Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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A. Object Infinitive after Verbs of Will or Desire 1991

Verbs of will or desire (and their opposites) are often followed by an infinitive. The infinitive with a subject accusative denotes that something should (may) be or be done. The negative is μή (see cross2719- cross2721).

ἤθελον αὐτοῦ ἀκούειν they were willing to listen to him X. A. 2.6.11, ἐβουλεύοντο ἐκλιπεῖν τὴν πόλιν they planned to leave the city Hdt. 6.100, τὰ ἥδιστα . . . ζητεῖ ποιεῖν he seeks to do what he likes best X. M. 4.5.11, βασιλεὺς ἀξιοῖ σὲ ἀποπλεῖν the king asks that you sail away X. H. 3.4.25, ἱ_κέτευε μὴ ἀποκτεῖναι he entreated that they should not put him (self) to death L. 1.25, πέμπουσιν . . . στρατεύεσθαι ἐπὶ Κα_ρία_ν they send orders that he shall march upon Caria X. H. 3.1.7, ἔδοξε πλεῖν τὸν Ἀλκιβιάδην it was decided that Alcibiades should sail T. 6.29.

a. Verbs of will or desire with an accusative subject of the infinitive form one of the classes of substantive clauses introduced in English by that, though the infinitive in English is often more idiomatic.


Of verbs of will or desire that take the infinitive some have an object

a. In the accusative (or are intransitive), e.g.: αἱροῦμαι choose, αἰτῶ, αἰτοῦμαι ask, ἀξιῶ claim, ask, βουλεύομαι resolve, βούλομαι wish, will, δικαιῶ deem right, διανοοῦμαι intend, ἐθέλω (poet. θέλω), wish, will, εἴωθα am wont to, ἐπιχειρῶ attempt, ἐῶ permit, ζητῶ seek, κελεύω command, suggest, invite, μέλλω delay, πειρῶμαι try, πέμπω send, προθυ_μοῦμαι am zealous, προκαλοῦμαι invite, προτρέπω urge, σπεύδω hasten, am eager, σπουδάζω am eager, τολμῶ dare, φιλῶ am wont to, ψηφίζομαι vote.

b. In the genitive, e.g.: δέομαι ask, ἐπιθυ_μῶ and ὀρέγομαι desire.

c. In the dative, e.g.: εὔχομαι pray, παραγγέλλω and προστάττω command, ἐπιβουλεύω purpose, συμβουλεύω advise, ἐπιτρέπω and συγχωρῶ permit, παραινῶ exhort, δοκῶ μοι I have a mind to; and λέγω, εἶπον, φωνῶ, φράζω tell (and βοῶ shout) in the sense of command.

N.—πείθω urge to a course of action, takes the infinitive, πείθω convince generally has ὡς, rarely the accusative with the infinitive. Thus, ἔπειθεν αὐτὸν καθ' αὑτὸν πορεύεσθαι he urged him to go by himself X. A. 6.2.13, οὐ γὰρ πείσονται οἱ πολλοί, ὡς σὺ αὐτὸς οὐκ ἠθέλησας ἀπιέναι for most people will not be convinced that of your own free will you did not desire to go away P. Cr. 44c (infinitive X. M. 1.1.20).


Verbs of will or desire not to do anything are e.g.: δέδοικα, φοβοῦμαι fear, φεύγω avoid, ὀκνῶ scruple, αἰσχύ_νομαι, αἰδοῦμαι ( cross2126) feel shame to, ἀπαγορεύω forbid, κωλύ_ω hinder, ἀπέχομαι abstain from, εὐλαβοῦμαι, φυλάττομαι beware of. Thus, φοβοῦμαι διελέγχειν σε I fear to refute you P. G. 457e, αἰσχύ_νομαι ὑ_μῖν εἰπεῖν τἀ_ληθῆ I am ashamed to tell you the truth P. A. 22b.


