1

Still, I should advise you by all means to go and visit Menelaus, who has lately come off a voyage among such distant peoples as no man could ever hope to get back from, when the winds had once carried him so far out of his reckoning; even birds cannot fly the distance in a twelvemonth, so vast and terrible are the seas that they must cross. (source: Homer's Odyssey)

Is this "him" talking about "no man"? And what is the time referent that causes the past perfect tense to be used here?

1

Yes, the when clause modifies the no man could ever hope clause; the two comprise a when conditional. The when clause is cast in with a past-form perfect had carried because its head, the hope clause, employs a past-form could - they are both imaginary irrealis pasts. Compare the Rieu translation:

... he has only just got back from abroad, and from a region so remote that one might well give up all hope of return once the winds had blown one astray into that wide expanse of sea, which is so vast ...

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy