Experience III, Lesson 25: Dative of Agent
The Dative used as the agent of passive verbs
Now go on to Homework 27
- Recall: Passive verbs reverse the normal sentence, whereby the grammatical subject of the sentence is really the one being acted on. The real actor, the agent is not the subject.
- The book is written by me = I am writing the book.
- In Latin, with passive verbs, especially with the Passive-Necessity Formula (learned Last Lesson), the Dative can be used to show the Agent, i.e. to show the agent's interest in the result.
- For regular passive sentences, this usage is rare in early Latin like Caesar, but is much liked by the poets and a few prose writers, like Tacitus.
- Mihi res tota provisa est = T.4 passive: the whole matter was provide-for for me (= by me); active: I was providing-for the whole matter
- Non intellegor ulli = T.1 passive: I am not understood to any one (= by any one); active: no one understands me
- The agent of the passive-necessity formula is put in the Dative in all periods of Latin history. The Dative of Agent is used with the Participle of Necessity about 80% of the time (the Ablative is only used 20% of the time.)
- Diligentia colenda est nobis = passive: Diligence is needing to be cultivated for us (=by us); active: We are needing to cultivate diligence
- Recall: the personal agent is shown by the preposition "ab" (or "a") + Ablative.
This is still used 1. when the verb itself takes the Dative case as its object 2. to avoid ambiguity, ab (a) may be used for sake of clarity.
- Civibus a vobis consulendum = passive: For the citizens it is needing to be consulted by you; active: you need to pay-attention to the citizens
- Where there is no ambiguity, there is no need of ab.
- Linguae moderandum est mihi - passive: To the tounge it is needing to be controlled for me (= by me); active: I am needing to control my tongue
Third Experience Latin - Fr. Reginald Foster
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