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Infinitive: goal as satellite

Syntactical Level

ἥκει καιρὸς ἐκκαλύπτειν τὰ κρυπτά

‘The moment has come to reveal the secrets.’ (Longus 4.18)

The infinitive signals a goal as a satellite with verbs of motion, striving, giving and receiving.

Syntactic usage

This infinitive is usually active or middle, even when one would expect a passive infinitive.

Historical background

This construction shows that the infinitive both formally and functionally continues a dative noun (in this case, expressing goal).


The infinitive of goal occurs as early as Homer, but becomes very common in the classical period.

Example Sentences: 

δέκα δὲ τῶν νεῶν προύπεμψαν ἐς τὸν μέγαν λιμένα πλεῦσαί τε καὶ κατασκέψασθαι εἴ τι ναυτικόν ἐστι καθειλκυσμένον

[The Athenians] sent ten of their ships ahead to sail to the great harbour [of Syracuse] and see if a fleet had been launched. ֍

τὴν χώραν δ’ ἐκείνοις ἐδεδώκει καρποῦσθαι

He'd given them the field to cultivate it. [provisional translation] ֍

τούτων δὲ πορευομένων ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγειν τοῖς ὄχλοις περὶ Ἰωάννου· τί ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι; κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον;

ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν; ἄνθρωπον ἐν μαλακοῖς ἠμφιεσμένον;

As they [= the followers of John the Baptist] were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A blade of grass blown about by the wind? No, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes?

καὶ παίζειν ὅτε καιρός, ἐπαίξαμεν

And when it was time to play, we played.

εἴθ᾽ ὑμὶν ἀμφοῖν νοῦς γένοιτο σωφρονεῖν

If only both of you had the good sense to be wise.