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In North & Hillard Ex. 194, a passage is to be translated into Latin: it begins: "Both Demosthenes and the common soldiers were greatly disheartened at this defeat, though Nicias seemed almost to have expected it."

The answer: "et Demosthenes et milites ob hanc cladem metu sunt commoti, cum Nicias eam paene exspectasse videretur."

Why the use of indirect infin. "exspectasse (exspectavisse)" given that the writer puts Demosthenes, the soldiers & Nicias as three elements, facing the consequences, "at this defeat" (ob hanc cladem)--in the same sentence? There is no: "he-said-that-he (or they) which would require all three elements to be treated indirectly.

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  • What do you mean by "the writer puts Demosthenes, the soldiers & Nicias as three elements"? – Joonas Ilmavirta Jan 30 '19 at 16:30
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There is a chance that I misinterpret something, but I hope this answer helps a little anyway.

First, I want to make sure that you know that cum is not only the preposition "with". Here it is the conjunction "whereas", "while", "though". The suggested translation contains two (almost) independent parts which are best parsed in isolation (at first):

  1. et Demosthenes et milites ob hanc cladem metu sunt commoti
  2. Nicias eam paene exspectasse videretur

In the first part I would read ob as "because" rather than "at".

Technically, the second clause is subordinate to the first, and that is why it is in conjunctive. The second part is an nominativus cum infinitivo: "Nicias almost seems to have expected it". It is a passivised version of a more familiar accusativus cum infinitivo:

Niciam eam paene expectasse video.
I see that Nicias has almost expected it.

So, Demosthenes and the soldiers are not treated indirectly. The second clause is subordinate to the first one, and the NCI is subordinate to the verb videretur. In particular, Demosthenes and the soldiers are treated together, but I do not quite see what you mean by Nicias being a third element.

Remember that the what you call an "answer" is actually more of a "suggested translation". It is not the single correct way to phrase things, but of course it makes sense to try to understand how it works.

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  • llmavirta: so the conclusion is "it-seemed-that-he" is equivalent to "he-said-that-he" generating indirect-speech "exspectasse"? Thank you. – tony Jan 31 '19 at 11:05
  • @tony I guess you can phrase it that way. The difference between those two is that "he-said-that-he" requires accusative (acc. cum inf.) whereas "it-seemed-that-he" requires nominative (nom. cum inf.). The infinitive expecta(vi)sse is the same. – Joonas Ilmavirta Jan 31 '19 at 11:14

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