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

Roman Names in Inscriptions and Literature

For an introduction to names, see this post.

Names in Roman Inscriptions

The given name of a Roman citizen on a stone inscription appears as complex as possible. In fact, it looks so complicated that I’m not sure I understand all of it–readers, feel free to assist me.

  • In addition to a given figure’s name, we find (i) the praenōmina of father, grandfather and great-grandfather as well as (ii) the tribe to which the figure belong
  • the Romans were divided into tribes in order to centralize voting, sacrifices, etc. — members of a tribe elected tribunes as tribal representatives

Mārcus Tullius Cicerō Mārcus Tullius Mārcī fīlius Mārcī nepōs Mārcī pronepōs Cornēliā tribū Cicerō.

  • Mārcus, the praenōmen
  • Tullius, of the gēns Tullia
  • Mārcī fīlius, son of Mārcus
  • Mārcī nepōs, grandson of Mārcus 
  • Mārcī pronepōs, great-grandsom of Mārcus
  • Cornēliā tribū, in the Cornelian tribe
  • Cicerō, the cognōmen

This would have been abbreviated M TVLLIVS M F M N M PR COR CICERO

Names in Roman Literature

Here, the system is simplified:

  • Mārcus Tullius Cicerō Mārcus Tullius Mārcī fīlius Cicerō
  • the father’s name is included, but nothing else
  • poets, of course, will use synecdoche or metonymy to rename their subjects as needed

Women, for contextual comparison, were denoted with the possessive genitive of their father’s or husband’s name.

  • Caecilia Metellī = Caecilia, daughter of Metellus
  • Postumia Servī Supliciī = Postumia, wife of Servus Suplicius

The Essential AG: 108 n1

Famous Phrase: eō nōmine [by that name]

(a legal phrase denoted sovereign immunity–a U.S state may not be sued eō nōmine: that is, under its own laws. It must be tried at the federal level)