AS Latin: Predicative Dative

Certain abstract nouns can take the dative case to express purpose or means (especially with the verb esse). This use of the dative has several names:

  • The Predicative Dative (because the dative noun takes a predicative position).

  • The Dative of Purpose (because it conveys a sense of purpose).

  • The Double Dative (because it usually appears alongside another dative noun – a dative of reference).

The basic translation of this dative is “as a…. (to/for something.)”

e.g. tertiam aciem nostris auxilio misit.
He sent the third line as a help to our men.

A better translation of auxilio would be as a source of help or in order to help. The following phrases involving the predicative dative are formed from AS vocabulary words:

auxilio esse to be a source of help (to help)
bono esse to be a benefit (to benefit)
curae esse to be a matter of concern (to worry)
dolori esse to be a cause of grief
dono (dare) (to give) as a gift
exemplo esse to be an example
exitio esse to be a cause of destruction (to destroy)
honori esse to be an honour
laudi esse to be a credit
malo esse to be a source of harm (to harm)
muneri as a service, present
odio esse to be an object of hatred (to be hated)
periculo esse to be a source of danger (to endanger)
praesidio esse to be a means of protection
pudori esse to be a cause of shame
saluti esse to be the salvation (to save)
usui esse to be of use (to benefit)

Practice exercises

  1. patriae nostrae magno exitio fuit id bellum.

    That war was a great cause of destruction for our country.

  2. illa femina, quae liberos suos interfecit, odio omnibus est.

    That woman, who killed her own children, is hated by everyone.

  3. cui bono scelus erat?

    Who benefited from the crime?

  4. equos principi hostium dono misit.

    He sent horses to the enemy chieftain as a gift.

  5. suis saluti fuit.

    He was the salvation of his men.

  6. magno usui nostris consilium erat.

    The advice was of great use to our men.

  7. periculo est civibus in viis media nocte ambulare.

    It is dangerous for the citizens to walk the streets in the middle of the night.

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