι, he wishes to use (i.e. serve himself by) us, γένει προσήκει βασιλεῖ, in family he is related to the king.


διαβατός, ή, όνfordable, passable.
δίκαιος, ᾱ, ον (cf. δίκη)just, right.
δικαίως (cf. δίκαιος)adv., justly, rightly.
δοκέω, δόξω, ἔδοξα, δέδογμαι, ἐδόχθηνseem, seem best or good, think; δοκεῖ, etc., impers., it seems, it seems best.
ἐπι-σῑτίζομαι (σῑτιδ), ἐπι-σῑτιοῦμαι, ἐπ-εσῑτισάμην (cf. σῖτος)furnish oneself with provisions, collect or procure supplies, forage.
κλείω, κλείσω, ἔκλεισα, κέκλειμαι and κέκλεισμαι, ἐκλείσθηνshut, close.
πεζῇ (cf.. πεζός)adv., on foot.
πεζός, ή, όνon foot; οἱ πεζοί, the infantry.
ῥᾳδίωςadv., easily.
σῖτος, ου, ὁgrain, food, supplies.


1. εἰ ταῦτα ποιήσειεν, ἀποχωρήσαιμεν ἄν.
2. εἰ παρέχοιμεν ἀγοράν, ἔχοιτ᾿ ἂν καὶ σῖτον καὶ οἶνον.
3. εἰ νῑκήσαιμεν, οὐκ ἂν τὴν χώρᾱν διαρπάσειεν.
4. ἀξίους ἂν ἔχοι φίλους, εἰ ἔχοιεν τὰ ὅπλα.
5. εἰ ἀπάγοιμι αὐτοὺς πάλιν εἰς τὴν Ἑλλάδα, δικαίως ἂν χάριν ἔχοιεν.
6. εἰ δόξειε τοῖς πεζοῖς ἐπισῑτίζεσθαι, τί ἂν ποιήσαιτε;
7. εἰ τὰς πύλᾱς κλείσειαν, πολιορκήσαιτε ἂν αὐτοὺς καὶ κατὰ γῆν καὶ κατὰ θάλατταν.
8. εἰ ὁ ποταμὸς μὴ πεζῇ διαβατὸς εἴη,1 πλοῖα συνάγοιεν ἄν.
9. εἰ δὲ μισθὸν πέμψειεν αὐτοῖς, συμμάχους ἂν ἔχοι δικαίους καὶ ἀγαθούς.

NOTES. —1 should prove to be.2 Use the simple dative (861). —3 L. e. if it should seem best to them.

368. The Gods send a Portent. Advance to the Araxes.

διέβαινον δὲ τὸν ποταμὸν πεζῇ· πλοῖα γὰρ οὐκ εἶχον. οὐπώποτε δὲ οὗτος ὁ ποταμὸς διαβατὸς ἦν πεζῇ εἰ μὴ τότε, ἀλλὰ πλοίοις. ἐδόκει δὴ τοῖς στρατηγοῖς καὶ τοῖς στρατιώταις πᾶσι θεῖον εἶναι.

ἐντεῦθεν ἐξελαύνει διὰ τῆς Συρίᾱς σταθμοὺς ἐννέα παρασάγγᾱς πεντήκοντα· καὶ ἀφικνοῦνται πρὸς τὸν Ἀράξην ποταμόν. ἐνταῦθα ἦσαν κῶμαι μεσταὶ σίτου καὶ οἴνου. ἐνταῦθα ἔμενον ἡμέρᾱς τρεῖς καὶ ἐπεσῑτίζοντο.

NOTES. —2. ἦν: with force of pluperfect, had been. —3. πλοίοις: dative of instrument (866). —7. σίτου καὶ οἴνου: dependent on μεσταί, stored with. Verbal adjectives signifying fulness and want take the genitive (855).