The Reflexive Inter Sē

There are multiform variations on the inter sē construction, which I feel it best to expand on here. The basic structure is something like this:

  • Inter sē cōncertant: they compete amongst themselves.

The basic sense in which this is a ‘reflexive’ construction seems clear here. However, we can (i.e. the Romans did) expand this idea into a variety of related senses dense and enigmatic:

  • CIcerōnis puerī amant inter sē: the children of Cicero love one another
  • furtim inter sē aspiciēbant: they stole glances at one another (think Jason and Medea upon first meeting)
  • collēs duōs inter sē propinquinōs occūbat: they occupied two hills near to one another
  • quod nos inter sē sit: which we’ll keep between us
  • rēs inter sē similēs: matters sharing qualities
  • fāta quae inter sē continentur: fates which hang together

An alternative to this reflexive idea is the alter alterīus/ alterī construction, similar to the ἀλλοs ἀλλοθεν idea of the Greek idiom, but I’ll cover that more in a forthcoming post!

  • alter alterīus ōva frangit: they break each other’s eggs

The Essential AG: 145c, 301f


Some Inter-esting Distinctions

In my last post, I introduced intra, to which I will now compare and contrast intra, a considerably more common and complex preposition, individuated from intra through the following uses.

1. The et double-accusative.

  • inter mōns et durum: between a rock and a hard place
  • inter tē et mē: between you and me

2. The inter sē construction.

  • inter sē loquuntur: they talk amongst themselves
  • inter se confērunt: they compare amongst themselves

3. The ‘amid’ construction.

  • inter hostium tēla: amid the weapons of the enemies
  • inter imbrim: during the rainfall
  • prīmus inter parēs: the first among equals

4. The temporal ‘while’ construction (with a gerund)

  • inter bibendum: while drinking
  • inter agendum: while carrying forward

The Essential AG: 221.15

Compounds Verbs with Inter-

Inter- can appear as a prefix to verbs (and also to derived nouns, adjectives and adverbs). Where it appears, it often bears one of three general effects on the corresponding base verb—

1. Effect of Intervals

  • interaestuō—to boil slowly (bubble up from time to time)
  • interārescō—to decay (dry up little by little)
  • interdō—to give at intervals
  • interpurgō—to cleanse here and there
  • interbrādō—to scape here and there
  • intersileō—to remain silent in the meanwhile

2. Effect of Insertion

  • intercalō—to insert a day in the calendar
  • intercapiō—to take away (by coming between the object and its possessor)
  • intercēdō—to intervene
  • intercipiō—to intercept
  • interclāmō—to cry aloud amid
  • interfluō—to flow between
  • internascor—to grow among
  • interrogō—to interrogate
  • intersaepiō—to fence in
  • interveniō—to come between

3. Effect of Dissolution

  • intercīdō—to cut up
  • internoscō—to distinguish
  • interpolō—to spoil, corrupt
  • interprīmō—to squeeze or crush to pieces
  • interscindō—to tear asunder
  • interversor—to turn hither and thither

Of course, there is conceptual overlap amid these categories. Interrelations, if you will.


Compound Verbs with Intrā—

You would think, given the vast tribe of verbal compounds with inter- as a prefix, that a few species of intrā-compounds would also inhabit that wood of the Latin dictionary. In fact, they are highly endangered, perhaps even extinct. Here are a few compound adjectives and nouns that I discovered; the verbs were nowhere to be found.

  • intrābilis (adj)—possible to enter
  • intrāclusus (adj)—shut in, enclosed
  • intrāmeātus, -ūs (n)—a journey within
  • intrāmūrānus (adj)—within the walls
  • intrāneus (adj)—within

An Intrā-duction

The preposition intrā takes an accusative. It is likely derived from the adjectival feminine adjective singular of inter, intra, intrum (intrā) — an archaic adjective which also produced the corresponding preposition inter.

Intra + accusative is primarily used with a single class of nouns, and denotes a space ‘within which.’

  • intrā moenia, within the walls
  • intrā me deus est, the Lord is within me
  • intrā iactum telī, within a javelin’s throw (denoting distance)

Intra + accusative of time is one ways of denoting the time within something occurred.

  • intrā quattuor annōs, within four years
  • intrā lucem, before the day was done
  • intrā diēs paucōs, within few days (before a few days had passed)
  • intrā morae breve tempus, without a moment’s delay

It can also mean less than a given duration or quantity.

  • intrā centum fūnera fēcit, he inflicted fewer than 100 casualties
  • intrā trēs diēs abiit, he left before three days had passed (compare above)

It can also appear without a direct object.

  • ea intrā est, she is within

The Essential AG: 130


Some Latin Dry Measures: Visual Dictionary

I recently came across the modius and trimodius measures in Plautus, and became curious about what exactly I should imagine. They’re dry measures, typically of grain, but they are also roughly equivalent to a peck and a bushel (bzw.), so we can illustrate them with apple baskets, since it’s Fall—



photo credit: Wikimedia

Here’s a peck, a.k.a a modius.


photo credit:

Here’s a bushel, which is four pecks (a little more than a trimodius).

Imagine what this basket would look like after the slave helped himself to a few…. that’s a trimodius.


Whitaker’s WORDS for Macintosh Lion and Mountain Lion (OS X 10.7 and 10.8)

Hey All,

Here’s a quick link to Erik Mendoza’s Interpres, which works to bridge the gap between Whitaker’s WORDS and the latest editions of Macintosh OS X.

When I finally purchased a new laptop, I discovered that Whitaker’s WORDS was no longer compatible with Macintosh Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8). William Whitaker died recently so his version of the software remains static and incompatible with the latest versions of OS X. However, Erik Mendoza has been awesome enough to produce Interpres, which is a compatible (and I would argue more user-friendly) version of the WORDS program. Hopefully, Interpres will also jive well with Apple’s up-and-coming Mavericks (OS X 10.9), due out later this year.

If anyone wants to add a footnote about the latest version of WORDS for Windows 8, I’m sure it would be well received! For those of you suffering under the heel of Windows 8, I offer my sincere condolences.