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Use of ς with the Future Participle in Herodotus as an Indicator of Unfulfilled Expectations

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image of Mnemosyne

An examination of Herodotus’s use of the circumstantial participle in the future tense with and without the adverbial particle ς reveals that Herodotus reserves ς almost exclusively for those cases in which the expectations or intentions represented by the participle are ultimately disappointed. This observation should teach us to distrust the conventional assertion that the appearance of ς with the circumstantial participle has no implications for an author’s thoughts. It also suggests that, in those cases where we lack direct knowledge of historical outcomes, the presence of ς with a circumstantial participle may permit us to be reasonably certain that any expectations or intentions expressed by that participle are likely to have gone unfulfilled. Thus, Herodotus’s use of the phrase ς νασοντες at the end of the Histories to refer to the Athenians’ intentions to dedicate the equipment from Xerxes’ bridge (9.121) should probably be understood as implying that no such dedication ever took place.

Affiliations: 1: Brown University, Department of Classics 48 College Street, Providence, RI 02912, USA, Email:


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