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Use of possessive

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Use of possessive

Postby Tom L. » Wed Feb 25, 2004 2:58 pm

Is there a definite rule about the use of "suus" Vs. "eius/eorum"? I must admit that these possessives confuse me somewhat. Let me give you an example.

Is it better to say:

Puellam ad litus adhibui ut suam pulchram faciem mirarer.

Or

Puellam ad litus adhibui ut eius pulchram faciem mirarer?
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Postby Ulpianus » Wed Feb 25, 2004 8:48 pm

In that example, I think, the latter. puella is neither (a) the subject of the principle sentence, nor (b) the subject of the ut clause nor (c) the subject of a verb of saying. So there's nothing reflexive going on, and the possessive adjective should not be reflexive.

[I hadn't seen benissimus's post when I wrote this ... but I don't think his explanation quite works here, given the person of the verb in the ut clause ... I don't think it's a case where one can use either form.]

But I find this tricky too ...
Last edited by Ulpianus on Wed Feb 25, 2004 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Tom L. » Wed Feb 25, 2004 8:59 pm

Hmm...

Can faciem mirari mean to admire [someone's] form - although, as Benissimus points out, facies can also mean face? Does the dep. verb mirari take the accusative?
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Postby Ulpianus » Wed Feb 25, 2004 9:10 pm

Yes. And (so far as I know) yes.
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Postby Tom L. » Wed Feb 25, 2004 9:14 pm

Ulpianus,

So, what you are saying is that unless suus was connected to the subject, using eius is more grammatically correct?

Thus, would these sentences all be correct?

Puellam ad litus adhibui ut mihi suam pulchram faciem ostenderet. (Puella subj. of the ut clause).

Puella mecum ad litus venit ut suam pulchram faciem viderem. (Puella subj. of principal).

Puellam ad litus adhibui ut eius pulchram faciem viderem. (Puella subject of neither).
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Postby Ulpianus » Wed Feb 25, 2004 9:22 pm

That is how I understand it. The reflexive pronoun (and thence the reflexive possessive adjective) is used to refer (a) the the subject of the principal sentence or subordinate clause in which it stands (b) to the subject of the principal sentence if the subordinate clause in which it stands is something in the mind of that subject and (c) to the subject of a verb of speaking/thinking in oratio obliqua. Eius (gen) is never use to refer to the subject of the sentence in which it stands.

On that basis, the only one I would be at all doubtful about looks to be (2). But Latin regards purpose as something in someone's mind, so it would fall under rule (b).

The problem of course is that (a), (b) and (c) can overlap, so that the reflexive pronoun can be ambiguous. It isn't in any of your sentences.
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Postby Tom L. » Wed Feb 25, 2004 9:38 pm

Ulpianus, your explanation is very clear. I owe you.
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