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Usage of passive infinitive with direct objects.

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Usage of passive infinitive with direct objects.

Postby mikeartin » Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:34 pm

There is a passage from Livy in Wheelock's Latin Reader (p. 177) with the clause "nec per occupatam armis Punicis Italiam facile erat aut nuntium aut litteras mitti". I can't figure out why mitti is used instead of mittere. The structure of the sentence seems to suggest the translation "and it was not easy to send either a messenger or a letter through Italy, occupied as it was by Punic arms". Is the passive infinitive used as a reflexive passive ("to send either a messenger or a letter for themselves")? That's the only explanation I can come up with.
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Re: Usage of passive infinitive with direct objects.

Postby Lucus Eques » Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:47 pm

mikeartin wrote:There is a passage from Livy in Wheelock's Latin Reader (p. 177) with the clause "nec per occupatam armis Punicis Italiam facile erat aut nuntium aut litteras mitti". I can't figure out why mitti is used instead of mittere. The structure of the sentence seems to suggest the translation "and it was not easy to send either a messenger or a letter through Italy, occupied as it was by Punic arms". Is the passive infinitive used as a reflexive passive ("to send either a messenger or a letter for themselves")? That's the only explanation I can come up with.


Great question. "Facile erat nuntium mittere" means "it was easy to send a messenger." "Facile erat nuntium mitti" means "it was easy for a messenger to be sent."
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Re: Usage of passive infinitive with direct objects.

Postby mikeartin » Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:02 pm

Great question. "Facile erat nuntium mittere" means "it was easy to send a messenger." "Facile erat nuntium mitti" means "it was easy for a messenger to be sent."


Thanks for clarifying. Is there a specific name for this use of the accusative that one could look up in a grammar? It doesn't seem to fit into any of the previous uses I've learned.
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Postby Twpsyn » Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:12 pm

It's the accusative as subject of an infinitive.
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