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2012. Certain idiomatic infinitives are used absolutely in parenthetical phrases to limit the application of a single expression or of the entire sentence.

a. Verbs of Saying.—ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν, ὡς εἰπεῖν so to speak, almost; (ὡς) ἁπλῶς εἰπεῖν, ὡς συνελόντι (1497) εἰπεῖν, ὡς (ἐν βραχεῖ or) συντόμως εἰπεῖν to speak briefly, concisely; ὡς ἐπὶ πᾶν εἰπεῖν, τὸ σύμπαν εἰπεῖν speaking generally; σχεδὸν εἰπεῖν so to say, almost (paene dixerim); σὺν θεῷ εἰπεῖν in God's name; and so ὡς with λέγειν, φράζειν, εἰρῆσθαι, as ὡς ἐν τύπῳ εἰρῆσθαι in general. Examples: ἀληθές γε ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν οὐδὲν εἰρήκα_σιν not one word of truth, I may say, did they utter P. A. 17a, ἀγαθὸν μὲν ἁπλῶς εἰπεῖν οὐδὲν γέγονε τῇ πόλει in a word the State gained no advantage Dinarchus 1.33.

b. ὡς (ἔπος) εἰπεῖν is often used to limit too strict an application of a general statement, especially πᾶς or οὐδείς. Thus, πάντες ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν nearly every one, οὐδεὶς ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν almost no one. It is thus used like paene dixerim; rarely, like ut ita dicam, to soften the strength of a metaphor.

c. Especially common is the absolute εἶναι in ἑκὼν willingly, intentionally, if you can help it, usually in negative or quasi-negative statements (ἑκών may be inflected). Also in τὸ κατὰ τοῦτον (ἐπὶ τούτῳ) εἶναι as far as he is concerned, ὡς . . . εἶναι as far as . . . is concerned, τὸ νῦν εἶναι at present. Examples: ““οὐδὲ ξένοις ἑκὼν εἶναι γέλωτα παρέχειςnor do you intentionally cause strangers to laughX. C. 2.2.15, ““ἑκοῦσα εἶναι οὐκ ἀπολείπεταιit is not willingly separatedP. Phae. 252a, τό γε ἐπ᾽ ἐκεῖνον εἶναι ἐσώθης (ἄν) so far, at least, as it depended on him you would have been saved L. 13.58.

d. Other expressions: ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν, ὡς ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν, ὡς ἐμοὶ κρῖναι as it seems to me, in my opinion, (ὡς) εἰκάσαι to make a guess, (ὡς) συμβάλλειν to compare, (ὡς) ἀκοῦσαι to the ear, ὡς ὑμομνῆσαι to recall the matter, ὅσον γέ μ᾽ εἰδέναι as far as I know, etc.; ὀλίγου δεῖν, μι_κροῦ δεῖν almost, all but (δεῖν may be omitted, 1399). Examples: γὰρ Κτήσιππος ἔτυχε πόρρω καθεζόμενος τοῦ Κλεινίου, ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν for Ctesippus, it seems to me, happened to be sitting at a distance from Clinias P. Eu. 274b, ““μι_κροῦ δεῖν τρία τάλανταalmost three talentsD. 27.29.

e. Some of these absolute infinitives may be explained by reference to the idea of purpose (2008) or result. Thus, συνελόντι εἰπεῖν for one compressing the matter to speak (cp. ut paucis dicam), μι_κροῦ δεῖν so as to lack little. Others recall the adverbial accusative (1606); cp. ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν with γνώμην ἐμήν.

F. Infinitive in Commands, Wishes, and Exclamations

hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 3.2.4
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 3.5.2
    • Jeffrey A. Rydberg-Cox, Overview of Greek Syntax, Verbs: Mood
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