Datives and Ablatives 2


Normally you can figure out the meaning of a dative by translating  with for or to. The important exception is our fourth class of datives.

(iv) Dative with special verbs. This is largely a question of vocabulary. There are a number of verbs in Latin which take the dative, rather than the accusative case. Maybe fifteen or so are common. If you know this, translating them is easy, but if you don’t it can be very confusing. Aim to know some important verbs that take the dative case, and try to expand that list as you progress. Here are five to get you started: credo (I believe), ignosco (I forgive), noceo (I harm), pareo (I obey), studeo (I am eager for, I like).

(v) Dative of Interest. This is when Latin uses a dative to tell us who is influenced or affected by a particular action. It could be a case of advantage or disadvantage, or a vague sense of involvement. Think of English examples like “What’s in it for me?,” “I’m doing this for you,” ‘It’s a problem for us.” These sentences would all involve datives (mihi, tibi, nobis) in Latin. But these datives of interest can also be more colloquial or idiomatic, and it’s best to try think on your feet rather than classifying each one you meet. The playwright Plautus is a good source of colloquial usage, and he doesn’t let us down here. em tibi omnem fabulam: “There, that’s the whole story for you” (Plautus, Pseudolus).

(vi) The dative is also used to express the agent in what is called a passive periphrastic construction. via longa ambulanda est mihi “a long road is to be walked by me” or “I have to walk a long road.”

(vii) Sometimes in Latin poetry the dative is used as the agent of a passive verb, where you would normally expect a/ab with the ablative: laudatus est a me “He was praised by me.”