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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Exclamatory Infinitive

462. The Infinitive, with Subject Accusative,1 may be used in Exclamations (cf. § 397. d):—

    in tantās aerumnās propter mē incidisse (Fam. 14.1) , alas , that you should have fallen into such grief for me!

    ne inceptō dēsistere victam(Aen. 1.37), what! I beaten desist from my purpose?

Note 1— The interrogative particle -ne is often attached to the emphatic word (as in the second example).

Note 2— The Present and the Perfect Infinitive are used in this construction with their ordinary distinction of time (§ 486).

a. A subjunctive clause, with or without ut, is often used elliptically in exclamatory questions. The question may be introduced by the interrogative -ne:—

    quamquam quid loquor? tē ut ūlla rēs frangat (Cat. 1.22), yet why do I speak? [the idea] that anything should bend you!

    egone utinterpellem (Tusc. 2.42), what , I interrupt you?

    ego tibi īrāscerer (Q. Fr. 1.3), I angry with you?

Note— The Infinitive in exclamations usually refers to something actually occurring; the Subjunctive, to something contemplated.


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This construction is elliptical; that is, the thought is quoted in Indirect Discourse, though no verb of saying etc. is expressed or even, perhaps, implied (compare the French dire que ). Passages like hancine ego ad rem nātam miseram mē memorābō ? (Plaut. Rud. 188) point to the origin of the construction.