Infinitive in the main clause: exclamation (often with τό)


τῆς μωρίας· τὸν Δία νομίζειν ὄντα τηλικουτονί

Wat een idiotie: op jouw leeftijd nog aan Zeus geloven!

The infinitive, with or without the article τό, signals an exclamation which is presented as reality. The speaker is amazed by or indignant about the state of affairs.

Syntactic behaviour

If the infinitive has a subject, this subject is placed in the accusative.
The infinitive as the predicate of a main clause is never accompanied by ἄν.

Historical background

This use of the infinitive is attested from the fifth century B.C. onwards, especially in drama.


This infinitive is often preceded by one or more interjections (e.g. φεῦ ‘alas!’) or by a genitive of exclamation (e.g. τῆς τύχης ‘what a misfortune!’).

Example Sentences: 

τῆς τύχης, τὸ ἐμὲ νῦν κληθέντα δεῦρο τυχεῖν

Wat een ongeluk, dat ik juist nu hierheen geroepen werd!

ἐμὲ παθεῖν τάδε, φεῦ, | ἐμὲ παλαιόφρονα, κατά τε γᾶν οἰκεῖν, | ἀτίετον, φεῦ, μύσος

Dat ik dit moet lijden, ach, ik, met mijn oude gedachten, en dat ik in dit land moet wonen, ach, een eerloze gruwel!