I am translating this sentence from English to classical Greek.

There is great danger that the students may harm themselves by not taking care of themselves. Let us decide how to help them.

My translation:

μέγας κίνδῡνος ἐστὶ μὴ οἱ μαθηταὶ ἑαυτοὺς βλάπτωσιν τῷ ἑαυτῶν μὴ ἐπιμελεῖσθαι. βουλευόντων ὅπως αὐτοὺς ὠφελήσομεν.

I wasn't sure how to handle the phrase "by not taking care of themselves". Is it correct to use an articular infinitive as a dative of means? Are there other ways of conveying it?

On a related note, is the articular infinitive equivalent to the Latin gerund? I found myself wondering this recently. I think so—I wouldn't see why not—but I wanted to make sure.

I would welcome any other improvements to the translation. Appreciate any help.

1 Answer 1


The articular infinitive can be used as a dative of means, e.g. (from Smyth sec. 2033):

οὐδενὶ τῶν πάντων πλέον κεκράτηκε Φίλιππος ἢ τῷ πρότερος πρὸς τοῖς πράγμασι γίγνεσθαι Philip has conquered us by nothing so much as by being beforehand in his operations (Demosthenes 8.11)

That said, it would be simpler and more natural in your sentence to instead use a participial phrase agreeing with οἱ μαθηταί.

A couple of other comments: κίνδυνός ἐστι (note extra acute because of the following enclitic, which is unaccented); and βουλευόντων is 3pl. where you need a 1pl. form.

  • Thanks! Even though the participial phrase might be clearer, is it still correct to use a dative of means here? Also, wouldn't the original wording (i.e. the preposition "by") be lost if I were to use a participial phrase? Would a dative of means be preferable, if only to preserve the original wording?
    – ktm5124
    Feb 12, 2017 at 4:28
  • 1
    @ktm5124, the dative isn't incorrect, but it doesn't strike me as a very idiomatic choice. Participial phrases can have a broad range of semantics, including "means"-like senses; in this context this would be a natural reading of the participial phrase.
    – TKR
    Feb 12, 2017 at 4:31
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    One little remark: given that the phrase begins with "there is great danger ..." wouldn't be more appropriate to use κίνδυνος ἔστι instead of κίνδυνός ἐστι? Otherwise it will mean "a great danger is ..." with the following clause as a predicative complement of the subject
    – qwertxyz
    Feb 12, 2017 at 12:00
  • @Alessio, my sense is that existential ἔστι is only accented when it precedes the subject, but I can't find corroboration for that at the moment and you may be right.
    – TKR
    Feb 12, 2017 at 19:05
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    @Alessio, cf. Thucydides 1.24 Ἑπίδαμνός ἐστι πόλις, probably to be translated "There is a city E." rather than "E. is a city". (Though thinking about it some more, this strikes me as a classic environment for hyperbaton -- a Greek writer might well have gone with μέγας ἐστὶ κίνδυνος.)
    – TKR
    Feb 12, 2017 at 23:54

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