Plūrālia Tantum

I’ve discussed this phenomenon in parts in places, but I have never full described the phenomenon of plūrālia tantum—Latin words that appear categorically as plural nouns.

The plūrālia include—

  • names of cities: Athēnae, Thūriī, Philippī, Veiī
  • names of festivals: Olympia, Bacchānālia, Quīnquārtrūs, lūdī Rōmānī
  • names of social classes: optimātēs, maiōres (ancestors), liberī, penātēs, Quirītēs (citizens)
  • words that are plural in nature, like the English ‘jeans, scissor, contents, etc.’: arma, artūs (joints)dīvitiae, scālae (stairs), valvae (folding doors), forēs, angustiae, moenia, dēliciae (beloved), faucēs (throat), īnsidiae (ambush), cervīcēs (neck), viscera (flesh).
  • words that are popular plural poetical tropes: sceptra (for sceptrum), ora (for ōs), silentia (for silentium).

Where these appear in the singular, they often have meanings slightly distinct from their plural forms:

  • Optimās, optimātis: aristocrat
  • Foris, foris: gate

The Essential A & G: 101-2


Imperative of Sciō, Habeō and Meminī

The imperative of sciō is scītō in the singular and scītōte in the future. These are the future forms, but they are used in the present tense.

Even if you’re a whiz and you know that already, it might be a little less where how to use this imperative in a Latin sentence. The Romans don’t appear to have ordered others to do things like ‘know these by heart before Friday’s exam.’ Instead, the imperative of ‘know’ was more often something like ‘rest assured’ or ‘recall,’ confirming or searching for what is already known rather than standing for the imperative ‘learn.’

  • Scītōte vobīs semper deum propitium esse, sī bonīs: Know that the god will always favor you, so long as you are good.
  • Scītō tibi gratiās dābō: trust that I will return the favor.
  • Scītō exemplum tuī patris: recall the example of your father.

This is also true of habeō, where it means understand, and mēminī. 

  • Habētō tibi me nōn irātum esse: realize that I  am not angry with you.
  • Habetōte vostrum finem: know your limits.
  • Mementō ora candentia parentis: recall your mother’s glowing features.

From the examples in Lewis and Short, I cannot be sure, but it appears that the imperatives of sciō will always take a direct object or an infinitive construction, and never the + ablative construction that may appear with other moods of sciō.

The Essential A  & G: 182a.

Irregular Imperatives in Compounds

What you probably know:

Somewhere in Latin class, you likely came across the most common irregular imperatives: dīc, fer, dūc, fac — Speak, Carry, Lead, Do. I repeat them in this order to recreate the mnemonic DFDF, SCLD — Dufus! Dufus! Scold him!, which I was introduced to early on.

What you might not know is whether these irregular forms are maintained within compounds. Indeed, they are, with one exception.

  • Cōnfer haec exempla: compare these examples.
  • Infer tribūtum reditūs foederāle semel in annō: pay your federal income taxes once a year.
  • Eam addūc ut moveat: persuade her to move.
  • Dēdūc maiōrīs verbīs fābulam: expand on your story with more words.
  • Maledīc donec potes: curse them while you still can.

The exception is therefore fac, which is derived from faciō, a verb that more often than not takes its compounds in –ficiō. Such compounds do not display an irregular imperative.

  • Effice tria carmina: complete three poems.
  • Infice regem priusquam cīvēs cōnficiat: poison the kill before he kills the citizens.

If you’d like a refresher on the plurals: cōnferte, addūcite, maledīcite, facīte, efficite, etc.

Also, note that early late features the occasional face, dūce, and dīce (but never fere).

The Essential A & G: 182.

Synechdochical Accusative

One of the more idiomatic uses of the Latin accusative is a part for whole construction, the synechdochical (συνεκδοχή) accusative, wherein the accusative subject specifies the range of the verb or adjective. This is also called the Greek Accusative, or the Accusative of Specification.

  • Caput nectentur: they shall be bound at the head.
  • Nūda genū fuit: she was bare to the knees.
  • Femur trāgulā ictus vēnit: he arrived wounded in the thigh by a dark.

The Essential AG: 397b

Adverbial Accusative Phrases (2/2)

Here are a few more adverbial accusative phrases, used in context:

  • Vinum bonam partem profūdit: Wine flowed in buckets.
  • Vinum maximam partem cotidīē bibērunt: They drank wine more or less every day.
  • Illic puer virīle secus est: There is a boy of the male sex.
  • Illic puella muliebre secus est: There is a girl of the female sex.

The phrases quod sī and quod nisi are also adverbial accusatives, but I’ve already covered them here.

The Essential AG: 397a

Adverbial Accusative Phrases (1/2)

There are a number of fixed phrases in Latin that are accusative idiomatically. Here are a few:

Trēs hominēs id temporis exībam: I was dating three guys at that time.

Puellī molestiōrēs id aetātis fuerunt: Boys are a hassle at that age.

Quod genus anī est: What sort of old woman is she?

Meam vicem, habēas sicut placet: As far as I am concerned, you may have as much as you like.

Quid craterā hoc noctis agis: What are you doing with a mixing bowl at this hour of the night?

It isn’t clear to me how Allen and Greenough identify ‘quod (or id) genus‘ as an adverbial accusative. They agree it may have been a nominative at one point, but how do we know it isn’t a nominative now? Is it simply because ‘adverbial nominative’ isn’t an extant class?

The Essential AG: 397a


I-Stems with Ablative -i

Here’s the other half of that list that I started in (this post). These are the class of consonantal adjectives that tend not to operate as quasi-nouns, and therefore tend to take -i in the ablative, rather than -e.

  • āmēns, āmentis, frantic, crazed
  • anceps, ancipis, double, doubtful
  • concors, concordis, agreed, joint
  • dēgener, dēgeneris, low-born, weak
  • hebes, hebetis, dull, blunt
  • ingēns, ingentis, huge, vast
  • inops, inopis, needy, helpless
  • memor, memoris, mindful of
  • pār, paris, alike, equal to
  • perpes, perpetis, lasting
  • praeceps, praecipitis, headlong
  • praepes, praepitis, nimble, winged
  • teres, teretis, smooth

Sorry for the relative obscurity of these last two posts. The thing is, they cover a few footnotes in Allen and Greenough that I feel should be out there on the Internet, preferably with a basic entry format and definition.

The Essential AG: 121a3