Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
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7.2.1 One-place predicates

The predicates discussed here are on the one hand the so-called `impersonalia' (refert, `it is of importance') and, on the other, expressions consisting of est or another copula and the neuter form of an adjective (utile est, `it is useful') or a noun (mos est, `it is customary'). [3] With these predicates the embedded predications function as Subject. After each table I occasionally discuss briefly those predicates which cannot with certainty be classified as one-place.

Examples of `impersonalia' (table 7.1)


(8a) tantum abest ut scribi contra nos nolimus ut id etiam maxime optemus (`We object so little to criticism against us that we even hope for it', Cic. Tusc. 2.4)

(8b) prorsus nihil abest quin sim miserrimus (`I am absolutely miserable', Cic. Att. 11.15.3)


(9a) capitis nostri saepe potest accidere ut causae versentur in iure (`It can often happen that matters which concern our position as a citizen are brought to court', Cic. de Orat. 1.181)

(9b) hoc loco percommode accidit quod non adest is qui … (`At this point it is a fortunate coincidence that he who … is not present', Cic. Caec. 77)

(9c) videte igitur quam inique accidat quia res indigna sit ideo turpem existimationem sequi … (`See how unjustly a bad reputation is the result of defending an unworthy cause', Cic. Caec. 8)


(10a) quo id factum nomine appellari oporteat constat (`It is clear how this act should be defined', Cic. Inv. 1.12)

(10b) quae si omnia e Ti. Coruncanii scientia … acta esse constarent (`If it were established that all this had been done in accordance with the knowledge of Ti. C.', Cic. Dom. 139) [4]

(10c) constat … ad salutem civium … inventas esse leges (`It is certain that the laws have been invented for the benefit of the citizens', Cic. Leg. 2.11)

necesse est

(11a) adhibeas necesse est omnem rationem (`You must use all your intellectual faculties', Q. Cic. Pet. 15)

-- 104 --

(11b) necesse est igitur legem haberi in rebus optimis (`So the law must needs be considered a very good thing', Cic. Leg. 2.12)


(12a) ut valeant refert (`It is important that they are healthy', Cato Agr. 73) [5]

(12b) ipsi animi magni refert quali in corpore locati sint (`Particularly for the soul it is of great importance in what kind of body they have been located', Cic. Tusc. 1.80)

(12c) neque enim refert videre quid dicendum sit (`For it does not matter very much if one sees what is to be said, but …', Cic. Brut. 110)

(12d) parvi refert abs te ipso ius dici aequabiliter (`It matters little whether you yourself judge impartially', Cic. Q. fr. 1.1.20)

The syntactic function of the embedded predication in an instance like (10b) is not easy to determine. Here an argument of the embedded predication is Subject of the main predication (quae): in this case the grammars speak of the `personal construction'. The Predicate of the embedded predication has been recorded in the figure as a prolative infinitive. In a case such as this, however, one could also regard constare as two-place, with one argument in the syntactic function Subject and one in the syntactic function Complement. I return to this phenomenon in crosssection 7.5.1. on p. 135. In other cases the embedded predication as a whole functions as Subject, as has already been said above (p. 103). Table 7.2 Copula + adjective
(Main) PredicateForm of embedded predication
Embedded predicate: finiteEmbedded predicate: non-finite
(ut) nonquod nonne nonquindependent questionInf.AcINcIDPtcGerSup
Abbreviations as for table 7.1.
a For (late) quod, quia, quoniam and ut see TLL s.v. 2115.32 ff.
b With utilis and other adjectives we do find gerund (ive) constructions, e.g. with ad, but I regard these as satellites.

-- 105 --

Examples of copula + adjective (table 7.2) [6]


(13a) difficile est … ut ad haec … studia … animus tam cito possit accedere (`It is difficult for the mind to occupy itself so rapidly with this (less serious kind of) literature', [7] Sen. Dial. 11.8.3)

(13b) non fuisse ei grave nec difficile eam causam excipere (`That it had been neither hard nor difficult to accept an exception in this case', Cic. Inv. 2.130)

(13c) difficile est in Asia … ita versari nostrum imperatorem, ut … (`It is difficult for a Roman commander to behave in Asia in such a way that …', Cic. Man. 64)

(13d) ut in comparando difficile ad eligendum sit quid maxime velis (`So that it is comparatively difficult to choose what you want most', Cic. Rep. 1.55)

(13e) difficile est hoc genus exornationis inventu (`This kind of figure of speech is difficult to find', Rhet. Her. 4.39)


(14a) non potest esse dubium quin id sit summum … bonorum omnium (`There can be no doubt that this (viz. pleasure) is the highest good', Cic. Fin. 1.54)

(14b) primo nobis fuit dubium quid ageremus (`At first we were in doubt as to what to do', Cic. Ver. 4. 138) [8]

