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Future infinitive active in indirect discourse

Latin Language Asked by Felix Nescienti on August 25, 2021

The future infinitive active can be used as an active periphrastic, but within an indirect discourse, of which the subject is an accusative and the main verb an infinitive, can it also have a future indicative meaning ?

Example : “quo in genere sperare videor Scipionis et Laeli amicitiam notam posteritati fore.” [Cic. Amic. 15]

Loeb translation : “I venture to hope that among such instances the friendship of Scipio and Laelius will be known to posterity.”

One Answer

Yes, and in this case "future" means in the future with respect to the main verb. So if you translate sentences like "I said that you would like that steak" or "I am saying that you will like that steak" into Latin, you need the future active infinitive where English has "would like" in one sentence and "will like" in the other.

The future participle that is part of the future infinitive will always be in the accusative in indirect discourse, and it agrees with the accusative subject in gender and number. Thus (if I am speaking to a man), the above phrases translate as:

Dixi te illam carnem amaturum (esse).
Dico te illam carnem amaturum (esse).

Note that amaturum agrees with te. If I were speaking to a woman, it would be amaturam.

Alternatively:

Dixi illam tibi carnem placituram (esse).
Dico illam tibi carnem placituram (esse).

Here placituram agrees with carnem, which is the accusative subject in this phrasing. And yes tibi is intentionally between illam and carnem. Leaving tibi next to dixi could lead to misinterpretation as "I told you the steak would be good". Putting it after carnem would de-emphasize it too much.

In spoken Latin I suspect one would resolve the ambiguity differently, e.g., perhaps with:

Dixi placituram tibi carnem illam

But I wasn't around back then.

Correct answer by C Monsour on August 25, 2021

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