Hi Stirling! Nice to hear from you again.Stirling Bartholomew wrote:Sophocles , Oedipus tyrannus 1293
τὸ γὰρ νόσημα μεῖζον ἢ φέρειν.
It is the semantic domain of φέρειν with τὸ ... νόσημα μεῖζον which contributes the notion of "ability" not the fact that it is an infinitive. The infinitive in the abstract doesn't supply meaning of the sort you are looking for as Barry and Jonathan have already pointed out.
Is the 'abstract' not where we put a screen around what's really going on and stick a label on it?
Anyhow, let me unpack the Sophocles line for you.
From what we see written, it appears that the comparison is between 'disease' and 'to bear', but Oedipus is making the comparison between what he feels. For us to see this real comparison we have to reduce 'disease' and 'to bear' to their lowest common denominator, like the way we compare fractions. This common denominator is 'ability'. What Oedipus is really comparing is 'the ability of the disease to cause distress' and 'the ability to bear it'.