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Infinitive with preposition and article


εἰρώτα τὸν Δημάρητον ὁκοῖόν τι εἴη τὸ ἄρχειν μετὰ τὸ βασιλεύειν

‘[The new Spartan king] asked Demaretus what it was like to fulfil a function after the kingship.’ (Hdt. 6.67.2)

The infinitive, preceded by a preposition and an article, signals a satellite. The semantic role of the satellite depends on the meaning of the preposition in question.

Lexical usage

Some common combinations:

  • cause: διὰ τό (less often: ἐκ τοῦ) with the infinitive;
  • goal: ὑπὲρ τοῦ, τοῦ ... ἕνεκα (less often: ἐπὶ τό or πρὸς τό) with the infinitive.

Syntactic usage

Note that an infinitive with an article does not lose any of its verbal characteristics: it can be accompanied by a subject (in the accusative), objects and adverbials: τὸ ἀποδιδόναι τὰς ἐπιστόλας = ἡ τῶν ἐπιστολῶν ἀπόδοσις.

Historical background

Prepositions are used with the infinitive with the article from the classical period onwards (Sophocles [497/6–406] according to Bornemann-Risch 1978, Aeschylus [525/4–456/5] according to Duhoux 2000, Herodotus [ca. 485–424] according to Luraghi 2014). This completes the evolution to a full noun.

Example Sentences: 

ὑπὲρ τοῦ τούτων γενέσθαι κῡ́ριος ... πάντα πρᾱγματεύεται

He did everything he could to become their master. [provisional translation] ֍

οἳ καὶ τὴν χώραν καὶ τὴν πόλιν ἐκλιπεῖν ὑπέμειναν εἰς τὰς τριήρεις ἐμβάντες ὑπὲρ τοῦ μὴ τὸ κελευόμενον ποιῆσαι

And they [= the Athenians] were prepared to leave their country and their city behind and board the triads, not to carry out the command [of Philippos of Macedonia]. [provisional translation]

προεῖπον δὲ ταῦτα τοῦ μὴ λύειν ἕνεκα τὰς σπονδάς

They gave this order in order not to break the treaty. ֍

νομίζω γὰρ ἐμαυτὸν ἐοικέναι λέγοντι ταῦτα ἕνεκα τοῦ ὑμᾶς μᾶλλον ἐθέλειν παρ’ ἐμοὶ καταμένειν

For I am of the opinion that it would seem as if I only said this so that you would prefer to stay with me.

τῶν δὲ Ἑλληνικῶν στρατοπέδων οὐδέτερον ᾔσθετο τῆς μάχης διὰ τὸ πολὺ προελθεῖν αὐτοὺς καὶ στρατόπεδον οἰηθῆναι καταληψομένους ἐπείγεσθαι

None of the Greek armies were aware of the battle because [the Chaonians and the other barbarians] had preceded them far, and because they believed that [the barbarians] were rushing to set up their camp. [provisional translation]

ἐν τῷ προθυμεῖσθαι δὲ καὶ τολμᾶν τίνα

ὁρᾷς ἐνοῦσαν ζημίαν; δίδασκέ με

Which punishment did you discern in eagerness and courage? Teach me this.