Throughout my time studying Latin in school, one grammatical construction in particular has always intrigued me to an extent — the future passive infinitive (eg. amatum iri). Whenever it came up (often in performing verb synopses), the teacher would always say something to the effect that it's the kind of form whose occurrences you can count on one hand. My questions is, is it indeed that rare of a form, and, if so, are there any primary examples of it in Latin literature?

  • 3
    For Cicero alone, two hands plus both feet wouldn’t be enough, so your teacher did exaggerate a bit. :-)
    – chirlu
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 2:26

3 Answers 3


This list will have some false positives, but the Packard Humanities Institute Latin Texts website generates this collection of all instances of "iri" in its corpus (179 total instances):


  • It should be noted that not all of those are future passive infinitives.
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 4:29
  • Exactly -- those are the "false positives," but it will have a lot of examples of the construction the OP is looking for, too.
    – cjmcnamara
    Commented Mar 6, 2016 at 12:02

The first one I ever encountered was in Metellus' letter to Cicero (Fam. 5.1):

Existimaram pro mutuo inter nos animo et pro reconciliata gratia nec absentem umquam me abs te ludibrio laesum iri.

I had thought, on account of our mutual desire and reconciliation, that I while absent was not ever to be attacked with ridicule by you.

It's certainly rare. If we need more than four hands to count the instances in Cicero, it's because Cicero's corpus is so incredibly massive. That said, it's not completely unheard of, and this is a formal written style from one senator to another.


Let me give you a concrete example of how common the structure is. Caesar, whose language is considered good classical style, uses the word iri four times in De Bello Gallico, three of which are passive future infinitive. These are nocitum iri in 5.36.2, ductum iri in 7.11.4 and spoliatum iri in 7.66.5. The irrelevant one is ad castra iri oportere in 3.18.6.

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