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239. An idiomatic use of the dative arises when the noun which stands as logical subject to an infinitive of purpose is put in the same case with it, i. e. in the dative. Thus the construction

αἰσχρὸν γὰρ τόδε γʼ ἐστὶ καὶ ἐσσομένοισι πυθέσθαι

is idiomatic (as compared with σφῶϊν δὸς ἄγειν, etc.), because the meaning is, not "is shameful for future men," but "is shameful for (with a view to) the hearing of future men." The principle is evidently the same as has been pointed out in the case of the nominative and the accusative (§ 234). Because the actiοn of the infinitive stands in a dative relation to the governing verb, the agent or subject of the action is put in the dative. This construction is found in the "double dative" of Latin (e. g. ἐσσομένοισι πυθέσθαι would be in Latin posteris auditui), and of Sanskrit (Delbrück, A. S. p. 149). It is usually classified as attraction—the dative of the person being regarded as following the dative of the thing or action. In Greek it evidently goes back to the time when the infinitive was still felt as a dative.

Suggested Citation

D.B. Monro, A Grammar of the Homeric Dialect. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Dickinson College Commentaries, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-947822-04-7.