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From Statius' Thebaid

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From Statius' Thebaid

Postby Essorant » Sun Aug 17, 2008 1:46 am

This is lines 601-604 of Book I, where King Adrastus is telling Polynices and Tydeus about a monster/plague that Phoebus sent in revenge for the death of King Crotopus' daughter.

<i>haec tum dira lues nocturno squalida passu
inlabi thalamis, animasque a stirpe recentes
abripere altricum gremiis morsuque cruento
deuesci et multum patrio pinguescere luctu.</i>

My awkward translation:

<font size=1>Then this dire plague in nightly pace
Squalid to slide in inner-rooms,
And recent souls of family
To seize away from nurses' breasts
And with its bloody bite devour
And fatten much with nation-grief.</font>

The use of only infinitives (<b>inlabi</b>, <b>abripere</b>, <b>devesci</b>, <b>pinguescere</b>) confused me a bit. Is this a special use or special poetic manner one should be aware of? Any explanations would be much appreciated.<pre> </pre>
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Postby Twpsyn » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:13 am

The infinitive can be used as the main verb of a sentence (in prose as well as poetry), and has a past tense meaning. This use is called historical infinitive.
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Postby Deses » Sun Aug 17, 2008 11:17 am

It's not necessarily poetic, but Virgil uses historic infinitives quite often. In many cases this indicates a rapid succession of actions, such as fighting.
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Postby Essorant » Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:22 pm

Sorry for my ignorance. That was the only time the infinitive shows up thus in the first book of Thebaid, and I never read so much that I came across that kind of usage before. Also I don't remember it being mentioned in Wheelock or Latin Via Ovid, two of my favorite grammars. Thanks for your answers.<pre></pre>
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