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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Peculiar Infinitives

461. Many Adjectives take the Infinitive in poetry, following a Greek idiom:—

    dūrus compōnere versūs(Hor. S. 1.4.8), harsh in composing verse.

    cantārī dīgnus (Ecl. 5.54), worthy to be sung. [In prose: quī cantētur.]

    fortis trāctāre serpentīs (Hor. Od. 1.37.26), brave to handle serpents.

    cantāre perītī (Ecl. 10.32), skilled in song.

    facilēs aurem praebēre (Prop. 3.14.15), ready to lend an ear.

    nescia vincī pectora (Aen. 12.527), hearts not knowing how to yield.

    vidēre aegrōtī (Plaut. Trin. 75), sick of seeing you.

a. Rarely in poetry the infinitive is used to express result:—

    fingit equum docilem magister īre viam quā mōnstret eques (Hor. Ep. 1.2.64), the trainer makes the horse gentle so as to go in the road the rider points out.

    hīc levāre ... pauperem labōribus vocātus audit (Hor. Od. 2.18.38), he, when called, hears, so as to relieve the poor man of his troubles.

Note— These poetic constructions were originally regular and belong to the Infinitive as a noun in the Dative or Locative case (§ 451). They had been supplanted, however, by other more formal constructions, and were afterwards restored in part through Greek influence.

b. The infinitive occasionally occurs as a pure noun limited by a demonstrative, a possessive, or some other adjective:—

    hōc nōn dolēre (Fin. 2.18), this freedom from pain. [Cf. tōtum hōc beātē vīvere (Tusc. 5.33), this whole matter of the happy life. ]

    nostrum vīvere (Per. 1.9), our life (to live).

    scire tuum (id. 1.27), your knowledge (to know).


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