Constructions with Abstineō

Abstaining from an object in Latin can leave you with one of three grammatical constructions, given here in the order of frequency:

  • abstinēre aliquid/sē + ablative of object
  • abstinēre aliquid/sē (absolute)
  • absintēre aliquid/sē + genitive of object (cf. Greek ἀπεχἐσθαι τινός)

Here some examples of how and from what the Romans refrained—

  • virgō nuptā abstinet — virgins abstain from marriage
  • vir sapit quī urbis rēbus abstineat — the wise man holds off from politics
  • mē ostreīs et muraenīs facile abstinēbam — I easily abstained from oysters and eels — Cicero, Ad Familiārēs 7.26 (they make him nauseated)
  • mihi abstinē invidere! — don’t bother pitying me!
  • animum coluit abstinentem pecūniae — she cherished a frugal mind

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

Demonstrative Pronouns (Īdem et Ipse)

Summary of Use

“Demonstrative pronouns are use either adjectively or substantively” (AG, 296)

As pronominal adjectives, the agree with their corresponding noun

  • With this battle fought, he went out: hōc proeliō factō, proficīscēbātur
  • They died in the same battle: eōdem proeliō periērunt.

In moments of apposition, the pronoun agrees with the appositive, not the antecedent

  • This was the head of things, this the source: rērum caput hōc erat, hīc fōns

As substantives, they are personal pronouns, frequently in the  oblique cases

  • Hostages ought to be given by them: Obsidēs ab eīs dandī sunt.
  • Let the songs be sung by them: carmina ab eīs ca canātur.
  • His army went out: exercitus eius prōfectus est.
  • Those men are the first across the Rhone: hī sunt extrā prōvinciam trāns Rhodanum prīmī 

Īdem, eadem, idem

Īdem should be translated that same one, and appears only with an antecedent or correlative

  • Gaius Caesar had proposed, yet he later opposed, the bill: C. Caesar lēgem relātus erat, īdem pōsterius oppositus est.
  • Here I see is the same man, who subdued all of nearer Spain: hīc eundem videō, qui tōtam Citeriōrem Hispāniam compressus est. 

 Often, this demonstrative requires an added ‘too’ or ‘also’ in English

  • He gave an oration, brilliant, able, and above all witty too: ōrātio splendida et grandis dēdit, et eadem in prīmīs facēta.
  • The colloquial and poetic use of īdem (funny to find these linked together) treats its adjectival use as an adjective of likeness or similarity, coupled with a dative verb or gerund
  • He who saves a man against his will does the same as one who kills him: invītum quī servat idem facit occīdentī. 
N.b.īdem (m.) and idem (n.) may be distinguished (at least in poetry) by the length of their initial vowels

Ipse, Ipsa, Ipsum 

Ipse may be paired with “any of the other pronouns, with a noun, or with a temporal adverb for the sake of emphasis” (AG, 298c)

Here, it may be translated, ‘too,’ ‘also,’ ‘even,’ etc.

  • Even to me it seemed disgraceful: turpe mihi ipsī vidēbātur.
  • That man too came to that very place: ille ipse in eum ipsum locum vēnit.

Where ipse stands alone, it appears as an emphatic alternative to is, ea, id

  • This was splendid for the state, glorious for themselves: id reī repūblicae praeclārum, ipsīs glōriōsum fuit.
  • All good men offered as much as was in their power: omnēs bonī quantum in ipsīs fuit, tantum obtulērunt.

It can also reemphasize a subject in the first or second person

  • Remember in your own minds: vōbīscum ipsī recordāminī
  • Even I myself was astounded: etiam ipse obstipuī.

Ipse may appear in place of a reflexive

  • She washes the daughters and herself: fīliās atque ipsa lāvat.
  • They worry for their own peace: dē ipsius pāce sollicitant. 

Ipse will almost always agree with the subject, even where, in English, it seems to agree with the object

  • She washes the daughters and herself: fīliās atque ipsa lāvat. (not ipsam)
  • I console myself: mē ipse cōnsōlor (not ipsem)

The Essential AG: 146, 298b-d

Famous Phrase: ipsa scientia potestas est (knowledge itself is power)

-Sir Francis Bacon