Experience III, Lesson 25: Dative of Agent

The Dative used as the agent of passive verbs

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
Now go on to Homework 27

Third Experience Latin - Fr. Reginald Foster

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