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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

SUPINE

510. The Supine in -ū 1 is used with a few adjectives and with the nouns fās, nefās, and opus, to denote an action in reference to which the quality is asserted:—

rem nōn modo vīsū foedam, sed etiam audītū (Phil. 2.63), a thing not only shocking to see, but even to hear of.

quaerunt quid optimum factū sit (Verr. 2.1.68), they ask what is best to do.

sī hōc fās est dictū (Tusc. 5.38), if this is lawful to say.

vidētis nefās esse dictū miseram fuisse tālem senectūtem (Cat. M. 13), you see it is a sin to say that such an old age was wretched.

Note 1— The supine in -ū is thus in appearance an Ablative of Specification (§ 418).

Note 2— The supine in -ū is found especially with such adjectives as indicate an effect on the senses or the feelings, and those which denote ease, difficulty, and the like. But with facilis, difficilis, and iūcundus, ad with the gerund is more common:—

nec vīsū facilis nec dictū adfābilis ūllī (Aen. 3.621), he is not pleasant for any man to look at or address.

difficilis ad distinguendum similitūdō (De Or. 2.212), a likeness difficult to distinguish.

Note 3— With all these adjectives the poets often use the Infinitive in the same sense: as,— facilēs aurem praebēre(Prop. 2.21.15), indulgent to lend an ear.

Note 4— The supine in with a verb is extremely rare: as,— pudet dictū (Tac. Agr. 32), it is a shame to tell. [On the analogy of pudendum dictū.]

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Notes
1 The only common supines in -ū are auditū, dictū, factū, inventū, memorātū, nātū, vīsū. In classic use this supine is found in comparatively few verbs. It is never followed by an object-case.