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596. The Verbal in -τέος (cp. §§ 352, 354) is generally passive in meaning; it may be used in the personal or the impersonal construction; the agent in either construction is expressed by a dative (§ 524.b).

a. The personal construction gives more prominence to the subject, with which the verbal agrees, as attributive or as predicate; the copula is often omitted.

Ἐμοὶ τοῦτο οὐ ποιητέον.
This must not be done by me
Xen. Anabasis 1.3.15

οὐ τοσαῦτα ὄρη ὁρᾶτε ῡ̔μῖν ὄντα πορευτέα;
Do you not see so many mountains that must be traversed by you?
Xen. Anabasis 2.5.18

b. The impersonal construction gives more prominence to the action; the verbal is in the neuter singular (sometimes in the plural), and may take an object; the copula is often omitted.

Ἡμῖν γʼ ὑπὲρ τῆς ἐλευθερίᾱς ἀγωνιστέον.
We at least must make a struggle for freedom.
Demosthenes 9.70

ἰτέον οὖν ἐπὶ ἅπαντας τούς τι δοκοῦντας εἰδέναι.
I had to go therefore to all those who appeared to have some knowledge. (the context shows that ἦν is understood)
Plato Apology 21e - 22a

τοὺς φίλους εὐεργετητέον, τῶν βοσκημάτων ἐπιμελητέον.
One must benefit his friends, one must care for his flocks.
Xen. Memorobilia 2.1.28

c. Some verbals in -τέος have the meaning of the middle voice.

πειστέον one must obey

φυλακτέον we must be on our guard.

Suggested Citation

Meagan Ayer, ed. Goodell’s School Grammar of Attic Greek. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2018. ISBN: 978-1-947822-10-8.