To Have and Holding, For as Long as You Both Shall Live

In this post, I’d like to differentiate between the three ways that habeō takes a direct object: (a) an accusative, (b) an accusative perfect participle, and (c) an infinitive.

Habeō takes an accusative direct object in the sense of ‘possessing’ that object.

  • I have three sons: trēs fīliōs habeō.
  • She held the scepter: sceptrum habēbat.

Habeō with the perfect participle bears the same sense as ‘habēbat‘ above: possession extended over a period of time.

  • They are holding him in the prison: eum in carcere habent. (right now)
  • They are holding him in prison: eum captātum in carcere habent. (continuous status of incarceration)
  • They have him as a witness: eum teste habent. (at this moment).
  • They have him as a witness: eum testātum habent. (for now, but also for when they might need him)

Habeō with an infinitive completes a construction of purpose.

  • I have much to promise: multum habeō pollicērī.
  • You have work to do: labōrem habēs facere.
  • You must do the work: labōrem habēs facere. (cf. Spanish tener que)

The Essential AG: 460a, 497b

Dative of Agent (2/2)

This post considers places where the Dative of Agent invades what would normally be constructions suitable to the Ablative of Agent.

With Passive Perfect Participles

With passive verbs, the Dative of Agent is most common with perfect passive participles, especially when these are virtually adjectival.

  • It has been deliberated and established by me: mihi dēlīberātum et cōnstitūtum est.
  • This has been provided for by you: tibi haec prōvīsa est.
  • The lights have made me dizzy: lūcibus cālīgātus sum.

Note that, with the final expression, lūcibus may be either Dative or an Ablative of Instrument (but not an Ablative of Agent, since there is no ā/ab). In this case, assume it’s an Ablative of Instrument, which is altogether more common, especially with something inanimate like ‘lights.’


With Passive Verb

The Dative of Agent is not unheard of with standard passive verbs, especially with the poets.

  • He is not seen by anyone: nōn cernitur ūllī.
  • He was favored by the nymph: Nymphō fovēbātur.

With Videor

The construction ‘it seems to x‘ is expressed with videor, vidērī, visus + Dative of Agent.

  • He seemed to me a horse with wings: mihi equis cum ālīs vidēbātur.
  • It seemed otherwise to the gods: dīs aliter vīsum est.
  • It seems to me that you are a slob: sordidus mihi vidēris.

With Probō

According to AG, probāre takes a Dative of Reference, but it’s so regularly attached that it seems like a Dative of Agent. I’m not sure I buy this, but here’s what they mean:

  • This view was approved by both him and me: haec sententia et illī et mihi probābātur.
  • This plan was not approved by the majority: hōc cōnsilium plēris nōn probābātur.

The Essential AG: 375

Dative of Agent (1/2)

My recent posts on the Ablative of Agent sent me back to my earlier work on the Gerund/Gerundive distinction, and I realize that I never fully articulated that gerundives take a Dative of Agent.

  • This province is for you to defend: haec vōbis prōvincia est dēfendenda.
  • I have to fight one thousand matches: mihi est mille certamina pugnandum.
  • The armor you must wear is in the cabinet: arma gestanda tibi in armāriō sunt.

AG would like us to compare this construction to the dative of possession, viewing the gerundive as an ascribed duty for the dative Person:

  • I have to fight one thousand matches: mihi est mille certamina pugnandum.
  • My name is Commodus: mihi nomen Commodus est.

With the Second Passive Periphrastic construction (always gerundive + sum), the Ablative of Agent (ā/ab + ablative) may appear where a dative would be ambiguous.

  • To whom must you submit: quibus est ā vōbis cēdendum?
  • To whom should we give the books: quō ā nōbis librōs legendōs sunt?

The Essential AG: 374

My earlier work on the Gerund/Gerundive divide starts here. Flip posts at the bottom of the page to find the one you want. There are five of them on the topic.