edited by Meagan Ayer et al.

Ethical Dative

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380. The dative of the personal pronouns is used to show a certain interest felt by the person indicated.1 This construction is called the Ethical Dative.2 It is really a faded variety of the Dative of Reference.

Quid mihi Celsus agit? (Hor. Ep. 1.3.15)
Pray, what is Celsus doing?

Suō sibi servit patrī. (Plaut. Capt. 5)
He serves his own father.

At tibi repente venit mihi Canīnius. (Fam. 9.2)
But, look you, of a sudden comes to me Caninius.

Hem tibi talentum argentī. (Pl. Truc. 60)
Hark ye, a talent of silver.

Quid tibi vīs?
What would you have?
(What do you wish for yourself?)

 

Footnotes

1. Compare “I'll rhyme you so eight years together.”— As You Like It, 3.2.

2. Datīvus ēthicus.

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