Scott Lawson wrote:Carl!
I've learned a new word - desiderative. I was reading the opening lines of Χενοφωντος and came across ἐναυμαχησαν (wished to fight by sea.) Consulting my Middle Liddell I find that it is identified as a desiderative. Now, evidently desideratives in English can either be reportative or performative. Is this true of Greek? Is this a mood, because it looks like the same form/construction is both subjunctive and indicative. Is it a transitional form between the subjunctive and imperative?
I don't really know anything about English desideratives. Smyth has something on these -σείω forms at §868b. My vague recollection is that I've seen them primarily in historical narrative -- that may suit your encounter with ναυμαχεὶω in Xenophon. What I've wondered about and never quite figured out was how -- if at all -- they relate to the alternate aorist optative active endings of the 2nd and 3d sg. and 3d pl., -σειας, -σειε(ν), -σειαν (see Smyth §668D). Linguistic historians say that the -σ- marker of the Greek future tense was originally an IE desiderative marker and that it's not related to the -σ- of the First or Sigmatic Aorist. This belongs to the rather arcane and fascinating realm of Greek linguistic archaeology that opens up when you start to study Homeric poetry seriously.