Some Idioms with Inter

These aren’t from A&G—I picked them up in the cobweb-covered corners of Lewis and Short. Enjoy!

  • iam tandem paene inter manūs est: at last, it’s finally within reach!
  • inter viam eō: I’m on the way!
  • Haec Toddī inter cēnam rettūlī: I reported these things to Todd at dinner.
  • inter initia architectī gestōrum saepe inter sē distulērunt: during the start-up phase, the founders of the company often quarreled amongst themselves
  • inter hās turbās senātus tamen convēnit: despite these upheavals, the senate convened (inter + accusative… tamen)

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

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

Uses of Ambō

Ambō is sometimes decline to match its respective noun, like a fully-functional adjective, but otherwise remains fixed as ambō

  • Ambās mānūs lavit: he washed both hands.
  • Consulēs alter ambōve prōgredientur: either one or both of the consuls will march on
  • ūna salus ambobus erit: both were healthy (this is Virgil—a very Greek declension!)

Effectively, there is no rule. Both A&G and L&S present freeform variation between the two options.

Reminder: The Double Comparative with Intrā

This is just a quick reminder (of what I covered briefly in March 2012) that intrā gives rise to one of the few comparative / superlative adjectival pairs that is not derived from an adjective.

  • intrā, within —> interior, -ōris, inner —> intimus, a, -um inmost

A&G offer this fascinating footnote:

“The forms in -trā and -terus were originally comparative (cf. alter), so that the comparatives in -terior are double comparatives.” (my emphasis)

  • Like this: in + accusative —> intrā + accusative —> interior, -ōris

The Essential AG: 130a

Comparison of Adverbs: Irregular and Defective

Here are some irregular adverbs that defy the rules set up in this post.

  • diū, diūtius, diūtissimē, for a long time, for a longer time, for the longest time
  • potius, —— potissimum, rather, first of all
  • saepe, saepius,saepissimē, often, more often/again, most often
  • satis, satius, —— enough, preferable
  • secus, sētius, —— otherwise, worse
  • multum (or multō), magis (or mage), maximē, much, more, most
  • parum, minus, minimē, not enough, less, least
  • nūper, ——, nūperrimē, newly, most newly
  • temperē, temperius, —— seasonably, more seasonably

Most of these are either disconnected from their corresponding adjectives (semantically), or are defective in either comparative or superlative form. However, the real outlier here is the multum/ō, magis/e, maximē set, which is an aggregate of various options. Multō is of course the ablative singular neuter for the positive adjective, and mage the neuter accusative of the comparative adjective.

Magis and maximē may also be paired with other adjectives to create their comparatives, especially in adjectives ending in -eus or -ius (in the positive.)

  • idōneus, magis idōneus, maximē idōneus, fit, more fit, most fit

The Essential AG: 128, 218a

Are We Us? — Adjectives

The adjectival suffixes -ārius, -tōrius, and -sōrius denote belonging to a group qualified by the implied content of the correspond root. Effectively, these adjectives are formed by the addition to -ius to the adjectival root -āris or the nominal root -or. Let’s build a few examples.

  • bellum (war) —> bellātor (warrior) —> bellātōrius, -a, -um (of warriors)
  • pecūlium (property) —> pecūliāris, -e (one’s own) —> pecūliārius, -a,- um (of private property)
  • meritō (to earn) —> meritus (earned) —> [meritor] (earner) —> meritōrius, -a, -um (profitable, esp. related to prostitution)
  • extrā (outside) —> [extrāris, e] (foreign) —> extrārius, -a, -um (of foreigners)

A few things to notice about this pattern: (i) the original base of the adjective can be just about anything—noun, adjective, verb, adverb—but the penultimate word is always a noun or an adjective. That said, (ii) the penultimate noun or adjective is not always extant in Latin; note the [brackets]. Finally, note that (iii) this set of adjectives is often theoretical—rēs bellatōriae (matters of warriors)and rēs extrāriae (matters of foreigners) probably cover half the total appearances of those two adjectives.

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).

The Vocative: Macte virtūte!

The vocative macte is a party to a particular Latin idiom that you may encounter. Macte is the imperative of the Latin second declension adjective mactus (blessed, honored, cf. Greek μακάριος).

The idiom runs like this:

  • Macte (estō) (virtūte): success attend your honor!

Now, the ‘standard’ rendering offered by A&G (^^^) is a little too translationese, in my view. Something like, ‘be blessed in honor’ would more closely attend to the syntax of each word.

Further, realize that both estō and virtūte are optional, but at least one of the two must be present (macte estō virtūte, macte estō, macte virtūte).

  • With just macte! we have a different idiom all together (blessed! — something like the English ‘fantastic’ or ‘awesome’ or ‘that’s great.’)

Finally, we should echo A&G’s hesitation about the fact that the quantity of the final -e in macte is indiscernible given the extant verse poetry that contains this idiom, and therefore it might actually be mactē, an adverb. It is a matter of scholarly dispute.

The Essential AG: 340c.

Greek and Latin Comparatives

There is a certain kinship between Greek and Latin (a) comparative and (b) superlative forms, as well as between (c) a particular branch of Latin positive adjectives and Greek comparatives.

To recall your knowledge of positives, comparatives, and superlatives in each language, let’s view  a few examples:

  • Dark, darker, darkest
  • niger, nigrior, nigerrimus
  • μέλας, μελάντερος, μελάντατος
  • Big, bigger, biggest
  • magnus, maior, maximus
  • μέγας, μείζων, μεγίστος
  • Dear, dearer, dearest
  • cārus, cārior, cārissimus
  • φίλος, φιλότερος, φιλότατος
  • Sweet, sweeter, sweetest
  • suavis, suavior, suavissimus
  • ἡδύς, ἥδιος, ἥδιστος

I struggle here to explain the precise interrelations between the various forms above, because A&G are quite tight-lipped about the matter (everything in this post is drawn from two far-disparate footnotes). However, we see a certain kinship between:

  • the Latin comparative (n.) -ius [e.g. nigrior (m/f), nigrius (n)] and the Greek -ίων [e.g. μείων (smaller, less)]
  • the Latin superlative –issimus [suavissimus] and the Greek -ιστος [ἥδιστος]

(these ^^ are also both relative to the English superlative [e.g. sweetest])

  • the Latin positive –ter (ater, atra, atrum) and the Greek -τερος (φιλότερος)

I think that last one is a bit of a stretch, so don’t shoot the messenger (of AG 214bn), but shoot me a comment if you disagree either with their claim or with my reading of their claim, and explain why.

The Essential AG: 124n1, 214bn