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)
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The Criminal Inter?

The judicial phrase inter sīcāriōs means ‘on the charge of assassination.’ I’m not sure if this is as general use of inter (neither A&G nor L&S seems to say) but if I may title the ‘criminal inter‘ (from crīmen, charge/accusation) preposition, then consider the following possibilities:

  • inter impudentēs: on the charge of shamelessness
  • inter cinaedōs: on the charge of sodomy

By any and all means, correct me if I’m crazy or defend me if you think I might be on to something. I realize this is speculation; we only have limited textual data to support a theory on either side—it’s really a matter of personal judgment and extrapolation based on our available resources.

The Essential AG: 353.2

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

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

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.