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Infinitive with deontic modality: adjective complement

Syntactical Level

δεινὸς γὰρ οἶνος καὶ παλαίεσθαι βαρύς

‘Wine is terrible thing, and difficult to overcome.’ (Eur. Cycl. 681)

The infinitive can serve as the complement of an adjective, with various semantic roles which are normally expressed by a dative (especially goal and reference).

Lexical usage

The adjectives in question express suitability or worthiness: ἱκανός ‘suitable’, δυνατός ‘capable’, δεινός ‘skilful’, ἄξιος ‘worthy’, ῥᾴδιος ‘easy’, χαλεπός ‘difficult’ etc. The same applies to the expression οἷος τέ εἰμι ‘I am capable’.

Syntactic usage

In Greek the infinitive is often used in its active form where we would expect a passive infinitive in English.

Historical background

This construction shows that the infinitive is both a formal and a functional continuation of a noun in the dative.

Example Sentences: 

δειναὶ γὰρ αἱ γυναῖκες εὑρίσκειν τέχνας

For women are talented at devising wiles. ֍

αἴτιος ἐδόκει εἶναι τὴν μάχην συνάψαι

He seemed to be guilty of starting the fight. [provisional translation]

ὁπότε βούλοιτο παριέναι ἐπ' ἄριστον, λέγοιμ' ἂν ὅτι οὔπω δυνατὸν τῷ ἀρίστῳ ἐντυχεῖν

Whenever he would wish to have breakfast, I would tell him that it was not possible to get breakfast. ֍

... ὅτι πολλοῖς ἂν μᾶλλον ἐχρῆτο ἢ τῷ ἐμῷ πατρί, ῥᾴδιον γνῶναι

NO DUTCH TRANSLATION [provisional translation]

οὐ λέγειν τύγ’ ἐσσὶ δεινός, ἀλλὰ σιγᾶν ἀδύνατος

You do not excel as a speaker, but you are not at all capable of keeping silent.