To never have been born may be the greatest boon of all

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siares

Senior Member
Slovak
To Never Have been born may be the greatest boon of all. (Sophocles)
Hi all,
Why is the tense used? Why not To never be born...?
Thank you
 
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  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I see no particular reason, siares. Perhaps the translator of this little saying decided that "To never have been born" was closer to the original Greek. Perhaps this remark was made to people who had already been born.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    I don't think "to never be born" would be grammatically correct, with the ensuing part of the sentence.

    Actually, I think "to never be born" cannot be used at all, except in rare contexts.

    EDIT: I think have been entangled in Sophocles world. I'm getting confused.
     
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    siares

    Senior Member
    Slovak
    Thanks perpend and Englishmypassin.
    EMP, I thought it sounded like something possible for those born to be unborn with the 'may', as opposed how it would sound with 'might' or 'could'. I thought 'may' indicated a general statement and the perfect tense was there for a different reason.
     
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