Present infinitives instead of aorist infinitives

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Constantinus Philo
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Present infinitives instead of aorist infinitives

Post by Constantinus Philo » Tue Mar 12, 2019 6:22 am

Andocides 1, 38, why all infinitives are present instead of expected aorist?
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smitterle
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Re: Present infinitives instead of aorist infinitives

Post by smitterle » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:27 am

Could you post the text to reduce churn for everybody?
Also, could you tell us why you expect aorist instead?

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Re: Present infinitives instead of aorist infinitives

Post by Hylander » Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:16 pm

ἔφη γὰρ εἶναι μὲν ἀνδράποδόν οἱ ἐπὶ Λαυρείῳ, δεῖν δὲ κομίσασθαι ἀποφοράν. ἀναστὰς δὲ πρῲ ψευσθεὶς τῆς ὥρας βαδίζειν: εἶναι δὲ πανσέληνον. ἐπεὶ δὲ παρὰ τὸ προπύλαιον τοῦ Διονύσου ἦν, ὁρᾶν ἀνθρώπους πολλοὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ ᾠδείου καταβαίνοντας εἰς τὴν ὀρχήστραν: δείσας δὲ αὐτούς, εἰσελθὼν ὑπὸ τὴν σκιὰν καθέζεσθαι μεταξὺ τοῦ κίονος καὶ τῆς στήλης ἐφ᾽ ᾗ ὁ στρατηγός ἐστιν ὁ χαλκοῦς. ὁρᾶν δὲ ἀνθρώπους τὸν μὲν ἀριθμὸν μάλιστα1 τριακοσίους, ἑστάναι δὲ κύκλῳ ἀνὰ πέντε καὶ δέκα ἄνδρας, τοὺς δὲ ἀνὰ εἴκοσιν: ὁρῶν δὲ αὐτῶν πρὸς τὴν σελήνην τὰ πρόσωπα τῶν πλείστων γιγνώσκειν.

These present infinitives in indirect speech (oratio obliqua) represent imperfects in direct speech. The imperfect, rather than the aorist, is sometimes used in narration to convey a sense of ongoing activities in past time, instead of just stating that the actions occurred. The effect is to put the reader or audience in the midst of the activities as they were happening. It's a more vivid way of narrating a sequence of events than using aorist verbs. That's effect that the present infinitives convey here.

Constantinus Philo
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Re: Present infinitives instead of aorist infinitives

Post by Constantinus Philo » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:28 am

Thank you, I think you are right, however, I'd still like to know what is more usual in such cases, present or aorist infinitive?
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Re: Present infinitives instead of aorist infinitives

Post by seneca2008 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:22 am

I'd still like to know what is more usual in such cases, present or aorist infinitive?
Hylander has answered your question. The use of the present infinitive here is a literary device to make the narrative more vivid. If this were “more usual” it could hardly achieve that effect.

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Re: Present infinitives instead of aorist infinitives

Post by Hylander » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:08 pm

Maybe "literary device" doesn't quite completely capture the imperfective/aorist distinction in this instance, which is reflected in the present/aorist infinitives of indirect speech here. I think the speaker's oral narration of what happened would likely have been mostly in the imperfect, which would convey his personal experiences and impressions as they happened, and this would have the effect of letting his listeners share in his experiences. A narrative consisting exclusively of aorist infinitives here would be more like a police report, a bald and detached narrative of events one by one, instead of a narrative of the speaker's personal impressions and experiences as they unfolded.

But the narration is not entirely in present infinitives representing imperfects in direct speech. Is καθέζεσθαι present or 2d aorist infinitive? It could be either, but it's probably aorist, reporting a single action that occurred, not the narrator's impressions and experiences. The form ἐκαθέζοντο is 2d aorist in sec. 44 of this speech, as LSJ notes. So we have a mixture of both present and aorist infinitives, representing both imperfects and aorists in direct speech, as appropriate to the narrative.

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/tex ... qe%2Fzomai

As Seneca notes, it's not a question of which tense is more common. Rather, present and aorist infinitives representing imperfect and aorist indicatives in direct speech each has its own semantic function, and it's important to be alert to the subtle nuances conveyed by the distinction. But Constantius rightly noted the present infinitives and asked the right question: why?

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Re: Present infinitives instead of aorist infinitives

Post by jeidsath » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:38 pm

I read this together with 1.37, where some of the infinitives must stand for primary verbs "φάσκων εἰδέναι τοὺς περικόψαντας τοὺς Ἑρμᾶς, καὶ εἶναι αὐτοὺς εἰς τριακοσίους." I assumed that some of the ones in 1.38 did too, especially after the first sentence quoted, where he begins to tell the story of what happened the night. Wouldn't a present tense have also been normal Greek for a vivid telling of this orchestra story?
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Re: Present infinitives instead of aorist infinitives

Post by Hylander » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:31 pm

Those in 1.37 clearly stand for present indicatives: "I know these people personally"; they would be present tense in direct speech. 1.38 are narrative of events in past; could be told in historical present, but more likely imperfect, I think. "Historical present" is used by historians, and the speaker is not writing history (though Andocides, in essence, is). But it's possible that the narrator could be telling the story in the present, though I think imperfect is more likely, conveying experiences and impressions. "I was seeing; I was recognizing." vs. "I sat down."

In the end, I suppose, it doesn't really matter whether the present infinitives "represent" present or imperfect indicatives in indirect speech. The effect is the same: a narrative that reflects the continuous and continuing flow of the speaker's subjective experiences and impressions, rather than a "police report" narration of punctual events one after another.

The present and imperfect are part of a single aspectual system in the indicative; the imperfect is marked for past tense by augment. In the infinitive, in contrast, there is no present/past distinction, just the aspectual distinction of a verbal stem marked for continuous ("present") vs. an unmarked verbal stem (aorist). The meaning of "aorist" is simply "undefined", which in contemporary linguistic terminology could be rendered "unmarked" -- the pure verbal idea, the police report statement that the action occurred.

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