Under verbs of will or desire are included verbs expressing an activity to the end that something shall or shall not be done. Thus, δίδωμι offer, give, διαμάχομαι struggle against, ποιῶ, διαπρά_ττομαι, κατεργάζομαι manage, effect, παρέχω offer (others in 1992, cross1993).

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Several verbs of will or desire take ὅπως with the future or the subjunctive (verbs of effort, 2211, cross2214); or μή with the subjunctive (verbs of fear, cross2225); some take the participle ( cross2123 ff.).


The infinitive may be used with the

a. Genitive or dative when the expression of desire is addressed to a person and the genitive or dative depends on the leading verb. Here the sentence is simple. Thus, δέομαι ὑ_μῶν . . . τὰ δίκαια ψηφίσασθαι I ask you to render a just verdict I. 19.51, τοῖς ἄλλοις πᾶσι παρήγγελλεν ἐξοπλίζεσθαι he ordered all the rest to arm themselves X. A. 1.8.3.

b. Accusative when the action of a person is desired (example in cross1979). Such sentences are complex.

N.—Verbs of commanding allow either a or b; but only κελεύω with the accusative permits either meaning: κελεύω σὲ ταῦτα μὴ ποιει_ν I tell you not to do this and I command that you shall not do this. Cp. cross1981.


Several verbs signifying to say are also used as verbs of will and then mean command. The agent commanded usually stands in the accusative subject of the infinitive. So with λέγω, εἶπον, φράζω, φωνῶ. Thus λέγω σ' ἐγὼ δόλῳ Φιλοκτήτην λαβεῖν I say that thou shalt take Philoctetes by craft S. Ph. 101, τούτοις ἔλεγον πλεῖν I told them that they should sail D. 19.150, πάντες ἔλεγον τοὺς τούτων ἄρξαντας δοῦναι δίκην all said that the ringleaders should suffer punishment X. A. 5.7.34, εἶπον τὴν θύρα_ν κεκλεῖσθαι they commanded that the door should be shut (and stay shut) X. H. 5.4.7, βασιλεὺς ἔγραψε πά_σα_ς τὰ_ς ἐν τῇ Ἑλλάδι πόλεις αὐτονόμους εἶναι the king issued a written order that all the cities in Greece should be independent (not: wrote that they were independent) X. H. 6.3.12.

a. The agent may stand in the dative as χαλᾶν λέγω σοι I bid thee let go S. O. C. 840.


The present and aorist infinitive (both timeless) are the usual tenses of the infinitive after verbs of will or desire (see cross1869). The perfect is rare; as εἶπον τὴν θύρα_ν κεκλεῖσθαι ( cross1997). δοκῶ and δοκῶ μοι signifying I have a mind to or I am determined to take the present or aorist like δοκεῖ· τὸν ὄνον ἐξάγειν δοκῶ I have a mind to bring out the ass Ar. Vesp. 177, ἐγὼ οὖν μοι δοκῶ . . . ὑφηγήσασθαι κτλ. now I have a mind to show, etc. P. Eu. 288c. Cp. cross1983 a. When it is clearly denoted that the action resolved on is to follow without delay the future is used; as in ἀλλά μοι δοκῶ . . . οὐ πείσεσθαι αὐτῷ but I am determined that I will not accept his opinion P. Th. 183d.

a. Some verbs, as κελεύω, which might be held to introduce indirect discourse, are classed under verbs of will or desire, because, like these verbs, they do not regularly take the future infinitive; and because, unlike verbs of saying and thinking (which admit all the tenses of the infinitive) they introduce infinitives which do not show differences of time. The future infinitive does not express a command. For a few cases of the future after verbs of will or desire, see cross1869.


Verbs signifying to hope, expect, promise, threaten , and swear, when followed by the aorist (less often the present) infinitive ( cross1868), have the construction of verbs of will or desire. When such verbs take the future infinitive they have the construction of indirect discourse.

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Herbert Weir Smyth [n.d.], A Greek Grammar for Colleges; Machine readable text [info] [word count] [Smyth].
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