For starters, I haven't finished translating this short passage yet, so I would be grateful if you refrain from giving the full translation. (And if it's hard to answer the question without doing so, then maybe a useful hint would suffice.)

I wanted to know, what exactly is the perfect active infinitive fecisse doing here?

Interea medios Iuno despexit in Argos
et noctis faciem nebulas fecisse volucres
sub nitido mirata die, [...]

Metamorphoses 1.601–603

At first I thought, "indirect discourse!" But I don't see any verbs that introduce indirect discourse. It's also clearly not a complementary infinitive. With these ruled out, I'm pretty much out of ideas. Perhaps it could be a historical/poetical form of the verb, but I doubt it. What are your thoughts?

  • 2
    I added some tags and slightly redid formatting. Did you know that you can break a row with two spaces at the end of a line?
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Sep 30, 2016 at 7:47

2 Answers 2


(Edited drastically from previous version after several rereadings of the passage.)

Mirata means mirata est. It is not a plain participle, but a perfect form of a deponent verb. It governs an ACI, whose infinitive is fecisse. (And even if you read mirata as a plain participle, it can still govern an ACI.)

The next clause also has ACI: non esse nec remitti sensit (simplified).

As requested, I refrain from giving a fuller translation or analysis. If you are still stuck, please ask for more details.

  • Oh! I think I get it now. Thank you. By the way, do you think these kinds of questions are okay? (Where the author requests a pointer or a hint, but not the full translation?)
    – ktm5124
    Sep 30, 2016 at 7:51
  • 1
    @ktm5124, I think questions like this are perfectly fine. At our mathematical cousin site asking for hints is encouraged and sometimes apparently preferred to asking for full answers.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Sep 30, 2016 at 7:56
  • I think fecisse is actually governed by mirata; sensit is in the next clause.
    – TKR
    Sep 30, 2016 at 16:30
  • @TKR That's interesting. How does a past participle govern an infinitive? Could you possibly explain this idea in a separate answer?
    – ktm5124
    Sep 30, 2016 at 16:41
  • @TKR, that does indeed feel more likely now that I read the passage again. I'll make a small edit, but feel free to add your own answer, too.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Sep 30, 2016 at 19:25

To expand on Joonas's answer, I think he is 100% correct that mirata is elliptical; est is left out but must be assumed in order to translate the sentence. The structure is as follows:

Iuno despexit in Argos

et mirata [est] nebulas volucres fecisse faciem noctis

nec sensit [nebulas] remitti tellure

We have three parallel main clauses here, separated by the coördinating conjunctions et and nec. Within the second clause, there is an accusative with infinitive that depends on / is governed by the verb mirata; the third clause* also contains an a.c.i., depending on sensit.

In your quotation, est must have been left out. The coördinating conjunction et forces us to read it as something that is parallel with what came before it; because it cannot be parallel with a single noun or a noun group, or whatever, that came before et, it must be parallel with the entire clause before it (Iuno aspexit...), which means that it must itself also be a full clause with a finite verb (mirata est...).

An English aequivalent would be thus:

Juno looked down and amazed that ...

It seems clear that was must be supplied, or the two parts cannot be properly read together.

If there had been no et, then the opposite would have obtained:

*Iuno despexit in Argos

*mirata nebulas volucres fecisse faciem noctis

The English aequivalent would be thus:

Juno looked down, amazed that ...

The participle would have had to be dependent on the previous clause, and one (full) clause can only depend on another clause (= be subordinate to it) if it is introduced with a subordinating conjunction or a relative pronoun, which is absent here. It follows that mirata could not have been a full clause, and the whole phrase would have been just a participial phrase (a participle with some arguments), just as in the English example.

As to whether participles can govern infinitives and indirect speech, the answer is yes. A participle is both an adjective and a verb at the same time. Externally, it is an adjective, since it must normally agree with a noun or pronoun (although those can be implicit—but that is also the case with adjectives). That's why participles have the same endings as adjectives.

laudo canem mordentem = I praise the biting dog

curo canem vulneratum = I care for the wounded dog

Internally, however, it is a verb, which means that it can often have the same arguments that any other verb can—arguments that depend on it / are governed by it.

laudo canem mordentem inimicos = I praise a dog biting enemies / that bites enemies (a direct object normally occurs only with verbs)

curo canem vulneratum ab inimico = I care for a dog wounded by an enemy / that is wounded by an enemy (ab "by" normally occurs only with verbs)

So mirata can govern an a.c.i. just like any other verb.

*) By "clause" I always mean a full clause, i.e. a finite verb with its dependencies—the conventional meaning of the word clause as something closed off and complete.

  • Good answer! You can break a row with two spaces at the end of a line, Did you want to leave the vertical spaces between the lines in your first quote box? Also, this looks like a typo: "That's why participles have the same endings as participles."
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 3, 2016 at 4:54

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