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Allen and Greenough/ New Latin Grammar

Reflexive Pronouns

300. In a subordinate clause of a complex sentence there is a double use of Reflexives.

  1. The reflexive may always be used to refer to the subject of its own clause (Direct Reflexive):—

    iūdicārī potest quantum habeat in sē bonī cōnstantia (B. G. 1.40), it can be determined how much good firmness possesses (has in itself).

    [Caesar] nōluit eum locum vacāre, nē Germānī ē suīs fīnibus trānsīrent (id. 1.28), Cæsar did not wish this place to lie vacant, for fear the Germans would cross over from their territories.

    sī qua sīgnificātiō virtūtis ēlūceat ad quam sē similis animus adplicet et adiungat (Lael. 48), if any sign of virtue shine forth to which a similar disposition may attach itself.

  2. If the subordinate clause expresses the words or thought of the subject of the main clause, the reflexive is regularly used to refer to that subject (Indirect Reflexive):—

    petiērunt ut sibi licēret’ (B. G. 1.30), they begged that it might be allowed them (the petitioners).

    Iccius nūntium mittit, nisi subsidium sibi submittātur (id. 2.6), Iccius sends a message that unless relief be furnished him, etc.

    decima legiō eī grātiās ēgit, quod dē sē optimum iūdicium fēcisset (id. 1.41), the tenth legion thanked him because [they said] he had expressed a high opinion of them.

    sī obsidēs ab eīs (the Helvetians) sibi (Cæsar, who is the speaker) dentur, (Cæsar) cum eīs pācem esse factūrum (id. 1.14), [Cæsar said that] if hostages were given him by them he would make peace with them.

    Note— Sometimes the person or thing to which the reflexive refers is not the grammatical subject of the main clause, though it is in effect the subject of discourse: Thus, —cum ipsī deō nihil minus grātum futūrum sit quam nōn omnibus patēre ad sē plācandum viam (Legg. 2.25), since to God himself nothing will be less pleasing than that the way to appease him should not be open to all men.

a. If the subordinate clause does not express the words or thought of the main subject, the reflexive is not regularly used, though it is occasionally found:—

sunt ita multī ut eōs carcer capere nōn possit (Cat. 2.22), they are so many that the prison cannot hold them. [Here could not be used; so also in the example following.]

ibi in proximīs vīllīs ita bipartītō fuērunt, ut Tiberis inter eōs et pōns interesset (id. 3.5), there they stationed themselves in the nearest farmhouses, in two divisions, in such a manner that the Tiber and the bridge were between them (the divisions).

nōn fuit eō contentus quod eī praeter spem acciderat (Manil. 25), he was not content with that which had happened to him beyond his hope.

Compare: quī fit, Maecēnās, ut nēmō, quam sibi sortem seu ratiō dederit seu fors obiēcerit, illā contentus vīvat (Hor. S. 1.1.1), how comes it, Mœcenas, that nobody lives contented with that lot which choice has assigned him or chance has thrown in his way? [Here sibi is used to put the thought into the mind of the discontented man.]

b. Ipse is often (is rarely) used instead of an indirect reflexive , either to avoid ambiguity or from carelessness; and in later writers is sometimes found instead of the direct reflexive:

cūr dē suā virtūte aut dē ipsīus dīligentiā dēspērārent> (B. G. 1.40), why (he asked) should they despair of their own courage or his diligence?

omnia aut ipsōs aut hostēs populātōs(Q. C. 3.5.6), [they said that] either they themselves or the enemy had laid all waste. [Direct reflexive.]

quī sē ex hīs minus timidōs exīstimārī volēbant , nōn sē hostem verērī, sed angustiās itineris et māgnitūdinem silvārum quae intercēderent inter ipsōs (the persons referred to by above) atque Ariovistum ... timēre dīcēbant (B. G. 1.39), those of them who wished to be thought less timid said they did not fear the enemy, but were afraid of the narrows and the vast extent of the forests which were between themselves and Ariovistus.

audīstis nūper dīcere lēgātōs Tyndaritānōs Mercurium quī sacrīs anniversāriīs apud eōs colerētur esse sublātum (Verr. 4.84), you have just heard the ambassadors from Tyndaris say that the statue of Mercury which was worshipped with annual rites among them was taken away. [Here Cicero wavers between apud eōs colēbātur, a remark of his own, and apud sē colerētur, the words of the ambassadors. eōs does not strictly refer to the ambassadors, but to the people—the Tyndaritani.]

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