I learned from my textbook (From Alpha to Omega, Groton) about articular infinitives, in which a definite article is coupled with an infinitive, to form a phrase of many uses. At first glance, that seems to be the case in the bolded text (bolding mine) but on closer inspection, we see that the article τὰ is plural, so it more likely modifies δέοντα than πραχθῆναι.

τὸ ἄρχοντι καὶ πατρὶ ὑποταχθῆναι, ὃς ἔμελλε πάντα τὸν τῦφον ἀφαιρήσειν μου καὶ εἰς ἔννοιαν ἄξειν τοῦ ὅτι δυνατόν ἐστιν ἐν αὐλῇ βιοῦντα μήτε δορυφορήσεων χρῄζειν μήτε ἐσθήτων σημειωδῶν μήτε λαμπάδων καὶ ἀνδριάντων τοιῶνδέ τινων καὶ τοῦ ὁμοίου κόμπου, ἀλλ̓ ἔξεστιν ἐγγυτάτω ἰδιώτου συστέλλειν ἑαυτὸν καὶ μὴ διὰ τοῦτο ταπεινότερον ἢ ῥᾳθυμότερον ἔχειν πρὸς τὰ ὑπὲρ τῶν κοινῶν ἡγεμονικῶς πραχθῆναι δέοντα.

That I came under a ruler and a father, who intended to take away all of my conceit, and brought me to realize that it is possible to live in a court having need of neither bodyguards, nor fancy clothes, nor candelabra, and statues such as those and of similar vaunt, but that one can reduce oneself very close to the station of a private citizen and not have less dignity or vigor in a ruler’s need to competently effect the common good.

(Aur. 1.17.13)

My reasoning might be wrong, and if so, please correct me. But by comparison with the first clause (τὸ ... ὑποταχθῆναι), which also has an aorist passive articular infinitive, I would expect to see the singular τὸ and not the plural τὰ (although perhaps the number is flexible).

But regardless, could somebody explain how this complex phrase actually works? Why is δέοντα neuter and plural, and what is the term for an article paired with a participle, such as τὰ ... δέοντα? Furthermore, what function and meaning does πρὸς have preceding this phrase?

Any other criticisms or improvements would be welcome. Thanks!

1 Answer 1


Your translation is quite good!

Concerning the phrase in question, here are a few clarifications:

  1. it's quite clear that τὰ goes with δέοντα. Using the neuter article with a participle is pretty much the same as using it with an adjective:
    • τὰ ἀγαθά = "good things"
    • τὰ δέοντα = "things required"
  2. One common meaning of πρὸς is "in relation to." In this case, it is explaining what one will not necessarily be "ῥᾳθυμότερον" about.

Looking at the full phrase:

...ἀλλ̓ ἔξεστιν ἐγγυτάτω ἰδιώτου συστέλλειν ἑαυτὸν καὶ μὴ διὰ τοῦτο ταπεινότερον ἢ ῥᾳθυμότερον ἔχειν πρὸς τὰ ὑπὲρ τῶν κοινῶν ἡγεμονικῶς πραχθῆναι δέοντα.

Here is a literal translation:

...but it is possible to lower oneself very close [to the level] of a private citizen and not, through this, to be meaner or lazier with respect to the things that need to be done authoritatively for the sake of common [interests].

The only other minor point I can make has to do with:

ἀνδριάντων τοιῶνδέ τινων καὶ τοῦ ὁμοίου κόμπου

I would translate this as:

[without needing] ...such things as statues and similar bling.

"τοιόσδε τις" is simply a more indefinite form of "τοιόσδε." In fact, it may very well be referring to all the preceding genitives ("such things as status, clothes, etc.").

  • 1
    Thanks so much. Your explanation really illuminates all the little details I was unsure about. It makes these details very clear as well. I guess I was wrong to sense an articular infinitive, then — as you point out it's quite simply an adjective (a rather elegant adjectival phrase). Also, I'm glad you clarified the other clause (ἀνδριάντων...κόμπου) as I was confused by this and even considered asking about it in a separate question. +1
    – ktm5124
    Nov 28, 2017 at 20:40

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