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742. The origin of the infinitive in a verbal noun is beyond question. In the oldest Sanskrit certain verbal nouns in the dative express purpose, that is, the object to or for which something is done, and are almost identical in form with the equivalent infinitives in the older Greek. Thus vidma/ne, dative of vidman, knowledge (from root vid), may mean for knowing or in order to know (old English for to know); and in Homer we have ϝίδμεναι (= Attic ἰδεῖν) from the same root ϝιδ. So Sanskrit dAva/ne, dative of dAvan, giving (from root da), is represented in Greek by the Cyprian δόϝεναι (= Attic δοῦναι) from root δο.1 It is safe to assume, therefore, that the Greek infinitive was originally developed in a similar way, chiefly from the dative of a primitive verbal noun; that in the growth of the language this case-form became obscured, its origin as a dative was forgotten, and it came to be used for other cases of the verbal noun, especially the accusative; that it was allowed to take an object, like the corresponding verb, and afterwards a subject (in the accusative) to make the agent more distinct; that in course of time, as its relation to the verb became closer, it developed tenses like those of the verb, so as to appear as a regular mood of the verb. The final step, taken when the use of the definite article was established, was to allow the half-noun and half-verb to have the article and so be declined like a noun in four cases, while it still retained its character as a verb. This last step was taken after Homer; but the earlier stages were already passed, more or less decidedly, before the Homeric period, so that they cannot be traced historically. Thus, although the infinitive in Homer retained some of its uses as a dative more distinctly than the later infinitive, it is hardly possible that those who used the Homeric language retained any consciousness of the original dative; for the infinitive was already established as an accusative and a nominative, it had formed its various tenses to express present, past, and future time, and it could even be used with ἄν (683). Indeed, the condition in which the infinitive appears in indirect discourse in Homer seems utterly inconsistent with any conscious survival of its force as a dative (see examples in 683).

1 Whitney (Sanskrit Grammar, p. 314) says of these primitive Sanskrit datives: “It is impossible to draw any fixed line between the uses classed as infinitive and the ordinary case-uses.” See Delbrück, Forsch. Synt. iv. p. 121; and Monro, Gr. Hom. p. 163.

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