AGAIN! (Re: Another question re. 2 Tim 1.12)

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at
Thu Jan 7 09:20:04 EST 1999

At 11:14 PM +0400 1/6/99, Carlton Winbery wrote:
>>At 8:29 AM -0500 1/6/99, Perry L. Stepp wrote:
>>>Perry L. Stepp wrote:
>>>>>What is the syntactical function of the infinitive FULAXAI in 2 Tim 1.12?
>>>>>I'm translating it as the complement to the copula--"he is able (DUNATOS
>>>>>ESTIN) to keep . . ."  Is that (complementary infinitive) the proper
>>>>>terminology for what I'm seeing?
>>>Carl W. Conrad replied:
>>>>YES, that's the term; surely DUNATOS ESTIN is equivalent to DUNATAI.
>>>A further question: Brooks and Winbery *seem* to refer to this type of
>>>infinitive as an infinitive of direct object.  Am I correct in my reading of
>>>B&W?  In practical (if not metaphysical [grin] ) terms, are "complementary
>>>infinitive" and "infinitive of direct object" often interchangeable
>>Well, now; I've never gone that route. Another obscure (metaphysical?) mode
>>of tackling the infinitive is to say that it has an old dative case-ending
>>(I, AI) and is something like a dative of "direction." But I really don't
>>see why we don't call it a complementary infinitive, UNLESS there's some
>>hesitation to grant that DUNATOS ESTIN = DUNATAI. I defer to Carlton on
>>this one, reserving the right, of course ...
>In our syntax book under the substantival infinitives we have the category
>of the infinitive as object of the verb. In that section we write, "Also to
>be included in this category is the so-called complementary infinitive
>which occurs with certain verbs which cannot take a direct object as such
>but which require an infinitive to complete their meaning."  This does not
>say that the two are interchangeable but that we group them together to
>reduce the number of categories. FULAXAI is clearly complementary if you
>want a separate category, but it is also a substantival usage.

Carlton, do you use the term "epexegetic infinitive" (I really need to pick
up a copy of your grammar, and it's not as if it were hard to get or
expensive; sorry I don't have it ready to hand)? I think that what we have
here is not a difficulty in understanding the usage but a question of what
the best terminology to use for it is. I don't understand how an infinitive
can be a "direct object" of an intransitive verbal expression like DUNATOS
ESTIN. I could understand the infinitive as "epexegetic" or I could
understand it as an accusative of specification; I certainly would term it
an accusative case if I had to make a choice, but I'd probably prefer to
call it either "epexegetic" or "specification"--i.e., like TOUS PODAS
ADUNATOS--but I suppose you'd call TOUS PODAS in that expression a direct
object also? I repeat: I'm not fussing about how we understand the
infinitive: I think it has to be accusative and limit the force of DUNATOS;
the question is simply what's best to call it.  There are times when I look
back wistfully at Joshua Whatmough's "naive" declaration that all
accusatives simply set limits upon the efficacy of a word with which they
construe--and then we have to go and divvy up all the different kinds of
limiting functions into so many different "accusatives."

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Home: 7222 Colgate Ave./St. Louis, MO 63130/(314) 726-5649
cwconrad at OR cconrad at

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