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Dative of possession

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Dative of possession

Postby lihin » Wed Feb 25, 2004 5:35 pm

Good day Latin scholars and enthusiasts,

I am a Latin novice - and that's giving me a lot of credit - who would like anyone's assistance with the Dative of possession. Specifically, in contrast to the phrase "Soli Deo gloria" - To God alone the glory, I would like to add - "the shame is mine."

Now apparently the dative of possession places accent on the MINE part of the possession, which is fitting, but I'm unsure of the noun/object that should accompany this form. Would it be correct then to say "dedecus est meus"? I.e. the nominative case for the noun dedecus?

Any comments are welcome. Thanks.
lihin
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Postby Ulpianus » Wed Feb 25, 2004 6:59 pm

Your heading answers the question! The noun or pronoun of the possessor goes in the dative: mihi; the thing possessed goes in its natural case, here nominative. So mihi deducus or mihi infamia (the latter, I'd have thought, better as contrasting with gloria and for the assonance). Literally: To god alone is the glory, to me the disgrace. You could make a nice chiastic arrangement: soli deo gloria sed infamia mihi (no need for est).
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Postby lihin » Wed Feb 25, 2004 7:36 pm

Thank you Ulpianus for your stylistic answer.

I am just interested to know when one could use the "esse" pronoun - I found the following reference material for example:
http://www.hhhh.org/perseant/libellus/aides/allgre/allgre.373.html where the phrase "liber est meus" is used to say "the book is mine".

When can or should one use the latter?
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Postby Ulpianus » Wed Feb 25, 2004 8:13 pm

Well, I'm not sure there are any rules. Consider the two sentences:

Liber est meus "The book is mine"

Est mihi liber "I own a/the book" (literally "There is to me a book")

The first emphasizes the identity of the owner of the book (whose book is it); it would be even more emphatic if one reversed the words: meus est liber: it's my book. The second emphasizes, as it were, the fact of possession (I own this book). Both use the same nouns and pronouns, and the same verb (esse to be), but in different ways and with different emphases. Essentially, the first answers the question "Whose book?" the second the question "What do you own?"

As to when you can omit the verb: pretty freely. So long as the sense is clear, the verb esse can often be omitted, and frequently will be where the writer is aiming for a short, pithy, epigrammatic sort of sentence.
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