Genitive of Friendship

Yeah, I made that genitive up, but only to describe a real phenomenon in Latin! Some adjectives of likeness, nearness, and belonging that normally take the dative will occasionally take a possessive genitive. This transition is especially common where the adjective approaches the force of a noun.

  • Fuit hōc quondam proprium populī Rōmānī: this was once peculiar to the Roman people. (~a peculiar trait of)
  • Fuit semper amīcus Cicerōnis: he was always friendly with Cicero. (~a friend of)
  • Adeō patris similis es: you’re just like your master. (~a chip off the old block)

Here’s the full list of adjectives that perform this function—

  • aequālis,  aequāle: of the same age (~a contemporary of)
  • affīnis, affīne: related to by marriage (~kinsman of)
  • aliēnus, -a, -um: belonging to another (~a stranger to)
  • cōgnātus, -a, -um: fellow-born (~kinsman of)
  • commūnis, commūne: common to (~kinsman of)
  • cōnsanguineus, -a, -um: sharing a bloodline (~kinsman of)
  • contrārius, -a, -um: opposite (~the opposite of)
  • dispār: unlike (dispar suī, in philosophical diction)
  • familiāris, familiāre: of close relation (~intimate of)
  • fīnitimus, -a, -um: adjoining (~neighbor of)
  • inimīcus, -a, -um: hostile to (~enemy of)
  • necessārius, -a, -um: connected with (~component of)
  • pār: equal to (~a match)
  • pecūliāris, pecūliāre: personal (~peculiar trait of)
  • propinquus, -a, -um: neighboring (~neighbor of)
  • proprius, -a, -um: personal (~peculiar trait of)
  • sacer, sacra, sacrum: holy (~holy with respect to some deity)
  • similis, simile: alike to (~spitting image of)
  • superstes: surviving (~survivor of)
  • vīcīnus, -a, -um: neighboring (~neighbor of)

Note that this genitive construction is actually more common for proprius, -a, -um than the dative construction.

Similis with the genitive is especially common with personal pronouns (meī, tuī, suī) and within the fixed phrase vērī similis (probable).


4 comments on “Genitive of Friendship

  1. Ciceroni & patri (examples 2 & 3 above) are both in the dative.

  2. tomsky says:

    Any reason why in the first example “hōc” is ablative, and not simply nominative “hoc”?

  3. rsmease says:

    I was just going for ablative of manner to make it more stylized, though then I failed to bring that out in the English beside it.

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