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FiliusLunae
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Ad te

Post by FiliusLunae » Wed Dec 15, 2004 8:49 am

I have a question about a construction found in "Second Year Latin - Part 1 - Selections of Easy Latin, J.B. Greenough", one of the downloadable books from Textkit, in the "Learn Latin" Section.
It is in second sentence in the very first paragraph, on page 1:
"Hanc epistulam ad te laetus scribo."

My question has to do with the "ad te". Why isn't the dative used instead: tibi? Hence, why not: Hanc epistulam tibi laetus scribo. I know that this is the construction that eventually made it to the Romance languages as an emphatic dative (a te, à toi, a ti, etc), so I would assume it was used in Vulgar Latin. But, why is it used in Latin in this instance when I would personally expect to see a dative? I remember seeing this before and asking myself the very same thing. I don't recall if it was with "scribo" too, or with some other verb. Is "ad te" here used to mean rather something like "in your direction, on your way" ? Or, is it simply used with certain verbs stylistically instead of the dative?

Vobis gratias ago.

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cweb255
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Post by cweb255 » Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:29 am

Simply put it is a vulgar mistake. It's not a classical usage. At all.

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benissimus
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Post by benissimus » Wed Dec 15, 2004 12:03 pm

I am afraid that is not true at all, I have found several citations of Cicero himself using the scribere ad ... construction. Granted, most of the examples are from his personal letters which are in a casual but certainly not vulgar style. Livy and some late Classical authors use it as well.

e.g.
plura ad te scribam, si, etc., Cic. Att. 11, 10, 3 : scriberem ad te de hoc plura, si Romae esses, id. ib. 6, 4, 11 : haec ad te scripsi verbosius,

I think this construction is being used because the word approaches the meaning "to send a letter". The emphasis is on the motion rather than the recipient when the preposition is used.
Last edited by benissimus on Fri Dec 17, 2004 1:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by yadfothgildloc » Thu Dec 16, 2004 6:05 pm

I'm with benisimus on this one: Think of it like "pros" in Greek. Or "towards" in English. It doesn't often show up and it's pretty transparent when it does, so don't worry to much about it.

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cweb255
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Post by cweb255 » Thu Dec 16, 2004 11:20 pm

benissimus - can you give the Livy et al examples?

And vulgar means "of the people" i.e. the common tongue, so wouldn't personal letters be vulgar then? Surely he wasn't speaking "ad te scribo" in the forum?

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Turpissimus
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Post by Turpissimus » Fri Dec 17, 2004 12:57 am

And vulgar means "of the people" i.e. the common tongue, so wouldn't personal letters be vulgar then? Surely he wasn't speaking "ad te scribo" in the forum?
I don't think genuine vulgar Latin would be anything like the Latin we see in Cicero's letters, which must surely have been (i) written in elevated style, seeing as how they were between two well educated Romans, and (ii) edited before publication.

Vulgar Latin was probably a great deal more rough than the relatively refined language we see in the the great man's epistles. You are right though it is a bit of a continuum - I imagine Cicero's letters were a good deal more relaxed about grammar than his speeches in the forum.
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FiliusLunae
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Post by FiliusLunae » Fri Dec 17, 2004 4:42 am

yadfothgildloc wrote:I'm with benisimus on this one: Think of it like "pros" in Greek. Or "towards" in English. It doesn't often show up and it's pretty transparent when it does, so don't worry to much about it.
That's kind of like what I had in mind. That it emphasized "on the way to you, your way".

I agree with the others in that "vulgar" is to be taken as "of the people"; that's what I meant when I said "I would assume it [the construction in question] was used in Vulgar Latin." As far as Cicero's letters, I wouldn't know much since I have never read them. But definitely the «ad + » was a vulgar usage because it was what replaced the dative case from Latin in the Romance languages.

Gratias omnibus ago. :)

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