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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Historical Infinitive

463. The Infinitive is often used for the Imperfect Indicative in narration, and takes a subject in the Nominative:—

    tum Catilīna pollicērī novās tabulās (Sall. Cat. 21), then Catiline promised abolition of debts (clean ledgers).

    ego īnstāre ut mihi respondēret (Verr. 2.188), I kept urging him to answer me.

    pars cēdere, aliī īnsequī; neque sīgna neque ōrdinēs observāre; ubi quemque perīculum cēperat, ibi resistere ac prōpulsāre; arma, tēla, equī, virī, hostēs atque cīvēs permixtī; nihil cōnsiliō neque imperiō agī; fors omnia regere (Iug. 51) a part give way, others press on; they hold neither to standards nor ranks; where danger overtook them, there each would stand and fight; arms , weapons, horses, men, foe and friend, mingled in confusion; nothing went by counsel or command; chance ruled all.

Note— This construction is not strictly historical, but rather descriptive, and is never used to state a mere historical fact. It is rarely found in subordinate clauses. Though occurring in most of the writers of all periods, it is most frequent in the historians Sallust, Livy, Tacitus. It does not occur in Suetonius.

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