(14c) perisse me una haud dubiumst (`Doubtless I, too, am finished', Ter. Hec. 326)


(15a) quid tam inusitatum quam ut … eques Romanus ad bellum maximum … mitteretur (`What is as uncommon as to send a Roman knight into a most serious war', Cic. Man. 62)

(15b) esta ita inusitatum regem reum capitis esse ut … (`It is so uncommon for a king to stand trial for a capital offence, that …', Cic. Deiot. 1)


(16a) si verum est – quod nemo dubitat – ut populus Romanus omnes gentes virtute superarit (`If it is true – as is doubted by no one – that the Roman people have been superior to all nations in courage', Nep. Han. 1.1)

(16b) nec verum est … idcirco initam esse cum hominibus communitatem (`It is not true that for this reason relationships have formed among human beings', Cic. Off. 1.158)

-- 106 --


(17a) numquam igitur est utile peccare (`So it is never useful to sin', Cic. Off. 3.64)

(17b) Miloni etiam utile fuisse Clodium vivere (`That it was even in M.'s interest that C. was alive', Cic. Mil. 52)

Many predicates consisting of copula + adjective occur with a nominal constituent in the dative. I regard such constituents as satellites with the semantic function Beneficiary (e.g. with difficilis and utilis).

Apart from (13e), I have only given examples of so-called `impersonal' constructions of esse + adjective. I regard (13e) and similar examples as equivalent to the other instances, although here, too, we should formally speak of a so-called personal construction. Here, therefore, mutatis mutandis the same applies as was remarked on p. 104 with respect to constarent in example (10b). Looking only at the syntactic structure, one might also speak of two-place difficilis. (13e) is thus described in a different way from cupidus in (25a–b) and nescius in, for example:

(18) iratum te regi Deiotaro fuisse non erant nescii (`They knew very well that you had been angry with King D.', Cic. Deiot. 8)

Nescius is two-place; see further crosssection 7.5.2. Table 7.3 Copula + noun
(Main) predicateForm of embedded predication
Embedded predicate: finiteEmbedded predicate: non-finite
(ut) non(ut) nene nonquod/quia nonquindependent questionInf.AcINcIDPtcGerSup
Abbreviations as for table 7.1

Examples of copula + noun (table 7.3)


(19a) facinus est vincire civem Romanum (`It is a crime to put a Roman citizen in irons', Cic. Ver. 5.170)

-- 107 --

(19b) occisus dictator … pulcherrimum facinus videretur (`The murder of the dictator seemed a most beautiful crime', Tac. Ann. 1.8.6)


(20a) cum … mos esset Graecis … ut ei qui vicissent tropaeum … statuerent (`Since it was a habit among the Greeks that victors erected a monument', Cic. Inv. 2.69)

(20b) Magorum mos est non humare corpora suorum, nisi … (`It is a habit among the Magi not to bury their dead unless …', Cic. Tusc. 1.108)

(20c) qua (oratione) mos est Athenis laudari in contione eos qui sint in proeliis interfecti (`It is a custom in Athens to honour with this speech those who have been killed in battle', Cic. Orat. 151)

(20d) (fuit) mos vero liberos … obiciendi saevissimis earum (`They did in fact expose their children to the most frightful among them (viz. snakes)', Plin. Nat. 7.14)


(21a) sed iustitiae primum munus est, ut ne cui quis noceat (`The first duty of justice is to make sure that no one inflicts damage on someone else', Cic. Off. 1.20)

(21b) munus autem animi est ratione bene uti (`It is the duty of the soul to make good use of reason', Cic. Tusc. 3.15)


(22a) videtur tempus esse ut eamus ad forum (`It seems to be time to go to the forum', Pl. Mil. 72)

(22b) tempus esset iam de ordine argumentorum … aliquid dicere (`Then it would be time to say something about the order of the arguments', Cic. de Orat. 2.181)

(22c) tempus est … iam hince abire, me ut moriar, vos ut vitam agatis (`It is already time to leave, for me in order to die, for you in order to live your lives', Cic. Tusc. 1.99)

(22d) navigandi nobis … tempus esse (`That it is time for us to sail', Cic. Ac. 2.147)

(22e) si tempus est ullum iure hominis necandi (`If there is any one occasion for justifiable murder', Cic. Mil. 9) [9]


(23) alterum est vitium quod quidam nimis magnum studium … conferunt (`The second error is the fact that some devote too much attention to …', Cic. Off. 1.19) [10]

-- 108 --

A survey of the constructions of copula + noun may be found in K.–St. (II.272–3). Incidentally, here, too, we are confronted by the problem that it is difficult to distinguish between esse as a copula and existential esse. In table 7.3 it has not been attempted to make a distinction along these lines.

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Pinkster, Harm (1942-) [1990], Latin Syntax and Semantics [info], xii, 320 p.: ill.; 24 cm. [word count] [Pinkster].
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