I'm working on this line from Xenophon, and I'm having a little trouble with the second clause.

ἄξιον δὲ τοῦ Λυκούργου καὶ τόδε ἀγασθῆναι, τὸ κατεργάσασθαι ἐν τῇ πόλει αἱρετώτερον εἶναι τὸν καλὸν θάνατον ἀντὶ τοῦ αἰσχροῦ βίου:
(Xenophon Const. Lac. 9.1)

Here's my translation:

And this [deed] of Lycurgus is also deserving to be admired, accomplishing in the city that a noble death is preferable to a disgraceful life.

I find it peculiar that "ἐν τῇ πόλει αἱρετώτερον εἶναι τὸν καλὸν θάνατον ἀντὶ τοῦ αἰσχροῦ βίου" is not placed inside the articular infinitive—between the article and the infinitive κατεργάσασθαι. Why is this? I thought that the subjects, objects, and modifies of an articular infinitive were to be placed inside.

Also, why do we get εἶναι, and not ἐστὶ? Is the verb following an articular infinitive supposed to be an infinitive? I wasn't aware of such a rule. Or is it that the first clause somehow introduces indirect statement?

In addition to these questions, I welcome any improvements.

  • 2
    A tiny improvement on your (otherwise perfectly correct) translation might be to place "in the city" after "that": the point is not that Lycrugus accomplished this in Sparta, but that in Sparta a noble death is preferable to a shameful life. (FWIW, I've encountered before the misconception that all words belonging with an articular infinitive must appear between the article and the verb -- it isn't true, but I wonder if it can be traced to some specific textbook.)
    – TKR
    Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 1:03

1 Answer 1


Where did you read that the constituents of an articular infinitive need to be between the article and the infinitive? I would say they need to belong to the infinitive and be subordinate to it (and not to something else), but their location is no more limited than the modifiers of other nouns (i.e. than the elements of other noun groups). Otherwise, this sentence would be harder to parse: you'd only know you were inside an infinitival construction after you had read all the constituents, which is tiring; you wouldn't know what e.g. the ἐν τῇ πόλει phrase was dependent upon until the very end. Lastly, Greek is generally fairly free with respect to word order.

How would ἐστὶ work? Then there would have to be a full subordinate clause, which is only possible after a conjunction or relative pronoun, which is absent here. It is simply an a.c.i., whence your accomplishing ... that, and whence εἶναι and all the accusatives.

  • 2
    +1 I agree with your clear explanation. I would only suggest a little change in the translation, according to the tense of the phrase: ... to have accomplished that in the city a noble death is preferable to a disgraceful life
    – qwertxyz
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 18:19
  • @Alessio: Agreed!
    – Cerberus
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 18:38
  • @Cerberus Great answer. Just to be clear, there is no indirect statement in the passage I quoted, right? I typically look for ACIs with indirect statement, but I understand that certain words can introduce them, as well.
    – ktm5124
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 19:08
  • 2
    @ktm5124: I would not call that a statement, as you say. A.c.i. can be used in most places where an English or Latin gerund can, e.g. also after prepositions, which commonly do not introduce indirect speech. They can also be used in most places where English uses the conjunction that, and where Latin has ut (though probably with something like hôs(te)).
    – Cerberus
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 20:56

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