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Can an infinitive be acc. in an indirect statement?

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Can an infinitive be acc. in an indirect statement?

Postby ethan101097 » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:58 am

As I understand it an indirect statement has a verb of saying, thinking etc. that is followed by an infinitive which acts as "that" does in english, and hence introduces a subordinate clause. This clause needs to have a subject in the accusative and an object in the accusative. exempli gratia: G. dixit eam esse bonam = G. said that she was a good person. So, I suppose, first off correct me if I am off the mark here.
The real question centers around this sentence: "cum exposuisset quid peteret, negavisti tantum auxilium posse offerri." The first half of the sentence seems to be a circumstantial cum clause with subjunctive verbs following sequence of tenses and everything is fine.... then I get confused. Is the second half an indirect statement with negavisti being an introductory verb of speech, posse the infinitive, and tantum auxilium the accusative subject? Can offerri be the accusative object? Offerri is a present passive infinitive (I believe, lol), so my real question is this: can infinitives of any tense or voice be "disguised" (i.e., they have no accusative ending visible) accusative objects (or subjects for that matter) of another infinitive verb in an indirect statement?

Ewwww, I wish I could explain my question better; it seems horribly confusing to even me, lol! :P
Anyway, if anyone gets what I mean please help me out on this one, and feel free to correct any mistakes I am making in my underlying assumptions amabo te! Gratias tibi ago!
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Re: Can an infinitive be acc. in an indirect statement?

Postby lauragibbs » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:11 am

It's not that bad if you take it a little bit at a time - a good tricky with nego is to remember that it really means "I say 'no'" (it is a contraction of nec-aio, "no I say" = "I say... not...").

Out of context, Latin always seems a bit odd - since most of the real meaning comes from context! But here is a parsing of the words:

cum exposuisset - when he had explained (subjunctive cum clause)
quid peteret - what he was seeking (subjunctive indirect question)
negavisti - you said that (...) not
tantum auxilium - such help (accusative subject of infinitive posse)
posse - could (infinitive)
offerri - be offered (complementary infinitive with posse)

When he had explained what he was seeking, you said that such help could not be offered. :-)
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Re: Can an infinitive be acc. in an indirect statement?

Postby thesaurus » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:30 pm

I'm not sure how to answer your question on a technical level, but it helps to remember that some verbs like "posse" are very often combined with an infinitive. Therefore, in "negavisti tantum auxilium posse offerri" I understand that the first infinitive is the implied verb in indirect speech, while "offerri" is simply the infinitive that goes with "posse."

You could easily write, in direct speech, "tantum auxilium non potest offerri" (literally: Such help is not able to be offered... or, such help can't be offered). The only thing that changed in the indirect sentence is the MAIN verb, posse.

So to answer your question, I'd say that yes, you can have infinitives used as accusatives in indirect statement. However, I wouldn't over think this. If it comes up, it should be something that you can reason through, as in the above sentence.

If you'll allow me to play with this idea (I'm stuck at home sick)...

Here're are two sentences I made up:

Dixit te solere currere. He said that you were accustomed/used to running. (Direct: Solebas currere)
Dixit tibi placere currere. He said that you liked to run (or, "liked running"). (Direct: tibi placuit currere)

Assuming that I didn't make any blunders, both of these sentences use an infinitive as an object in indirect speech. However, I'm having a hard time thinking of one that doesn't rely on a complementary infinitive (solere, placere, posse... which are often coupled with infinitives).

Perhaps we could try, "Dicit multum edere esse bene vivere."He says that to eat a lot is to live well.

I suppose "edere" and "vivere" are predicates here, while "esse" is the indirectly stated verb. This could be a tough sentence to read (you'd havre to decide which infinitive is the verb), but I don't think you'll encounter anything like.
Horae quidem cedunt et dies et menses et anni, nec praeteritum tempus umquam revertitur nec quid sequatur sciri potest. Quod cuique temporis ad vivendum datur, eo debet esse contentus. --Cicero, De Senectute
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Re: Can an infinitive be acc. in an indirect statement?

Postby ethan101097 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:25 pm

Perfect explanation, thank you very very much thesaurus! Hope you feel better soon. So I suppose the moral of the story is to always bear in mind that infinitives are verbal nouns; it is just hard to get my head around "verbal noun". Here is a sentence I found in Wheelock which makes it very clear that the accusative object can be a verb - here he uses the passive periphrastic... probably to highlight the fact that it's accusative:
G. dicit litteras tibi scribendas esse. G. Says that you should write the letter. (And just in case anyone is confused by the "tibi" ((like me!)) it is the dative of agent, which I believe is unique to the passive periphrastic... not sure though, there may be other dative of agent uses I do not know about).
Anyway, thanks again! It is amazing how posting things forces one to really think them through and fully understand them, very helpful. Vale!
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Re: Can an infinitive be acc. in an indirect statement?

Postby ximo » Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:57 pm

cum exposuisset quid peteret, negavisti tantum auxilium posse offerri.

You have to distinguish between the case of a word and the syntactical function it developes in the sentence. When a substantive is in the accusative case, it frequently acts as a direct object of the verb. For example "I want a book". The accusative in latin usually ends in singular with a -m desinence. So in latin it would be "Ego volo librum".
The question about the infinitive is not exactly the same. The infinitive is a verbal substantive: it is a verb and at the same time a substantive. According to that, the infinitive can function in the same way as a substantive. Ordinarily it can be subject (with a non intransitive verb) or direct object (with transitive verbs; this is more frequent). But the infinitive hasn't any casual desinence as the -m in the substantives. It only developes a function as any other substantive. In your example "quid peteret" is the direct object of "exposuisset" and the infinitive clause "tantum auxilium posse offerri" is the direct object of "negavisti". Inside the infinitive subordinate clause, "posse" is the main verb and "offerri" is its direct object; "tantum auxilium" is the subject in accusative of the infinitive "posse".
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