The Vocative Case: Syntax

The Vocative is the case of direct address, and may be interspersed with other cases in poetic language.

  • Tiberīne pater, tē, sāncte, precor: O father Tiber, to thee, holy one, I pray. ( is the accusative object)
  • Rēs omnis mihi tēcum erit, Hotensī: My whole attention will be devoted to you, Hortensius.

Where a noun is placed in apposition to a vocative with the imperative, it may be apposited in the nominative.

  • Audī tū, populus Albānus: hear, though people of Alba.

Where the implied subject is or vōs, a vocative adjective may take the place of a vocative noun.

  • Quō moritūre ruis: where are you rushing off to die?
  • Cēnsōrem trabeāte salūtās: robed, you salute the censor.

The Essential AG: 340a-b

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The Vocative Case: Declension

A&G define the vocative as “the case of Direct Address.” (35f)

Generally speaking, the vocative and the nominative are the same.

However, in certain nouns of the second declension (those with nominative -us or -ius) have two exceptional variations. All nouns in -us feature an -e in the vocative (mūrus…mūre). Those ending in -ius (Vergilius, fīlius, genius, etc.) take a vocative  (Vergilī, filī, genī).

  • [Highly attentive readers should note that this vocative does not shift its accent, rendering Vergílī, and not *Vérgilī, as one might expect.]

That’s how it stands for nouns. There’s a slight variation in policy for adjectives, though luckily the same general rule (same as the nominative) holds true for all but the second declension (bonus…bone). However, the one catch is that adjectives ending in -ius change to -ie and not . Therefore, when calling to a Spartan son, we might say O fīlī Lacedaemonie! (not *Lacedaemonī).

If anyone has a better understanding of vocative plurals, which I assume are all identical to their nominative forms, feel free to say more in the comments below. A&G are totally silent on this issue, which I assume signals that listing the vocatives would be redundant (with respect to the nominatives).

The Essential AG: 38a

Weather Expressions in Latin

Some of the more common impersonal expressions in Latin are those that describe the weather.

  • grandinat, it’s hailing
  • pluit, it’s raining
  • ningit, it’s snowing
  • fulgurat, there’s a lightning bolt! (A&G have ‘it lightens’)
  • tonat, it thunders
  • rōrat, there’s dew on the grass

Note that these verbs can take subjects (Iupitter tonat) but they don’t have to. A&G are incomplete here, so let’s try to extrapolate on other ways the Romans might have describe the weather. I’m working with the assumption that these impersonal expressions are much like those of modern Romance languages (hace calor, fa caldo, it’s warm). The Latin expressions ought to cover the same range, right?

  • calidum est, it’s warm
  • frigidum est, it’s chilly
  • hūmidum est, it’s humid
  • nubiliōsum est, it’s cloudy
  • partim nubiliōsum est, it’s partly cloudy
  • ventōsum est, it’s windy
  • lūcet, it’s sunny
  • partim lūcet, it’s partly sunny

The impersonal list in A&G technically covers ‘verbs expressing operations of nature and the time of day,’ so here are two more entries in the list:

  • vesperāscit, it grows late
  • lūcīscit hōc, it grows light

The Essential AG: 208a